Kiss frontman Gene Simmons says racists should be publicly shamed and fired from their jobs, as he joins scores of celebrities in a new Black-Jewish Entertainment Alliance.
In an exclusive interview with DailyMail.com the rock legend also revealed his first experience of anti-Semitism aged 13, when a boy tried to keep him out of a YMCA pool because he was Jewish. It didn’t end well for the racist teen.
‘I remember coming out of the pool and these two guys got in my face. One said ‘What are you doing here? You’re Jewish’,’ said Simmons, whose Hungarian mother survived the Holocaust.
‘He started talking about Nazis. I remember thinking about my mother and everything. I leaned forward and said ”Sorry I can’t hear you.”
‘As he got in my face, I smashed my forehead against his nose. Of course he started bleeding and fell into the pool. And I was thrown out of the YMCA.’
The 71-year-old rock star said the experience was just one of many that led him to champion stamping out prejudice.
Gene Simmons tells DailyMail.com about experiencing anti-Semitism at 13 years old when a boy tried to keep him out of a YMCA pool because he was Jewish
The Kiss frontman’s Hungarian mother survived the Holocaust and he says he smashed his forehead against the bully’s nose for talking about Nazis
This week Simmons joined more than 170 black and Jewish leaders from the entertainment industry launching the Black-Jewish Entertainment Alliance (BJEA), described by the organisation as ‘a joint initiative by black and Jewish entertainment industry professionals devoted to countering racism and anti-Semitism in the entertainment community.’
Simmons told DailyMail.com he was disgusted by the racism he sees in America and said society should take a hardline approach to those spreading prejudice and hate, comparing them to cockroaches.
‘It is going to get better but you’ve got to confront it,’ he said. ‘You’ve got to turn on the light and go after those cockroaches. And don’t just chase them out. Find out where they live.
‘Identify them, make their lives miserable – legally. Shine the light on that cockroach.
‘The guy with his drunken buddies hurling racial epithets, take photos of him. This guy’s name is so-and-so and he lives right outside of Manchester and works in this garage. Guess what the garage is gonna do? They’re going to fire his ass right away, because they don’t want the attention of hiring a hate-monger.’
The rocker, who has been the frontman of legendary band Kiss since 1973, recalled the judgement he and his ex Diana Ross would receive as an interracial couple, and said that the same problems still exist today.
‘There’s no question that when we walked down the street, other than the celebrity part of it, people would look at you and think ‘What’s she doing with him? What’s he doing with her?’ A dismissive thing, because she’s black and I’m white,’ he said.
He tells DailyMail.com about the judgement he and ex Diana Ross received as an interracial couple. Pictured together in 1979
Simmons gave his exclusive interview from his getaway in the mountains of Canada where he said he is waiting out the coronavirus pandemic so that he can continue Kiss’ paused farewell tour without endangering fans
He said Ross would tell him horror stories of leaving concerts she performed at with The Supremes in the deep south to find their tour bus riddled with bullets.
Simmons also slammed bands in his own genre of rock and metal for ignorantly using hate symbols.
Simmons also slammed bands in his own genre of rock and metal for ignorantly using hate symbols – like Motorhead bassist Lemmy Killmister
‘I believe in my heart these bands just aren’t educated,’ he said. ‘There was a holocaust, but we just don’t confront these things. Especially guys in bands, let’s face it, if it wasn’t for the guitar around their neck they’d be asking you if you want more fries with that. They’re not the sharpest tools in the shed.
‘I knew [Motorhead bassist] Lemmy Killmister for many years, I went to his funeral. He was a sweetheart. He loved everybody, we were friends. But Lenny was attracted to Nazi paraphernalia. He used to collect that stuff.
‘But you need to pick your targets. The subtle uses of hate, if it becomes fashionable, yes attack that. But the bigger issues are outright hate, neo-Nazi groups.’
Simmons praised Trump’s administration for opening dialogue between Arab nations and Israel but added that ‘doesn’t give him a pass in the hatred he spewed as a world leader.’
‘He was the fuel for the fire that enabled these extremists to storm the White House. Without a president like that in charge they wouldn’t dare,’ he said.
‘Cockroaches hide until they see a big one in the middle of the room.’
This week Simmons added his name to the BJEA’s ‘unity statement’ with scores of other black and Jewish celebrities including Tiffany Haddish, Herbie Hancock, 24kGoldn, Sharon Osbourne, Jeremy Piven and Nick Cannon.
The statement invoked civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr and Rabbi Abraham Heschel, honoring ‘the many Blacks and Jews who stood together in the fight for civil rights’ and emploring both groups to ‘come together to support each other in the struggle against hatred and bigotry.’
Simmons says racists should be publicly shamed and fired from their jobs as he joins celebrities in a new Black-Jewish Entertainment Alliance. ‘Identify them, make their lives miserable – legally. Shine the light on that cockroach,’ he says
‘The Black and Jewish communities, who have a long history of supporting and working together, are so much stronger when we stand together in the fight against hate,’ said Aaron Bay-Schuck, BJEA Co-Chairman & CEO of Warner Records.
‘This Alliance will elevate voices in the entertainment community that can help the public to better understand the causes, manifestations, and effects of racism and anti-Semitism, ensuring that our industry is doing its part to be a voice for hope, unity, and healing in our country.’
Simmons gave his exclusive interview from his getaway in the mountains of Canada where he said he is waiting out the coronavirus pandemic so that he can continue Kiss’ paused farewell tour without endangering fans.
Though the tour may now drag on into 2022, the rock frontman said he still wants to go out with a bang.
‘I wanna play Antarctica. Freezing cold, and set up the largest firework show of all time,’ he said. ‘I just hope the ice sheet doesn’t fall apart and we go off into the sea.’