Kiss, Cher, and Rock and Roll

by Melisa Wells on April 16, 2014

Buckle up for this one. It’s going to be a crazy, zig-zaggy ride.

When I heard the news a couple of weeks ago that Kiss was finally going to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I was thrilled, but surprised that they weren’t already in there.

Sidenote: You might be surprised to learn that I’m a big fan of Kiss. Surprise! I like their music a lot, I think Gene Simmons is one of the smartest business-minds out there, and shhhh! Guilty pleasure alert: I loved watching the adventures of the Tweed-Simmons family on A&E’s “Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels” (“Scripted Reality” or not, that was good television). Oddly enough, I became a Kiss fan after purchasing and playing to death the soundtrack to a 1981 movie I was not allowed to see at that time: “Endless Love”. Kiss’ song “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” was on that record album (yes, record album), and that’s what got me hooked.

The movie soundtrack was not my first exposure to the music, though. I knew about Kiss before that, but just didn’t like them. Naturally, I have a story.

Anyway, the news of the band’s induction and subsequently, their first Rolling Stone cover ever—I mean, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? First ever???—got me thinking about my fifth grade talent show. I decided, with my friend Suzanne, to audition for the talent show even though the idea of being on stage made me want to throw up. We thought it would be fantastic to be in the talent show doing a Sonny and Cher variety act. Suzanne, being a petite little thing, was going to take on the role of Sonny Bono. Being taller, I lucked out because I would be Cher.

We practiced our song (“I Got You, Babe”, of course) and a couple of jokes in the fun-loving-but-biting style that the duo shared on their television show. And we practiced. And we practiced.

In fact, I thought even more about practicing for that talent show when I pulled this out of my closet recently…

Butterfly disco shirt

…because had my mom bought it in 1978 instead of 1980, perhaps I would have worn that to the talent show. That’s definitely a Cher-worthy shirt.

On the day of auditions, I was completely grossed out by a group of boys that was ahead of us. They were auditioning as a band named Kiss that I had never heard of, and the boy who was impersonating Gene Simmons had ketchup packets in his mouth that, at the right time, he bit down on so as to look like he was spitting “blood” just like Gene did onstage. I thought it was disgusting. Also, the ketchup smelled awful.

Suzanne and I ended up making the talent show but chickened out shortly after being selected. We were both having second thoughts about our act (funny, the real Sonny and Cher ended up having second thoughts, too) and I didn’t want to see those boys performing their Kiss song with the stinky ketchup, anyway.

Years later in 1985 and after I had become a Kiss fan, I accompanied Jim’s family to the Knoxville airport to see him off to Navy Boot Camp. When we arrived at the gate, we noticed that Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley were sitting there, waiting for their plane.

I KNOW, RIGHT???!!!!

We sat in the next row over and watched person after person go over and ask for autographs. My sister-in-law (then thirteen) and I (then seventeen) were too afraid to approach them. They had enormous presence, ENORMOUS and intimidating. Although I was trying to work up the courage to say something, they jokingly gave a teenaged boy a hard time when he asked them to sign his cassette tape and I decided I would just observe.

Eventually they got up to board their plane and once they were out of sight my sister-in-law and I immediately went over to where they had been sitting, sat down, and started singing crazy songs about how our butts were in the same spots as the butts of Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons. Don’t visualize me doing that as the Melisa you know now; picture me doing it as the Melisa from back then. Trust me. It’s not quite as scary or creepy. Maybe. And that’s the story of why Kiss has a special place in my heart.

Oh, one more thing. As I wrote this post I remembered that Cher and Gene Simmons dated for a while (in 1979-80). It really has nothing to do with anything but I think that random pop culture fact is a pretty good way to connect all the pieces of this nonsensical post, don’t you think?

Or maybe just this:


Many of us have loved ones who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Two of the cast members from Chicago’s 2012 LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER show are survivors, in fact. Brandie Langer and Katy Jacob are two of the reasons why we chose a local organization that is a support service and exercise program for breast cancer survivors to be the beneficiary of 10% of our ticket proceeds this year.

There are, indeed, lots of worthy organizations and events that raise money towards research, care, prevention, and treatment of breast cancer. I’ve got another one for you right here.

The Avon Walk For Breast Cancer, a two-day, 39-mile fundraising walk which began in 2003 and raised $5.2 million dollars in Chicago ALONE last year, is coming back to the area on May 31 and June 1. For the fourth year in a row, Cadillac is a major supporter of the walk. For the third year in a row, I have friends who are participating. But more on that in a minute: let me get back to Cadillac.

One of the fabulous ways that Cadillac is supporting the walk is to donate $25 to the fundraising account of the walker of your choice when you (and anyone else as long as they’re over the age of eighteen!) test drive a car at a participating Cadillac dealer on Saturday, April 12 and Saturday, April 26 (and provide a registered walker’s 6-digit participant number). Test drivers will receive a receipt verifying the test drive and the donation. Really, it couldn’t be easier, and you don’t even have to spend your own money unless you decide after the test drive that you want to go ahead and buy that luxury vehicle you’ve been dreaming about.

Brandie is walking again this year and in fact, if you’re in the Chicago area I would love you even more than I already do if you would head over to test drive a vehicle and assist her in her fundraising efforts. Her participant number is 441321.

Participating Cadillac dealers in the Chicago area are:

Arnie Bauer Cadillac in Matteson, IL
Bill Jacobs Cadillac in Joliet, IL
Cadillac of Naperville in Naperville, IL
David Bruce Auto Center in Bourbonnais, IL
Ettleson Cadillac in Hodgkins, IL
Frank Shirey Cadillac in Oak Lawn, IL
Gary Lang Cadillac in McHenry, IL
Grossinger Autoplex in Lincolnwood, IL
Grossinger City Autoplex in Chicago, IL
Heritage Cadillac in Lombard, IL
Napleton Cadillac in Calumet City, IL
Schepel Cadillac in Merrillville, IN
Steve Foley Cadillac in Northbrook, IL
DeKalb Cadillac in Sycamore, IL
Tony Rizza Cadillac in Tinley Park, IL
Weil Cadillac in Libertyville, IL

Thanks to Brandie for walking once again and helping the cause, thanks to Cadillac for their commitment, and thanks in advance to YOU.

Avon Walk for Breast Cancer logo

{ 1 comment }

Hearing The Signal Loud And Clear

April 8, 2014

I have spent the last two and half weeks coasting through my days with only about half of my hearing. (Nothing to see here, just a little excess wax buildup that apparently couldn’t be taken care of with over-the-counter fixes. IT HAPPENS TO LOTS OF PEOPLE. Pretend I didn’t feel the need to explain it […]

Read the full article →

A Different Kind Of Motherhood

April 3, 2014

Being in the thick of LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER season, I tend to get a little crazed because there is just so much to do. Okay, that’s my life. It really does get a little more intense this time of year, though. Tracey and I don’t just spend our time thinking about (and taking action […]

Read the full article →

Beautiful and Enchanted

April 1, 2014

One of the things I loved most about this house when we bought it in December 2000 was the screened-in back porch. The following summer we spiffed it up a little bit with some pretty little flower lights that gave the porch an enchanted quality at night, some Adirondack chairs that a friend found for […]

Read the full article →

SO Sick.

March 28, 2014

I write a lot about how much I love my husband and how we make a great team. What you may not know is that there are certain areas in which we are total opposites. He hates social media, for example. That makes me laugh like crazy, considering the fact that social media is WHAT […]

Read the full article →

Go West, Young Man! (Part 2)

March 27, 2014

Last weekend D left his Wisconsin home to head out west with three friends on a trip he’s been talking about for nearly a year. To sum it up, they are driving all the way across the country to visit (and camp and hike in) a couple of different national parks. This is totally different […]

Read the full article →

Old School Blogging: The Questions

March 25, 2014

We bloggers who have been around for a while often reminisce about the good old days, when we had to blog uphill on foot, BOTH WAYS. Or something like that. Back in September I wrote about how I wanted to bring the Blogroll back because back in the day we all had Blogrolls and we […]

Read the full article →

Buick Regal Baby, Or…Buick Regal, Baby!

March 24, 2014

Back in November I attended an OnStar Immersion event in Detroit that was co-sponsored by Buick. I have worked with General Motors for a few years now, but was mostly driving Chevrolet and GMC vehicles* (loved every single one!). This was my first up close and personal look at Buick. That weekend I rode in […]

Read the full article →

Game Show Car Work (Not Necessarily In That Order)

March 21, 2014

I have been covering the BlogHer Twitter stream for Momo this week, who took spring break off so she could spend quality time with her kids without keeping one eyeball on her phone or her laptop at all times (seriously). Because I work with her AND because she is one of my closest friends, I […]

Read the full article →