Musicians in Disguise: Why They Hide
Peter Criss, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley and Gene Simmons of KISS in London, 1976 at the Various Locations in Various Cities, Unspecified. (Photo by Chris Walter/WireImage)
They're utterly mysterious and strangely exciting. They drive the imagination wild when we watch them on stage. They can fly you to the moon and steal your heart, or rip it out of your chest and devour it whole. And we're not just talking about boy bands.
Who are these figures and what does it all mean? Terrifying or enchanting, we just can't take our eyes off of a musician in disguise. In a world flooded with perfectly airbrushed close-ups, these artists have chosen a route of solemn (and many times silly) secrecy that gives them an edge like none other.
Let's take a look at the flesh and blood faces of some of the most well-known undercover artists and why they fell for the allure of anonymity.
Peter Criss, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley and Gene Simmons of KISS in London, 1976 (Photo by Chris Walter/WireImage)
Established: 1973 in New York City
Who they are (originally): Starchild - Paul Stanley, The Demon - Gene Simmons, Spaceman or Space Ace (Ace Frehley) and Catman (Peter Criss)
How the disguises came about: Wanting to take part in the androgynous glitter look of the '70s, the members of Kiss soon found out that effeminate makeup and clothes did not work on their burly builds. The face paint designs came as a complete stream of consciousness on Gene Simmons's part, literally just looking in the mirror and beginning to draw.
Current disguise of choice: The signature white and black face paint designs have remained the same over the decades, but the rest of the get-ups have been upgraded from spandex jumpsuits to full-on metal and leather rock warrior costumes. Not to mention a revolving door of line-up changes.
Reason for going anonymous: "Getting up onstage was almost a holy place for us, like church, so being onstage looking like a bum wasn't my idea of respect. That's where the makeup and dressing up came in. It would have obviously been a lot easier to get up onstage in jeans and T-shirts and go, 'Okay, here we are--we're the Ramones!' And that would have been just as valid, but it would not have been honest." - Gene Simmons