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KISS go Psycho at Premiere of 3-D "Psycho Circus"

By R. Scott Bolton

It wasn't just another CD release party - it was the release of a new KISS CD, the first from the original four members of the ultra-popular band - whose reunion tour of 1996 grossed over $140 million - in almost 20 years. So a simple listening party wouldn't do. It had to be more than cocktails with black napkins with the music playing in the background while people chatted about how great it sounded and what they were going to do for the weekend.

No. It was KISS. It had to be a show.

So they rented out perhaps the most famous motion picture theater in the world - Mann's Chinese Theater (formerly Grauman's Chinese Theater) and they held the mother of all listening parties. With monstrous thirty foot inflatable replicas of the band members (see photos), the red carpet treatment and about 400 screaming fans, KISS announced the release of "Psycho Circus" with more flash and hype than any Hollywood movie has ever dreamed of.

First, the lucky fans were ushered into the theater where a pair of comedians from Fox Television's MAD-TV tried to entertain them. It wasn't an easy gig. These people were the hardcore KISS fans. They wanted the best and they sure as hell expected to get the best. They sang out loud, in unison, to the classic KISS tunes that were blaring from the mountainous amplifiers. They cheered like sportsfans at Superbowl when the MAD-TV folks told them it was time to hear "Psycho Circus." They sat with delirious grins plastered on their face as the lights grew dim and the first strains of the new KISS album blasted violently forth. They cheered as their favorite members appeared on the video screen in front of them and they screamed with pleasure and approval as each song came to completion.

Meanwhile, near the cement-frozen footsteps of two dozen other demigods, KISS had arrived. Preceded by the KISS car (which you, too, can win by calling 1-900-CALLKISS; only $1.99 a call) filled with expensive musical instruments and the perhaps even more expensive "Kissettes" (tight-bodied girls in black bikinis with their faces painted like the band), Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Peter Criss and Ace Frehley posed for media pictures, spoke to reporters, and generally soaked up enough attention to last most mortals a lifetime.

But whoever said KISS were mortals?

Inside, the final "Psycho Circus" tune had finished and the crowd of fans were still trying to stop their furiously banging heads. To say they were into the new music is an understatement. They were overwhelmed by it; overcome by it. These were the rabid fans - those who had followed the band since the beginning; those who had prayed to the rock'n'roll gods that this day would one day come. And now that day was here.

The folks from MAD-TV came out again and did their best to get the crowd's attention. Fat chance. These people wanted KISS. And they were just about to get them. But first, an important announcement was made: KISS will begin their "Psycho Circus" tour on Halloween at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Tickets go on sale Saturday, September 26. But the big news is that Fox will broadcast half and hour of the show live from Dodger Stadium at midnight that evening. The fans, as might be guessed, cheered wildly.

But even that hadn't prepared them for what happened next. The world premiere of the band's much-ballyhooed 3-D video, "Psycho Circus." Using glasses passed out on the way in and polarized 3-D technology and graphics designed by Intelecon of Dallas, Texas, the fans and press in attendance that evening got an eyeful of a truly spectacular moment in rock'n'roll history: The "Psycho Circus" video.

If ever there was a band destined to bring this kind of technology to rock'n'roll, it was KISS. The "Psycho Circus" video is filled with bizarre, high-tech images, in-your-face 3-D shots of the bandmembers and more.   It's a perfect blending of rock'n'roll showmanship and modern video technology. Hell, it was a blast. The audience was screaming like kids on a rollercoaster throughout. After the show that evening, Eddie Vakser, Vice President of Marketing for Intelecon, was beaming like a schoolboy with a straight-A report card. He should have been. The 3-D "Psycho Circus" video was the highlight of an evening of highlights.

Then, the lights grew dim and the crowd finally got what they'd been begging for: KISS, live in the flesh. They didn't have their guitars and they weren't performing (well, okay, they were practically performing as they posed for the cameras in the house). But it didn't matter.

The crowd went nuts. Their heroes were here - their superheroes - rock stars, comic book characters, action figures, soon-to-be video game heroes and movie stars.

A Q&A session followed, wherein we learned the following:

Finally, after some less than original questions ("Who were your influences?") and some entertaining ones ("How is Ace going to keep from laughing his ass off when he sees all those people in the audience with 3-D glasses on?" Ace: "That's a good question.") it was time to call it an evening. The band disappeared behind the big video screen, the lights went up, and the crowd marched contentedly out, many of them stopping to purchase a pre-release copy of "Psycho Circus." It was a big evening - the kind of evening that only the release of a new KISS album could warrant. 

"Welcome to the show..."

Click here to see photos by Lou Moreau

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Copyright 1999 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 31 Jul 2018 23:38:09 -0400