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What Kiss’s Gene Simmons Can’t Live Without

Photo-Illustration: Getty

If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair but the hairspray and the electric toothbrush. We asked Kiss front man Gene Simmons — who recently launched his MoneyBag Vodka — about the tongue cleaner, mouthwash, and boots he can’t live without.

I was blessed with a very long appendage. You can’t buy a tongue like this. There used to be this myth that I had surgically implanted a cow’s tongue in my mouth. That was crazy. I just have a really long goddamned tongue, and that’s all there is to it. And since I am very blessed, I really like to keep it clean. All of us worry about bad breath, but a little known fact is all the mouthwash you use and all the other stuff, like flossing and whatever, is not going to improve your breath — at least not for the long haul. This tongue cleaner has a famous steel curve, which removes bacteria and plaque — that’s really what causes the bad breath. It’s best to clean it in the morning because when you’re asleep, bacteria has a chance to grow in your mouth for as many hours as you sleep. When we’re awake, we’re constantly drinking and eating, so all that activity kind of swishes bacteria around. But at night, your tongue stays inactive in your mouth, so the bacteria really thrives — that’s when you get what we used to call dragon breath. So if you clean your tongue with this, all of a sudden your breath will smell okay.

I also go through a lot of mouthwash, and I really like this cool mint flavor. I have a big fat mouth, so a lot fits in there — I go through about a bottle a month. I try to brush all the stuff out of my teeth, but a lot of the time I really need mouthwash to get it all out. Most people gargle deep, and that’s okay — it helps get whatever’s down there close to your throat — but you should also swish it around. Thirty seconds is a pretty good amount of time for that — it really gets it all. It’s important that I use mouthwash when I get off stage, because I spit blood and fire.

Years ago, I noticed a lot of female models using this product. It seemed to work for them, so I tried it, and I’ve used it ever since. I’ve got what’s called a Jewfro back home. My hair isn’t naturally straight — I have to blow dry it like that. If I let it air dry, it’ll be in ringlets. But instead of ringlets that kind of fall down, each individual strand will curl in a way that resembles more of an Afro. So I started straightening it back when I was a teenager. Most hair sprays work well for white, European hair because it’s basically straight. But as you get into the Mediterranean countries — I come from Israel — the hair is much too thick and coarse and fuzzy for something light to work. This spray from Bedhead is extra strong, and it’s the only way to hold my hair in place. It’s almost glue-like. I probably go through their biggest can every three weeks. I only spray it once in the morning, and it lasts the whole day.

I put ketchup on everything. When I first came to America in 1958 at 8 and a half years old, I had never heard of ketchup. In fact, I had never even heard of brushing my teeth until I moved here. But when we got here, we were dirt poor. My mother made $38 a week, and we lived in a one-bedroom apartment. So our food choices were very limited. I used to have ketchup sandwiches on Wonder Bread. Do kids now even know what Wonder Bread is? Then I started putting ketchup on tuna-fish sandwiches. People thought that was weird. But tuna fish has mayonnaise, and if you put ketchup and mayonnaise together, you get Thousand Island dressing. The ketchup and mayonnaise talk to each other and make something really magical. I couldn’t even tell you how many bottles I go through a month. My kids think it’s so weird. My daughter Sophie, who is a real fashionista, can’t stand the stuff. She won’t go near it. But my wife Shannon — we’ve been together 36 years — comes from the same poor background, so she gets it. She used to eat ketchup soup all the time, which is actually quite good; you should try it. You take hot water, put ketchup and salt and pepper in, stir together, and voilà, you’ve basically got yourself tomato soup.

I don’t eat cereal every day, but when I first came to America, I did. You don’t have to cook anything and it’s really fun to eat. I’ve eaten every kind of cereal — Kellogg’s brands, Post brands, all that stuff — and we even have our own KISS cereal, which I think tastes better than Captain Crunch. I like eating it out of a very big bowl because I’m six-foot-two and I weigh 235 pounds. Everything about me is big: big sandwiches, big house, big boots, big bowls. But my secret to a great bowl of cereal is the milk. I hate warm milk, and it can never be cold enough for me. A long time ago, I started to put ice cubes in my cereal. People think it’s weird, but when they taste it, they’re like, “This is the best ice-cold milk ever.” Well, duh. My daughter recently posted a picture of me with ice cubes in my cereal, and Time, Newsweek, and TMZ all picked it up. And then there was a big rush of morning TV hosts who had this “Do you put ice cubes in your milk? I don’t,” dialogue. Like my God, you’ve got North Korea with nuclear missiles and Russia doing God knows what, yet everyone is talking about Gene Simmons putting ice cubes in his milk. That was the big news for the day.

I’ve must have signed well over a million photos and things by now. I don’t carry markers with me at all times, but I really should. Americans really lost it with Sharpies. They’re very cheap and don’t work very well at all. The Japanese sharpies — they’re called Poscas — are much better. I think a lot of Japanese products are better made than the American versions. These markers can write on anything — they’re also much better for signing body parts. You can imagine women want certain body parts signed all the time, but if you’re greasy or sweating, Sharpies won’t work — a Japanese Posca will, though. Someone once asked me to sign a prosthetic leg. He took it off and handed it to me and I signed it, with a Posca of course.

I don’t care what hip-hop culture says, sneakers will never be as cool as boots. Sorry. They’re too informal. I’ve seen people go to the Academy Awards and stuff in sneakers, but it’s just not my style. I like boots. I think the Italians make them more stylish, and Lucchese is one of my favorite brands. It’s not about comfort. My stage boots, for example, are literally the largest, tallest, biggest, baddest, and heaviest boots there are. Each one weighs as much as a bowling ball. I like to feel that badass in everyday life, too, which is another reason why I prefer boots.

My vodka is going to be a big hit. It is the natural extension to our already successful MoneyBag sodas. Our sodas are extremely high quality — we don’t use processed sugars, preservatives, or food coloring — and I wanted to mirror that in the vodka. I love to create new things, but we’re all only as good as the people we surround ourselves with. So when it came time to create this, I sought out the best, and now I have wonderful partners who help me create the highest quality vodka. It’s very smooth, and it’s distilled five times — which is five times more than a lot of the cheap vodkas that are mass-produced. It’s also filtered through real gold. I don’t drink, but I love to entertain. Vodka is the most desired spirit of all, so I decided it is what I had to make. And the ladies especially love it, because vodka has no calories.

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What Kiss’s Gene Simmons Can’t Live Without