The story of Gene and the Penguin.....
Being a huge KISS fan, I was thrilled to hear he was coming to town for the New Music West Conference as the keynote speaker. I of course took the Penguin down in hopes of getting a photo with Gene. As Paul Stanley graciously posed with the Penguin, I figured Gene would too if only I could get the opportunity.
I was on the bus heading to the conference and the bus stops just past the Commodore (where the conference was). As the bus slowed down to the stop, Gene and an entourage walked out of the Commodore right in front of me. I of course, went 'woooooo-hoooo!' and walked fast to catch up with them. George Stroumboulopoulos from MuchMusic was with Gene along with a couple of other guys. Since Gene was on a cell phone I asked George if I could get a photo of Gene with the Penguin. He said I had better talk to the Conference marketing guy right beside him so I told him about the Penguin and the website, etc. I gave him one of the Penguin's business cards which has the website address on the front and some of the people the Penguin has posed with on the back. He said it shouldn't be a problem so tag along.
Gene was still gabbing on the cell phone as we ended up in a restaurant just across from the Commodore. Gene finally got off the phone and we went over to a table and he took a seat. The marketing guy passed to Gene the Penguin's business card and started to tell him about the Penguin and my request for a photo. Gene looked rather puzzled and asked me what the site was all about. I explained the usual story - travel the world, take photos in different places, with famous people, etc.
He then said 'What do you get out of it?'
I said, 'we don't get anything out it as it's just for fun, it's not for profit'.
He then said, 'What's it all about? What do you get out of it?'
And he went on about Paul's (Paul Stanley) name being on the card, asking, 'Does Paul know you're doing this? Does Paul want to be associated with all these people? Who ARE all these people?'
I started to explain who some of them are, like Lawrence Ferlinghetti, but he didn't seem to be too interested. I was thinking to myself, he MUST know who these people are, how can he NOT know? I was quite surprised by his reaction to the photo request - Gene seemed to just want to be argumentative as he kept asking 'What is it all about?' and 'What do you get out of it?'
At this point I was thinking, 'I'm arguing with one of my musical heroes over a photo with a plastic penguin, how surreal is this?!?'
Finally, he said, 'Since I don't know what it's about, I'll have to take a pass.'
I said, 'That's fine but here's his card - check out the website and you'll learn what it's all about.'
So Gene refused to be photographed with the Penguin!!! Go figure eh? Maybe he thought there were ulterior motives to it - I don't know. He seems to be very careful about any ventures he may be involved in, which is fair enough I guess as perhaps he was thinking maybe the Penguin is some political thing. Or perhaps he just wanted to be paid five bucks! This is Gene Simmons after all!
Afterwards, I sent him an email via his website (www.genesimmons.com) which he posted and replied to on his website - You can check it out at http://www.genesimmons.com/fanstories/index045.html
Part of my email to him had the Penguin website link and a comment along the lines of 'hope you get to check out the website and perhaps next time we can do the photo.' So at least he posted my email and replied to it. A number of people have come to this site now from Gene's site so if you're a KISS fan from his site, welcome!
As Gene wouldn't pose with the Penguin, I was only able to manage a few pics of the Penguin looking on as the crowd rushed Gene for autographs and pics after his talk. You can check these out below.
So what do you think of Gene's reaction to the Penguin? Do you think we can get a movement going for him to pose with the Penguin? Send me your comments and ideas and we'll post the emails. Perhaps we can get Gene to reconsider!