Gene Simmons

  • TV: Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels


    “Tell me something,” I said as eleven o’clock loomed. “Did you expect to wind up watching a reality show about Gene Simmons tonight?”

    “No,” Laura admitted. “And I certainly didn’t expect to enjoy it.”

    I’ll be honest: when I learned late last week that A&E would be doing a reality show about Gene Simmons and his familyThink of it as a coherent, intelligible version of The Osbournes., the KISS frontman wasn’t my primary motivation for tuning in. No, the reason I wanted to watch is Simmons’ girlfriend of twenty-three years, former Playboy Playmate Shannon Tweed.

    Oh, yeah. I’m that shallow.

    Let’s get this out of the way so we can move on: Shannon Tweed, at 49 years of age, is still smokin’ hot. She also seems to be very grounded, intelligent, and a good mother.If she were my mother, I would have to punch every one of my male friends in the face on a daily basis, because I know what’s going on in their heads.

    Whatever my motivations for watching, the show isn’t called Shannon Tweed’s Family JewelsThat would make me re-evaluate several aspects of my young adulthood, probably with the help of a therapist., so let’s talk about The Demon for a bit. I’m not a big KISS fan, but there is certainly something to be said for rocking and rolling all night, not to mention the partying every day that naturally follows. However, I’m more familiar with the roles that Gene and his fellow KISSians (Peter, Paul, Mary, John, George and Ringo, I believe) portray in their stage show than I am with their music, thanks largely to comic books and video gamesUnfortunately, I’ve never seen their movie, KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park.; the only real exposure I’ve had to Gene Simmons without the makeup is the 1984 movie Runaway.Runaway, one of the first movies I ever saw on glorious VHS video, scared the living crap out of me. Spiders are bad enough; robot spiders that inject you with acid are the stuff of my nightmares.

    Turns out that Gene Simmons is a doting father who has a fear of marriage, doesn’t know where the laundry chute is, and likes to sleep in footie pajamas. At least, that’s the Gene Simmons we see in Family Jewels. The first episode surrounds a surprise birthday party for Shannon that turns into an ambush wedding for Gene when Ms. Tweed gets wind of the plot. After the smoke has cleared, Gene discusses the event with his mother, assuring her that it was a joke, but mom seems unconvinced. If there was a rabbi, she asserts, it was a wedding.

    In the second episode, Gene tries to help his 16-year-old son, Nick, get started down the path to rock and roll stardom while Shannon takes 13-year-old daughter, Sophie, to a fashion show and advises a few would-be players that the lass is very much jailbait. Gene designs logos for Nick’s band, books a gig for them at a local venue, and hires a plane to fly a banner promoting the gig, all to Nick’s dismay. The interplay between Gene and his son (and his son’s bandmates, who seem to regard the rock legend as something of a dork) is quite amusing, as are Shannon’s efforts to fend off the sleazy men trying to make a move on her daughter. It’s far from the Cleavers, but it’s also far more entertaining than I ever expected it to be.