By Michael Eng | Managing Editor
I was a weird kid. Just look at that picture. That’s me on the left. Yep, dressed up like Paul Stanley, of KISS.
That’s Halloween 1985. I was 7 years old, my brother, Rob, was 12, and we were both proud members of the KISS Army. Minutes later, we would depart for my elementary school’s Halloween carnival. More on that later. I need to set this up.
An avid KISS fan since before I could walk, I harbored a lifelong dream to be Paul Stanley for Halloween. But my dad, a single father, never had the time to devote to getting us cool Halloween costumes. We’d ask for KISS every year, but my dad, a chemist in the paint industry, almost always opted for the default painter costume. He’d bring home an old smock, cut it down to size, hand me a paintbrush and can and call it a day. I think there was one year when he went crazy and made me a farmer. That included a pair of overalls and a makeup mustache on my face.
That’s the year I learned all farmers have mustaches.
So, although I had celebrated Halloween for only a few years, by 7, I had given up on my Paul Stanley dream. And that was precisely when my dad came home from work with a makeup kit and two wigs in a plastic sack. I’ll never forget it — one of the shining memories of my childhood.
I told you I was a weird kid.
That night, my dad sat both Rob and me down in the bathroom with record covers in hand. He first applied the white then proceeded to draw in the rest. Gene Simmons’ spiky eye patches for my brother; Paul’s signature star for me.
I couldn’t really see what my dad was doing to me, but I immediately felt the itch. The makeup was sticky, annoying and hot, but I stuck it out. When my dad was done, he carefully set the wig on top of my head. From the neck up, I was awesome. From the neck down, I wore an E.T. T-shirt, one baseball glove (I was a Michael Jackson fan, too) and a pair of jeans. But it didn’t matter. KISS would appear — finally — at Herod Elementary School this year. Oh yes. We’re going to rock ‘n’ roll all night and party every day.
By the time we arrived at the school just a few blocks away, the Houston humidity had slid my Paul Stanley makeup down my face about three inches. My star was a black splotch on my cheek, and the white was streaked with sweat. And my wig had somehow morphed into some volcano-shaped mess on the top of my head.
But I didn’t care. I was Paul Stanley!
At the carnival, my dad ushered his two little Chinese KISSes from booth to booth. I won a goldfish at one — which only forced Paul Stanley to carry around a goldfish in a Ziploc bag for the rest of the night. Everyone stared, and a few even had the courage to ask what I was supposed to be.
As if they didn’t know.
By the end of the night, my brother and I had accumulated two buckets of candy, a bag of prizes and one goldfish. But, the candy lasted only a few weeks, the prizes found their way into the Goodwill pile, and my goldfish eventually died.
But the memories of being Paul Stanley — if only for a few hours and only at an elementary school carnival — will last a lifetime.
Thank you, Dad. You made KISStory that night.