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Peter Criss - "Makeup To Breakup" book

By John Jeffrey

Attention KISS fans!! Brace yourselves, because original drummer Peter Criss has been issued the launch codes, and on October 23, 2012, Criss will be dropping the bomb, which will cause an upheaval in the ranks of the KISS Army for sure! Peter's projectile will come in the form of his autography, "Makeup To Breakup - My Life in and out of KISS" (co-authored by Larry "Ratso" Sloman), which is by far the most scathing and dirt dishing book put out in reference to any member of KISS, past or present. "Makeup To Breakup" makes the dirt rags ("KISS & Tell" by Gordon Gebert and "Into the Void" by Wendy Moore) written about former KISS guitarist Ace Frehley come off looking tame by comparison. Being so volatile, it makes Gene Simmons' "KISS and Makeup" read like a school text book and it's so raw and racy, it makes Ace Frehley's "No Regrets" seem like an after-school special.

"Makeup to Breakup" does start out rather slow, as the first couple of chapters deal with Peter's childhood, which is the oh so typical, 'poor kid, growing up in a poor neighborhood, gets picked on by the neighborhood bad boys, fights back, eventually becomes one himself, until finding an outlet to escape his surroundings and begins the path on the road to his journey of fame and stardom.'

The beginning of Peter's musical life also coincides with beginning of his relationship with his childhood sweetheart and first wife Lydia Criss. Interestingly enough, the chapters surrounding their relationship and the early days of KISS, closely parallels Lydia's own story she published in her book, "Sealed with a KISS." Getting further into the book, I began recognizing stories that I had read in other KISS related books, like Sean Delaney's "Hellbox" and certain factual data which I recalled reading in "KISS Alive Forever" (Jeff Suhs & Curt Gooch). It's good to know that Criss and Sloman did their homework when compiling the stories and the dates of when things occurred, but unfortunately, I can only give them a B or a C for their efforts, as there are quite a few factual and grammatical errors in the book. While I won't nitpick every mistake, big ones in there are the dates of the last show he claims he performed with KISS (in the picture section of the book it states it was December 20, 2004, when it was actually 2003) and the year that his father passed away (the book states 1995, when it was in December of 1994).

When Peter begins recounting details from the early days of KISS, the readers jaw will undoubtedly drop. While some fans would suspect that Peter would touch on Paul Stanley's long rumored bi-sexual tendencies (which Peter does touch on briefly), it was shocking to read Criss' claims of Ace Frehley's sexual duality. Not only does Peter allude to receiving oral sex from Frehley during a threesome, but stated that he questioned the true nature of Ace's "friendship" with one of his (Ace's) longtime friends.

Peter Criss provides a descriptive and detailed account of his first, second and third run with KISS, in addition to his personal relationships with various girlfriends and his first, second and third wives (Lydia, Debra and currently Gigi). He also provides his account of the beginning and end of his various solo projects, his run in with the mafia, his stint in rehab, his (almost) attempted suicide, and most recently, his diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.

When describing his various 'reunions' with KISS from 1996 on, you get a clear picture that instead of time healing wounds between Criss and his former bandmates, instead, it created a brand new hatred for Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and manager Doc McGhee. His distain of the KISS Co. trio became so extreme that he needed to seek professional counseling in order to prevent himself from following through with his ever increasing fantasy of "packing a gun and taking a plane to L.A. and shooting the three cocksuckers." Keeping with co-author Larry Sloman's self-deprecating writing style, Peter did not hesitate to throw himself under the bus throughout the tales in his memoir, however it seems no one else in Peter's circle was safe from that fate as well. While constantly citing his history of repeated drug use, he claims he and Ace were not the only ones to partake in the festivities. He claims that Gene and Paul were "contact high" throughout the recording sessions of "Dressed To Kill," due to all of the marijuana being smoked by producer Neil Bogart. Peter proclaimed, "Gene would order four dozen donuts and chow on them constantly." Later on, Criss alluded to Paul Stanley being a doctor shopping, prescription drug addict, stating that he carried a Louis Vuitton bag filled with everything from pain killers, tranquilizers to sexual stimulants, along with a "phone book of over 50 doctors' names."

(Then again, it would have been weirder if he carried a list of local drug rehab centers around.)

The thing I found most surprising in the book is Criss' apparent bitterness towards Ace Frehley. Most KISS fans always viewed the band as a divided group, with Gene and Paul on one side and Peter and Ace on the other. However, in "Makeup to Breakup" Peter makes it clear that he certainly doesn't reside with team Frehley. While it seems that he feels a kinship to Ace, from the very early days of the band, Peter comments on how lazy Ace was, and states that while he felt that he (Peter) was the best singer in the band (even a better vocalist than Paul), that Ace should have never been allowed to sing in KISS. It seems that because Peter was the third member to join the band, he disagreed with the idea that Ace was more valuable to KISS than he was. Peter always fought to make as much money as Ace did during the 'Reunion' era, and was devastated when he found out that Ace was making more money than he was on the Farewell tour. Between that and Ace going along with Criss' termination in 1979, it seems that Peter still holds a grudge somewhat, as he even noted that the song he wrote called "Space Ace" (from his 2007 "One for All" CD), was not a tribute to Ace like most people thought (including Ace), but actually a slam for "Ace's betrayal."

As scandalous and sensationalized "Makeup to Breakup" is, the storytelling and attention to detail (although at times flawed) is really top notch. It's an entertaining read for any music or KISS fan and it will be up to the reader to determine what may be fact or fiction. Like part of the old William Cooper quote goes, "Listen to everyone, read everything, (and) believe nothing."

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Reader Comments (25)

Pete is delusional. Always has been. Whiner. Complainer.
Terrible drummer. Off key singer. He took Stan Penridge's
songs and put his name on them. He couldn't write a song
to save his life.

So happy that Paul fired him. He wasn't good enough to
carry Eric Carr's and Eric Singer's drum sticks. Carr and
Singer sang better than him, too.

Bitter Criss has been forgotten. Good riddance.

October 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKISS Army 4 Star General

Criss should stop complaining and consider himself lucky. He made a lot of money while being a sub-standard musician. Anyone who knows about drumming will know that he was a hack even on his best day. Seems that he wasn't a particularly nice guy either. So he made his money riding on the coat-tails of more talented people, and now that the ride is over, he trashes them. Idiot.

October 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFearOfTheDark

I wasn't going to read his book because he's Proven over the years,you can't believe a word out of his mouth. I decided I needed a good laugh so based o. This review, it should get interesting even if I don't believe the majority of it. He's always been that whining bad employee who always has a higher opinion of his talent than everyone else thinks. His favorite word seems to be "I" based on previous books & articles I've read. He was the first kiss drummer but will always be third best as a drummer & singer behind both Eric's. Wish he'd learn to truly forgive and forget with Paul, gene, and ace and everyone else. Life is too short. I. Chris jericho's first book, he talked about a bartender mixing drinks named after gene, Paul, & ace. Why no Peter? Because nobody cared that much for him. Pretty much says it all. Peter, embrace the past. Forgive everyone else. Enjoy life. Let the bitterness go buddy.

October 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersinger for prez

He has no reason to make this stuff up. KISS fans have always suspected this over the decades and guess what? We don't care. We know it's all about greed, girls and egos. I expect to see more books like this in the future. You can't buy everyone out from writing about their own part of a little Kisstory.

October 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKISS Army forever


October 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCARRFAN

Peter Criss was an original in Kiss. He is also an original Bull Shit talker. Sorry to see him shame himself yet himself yet again. Farewell Peter, you live up to your name. A true Peter.

October 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJerry

Peter, I am and will always be a Kiss fan. I am not a Peter Criss fan any longer though. What I have raed online of your book is a major let down. It makes you a fool. You left Kiss in 1980, you should of stayed gone. Kiss is better, much better without your bitterness around. Best of luck with your tell all book anyways. I ordered one. I must be a sucker too Catman.

October 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShame on Criss

As it says in the liner notes in the book "IT" by Stephen King..."Fiction is the truth inside the lie." What does that mean? It means that there is probably some shred of truth in this book. Or another way of saying "where there is smoke, there is fire." As a 14 year old I certainly didn't want to hear about all the chaos within the band as it would have tarnished my idea of them. Their handlers did a great job of packaging them. As a now 46 year old, I am fascinated by what I didn't want to know then. It won't change what I think of them. It will just make them more human...right?

October 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEric Carr Fan

Ever since Criss screamed 'Fuck Off' at me for the crime of asking for a photo with him at a signing event in '94 he's not been high on my list of favourite folk. BUT he is the original drummer for KISS and at least he has the balls to say it. We may not like to think all of it is true but deep down we all know that he isn't just making it up. He's sure one for self-aggrandisement but why not, he learned from the best.

I look forward to reading the book and can't believe we in the UK have to wait another month.

October 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAbstractharmony

If Peter Criss EVER thought he can sing he is deaf. As a drummer I can tell you he was and is a hack. He simply got lucky enough to meet some guys who put a show together and he was willing to paint up and go for it. His books stink and he, like most drug addicts, don't know the truth from the next pipe they are going to smoke. He always should have made the least because he is the biggest. Jerk that was ever in the band. He is a talentless loser and the group he joined that got him to say he deserved to be famous were wrong. Seriously dude, go away and get a real job. You blew everything.....literally. No book or another disastrous "album" is going to change that. You are a loser and always will be. Just ask all the people you dumped on on this book.

October 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPCrissSucks

Peter Criss is and always has been a joke. But to call Ace and Paul out on some bi deal while claiming Ace blew him is narcissistic. Peter, I assume you know where your peter was when some dudes whiskers were on it which makes you freaking bi. Please go away.

October 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCrissAce

I think Peter Criss wrote a fairly entertinaing portrayal as seen through his eyes. Without question he was a fella that couldn't remain still and do his job without falling apart on his addictions. But what stands out as a highlight to this story is that both he and Ace were bribed NOT TO PLAY on Psycho Circus.(actually Criss states they received an offer to NOT appear on PC, but did not accept the offer - editor) I thought that was pretty revealing and said plenty about the wool Stanley and company constantly try to pull over the public's perspective in the band. These days I think the only people kidding themselves are the fans that go to the half-KISS, half-imposter shows. And the ones we should really worry about are the suckers who go backstage and pay $1,400.00 to shake hands with two originals and two hired guns. That's sad. So for whatever Criss did wrong in his life, he certainly made out better than the fans that blindly follow the label like stooges at a Star Wars convention. And Peter Criss is dumb? Pot meet kettle.

October 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterClassicKISS

I just finished this book. It's great to FINALLY hear a perspective of "KISSTORY" that isn't Gene or Paul's. I was hoping to get that from Ace's book, but it was more about the partying.

You naysayers should realize that Peter does show remorse for his negative actions throughout the book. That said, he doesn't hold back on anything related to KISS, during his time in the band.

I found this book for detailed and from the heart than any of the other KISS books. In all honesty, it's only competitor so far has been the book Chris Lendt put out years back.

I commend Peter for having the balls to speak his mind on the KISS CORPORATION. This has been years coming. Rock and Roll is a dirty business. Gene and Paul are obviously no angels. If they were, they wouldn't have burned through so many musicians in the 80's.

Get over it, KISS FANS. I too am a KISS fan, but some of your posts about Peter are just down right uninformed and ridiculous. If you can humbly justify the way Gene and Paul have done people over the years, you're a disgrace in your own right.

I am still a KISS fan and I've even bought the last two releases, but I'd be f'n crazy if I didn't admit it's not nearly as incredible as it could be with Ace and Peter. Only those 4 can create that magic.

November 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNo Scab Kiss

Only fools believe all they read. Especially where this book or the other so called tell all Kiss books are concerned. Who really cares anyways, it's the music I enjoyed. Not these grab your attention so you buy my book outings. Who knows what the truth is & I could care less. Rock & Roll All Nite!

November 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSad Day

When will peter the bitter SHUT UP!!!!! so sick of his bull..KISS WASNT DOING WELL WITHOUT IS HE SERIOUS?
HALF EMPTY HALLS...SLOW ALBUM SALES. REally? Wow. Who were all those people at the those shows during 1983 to 1996...holly cow ..not doing well now FANS ARE DISSATISFIED. wow KISS SELL PUT MORE SHOWS NOW THEN EVER BEFORE AND ARE WAY MORE POPULAR ..TOmmy thayer and Eric singer actually have energy and excitement and raw power.peter cross on the reunion. Tour BORING. he is an insult to the kiss naion ..please peter cross GO AWAY!!!!

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermonsterkiss

Good for Peter for speaking up about Gene, Paul, and Ace for that matter. I recently saw KISS on THE TOUR but I was there for Mötley Crüe (huge fan) and not KISS. It was difficult to listen to Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer singing Ace & Peter songs. They are fooling fans especially the young kids and even Jon Gruden think Ace and Peter are still in the band. You wanna be KISS be KISS, but do it without the makeup. You've ruined the legacy of a once great band to a laughing stock. I hate saying it cause its true.

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterparrish gonsalez

I read the book and I found it fascinating and couldn't put it down. I actually disagree with comments regarding Peter's drumming abilities, IMO Peter was Kiss's best drummer and his drumming on Alive! was phenomenal. I can understand Peter's frustration and bitterness towards Gene and Paul and I am glad he pointed out the truth of who helped launch the band as Sean Delaney, Neil Bogart and Bill Aucoin get the credit they deserve.
In saying all that I do feel Peter has only himself to blame for alot of things that went wrong and I found the constant stories of drug abuse quite sickening, Peter pretty much admitted that he was an addict and was out of control. The one major disappointment I have with Peter is that when he was given a chance to redeem himself after the Dynasty tour he pretty much threw that chance away, I think this is the point Peter should have straightened up and focused on becoming a great drummer as his skills had deteriorated. The Psycho Circus fiasco was another disappointment, Kiss did not give the fans what they deserved and that was an album by the original four and that kind of proved to me that Kiss does not really care about the fans but how much money they can continue to make off them. All in all a great read and I hope Peter is content now, he is and always will be the Catman.

December 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHarry Bath

Gene and Paul screwed their guitarists Ace Frehley by out voting him after getting him to agree to remove Peter. Kiss released the Elder. Vinnie Vincent came in and helped Kiss with Creatures and Lick it up and was screwed financially. Mark St. John won guitar awards and accolades and was forced out of Kiss after being run down. Eric Carr became reclusive, alcoholic, and died from cancer which may have been stress related. He was a prisoner. Bruce Kulick was let go from Kiss for Reunion tour and not recalled. Vinnie was screwed again in royalties. Bob Aucoin and Sean Delaney had much to do with Kiss success and Aucoin was fired. Aucoin funded Kiss through their toughest times. The fans were tricked into buying an album supposedly with original members and it was lame. Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer are hired guns at 30 G per concert estimate at best. Gene may have put women at risk for herpes infections. Paul admitted in a guitar mag that the only way he would record with Gene is if he was producer. I believe Peter in his tell all. However, I think he had screwed his wife Lydia out of a good life. I think he was delusional and thought he was Tony Montana in Out of Control video. He has yet to release a very strong album with good production rather than amateur production on an Apple laptop. In 1976, he was a very good drummer and could be again. I think he should try becoming a hard rock version of Bob Segar. As for Ace betraying him he should have learned from the first time that resulted in him and Ace losing their shares of the Kiss empire. Both he and Ace screwed up but Ace moved on but Ace negotiated for a percentage of Space Ace merchandising to boost his employee salary and Criss didn't. I bought Monster and it is okay. There was an effort to make an Ace and Peter track each by Thayer and Stanley sung by Thayer and Singer. I wouldn't be surprised if there is more than a musical relationship between them. Anyway, we need to hear from Vinnie Vincentto tell us how Kiss screwed him and how Vinnie screwed Robert Fleishman in VVI and what was to be VVIII. Listen to Rocks on Fire. Peter claims Mark St. John was a pedophile but Mark helped Peter find work in drum clinics and left Peter because Peter was no different from Paul and Gene. It is on the web. Accept it, the whole Kiss world is screwed up. At some point even Gene and Paul may screw each other over too. Rock on.

December 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVincent's lips

i cant believe all the negative fucks who are not true kiss fans...gene . paul peter and ace..1970S...thats all u need to know ...fuck the books...all you dickheads who knock his drumming have never obviously had a drumstick in your hands only ur dicks...mob of fuckwits ...grow up and remember the good times !!!

December 15, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterpeter criss

in response to all the wannabe know it all drummers who come on here saying all this peter cant play drums BS,well regardless of if you like the guy or not to say he sucks as a drummer is so stupid and incorrect. Im a musician 35 years and i can tell you for a fact he is one hell of a drummer when hes sober,sure he may have lost time here and there what drummer hasnt but that was usually down to the amount of coke he was doing . Ive met the guy many a time and he was nothing but a gentleman to me and i think the book is one hell of an entertaining ride,couldnt put it down ! Peter is a survivor god bless you man and long may you run!!!!!!!

December 27, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterpainterjayliverpool

There is a lot of negative comments about Peter's drumming. I know that in Kiss book, Gene and Paul cut Peter's solo saying he was no Bonham. Peter is Peter and his 1976 drum solo on YouTube showcases how good he really was at that point. I saw his Reunion and Farewell solos on YouTube and the 1976 one is the bet there is. He also had a bigger kit back then. He's a single kick stylist and I am too. Most 80s drummers like Neil Peart and Alex Van Halen are double kick. The best rock drummer to join the greats including Ian Paice is Mike Portney. Back to Peter, he was a very good drummer. I also listened to his first solo album and songs like 'I'm going to love you' and 'That's the kind of sugar Papa likes' are two good tracks that truly showcase his musical vision. He's obviously influenced by Gene Kupra and horns but added some blues based rock too. I think he should keep core elements of that along with Kiss style like 'Hard luck woman' and 'Black Diamond' with modern production. It requires a process where he needs to find his Randy Rhodes like Ozzy. However, the guitarist must have more blues based rock influence and songs need to be well crafted. Kiss fans should not expect a Kiss record. Regarding personal relationships and professional ones Criss needs to trust the right people. People on drugs are not trustworthy and his relationship with Ace is over as it is with Gene and Paul. It's best to start a new chapter. I am a fan of all Kiss members past and present for their musical contributions. I also know I wouldn't want to work for Kiss even if I had the chance. I would rather work for 'The Boss' and be a well paid, healthy, and happy employee. Peter if you need a multi-instrumentalist who can help you and collaborate with you, look me up through this page. I also sing and know that you would have to build a new audience of Peter Criss, Kiss, and fans of horns and blues based rock. Market your music as such.

December 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVincent's lips

A few more things, although Ace and Peter were bankrupt or near bankrupt they should have did more research into merchandising and ticket sales with financial consultants first. It was a game of bluff and Paul and Gene needed them a lot more than they both knew. Had they held their positions and re-negotiated for a limited partnership along with all royalties split they would have been more rich. Both were at a disadvantage due to Ace's drug addiction and bankruptcy and Peter's recovery stage from drug addiction, failed relationship, and huge debt. They should have brought back Bill Aucoin to manage them at that point. Never trust a blacksmith when purchasing or selling jewelry. What's done is done and Kiss will still tour with original make up because it's a registered trademark that they - Gene and Paul - own. Ace, Peter, Vinnie, and the estate of Eric Carr should challenge the ownership of the images trademarked and whether ownership obtained was fraudulent. The drum solo in 1976 on YouTube does show a He She interrupting a great drum solo. Peter is truthful about one's need to be in the spotlight all the time. Kiss' best album is 'Lick it up' when considering instrumentation, lyrics, songwriting, vocals, and production. Best original line up album is 'Love Gun'. Best track on 'Monster' is a nod to Ace Frehley's 'Save your love' on Dynasty album which is 'Out of this world'. Good production and effort by Paul Stanley and current version of Kiss to replicate the original Kiss. Tommy Thayer sings that one. He has to be a fan although a somewhat disturbed one of Ace and Peter. At least Eric Singer is not cloning anyone as a drummer although he had to sing a song in the style of Criss' first solo album written by Paul. He has also been on record as wanting his own Kiss persona but Kiss have to sell merchandise with original images. I wonder how many fans would buy the Ankh Warrior. It would probably have been the best selling Kiss doll. I still buy Kiss albums as long as the music is good. The last good album was Asylum. Perhaps Kiss will time travel to the 80s on their next release and come up with new personas for Tommy and Eric like Ultimate Warrior and Gold Dust.

December 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVincent's lips

Peter claims that the L.A. KISS Konvention was packed because word had gotten out that he'd be there. What a foolish claim. I was at the Montreal Konvention. It was packed and Peter wasn't there. Everybody realizes that Paul and Gene were the real leaders, though sometimes full of themselves. But reading Peter's book, you're lead to believe that he was the only talented musician in the band, and the only nice guy in the band, where in fact he was a lousy drummer and a drug addict. Gene and Paul may have been assholes, but had they not been the only sober guys in the band, there wouldn't have been a Kisstory.

December 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAce is the best

Great book. And here are the facts.
Peter Criss, although an old-style drummer, was perfect for the band because Paul, Gene, and Ace are all old school players. Kiss doesnt feel right with Singer. Singer is good, but he has a more modern feel and it doesnt fit KIss's old time swank.
Peter Criss is, by far, the best singer in the band. His voice and delivery on Beth and Hard luck woman, put Kiss into mainstream acceptance. Something that Stanley could never do. Stanley has range, but has an odd underground speech-impediment voice. Great for underground rock, but couldnt deliver kiss into super stardom. Criss has THE pop voice. Simmons is a bar singer.
Kiss couldnt get booked in the 90s. And thats a fact. They had to do they side show Elvis flea market circuit.
ONLY....until Ace and Peter came back could they return to real tours. Ace and Peter didnt realize they had Gene and Paul by the balls. My negotiation would have been....25% or go fuck yourself. Gene and Paul would have caved. They had NOTHING else. Only after the machine was up again could they become the Kiss Kover Band. And TRUTH be told. It was "Simmons Family Jewels" that kept their Kover band tour going. (much to Paul Stanley's horror).

And the greatest thing is Frehley! The drunken drug using gentile comes out of this...BY FAR, with the most credibility. HE has the respect and legacy with musicians and fans. Gene and Paul have to recite their manifesto mantras and the people that follow them parrot what they say. Frehley? He just goes on his merry way and is a natural.

January 10, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermac

It's refreshing to hear the perspective of a band member who did not become or succumb to the self-absorbed and egotistical qualities that are often seen with superstars. Criss admittedly numbed his senses during the 1970's and perhaps later on. He was an example of the weakness known as temptation. Unlike Simmons and Stanley, he experienced both the legal and illegal highs of being a rock star. That said, Criss was constrained in KISS. The same happened to Frehley. While Simmons and Stanley can be credited for keeping the KISS machine going, especially in the tough times of the early 1980's, their level of control was contrary to the the four-wheel drive concept that KISS was all about from the get go. The flat tires KISS sometimes ran on (Criss and Frehley) as Simmons referred to in his book was only part of the story. KISS also ran on over inflated tires (Simmons and Stanley). Substance abuse on the one hand and an inflated sense of song writing and musical ability on the other. A sober Frehley is a far better musician that either of Stanley or Simmons. Peter has a far broader musical background than Stanley and Simmons. Simmons and Stanely made piles of money off the backs of Ace and Peter from 1995 through 2001. I can fully appreciate Peter's frustration.
As a fan, the best memories are those of the magic of the original lineup. Singer and Thayer are very good musicians. Single songs on each of Sonic Boom and Monster from each of them looks very familiar.
I admire Peter's honesty and courage. He, of course, has conquered something that far outweighs anything in KISStory. His recent humanitarian recognition sets him far apart from any member of the band that he was once a part of. I can only wish Peter peace of mind and health of the duration of his life.

April 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKissaliverich

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