Trick Or Treating With Gene Simmons!

Demon, God Of Thunder, Nuke. Whatever you want to call him, Gene Simmons is a pop culture icon. Whatever he touches turns to gold and his millions of fans around the world are quick to embrace it. Of course, most of that involves putting his face on caskets, toilet paper, comic books, toys, and about everything else possible, but hey, a guy's gotta earn a buck right? He wouldn't be where he is without his campiness and outrageous antics. So why he wouldn't put his name on a soda line? Well he did and he swung by Rochester to promote it and sign!

This past Tuesday, Gene came by the local Wegmans grocery store (5 minutes away from my apartment too!) to sign cases of his "Money Bags Soda" and I was right there for the entire event. A front row seat, or front row spot in line if you will. I happened to be in the right place at the right time. Tickets were released on Tuesday the week before and were gone pretty quick within hours. Thankfully, that day I had to pick it up a few items and was able to score a ticket. What was promised with this golden ticket? Admission, a chance to pay $25 for a pack of soda(portions of the sale went to a local charity) and a guaranteed professional photo op with the legend himself! Of course, no extra items were to be signed by Gene, according to staff, but that wouldn't stop me from bringing something just in case. The worst thing I'd be told is "no".

I get there around 11:30 am. Knowing the signing would start at 1:30 and having a guaranteed ticket, I knew I wouldn't have to stand in line too long. Thank goodness, because 2 hours was long enough for me. Now, I'm not the biggest Kiss fan in the world, in fact out of everything else, I loved Gene in his movies. Specifically Trick Or Treat, so really I was just after a photo op. But I got to meet some REAL hardcore Kiss fans. When I say hardcore, I'm talking knowing what boots Gene and Paul wore on their first tour, the lines from Kiss Meets The Phantom of The Park to the first lines of some unrecorded concert in Chicago in 1981. It was pretty impressive to be on the outside and see the effect Gene and his crew had on these people over the years. I think their love of the band got me interested in checking out their catalog and giving them another chance. I don't expect to paint my face up like a cat anytime soon and follow all the members across the country. A bunny? Ok. I can do that. Sign me up.

So Gene strolled in rather early, maybe about 15 minutes before his designated time. Almost as soon as he came in, he started hamming it up as only he can. He started schmoozing with the employees, local news outlets and police. After about 10 minutes, he made it through the store to come to our section of the store and started greeting us. He seemed pretty enthusiastic, waving, fistbumping, even taking photos with a grocery cart. I mean, it's Wegmans, baby! How could you not get excited! He even came to the front of the line to accept a gift of cookies from a little old lady who was so happy to meet him. He was super appreciative and even ate one or two. That's a pretty ballsy move, but he's a pretty ballsy guy and knows how to work the crowd. Good for you, Gene. You definitely that ladies day!

Ok, so after some more showboating, Gene went to his signing station and the "conveyor belt" system immediately began. As expected, Gene signed the cases and took photos. For a few people, he even signed small items they brought if they were nice enough and asked politely. Finally, it was my turn to meet the man himself. He gave me a fistbump, and signed my soda. I brought with me a Trick Or Treat 8x10 signed by star of the movie, Marc Price in hopes Gene would sign. I showed it to him and said how much I loved the movie and he just looked at it and said "oh wow!" and put it down. I picked it up and asked him if he wouldn't mind signing it. His staff member told me, very respectfully "sorry, he's only signing soda" but before I could take it back, Gene started signing! Holy crap! I guess you just never know! This was a huge victory considering Gene normally charges $100-140 for his autograph at a convention. I'm still shocked and super appreciative.

So, as I'm ready to pose for my photo a staff member grabs me and tells me to move along. I say "Sir, we didn't take a photo" and Gene laughs, puts his arm on my shoulder and says to me "You're trouble aren't you?". We take a photo, he gives me another fist and I leave. Ok sure, I should've just been grateful for him signing an extra item and just moved along and cut my losses, but I definitely wanted that photo of Nuke!

I've often been told Gene reciprocates respect and if nothing else, Gene respects his fans. He interacted with everyone and gave them a positive memory to take with them, along with delicious soda. If this was the only experience I can base my opinion on Gene Simmons, then I've got nothing but respect for him.

Seriously, guys...this ginger ale is amazing...I really wanna save the rest for a sick day and drink it with a side of chicken noodle soup while I lay in bed and watch reruns of the old My Pet Monster cartoon. Anyone who says that won't be a quick remedy is lying to you and you should shun them immediately.


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