Saturday, May 31, 2008

Kiss Close

It was 1979 and I had just moved to SE Texas to work at a small newspaper. "My" entertainment writer, Denny Angelle, was glad to have a photographer who loved music and was willing to shoot concerts. Denny has been a good friend and broadened my musical mind many times since then.(see his great music blog at He asked one morning if I wanted to head over to nearby Lafayette, Louisiana to shoot Kiss at the college then known as USL. I said sure. I really didn't know Kiss then and didn't know what to expect. I wish I had been more prepared. If so, I would have spent half the night in the crowd shooting them. What an archive that would be now.

I remember the concert in the reverbrating barn known as the 'Cajun-Dome' as being dark and loud, mostly dark. I don't remember what equipment I was shooting with or much else except the moment of this photo of Gene Simmons. Amazing to me he's still performing almost 30 year later. (I saw in todays paper where Kiss was performing in Germany. There was a photo of the current lineup with Condoleeza Rice! Weird.)

I was hunkered down in the 'pit' between the crowd and the stage early in the show when Simmons wandered down to my corner and leaned over me in his macabre, maniacal face, stared straight into my lens and began flashinghis famed, long-as-a-snake tongue. And showed it off some more...and some more... I suddenly realized what was he was doing. He'd spotted the lone camera allowed in and was 'giving' me 'THE' shot of the show, stealing coverage from the others in the band. Also, he was waiting on me to let him know I had the shot. I put thumb to forefinger in the universal OK sign and off he went back across the stage. He returned two more times and repeated the shot, each time with me giving him the OK when I felt I had it. It was a glimpse of the mind of a performer, of what he's thinking of, where his mind is going while on stage. I don't remember if this one is the first or second or third time he came over but I'm sure that each time I was more prepared to shoot it. And it left me forever more aware when shooting concerts. I know 'technically' I was probably shooting on Tri-X 400 speed B&W film pushed to at least 1600 ISO since it was SO dark. It was an especially tough shot since, when he leaned over, he was backlit by the stage lights above him. I imagine I was shooting with a short fixed telephoto on a Nikon F2. And after nearly 30 years, it's still a favorite photo and moment.


Tanner C. Latham said...

Always a showman. Looks like Gene's got tin foil over his pecs.

Joey K! said...

Really interesting. It's rare to see them from this angle in b&w. Very beautiful and flattens everything out, actually bringing them down to Earth in a way. Excellent work.