En intervju med Lydia Criss gjord av Kiss Army Argentina:
“WhenI heard Beth for the first time in the studio, the tears rolled downmy face”
Over the years, it seems that Peter was “hectic, chaotic, wild and fantastic” too; what is your opinion?
Peter liked to party. He loved to never let the night end. He always had a problem sleeping, but withthe fame, it make things worse.
Your book quickly became a must for the collection of any KISS fan, due to the quality of theinformation it contains and specially, due to the great and previously unreleased photographs.What is remarkable is that back then you had not begun to study photography, and yet youdocumented everything with great attention to details…
Yes, I always took pictures, but with a $20.00 Kodak Instamatic Camera. The Christmas before wewent to Japan Paul Stanley bought us a 35 mm camera. I brought it with us to Japan, but the promoter,Mr. Udo, gave all of us Nikon cameras as a gift. We quickly bought all the extra lenses and accessoriesthat we needed to have a complete setup.
After you divorced Peter in 1978, you decided to give photography an essential place in your life: you began to study and to improve until it became a professional characteristic for you. Wasthe crisis with Peter the triggering element for that?
No. I picked it up the desire pretty quickly after Japan. I practiced for a while and eventually tookclasses in photography after I was divorced from Peter.
Breaking up with Peter must have been really hard because you had lived together manyyears, with many personal experiences in common. How did this extremely hard moment affectyou?
Naturally I was devastated. Thank God for my family and friends. I would have never been able toget through it. When you get divorced, not only do you loose your husband, you loose his family, hisfriends, and every one involved with him. In my case I also lost the lavish life style that I could no longer afford.
Thanks to the time you spent with KISS you kept a nice relationship with Ace and his wife atthat time, Jeanette. How did that relationship change or continue once you divorced Peter andonce he left the band?
Jeanette & I were friends for a while, until she was told not to talk to me anymore by the managementcompany. My friendship with Ace & Jeanette was always on and off. There were years that I was friendswith only Ace, and then there were years that I was only friends with Jeanette, and then there were yearsthat I was friends with both of them.
Do you remember any memorable anecdote or event you lived with Gene or Paul from thosedays with KISS?
I remember that everyone of the guys were very funny. There as always a laugh when I was aroundthem. They were all like brothers to me.
How did sudden fame and success impact in your life with Peter?
Read My Book!!
Then came the post-KISS era… Peter quickly started a new life with Debra. Were you able tohave a friendly relationship shortly after the breakup, or it rather took you many years to reach thatpoint? Because nowadays it seems that Peter and you have a nice and friendly relationship.
I’ve talked to Peter only a hand full of times since our divorce. Peter only contacts me when heneeds to. He is not on my caller ID.
As the saying goes, “every cloud has a silver lining”: your skills for photography broughtyou acknowledgement, to the point that many artists and bands request your services in that field.That must have meant a new life for you after the breakup with Peter, do you agree?
Yes, I have met many artists after my breakup with Peter, more so than when I was with Peter &KISS. I really enjoy taking pictures at concerts, something Peter never wanted me to do with KISS,because of the danger being in the audience. Photography is my happiness.
Time has passed and you have become without a doubt a main character in the KISStory;you lived important events with Peter, you inspired one of the most recognizable songs of theband and you have documented everything with photos. During Peter’s time with KISS, were youalready aware of the importance of these events?
Absolutely not. I think I am more aware right now, with Facebook, the importance of KISS and my rollin KISStory. The amount of fans that know of me blows my mind.
Did you ever think (even after you broke up with Peter) that your presence and your thoughtswould be requested for interviews and for KISS conventions?
After your divorce, did you keep any interest in the band’s activities?
Not really. I did go to photograph them in England at Wembley arena and at The Ritz in New York. Isaw them at Eric Carr’s 7/80 first show and Eric Carr’s last show 12/90 and nothing in between.
We guess that Peter must have read your book! Has he let you know his opinion about it? Isthere something that he did not like? Did you tell him beforehand that you were going to releasethat material?
I don’t know. No opinion. Don’t know. No.
Let’s move to the present time. Do you currently keep any contact with Paul or Gene? After all, you were very important, even essential, in the beginning of KISS…
No they do not keep in touch with me.
You always had a nice relationship with Ace; how do you see him today? Becausefortunately we can say that he has remained clean and sober since quite a long time ago!
Ace is currently working on a book to be released in November. I do talk to Ace occasionally, as amatter of fact I spoke to him last week. He sounds great.
What do you think about the current KISS? Considering that you were there in the beginning,and that you have witnessed the creation of the four characters, do you think it is alright that Tommy and Eric don the makeup and costume designs originally created for Ace and Peter respectively almost 40 years ago?
I really don’t have a problem with that. As they say….”The Show Must Go On”.
In 2010 Bill Aucoin sadly passed away. We know you attended his funeral, feeling deeplytouched by that sad event. After both you and Bill ceased to work with the band, did you alwayskeep in touch?
After my divorce, I didn’t see much of anyone from the KISS organization. After some years passed Ireconnected with Bill Aucoin. I then got married again, and sort of lost Bill. Then for the past 11 or 12 year Bill and I have always been in touch with each other. He stayed at my apartment the last trip to NY beforehe passed away.
Looking back, what things would you change if you could and what things would you leavethe way they happened?
I don’t think I would change anything, except I should have not gotten married the second time. It wasa waste of time.
Could you describe Peter in a few words?
I think I did describe him in a previous question.
Finally, could you please leave a message for KISS Army Argentina?
I was in Argentina in 2005 just before I started to work on my book. I am so sorry that I did not contactanyone in the KISS Army, but I didn’t know that you existed. I loved your country and especially thepeople. I look forward to revisiting Argentina again, this time I will let you all know before I do.
Lydia, once again, thanks a lot for the time you devoted to this interview.
You are welcome, and thank you for being KISS fans!!
XoxoInterview by: MARCELO GARCIA and DIEGO FERREYRA of KISS ARMY ARGENTINA
Translation: MARIANA ABELLO