I saw my first Kiss concert in November of ’77. From the opening chord every other adolescent obsession in my life dropped dead before the shiny leather boots of those golden gladiators. We drove them wild, they drove us crazy. That was also the night I lifted my first wallet. And my second and third.
FThe first was a drunken doofus in a Kiss Alive T-shirt, stumbling from the bathroom, his over-fed wallet taunting me like a vinyl-lined carrot on a string. He wandered into a hallway that was just crowded enough for an “accidental” bump he wouldn’t notice until the next morning.
“Oops, excuse me, nice shirt, I hear that tour rocked.”
That was all it took. I dipped into the crowd eighty-one dollars richer,
eyes already locked on victim number two. If I’d spent that night with my eyes fully open I would have noticed something. I would have figured out how skilled I was at it. I would have learned where my talents really resided. But no…
Thieves – even damn good ones – don’t make the cover of Rolling Stone. They don’t get the supermodel girlfriends or the backstage BJs from strung out groupies who can’t wait to tell their friends what a jerk you were in person. They don’t the glory. They don’t get adored.
I wanted to be adored. I wanted to be Ace Frehley.
So I dusted off my big brother’s neglected six-stringer and locked away my real talent – thievery – for those desperate times when I needed thirty or forty bucks until things got rolling with the band.
Nineteen years later things never got rolling with the band. Nineteen years of drummers too drunk to rehearse and gigs that didn’t pay much and managers and crystal meth-addicted girlfriends who were too nice to tell me I just wasn’t good enough.
When reality did reveal itself, I figured I’d slam shut that chapter of my life by assembling one last band for one last gig – a fire-breathing, demon-fueled tribute to the greatest four-man circus known to the rock and roll world. And if you’ve been paying attention you know I’m not talking about The Goddamn Beatles.
Here was the plan: Jason Welsh was drafted to be our Peter Criss, The Cat. He was a drummer and car thief from Bloomington. The plan was that after the show, he’d wipe away his make-up and slip backstage to the vender’s area where the money was to be counted and collected. He would intercept the cashbox before it got to the armored goons and replace it with a box of paper. He’d have a nine-millimeter on hand in case someone needed persuading.