Let Me Go, Rock 'N' Roll

KISS on Nightline

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Jill Cataldo

KISS fan, syndicated newspaper columnist, KISS fan, workshop instructor, KISS fan, mother of three, KISS fan, coupon queen, KISS fan.

KISS was on ABC's Nightline last week. The segment was filmed at the Chicago and Minneapolis shows, and if you didn't blink while you were watching the backstage portion, you saw...

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(Just like the children's book "Where's Waldo?" ... you get to play "Where's Jill?")

It's been such a joy to blog about KISS, their infusion into my life, and their 2009 tour. On to 2010!

I left my daughter backstage with KISS.

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Jill Cataldo

KISS fan, syndicated newspaper columnist, KISS fan, workshop instructor, KISS fan, mother of three, KISS fan, coupon queen, KISS fan.

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On Saturday night, I did something that would have been unthinkable during the 1970s. I took my 13-year-old daughter backstage after the KISS concert... and I left her there for three hours.

Before you react and think I'm a horrible parent, relax. Gene Simmons had already left the building.




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KISSing your kids

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Jill Cataldo

KISS fan, syndicated newspaper columnist, KISS fan, workshop instructor, KISS fan, mother of three, KISS fan, coupon queen, KISS fan.

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This weekend marked milestones in my sons' young lives -- and in the life of any KISS fan. The boys attended their first KISS concerts. Now, the uninitiated might question whether taking children to a loud, pyrotechnic-filled spectacle is a good idea at all. But when you're a die-hard, devoted fan of the hottest band in the land, and also a parent, it's only natural to reach a point where you'll want to introduce your children to KISS.

At ages two and four, my boys are well aware of their mother's passion for KISS. They've never known a world in which KISS did not exist. And, for our children, KISS is everywhere -- KISS songs rock our car when I'm driving to them to play group each week. KISS magnets hold their artwork up on our refrigerator. KISS's makeup faces are floating on rubber ducks when they take their baths. KISS is emblazoned on their clothes, posted on their bedroom walls, and carried in their hearts.

Ever since the beginning of the tour, as Mom and Dad have jaunted off to various cities throughout the Alive 35 tour, our boys have asked when they could attend their first KISS concert. With two back-to-back Midwest KISS shows over the past weekend, it seemed the perfect time to fully initiate them into KISS World.



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A double-shot KISS weekend

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Jill Cataldo

KISS fan, syndicated newspaper columnist, KISS fan, workshop instructor, KISS fan, mother of three, KISS fan, coupon queen, KISS fan.

KISS roared into Chicago on Friday and continued rocking Minneapolis the next night. And with two Midwest shows back-to-back, you can bet I wasn't about to miss either of them!

Chicagoland is home to me, so anytime the boys in makeup return to our area, you can find me there. I was very excited to learn earlier in the week that KISS was dangerously close to selling out the United Center, the largest venue they've ever played in Chicago.

After leaving the house around 3:30pm, we arrived at the United Center just before 6pm. Yes, you read that right... traffic was just that bad. So bad, in fact, that the band missed their own soundcheck trying to get from their hotel in the Loop to the United Center.




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The in-and-out KISS show

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Jill Cataldo

KISS fan, syndicated newspaper columnist, KISS fan, workshop instructor, KISS fan, mother of three, KISS fan, coupon queen, KISS fan.

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Is there anything more exhilarating than the in-and-out KISS show?

Die-hard KISS fans have long been familiar with the in-and-out... it's when we decide, impulsively, to go to a KISS concert (typically nowhere near where we live,) make arrangements to arrive just before the concert begins, enjoy the concert -- and then return home right afterward.

When I was younger, single, and untied to Mom duties, I loved the sheer bliss of jaunting off to another state, seeing my favorite band, and being back home in time to go to work the next day. Yes, it's a little crazy, but being a lifelong KISS fan already warrants a certain level of craziness.
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Halloween... KISS style.

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Jill Cataldo

KISS fan, syndicated newspaper columnist, KISS fan, workshop instructor, KISS fan, mother of three, KISS fan, coupon queen, KISS fan.

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Halloween is tomorrow, and what goes better together than Halloween and KISS? Earlier this week, our 3 children picked out their Halloween pumpkins and decided what kinds of faces to carve this year.

And, no surprise... they were KISS faces.

(And no, this wasn't the first time we've done this, either...)

Kids tend to embrace KISS because KISS represents a kind of continual Halloween state anyway, with their trademark facepaint and superhero, larger-than-life personas. After cleaning the "yucky stuff" out of the pumpkins, I asked our 2-year-old whose face he'd like me to carve on his.

"Paww Stanwey."

You got it, buddy.

Our 4-year-old chose the God of Thunder, Gene Simmons, and our 13-year-old tackled her favorite drummer, Eric Singer. This was her first year carving her own pumpkin, and she did a bang-up job capturing Eric's cat essence... in gourd form.

My husband chose to carve the Gene pumpkin, which left me the task of turning a large garden vegetable into the visage of my favorite dazzlingly iconic lead singer.
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Being Paul Stanley

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Jill Cataldo

KISS fan, syndicated newspaper columnist, KISS fan, workshop instructor, KISS fan, mother of three, KISS fan, coupon queen, KISS fan.

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At some point, if you're a die-hard KISS fan, you've worn the facepaint of at least one of your heroes. And, with Halloween approaching, it's only natural that we should discuss the finer points of dressing for success... in greasepaint.

For me, it was always Paul. That star... those blood-red lips... I couldn't dream of dressing as anyone else.




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The gift that keeps on giving...

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Jill Cataldo

KISS fan, syndicated newspaper columnist, KISS fan, workshop instructor, KISS fan, mother of three, KISS fan, coupon queen, KISS fan.

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As I write this, KISS currently has the #1 rock album in the country. "Sonic Boom" is the highest-debuting KISS album in the band's career... and judging from the current charts it seems that we die-hards aren't the only ones with KISS fever. The album is also at the tops of the charts around the world! It's a very good time to be a fan of the hottest band in the land.

As it's been so many years since the last KISS studio album was released, our circle of friends in our "KISS family" were all a little crazy when Sonic Boom came out. As fans, we of course want to buy our albums the very first week to bump those sales numbers up. And, the album is priced so low - $12 for a 3-disc set!
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The night I threw underwear at KISS

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Jill Cataldo

KISS fan, syndicated newspaper columnist, KISS fan, workshop instructor, KISS fan, mother of three, KISS fan, coupon queen, KISS fan.

(Before I even begin this entry, I would like to clarify that this was the first, and only time in my life that I've ever thrown underwear at a band. Second... they were not even my underwear... read on.)

I saw a lot of shows on KISS's Farewell Tour (fearing that it actually was going to be the last tour, I was like a junkie getting her last big music fix.) When the tour swung back into Chicagoland yet again on September 30th of that year, my friend and I once again had seats in the front row, smack in the center of the stage.

We were very excited about the show, of course, and in the days approaching the concert, my friend asked me a somewhat off-the-wall question -- had I ever thrown underwear on stage at a concert?



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Every mother's (and father's) nightmare...

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Jill Cataldo

KISS fan, syndicated newspaper columnist, KISS fan, workshop instructor, KISS fan, mother of three, KISS fan, coupon queen, KISS fan.

Having spent most of my life as a devoted KISS fan, I've long dealt with people who don't quite understand the KISS Army's passion for this band. And that's okay, of course --  not everyone wants, enjoys, or loves the same things in life.

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But after spending many years in my youth with my family "tolerating" (if not understanding) my KISS problem, there came a time when I reached a point where I wanted to try to get my family to understand, at least somewhat, what I see and feel as a KISS fan. One of my longtime friends had taken his (elderly!) parents to a show during the Reunion tour so that they could experience the band live, which got me thinking about doing the same...

So, in the spring of 2000, right around Mother's Day, KISS was in the midst of their Farewell Tour (which, thankfully, wasn't really a farewell tour, as they're still touring today.) I never miss a KISS show when they're playing here at home in Chicago, and the band played back-to-back nights at the Rosemont Horizon on May 11th and 12th.

The first night, a friend and I went to see the mighty KISS. The second night? I took my mom to her first big rock show.

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First KISS, last lick

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Jill Cataldo

KISS fan, syndicated newspaper columnist, KISS fan, workshop instructor, KISS fan, mother of three, KISS fan, coupon queen, KISS fan.

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On my way to meet KISS for the first time, I ran into Peter Criss in an elevator.

(Really. What are the odds of that?)

It was 1993 in Burbank, California. I was 19 years old and on my first (of many) trips to see KISS. This trip was unique in that it was my first trip away from home, with no friends or family accompanying me on my big KISS adventure... but really, who needs traveling companions when you're on your way to meet the hottest band in the world?
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KISS explodes with Sonic Boom today!

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Jill Cataldo

KISS fan, syndicated newspaper columnist, KISS fan, workshop instructor, KISS fan, mother of three, KISS fan, coupon queen, KISS fan.

It's finally here... KISS's new album, Sonic Boom, is in Walmart stores today!

This is the band's first new album in 11 years, and as fans, it's been eagerly... no, impatiently... excitedly... joyously awaited by fans such as myself. And, while often in my (younger) youth, I'd be at the store at midnight to get my hands on the new album du jour, I hadn't done this in over a decade... since the last KISS studio album.

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Which is precisely why my husband and I decided we'd do exactly that. Last night after dinner, we put all the kids to bed early (in their KISS t-shirts and pajama pants, naturally) and told them we'd wake them up and go get each of them a copy of "Sonic Boom" at midnight. (We're very good parents... but once in a while, we will do something completely out of the box with the kids... so we want to make sure they're well-rested and up for the adventure.) This turned out to be a grand saga...
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Detroit Rock City KISS trip, 9/25-26

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Jill Cataldo

KISS fan, syndicated newspaper columnist, KISS fan, workshop instructor, KISS fan, mother of three, KISS fan, coupon queen, KISS fan.

"I feel uptight on a Saturday night..." -- KISS' "Detroit Rock City"

 Uptight? Perhaps not... but indeed, I'd be happier if I were at tonight's KISS show!

As I write this, I'm listening to tonight's Mohegan Sun KISS concert on my phone. Yes, a friend has called me from Connecticut so I can hear the show..! How bad is that?

Actually, it's great. Even through the phone, KISS sounds vibrant and energizing and alive. All night I've been thinking about where I was a week ago today, when KISS kicked off their Alive 35 tour with two electrifying shows in Detroit's Cobo Hall.

So what's a weekend like in the life of this KISS fan?

Friday, September 25th, 2009

(All times are semi-approximate... I don't wear a watch!)

10:30am - Husband and I, after leaving our KISS children in the excellent care of their grandparents, drive 5+ hours from home in Chicagoland to Detroit. Throughout drive, we receive phonecalls from friends who attended Thursday night's dress rehearsal & we lament that life, work, and children prevented us from leaving a day earlier. Friends dish details on new stage, new costumes, and how dangerous/unsavory downtown Detroit is. Friends also advise that under no circumstances should we attempt to walk the four blocks between the hotel and the arena, again due to the current state of downtown Detroit.

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4:00pm - Arrive at hotel. Drop bags at room, visit friends, head to Cobo. Pick up tickets and laminates and head backstage. While walking behind arena, marvel at the multitude -- actually, truckloads -- of flammable gas tanks stacked outside. KISS shows have always had a lot of pyro, but there are enough canisters here to blow the building apart... which we fully expect the band to do in a few hours.
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So how did it all start?

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Jill Cataldo

KISS fan, syndicated newspaper columnist, KISS fan, workshop instructor, KISS fan, mother of three, KISS fan, coupon queen, KISS fan.

I was born the year KISS's first album hit record stores, so some of the older members of the KISS Army might already snicker at my being a "youngster..." but it didn't take long for KISS to reach out and grab me... and I vividly remember the day that happened.

Somewhere around 1980-1981, I was a brainy, capricious child who loved PBS television, particularly the children's science show, "3-2-1 Contact." I never missed this show when it aired! I loved watching scientific experiments and learning how things worked.

And one day, as I sat down to watch 3-2-1 Contact, instead of talking about how prisms refracted light or how photosynthesis took place, one of the show's hosts, Trini, took her young viewers to a most unexpected place - a KISS concert. The segment showed the road crew discussing what goes into setting up a large rock concert, assembling the lighting rigs and audio gear and the stage itself. And then... incredible concert footage of the hottest band in the land blasted into my living room.

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I am a KISS fan.

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Jill Cataldo

KISS fan, syndicated newspaper columnist, KISS fan, workshop instructor, KISS fan, mother of three, KISS fan, coupon queen, KISS fan.

I am a KISS fan.

I am also a mother of three, workshop instructor, journalist
and blogger... but before I earned any of those other titles, I was a KISS fan.

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I have been a KISS fan for almost 30 of my 35 years, and it's affected my life in the most incredible (and at times, unbelievable) ways. It's probably also one of the things that surprises people who know me professionally. When my KISS life crosses paths with my "normal" life, people typically react with surprise... "You? A KISS fan?"

Yes, I am. No matter what picture you may have in your head about the average KISS fan, I can tell you that we are everywhere, and we are many. We are professionals, parents, scout leaders, sports coaches and Sunday School teachers. And yes, through it all, we're KISS fans.

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