NJ T-Shirt Tuesday 119: KISS at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City!

Today’s t-shirt memorializes the very KISS stadium concert at Jersey City’s Roosevelt Stadium in 1976! This tee is available at their official page KISSonline.com

Wow, we love demolishing stadiums in this state, don’t we? Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City was a baseball stadium that opened in 1937 and was demolished in 1985. Sure, it had its share of memorable sporting events and concerts, but one in particular featured my favorite band ever, KISS.

When you think of famed KISS concerts, you may think of Cobo Hall in Detroit, or even Madison Square Garden in New York City, but merely days after America’s Bicentennial 4th of July celebration, on July 10th, 1976, KISS played very first stadium show right in The Sexiest of all Armpits.

Headlining a big baseball stadium was no easy task. The band had to be louder and crazier than the crowd was, and naturally, KISS was up for the task. At the time, they were riding high on what would become their biggest album of all time, Destroyer, so they were properly equipped to blast everyone directly out of the stadium with their mammoth sound and explosions, and that’s exactly what they did.

For non-KISS fans, it’s easy to believe that if you’ve seen one KISS concert, you’ve seen them all, but I’m here to tell you that’s just simply not the case. There was a special kind of magic going on with the early KISS shows. A group of musicians with a wild idea to mix ghastly face paint, elaborate costumes, and an explosive stage show were still in their formative years as a band. Hell, much like some of their other early concerts, the Roosevelt Stadium show was filmed in black and white, lending it an even more macabre atmosphere. B&W is one quality that always intrigued me with early KISS shows and bootlegs, especially knowing that Gene is such a horror movie fanatic.

Many of you have lived through the many incarnations of KISS. For over 40 years now KISS has been evolving their music, their look, and their stage show. To me, nothing beats those early years. Their music was darker and more seedy, their look was more basic, albeit scary. I wasn’t lucky enough to live through their ’70s heyday, but I relived them on my own through VHS bootlegs as a kid. Now, all that footage is on DVD box sets and of course, YouTube! You can see footage from the Roosevelt Stadium show below.

*Opening for KISS at Roosevelt Stadium was The J.Geils Band and Point Blank. It’s a heinous crime that at of the time of this post this show was somehow not included in the notable KISS concert list on Wikipedia. That is totally insane. Someone please fix this!

NJ T-Shirt Tuesday 116: KISS of DEATH!

This post is appropriate of everything since we are approaching both Friday the 13th AND Valentine’s Day.

At this point in February, ordering a last minute gift online for that special someone probably isn’t the best idea. We’re merely days away from Valentine’s Day, so you’ll have to go to Walgreen’s and get the old standby chocolate assortment in a heart lavishly wrapped in cellophane. Having this tee posted several weeks ago would’ve been infintiely more helpful, but there’s always Arbor Day…you’ll definitely have it in time for that. Oh c’mon, I can’t be the only one who exchanges gifts for that.

Being that we’re beyond the online gift ordering cutoff for V-day, you can still get your special person a little something from Rock n Horror Apparel…for Arbor Day!

This online shop makes some kickass stuff. I came across them on Instagram last year. What grabbed me was their Kiss of Death shirt design. It’s a pun get it? And this next pun is also intended: this shirt is a KILLER! I bought it right away and I’m still in awe that a tee this cool exists.

For a guy like me who is obsessed with both the Friday the 13th franchise AND KISS, this shirt is one maximum mash-up. Emblazoned on the front is the iconic Jason mask adorned with Paul Stanley’s famous Starchild makeup design. The mere idea of combining these two things excites me and makes me wish that KISS would make a sequel to KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park where they have a run-in with the masked, machete wielding killer of Crystal Lake.

My only reservation is that if Jason Voorhees was to embody a member of KISS, he certainly wouldn’t be the charismatic frontman, Paul Stanley. Since Jason is more the quiet and reserved type, I’d peg him for the Catman.

Rock n Horror Apparel was founded by a rocker and a scream queen, hence the namesake. The shop also offers alternate Friday the 13th, Halloween, and Edgar Allan Poe inspired shirts along with various other clothing like thermals, sweats, leggings, tank tops, and even baby Jason Voorhees onesies! Check them out: http://www.rocknhorrorapparel.bigcartel.com

NJ KISS Expo 2013 Recap

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This weekend was packed with stuff that I want to tell you about. The first of these adventures was the New Jersey KISS Expo at the NJ Convention & Expo Center in Edison, NJ.

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Oh, you know there’s an old adage that my great great great Aunt Florence used to say and that was “If you’ve been to one KISS convention, you’ve been to them all.” That might be true, but after going to a shit ton of them in my life, I can’t say there’s ever a moment when I’m at one that I’m ever NOT amused every second. Of course, if you’re not down with KISS, which many people aren’t, then you might not enjoy one of these, but there’s also a chance that if you aren’t a fan, you might be leaving as a newly inducted member of the KISS Army. That’s usually what happens.

KISS cons and expos have a way of seducing non-fans. An outsider might see the mystique and aura that surrounds the band, especially if they know nothing about them. That’s the best part of KISS. Walking around the expo center in Edison on Saturday, was no different than the other KISS expos I’ve been to, but it’s just a good time and a chance to not only buy KISS stuff, but also mingle with fellow KISS Army members. It was a total geek-out for us.

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One time a friend once asked me, “What do you do at a KISS convention?” I always thought that was a silly question, but it really isn’t because not everyone knows what KISS is all about. For many fans, including myself, it’s about the music foremost, but there’s a large part of it that’s about collecting cool KISS crap. So yeah, buy some KISS stuff, look at some KISS stuff, listen to a KISS tribute band, can you see the underlying theme here?

Sometimes though, it’s almost like you MUST buy something just to justify why you go to KISS cons. My only minor complaint about the NJ KISS expo is that attendees pay anywhere from $10-$20 dollars admission, but the show is relatively small. There are 2 large dealer rooms and that’s about it. Unless you purchase a ticket to a V.I.P signing, such as Tommy Thayer (or last year was Peter Criss I believe) that’s the extent of the show. I was hoping this year would be bigger, but it was pretty much the same as previous years. Also featured was KISSNation, a KISS Tribute band, but next year they need to get the larger space in the building and make the event a bigger deal. They can open up their dealer rooms to not only KISS dealers, but also toy and pop culture dealers as well.

You want me to stop with all the jibber jabber and cut to the point where I tell you what I bought? Actually, I will do that because if I don’t, I’ll literally continue writing about KISS until 6 a.m tomorrow morning. Luckily, for brevity’s sake, I only picked up 2 things. Well, it was ALMOST four.

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The only reason why I decided against the above pictured jacket was because it probably wouldn’t have fit me. Otherwise, why wouldn’t I want a ridiculously colorful KISS jacket that looked like it was made out of a kid’s plastic kite from Toys R Us in 1991? I still have my KISS rain slicker made out of a yellow Slip ‘n Slide material from ’86 that I never wear. In retrospect, cooler heads prevailed here, and by cooler I mean I wasn’t swayed by my emotions. A cooler head would obviously be wearing this insane KISS jacket while writing this.

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That jacket would really go well with a silver $20 dollar FUCK ring. Just to explain that one…it’s a Twent-ttty-doll-har ringgg that has the word F-U-C-K on it. Who would ever need a wedding band or an engagement ring when you can have a FUCK ring?

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For realz though, my first real acquisition was a KISS poster. the poster was affectionately labeled “Pink Creatures Poster.” I would’ve bought it on best name principle alone. KISS fans know what this means, even the casual ones. It’s a whimsical title, but it’s not a secret code, it’s just stating that the background is pink and the album it was made in promotion of was Creatures of the Night, and poster means it’s a big ass photograph printed on a quite large piece of paper. Keep in mind that this is a 30 year old poster, not one you could find all over Spencer’s in the mall in 1999. The poster features the late Eric Carr, my favorite drummer, and it caught my eye because its pink background stood out. I admit that was part of why I bought it. It’s always cool to see KISS in front of a background that’s not black or gray. KISS did pose for a lot pictures in front of brightly colored canvases in the late ’70s as well as through the ’80s, and this was one of the cooler ones.

Let me make it abundantly clear that I DO NOT need any more posters. I own so many damn posters that I could probably wallpaper the entire interior of the New Jersey Expo Center. At this point, I have two framed posters waiting patiently to be put up on my wall and this new one’s probably waited 30 some odd years to get put up and now it won’t see the light of day until, I don’t know, 2023? Sorry pink creatures poster 😦 you’ll always be posted right here on my blog.

kissexpo09Next up was an old metal magazine. Typically I wouldn’t buy just a random old rock or metal magazine, but I found the cover to be pretty funny and appropriate. As if you hadn’t noticed, my favorite rock band of all time is KISS while Miss Sexy Armpit’s favorite “rock” band is Bon Jovi. I loved Bon Jovi in the ’80s and even in the ’90s, but basically all of their modern stuff has been totally weak. They lose even more points for alienating Richie Sambora and then firing him! If you know Richie, he’s a genuinely kickass guy and deserves much better treatment than that. So screw you Jon Bon Jovi!

KISS vs Bon Jovi? NO F*CKING CONTEST. Just blast a few of the hardest KISS tracks like “Parasite,” “Deuce,” “War Machine,” “I Stole Your Love,” and “Unholy” and you’ll know in a second who’s the better band. Even performing their weakest tracks in a concert 600 miles away from New Jersey, KISS would still blow Bon Jovi into the Atlantic Ocean. I’m pretty sure this was one of the easiest ways to sell a magazine in January of 1988. Motley Crue vs. Skid Row! ROUND 2 – FIGHT!

The Demon of Mountainside and the KISS/Wrestling Crossover

kissdemonNJ01One my friends used to always pose a theory to me that he formulated about the crossover appeal of KISS and professional wrestling. He used to swear that every KISS fan was also a pro-wrestling fan and vice versa. I’d have to agree with him, but it’s not an absolute. Of course, they have many elements in common such as theatrics, both properties put on an entertaining spectacle, they both have legions of loyal fans, they both feature people in costumes, as well as incorporate colorful lights, loud music, and pyro. But, unbeknownst to him, only a couple of years before he hypothesized about KISS and wrestling fans, the two worlds merged for a brief moment in time.

When Gene Simmons from KISS struck a deal with then head of WCW, Eric Bischoff, to create a KISS inspired wrestler, it seemed like a such a logical mash-up at the time. For the crossover KISS/wrestling fans, this was literally a dream come true. After all, KISS was a band of four larger than life characters that translated seamlessly into comic books, but putting them in the squared circle was uncharted territory. It sounded good on paper.

It also sounded great to the crossover fans. In fact, just thinking back to when The Demon wrestled in WCW, as much as I didn’t enjoy WCW’s product, it was pretty thrilling for me to see a Gene Simmons gimmick in my other favorite universe, the world of professional wrestling. With all the lame gimmicks in wrestling through the years including a garbage man, a plumber, and a rooster, having a KISS Demon was actually far from lame. To those who weren’t familiar with KISS at the time, they probably thought the Demon was supposed to be some Satan worshipping fiend from beyond the gates of hell. Both are appealing in their own way.

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Meanwhile, the Mountainside, NJ-born Dale Torborg’s wrestling career began after meeting Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage on a flight to L.A. Early on, Torborg wrestled as the MVP (Most Violent Player) gimmick in the AWF, WWE and WCW. He played an evil baseball player inspired by the film The Warriors that also tied into his own baseball experience (his father Jeff managed several MLB teams and Dale’s own minor league baseball career ended with a fastball to the face.) Then, in 1999, during the first couple of Demon appearances in WCW, Brian Adams a.k.a Crush played the character, but he never actually wrestled as the gimmick. Soon Torborg was chosen to become the Demon character because Gene Simmons thought he looked most like him.

Visually, The Demon was badass. Torborg portrayed Gene Simmons in a more authentic way than Brian Adams. Torborg was such a KISS fanatic that he knew how to mimic all of Gene’s stage mannerisms. “I don’t think there was a Halloween that I didn’t dress up as one of the members of KISS” said Torborg in an interview with ESPN. For any member of the KISS Army, it had to be a real kick to be playing one of his rock and roll superheroes. Torborg mentioned that his choice to take on the Demon character wasn’t popular a one with his mother who “…hates two things, wrestling and KISS, and I’m doing both” he told ESPN. Regardless of what his mom thought, Torborg loved being The Demon .

The concept could’ve went far, but it was just the wrong time in the wrestling business. To help debut the Demon wrestler, KISS performed live on WCW Nitro . According to various wrestling sites and Wikipedia, the performance turned out to be a very low rated segment, which dispels my friends theory about the KISS/wrestling crossover. Fans of WCW, especially at the time, were bombarded by WWE Raw and WCW Nitro, and they wanted wrestling, not Mr. Simmons’ Wild Ride so to speak. WWE was coming very close to buying out WCW. Eric Bischoff lost his job and The Demon kept getting buried and losing most of his matches. WCW was contractually obligated to feature The Demon from then on, but they weren’t required to make him soar to new heights within the company though, so he wound up blacklisted.

From a personal standpoint, I really loved Torborg as The Demon. It was a cringe inducing moment for many wrestling fans at the time, but just the idea of two of my favorite things colliding nearly melted my brain, in a good way. Younger wrestling fans may not have been familiar with KISS at the time, but The Demon was still so imposing that it didn’t really matter if they knew KISS as a band or not.

Dale Torborg was a perfect choice to play The Demon. I appreciated how he was a lifelong fan of KISS. As far as wrestling ability goes, he’s a big athletic guy at 6’7″, had a good physique, and was better in the ring that many of the guys on the WCW roster at that time. My only complaint was his finishing move (Cobra Cluth Slam a.k.a The Love Gun) didn’t capture his power or match his look.

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Torborg is proud of his days as The Demon as he told WWE.com in their column Where Are They Now? posted on August 3rd, 2011. After WWE bought out WCW, Dale Torborg went to work in the MLB. Since 2004, Torborg has worked as the conditioning coordinator for the Chicago White Sox, and he dabbled in wrestling again, making appearances in TNA for a couple of years starting in 2005.

Not every wrestling fan was as pleased with this KISS/Wrestling combo. Prorasslin.com took the stance of the non-KISS fan-wrestling fan by stating that “This gimmick was bad” and that Torborg was “rightfully condemned to jobbing for the rest of his professional career” in their column Ghastly Gimmicks. It’s unfortunate that The Demon gets lumped into the pile of failed gimmick wrestlers. Naturally, I question why he was written to face the guys that he did and lose. If he was around after the WWE takeover, it would’ve been cool to see him in feuds with guys like Goldust or Kane, both would make memorable programs for sure.

It would probably never happen, but if Gene Simmons were to allow his likeness to be used again, any number of up and coming wrestlers could take on The Demon gimmick. Vince McMahon would never bring him back though because he couldn’t make any money off a character that he didn’t own the rights to. It would have to be changed to something like The Shemon and she’d squash all the ladies in the Divas division.

*Dale’s father Jeff was born in Plainfield, NJ and went to Westfield High School, played baseball there, and then went on to play at Rutgers.

NJ KISS EXPO 2012 Recap

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Cobo Hall in Detroit, MI may be one of the arenas where KISS recorded their monumental ALIVE album in 1975, but the NJ Expo Center in Edison, NJ is where the 2012 KISS EXPO took place on Saturday September 8th, 2012. The Sexy Armpit was there merely to take in the scene and report back to you, because I promised myself I wouldn’t get out of control with spending. Like many of you reading this, I’m a long time member of the KISS ARMY – hell, I’m probably a Lieutenant General by now. I feel good that I didn’t spend a lot and we still had a good time. Continue on for the recap!

Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat. This expo is referred to as the NJ/NY KISS EXPO, which makes me happy that it refers to NJ first, but it’s also lame because NOTHING that happens in New York EVER acknowledges Jersey. It’s NOT the NY/NJ Comic Con, is it? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved New York since I was a little kid, but why the hell can’t we have our own damn KISS expo?

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Miss Sexy Armpit rocking some Paul Stanley style sunglasses 
and making Paul’s signature KISS face

God Gave Rock and Roll to me, well not to me personally, but you know what I mean, so who am I to refuse a freaking KISS expo merely a few miles away? Just show me where to sign! Well, I didn’t sign anything, but the tickets for the show started at $20 bucks each. Typical of most events like this, there were extra charges to meet Peter Criss and Bruce Kulick, but they were charged by the band member, not the expo itself. Since I was watching my spending I steered clear of all that anyway.

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Usually I go to these things with an agenda or looking for a few items I’d like to own, but this time I just wanted to go and shoot the breeze with my woman and meet up with my friend Jim. That lucky guy is going on the upcoming KISS KRUISE II! Jim brought along his custom mint-in-box Peter Criss PEZ that he made himself to get signed. At this point, I’m pretty sure he’s had all the band members sign his custom made KISS PEZ set! Gene even told him not to sell them, what an A-HOLE! HAHA. I don’t care, I love that big old Demon anyway.

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Gene Simmons can’t be mentioned in the same sentence without the thought of $$ MONEY $$, so let me tell you what I bought. First and foremost, I have enough KISS stuff to last me a life time, so the days of pining over KISS stuff are beyond me, that is…until something awesome crosses my path. Miss Sexy Armpit and I were digging through piles of t-shirts, (tees are some of my favorite things in life), and I didn’t see any I really liked for myself, but found an awesome Rock and Roll Over tee that I bought for Miss Armpit. As you can see, it was hard to pass up! It will do nicely for the KISS/CRUE show at the PNC Bank Arts Center on 9/21! Plus, it will match the patch on the back of “Irvin,” a.k.a my old denim KISS vest.

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One of the only disappointments about the expo was the scale of the show. It wasn’t as vast as I imagined it would be. I missed last years expo so I can’t compare it, but this one had 2 fairly large rooms with plenty of vendors, but I guess I’m spoiled. Considering I’ve been going to Chiller and Monster Mania for years now, an expo like this feels small. It really wasn’t small at all though. 
As for entertainment, there was Dylan, a 9-year old Peter Criss impersonator playing drums along with KISS tracks, which was pretty cool. He kicked ass on the drums too. One thing I’d like to see the expo add next year is a few sets from a KISS tribute band. I understand they come with a pretty hefty price tag, but that would be worth the admission for me. I love watching KISS tribute bands, obviously not as much as I do the original band, but it’s still fun and an added attraction. Or Dylan can just get some of his friends and they can start up their own tribute band called KIDD. Do it Dylan!

KISS at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, NJ 1976

Nearly 14,000 fans packed into Jersey City’s Roosevelt Stadium for KISS
“KISS: The Lost Concert” DVD is not authorized by Gene Simmons, but that didn’t stop The Sexy Armpit from getting his hands on it. While the KISSology DVD collection included a ton of rare footage, concerts, and videos that I’m glad to own, that series neglected to include many important shows in KISSTORY. One of those shows took place at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, New Jersey on July 10th, 1976. Fortunately it was “…discovered, restored, and remastered” by Passport Video in 2003 and it’s a must buy for those of you KISS Army members who are also certified New Jersey geeks like me.

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Gene Simmons always mentioned that he had tapes of every KISS show stored in the “KISS Vault.” This may not be true since this “Lost Concert” wasn’t a priority for the band to release to the public, so it is possible that KISS did not have a pristine recording archived of this show. For 34 year old footage, The Lost Concert provides a high quality black and white picture with an excellent audio track. But that’s not the best thing about this DVD, what’s even cooler is that this specific concert is special for other reasons.

On KISS’ “Spirit of ’76” tour, the costumed NYC band was on the verge of becoming permanently embedded into popular culture. It was fitting that they played at Roosevelt Stadium since it was a grand venue for presenting one of KISS’ explosive shows. The stadium, named after Franklin D. Roosevelt, opened in 1937 and was demolished in 1985. There is an elite list of concerts that took place there during it’s existence, and fortunately KISS is on that list. Prior to being KISSED, the stadium was known for holding sporting events ranging from baseball, boxing, and football games, some of which are legendary.

Here’s the set list:
1. Cold Gin
2. Do You Love Me
3. Watchin’ You
4. God of Thunder
5. Flaming Youth
6. Firehouse
7. Black Diamond

NJ T-Shirt Tuesday 20: Wildwood Part 2

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No, it’s not 1990…it’s just Wildwood. What was that I was saying about Wildwood t-shirts being hideously ugly? The last time I discussed Wildwood T-Shirts I made it abundantly clear that you won’t be finding any runway couture on the Wildwood boardwalk.

From the top left:

1) The shirts you’ll see on the boardwalk are so terrible that they have to leetch off of another tourist attractions tag line. “What Happens in Wildwood Stays in Wildwood???” Are they serious? That’s the lamest thing I’ve ever seen, and to make matters worse it’s splattered with neon green, pink, and blue paint because we love that shit.

2) I’m not opposed to Zebra print in any shape or form, but when it’s ruined with Funfetti it just reminds me of a Little Debbie creation.
3) As we move to the top right I’m taking a vivid trip back into the ’80s. It could seriously pass for a title screen on an early ’80s Wildwood travel video.
4) This one should be called DRIPPING NEON KISSES FROM WILDWOOD! Was Paul Stanley the lip model for this shirt? Because I’m pretty sure he was doing a lot of lip modeling during the KISS Asylum days in ’85.
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5) Finally a generic Wildwood shirt made for tweens. Unfortunately they had to infuse the entire pastel color spectrum into this one.
6) As ridiculous as this last one is, it’s actually the only one that’s remotely wearable. Dig those Palm trees, huh? You are reading this correctly: palm trees on the beach in Wildwood.
Until next time folks, this has been NJ T-Shirt Tuesday, where things keep getting more neony.