There’s plenty that surprises people about me, but even those closest to me still find it hard to reconcile with my personality that I’m 1) a devout Catholic and 2) both ironically and un-ironically a huge KISS fan. I attribute the latter to their unparalleled live show (which I’ve seen with the original lineup THREE times), setting the standard for artist-and-fan-creating-a-movement marketing and the fact that they seem to be the only group of their genre’s generation to not take themselves so seriously. That was the justification for Halloween ’98 when Chris Rytarchyk, Andrew Zwack, the World Famous Craig Witte* and myself went door-to-door as Kiss to rock and roll all night and eat candy most of the next afternoon.
But the group’s UNINTENTIONAL GREATNESS? Wow-to-the-zers. From their awful “Made”-for-TV sci-fi rock opera KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park to their shamelessly tasteless marketing to feuding KISS tribute bands composed entirely of drunk little people to, and may God have mercy on my soul for inflicting this upon you but, THIS, you would be hard-pressed to find one musical group supplying a more consistent stream of horrified laughter. But for a group so rich in mythology** I still find the most enjoyment from their good ol’ fashion rock ‘n’ roll. Any classic rock station worth its weight in Sausage McMuffins will always play KISS’s standards like “Rock and Roll All Night,” “Detroit Rock City,” “Beth” and maybe even later works like “Lick It Up” and “Psycho Circus.” However, there’s one song they won’t play and with KISSOnline’s promise that the boys in the band have an Earth-Shattering major announcement tomorrow, I have to assume that it’s a formal handwritten apology for this…
Let me give you a moment to freeze the video at 00:46, take a picture and make it your Facebook profile photo out of solidarity with those of us that somehow survive living in a world where this song exists.
Alright, this is an effeminate elephant in the room of pop culture so let’s just address it head-on. What can we say for sure about “Let’s Put the X in Sex?” Well, it was one of two new songs on the band’s third ‘Best of’ compilation Smashes, Thrashes & Hits, it went to #97 on the Billboard Hot 100 and it’s an awful narrative about a private detective who receives sexy messages from someone who reminded him of you that (here’s the twist) turned out to be you. You pervert. If it weren’t for you, the band’s recorded sexual conquests would have been limited to high school girls and the evening they had their genitals plastered. But no, you and your instantly recognizable black lace panties had to toy with
Stunt Cher Detective Paul Stanley’s delicate psyche. It wasn’t enough to omnipotently occupy a skyscraper while your Robert Palmer reject-minions march to this Robert Palmer rejected canker sore of an incantation. You even made them release an eight-minute long extended version. How dare you.
So yes, this song is bad and the band knows it. How bad you ask? Well, it’s never reappeared on any of their umpteenth-thousand re-releases and compilations. It’s never acknowledged in any self-released film, book or documentary. To give you some perspective, these middle-aged men in spandex and makeup will sooner reflect on their dismal failure of philosophically-based sci-fi concept album that nearly killed the band than this song. They’ve done what they could to block it out of their mind, so in 1995 when they were surprisingly asked by the rabid KISS Army of Salt Lake City*** to perform the song unplugged, they patronizingly obliged. Once they realized what they were playing, they gave up halfway through but THE KISS ARMY WOULD HAVE NONE OF THESE SHENANIGANS AND WITH THIS ROCK AND ROLL GOD HIMSELF GAVE TO THEM, PROCEEDED TO SHOUT IT OUT LOUD! The band watched bewildered and (coincidentally?) reunited a year later to take over the world again. Yes, this footage exists and it is glorious.
So what could tomorrow’s announcement be? A new tour? A new album? A new reality show? A new retirement****? No matter what the Knights in Satin’s Service say tomorrow, we all know what they’re thinking – “Sorry for putting the ‘X’ in sex.”
So until next time…Let’s Agree to Agree!
*Yes, THE Craig Witte.
**There’s a certain irony somewhere in being rich in something so poorly written, but I’m too busy spitting blood to find it.
***How does one put the X through their special Mormon undergarments?
****I saw their farewell tour twice in 2000, which has somehow rock and rolled over into another decade. Guess they’re not too keen on putting the X in eXit.