Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Dressed as Kiss, crowd licks it up at MTS Centre

They were made for loving band that's still hotter than hell

  • Print

John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press

Zane Zinkiewicz and Jesse Gesualdo of J-Man and The Boyz are clearly big Kiss fans.

THE Kiss Army is mobilizing and Ricky Zimmermann is ready to march into the trenches. Again.

He's left behind $120,000 worth of Kiss memorabilia in his Winnipeg home, decked out in a Gene Simmons wig and high-heeled boots in homage to the band's frontman. The makeup is spot-on and ornate scales rise from his boots to his thighs.

"I've told my family that when I die, before I get cremated you have to put me in my costume and burn me like this," Zimmermann said, standing in the lobby of the MTS Centre before the iconic American rock band hit the stage Thursday night.


"Dead serious," Zimmermann replied.

Hotter than hell, indeed.

But then the Kiss Army has been recruiting soldiers since 1974, when the band's first album debuted. All these years later, the troops remain fervently loyal.

So Zimmermann wasn't alone. Darren Lehman was in line with his wife, Emanuela, and three children: Dayton, 12, Tessa, 9, and Sienna, 7. All had their faces made up in classic Kiss designs, emulating original band members Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss.

It was the first time young Tessa and Sienna were to see Kiss live, but let's just say they've heard the lyrics of Detroit Rock City and Love Gun for, well, forever.

"When they were in the wombs they were listening to it," said Lehman. "We had the music on, we had the headsets on. By the time he (Dayton) was three, he knew all the words to Rock and Roll All Night."

Added Emanuela: "It's in their blood now."

For the record, the Lehmans don't just get out the Kiss makeup for concerts. "When we do this, it's not just for Halloween, but when we're bored in the house," said the machine adjuster.

In fact, the Lehmans' bathroom is pimped out in honour of the band. The overhead light is the shape of a Kiss logo. When you flush the toilet, the song Rock N' Roll Over plays.

They call their washroom "the hottest can in the land."

Darren and Emanuela were high school sweethearts from their days at Maples Collegiate. When they were married 11 years ago, Darren and the wedding party arrived at the social in Kiss face makeup.

Zimmermann can relate. Just last year, he and wife Krista renewed their wedding vows in Las Vegas at the Kiss Monster Mini Golf Course, which is adjacent to the Hotter Than Hell Wedding Chapel.

The ceremony was performed by a Kiss impersonator. They have pictures and everything.

"It was awesome," Krista said. "It was a lot of fun."

Zimmermann installs flooring and has been working so hard lately Krista didn't have the heart to get him to put on her makeup for last night's gig. It's usually a family thing, including their three children.

But then the Kiss Army has long been populated by generational regiments. Patti Kafka, a 50-something mother, was in attendance with 22-year-old son Brendan. "I've been listening to them since my 20s," Patti said. "Finally, I have enough money to go to a concert. I didn't then."

Asked if the band had become too old for rock, Kafka replied, "No, because that means I'm too old. And I'm not. If they can still keep us happy, so what?"

Indeed, there was no shortage of fans at the MTS Centre who were born around the time Kiss hits became classic rock. They don't care.

"I like old school music," said Keara Chisholm, 16. "It's wicked."

"It's the vibe," added Emma Marsden, 14. "It gets you pumped. Rebellious and all that."

Craig Henckel would agree. Dressed in his Simmons outfit (the tongue is real), he stands 6-11. His day job is painting trailers. At a gathering of Kiss fanatics, he's a star. People stop to take his picture. One fan wants him to autograph his shirt.

"If I walk down the street, I'm a nobody," Henckel said. "But if I put on 25 pounds of leather, makeup and wear high heels, women throw themselves at me. I'm not kidding. It's a blast."

What is the secret of Kiss’s lasting success? Join the conversation in the comments below.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 19, 2013 A4


Updated on Friday, July 19, 2013 at 7:03 AM CDT: Replaces photo, adds slideshow, adds question for discussion

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Jets vs. Ducks Series promo

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • PHIL.HOSSACK@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 090728 / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS White Pelicans belly up to the sushi bar Tuesday afternoon at Lockport. One of North America's largest birds is a common sight along the Red RIver and on Lake Winnipeg. Here the fight each other for fish near the base of Red RIver's control structure, giving human fisher's downstream a run for their money.
  • Two Canadian geese perch themselves for a perfect view looking at the surroundings from the top of a railway bridge near Lombard Ave and Waterfront Drive in downtown Winnipeg- Standup photo- May 01, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos


Do you agree with the sale of the Canadian Wheat Board to foreign companies?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google