Having finished the Peter Criss book (Make-Up to Break-Up: My Life In and Out of Kiss), I think it’s easily the most entertaining (and scandalous) of the three Kiss autobios released so far from the original members. While Gene’s book was just typical Gene and Ace’s was disappointingly short on Rock & Roll road stories, Criss comes out with all guns blazing, with his former bandmates, managers, accountants and an ex-wife (former Playboy playmate Debra Jensen) firmly in his sights.
Peter Criss is clearly a bitter man and I dare say more than a little paranoid and delusional about his own talents and achievements (his already huge ego was even further inflated by his co-writing and singing of Kiss’ surprise hit ballad Beth in 1976). When his early solo albums fail, it’s because Kiss and their management pressured the label into blackballing them, not because of their weak middle of the road material. When he continually gets screwed by the contracts during the reunion years (1996-2004), it’s always the fault of the lawyers and not his bad decision making. Criss wants us to empathise with him but it’s a little hard when he mostly refuses to take ownership of his own role in things always turning sour (though he does admit to being an asshole at times and having his mind clouded by a copious consumption of blow).
I’m sure that this is the truth as Peter Criss sees it, but any book in which the author admits to wanting to stick a knife in the neck of his former Kiss bandmates, and fantasises about flying to L.A. and shooting them, is surely going to have his thoughts and perspective somewhat clouded. Still, Make-Up to Break-Up is a rousing, angry, at times sleazy and very entertaining rock & roll memoir, written (with Larry ‘Ratso’ Sloman) by the original drummer from one of the biggest American bands of the seventies. From Ace Frehley’s chronic masturbation and the groupie who kept Criss awake all night as she screamed at Frehley to "Fuck me like a truck driver!" to Gene Simmons making everyone sick by refusing to wash the menstrual blood from the previous night’s conquest off his teeth, all those lurid moments that teen magazines like 16 and Tiger Beat never quite got around to covering back in the day are laid bare for all to wallow in.