Arts & Entertainment

KISS Army Invades Clark

Young KISS fans
Evnt organizer Steve Zall and his daughter Katelyn, 10.
Vendor hawking KISS merchandise.
Lunch boxes
Francesca Accetturi  came from Astoria, NY, to attend the expo.
KISS dolls
Eric Carr lookalike
Lori Birnbaum, photographer, has photographed 40 KISS shows and met the band numerous times.
Terri Smigocki sporting a HISS T-shirt featuring cats with KISS makeup.

CLARK, NJ  -- KISS fans (AKA The Kiss Army), vendors, and lookalikes converged upon the Holiday Inn in Clark for the 1st annual Living in Sin Thing Expo.

Organized by Steve Zall, the event featured KISS comic books, dolls, Pez dispensers, CDs, board games, and other items.

"I'm a big KISS fan and was talking with my friend Louis one day and said we had not been to a convention in a while. He said, 'Why don't you throw one?'. I decided to do it for charity (St. Jude's), said Steve Zall, the Clark resident who organized the event. 

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Fans and show vendors Terri and Gary Smigocki traveled from South Jersey for the expo. Gary has been to 11 KISS concerts and many solo band member concerts. He's amassed a large collection of the band's memorabilia since the 1970s -- everything from autographed book to Hot Wheels and other KISS-themed toys.

"They're just regular people, but when they put on the makeup it's a whole different thing," Gary said.

Terri said the band is ageless, with fans from young kids to senior citizens. "Everybody knows who they are. They are just so theatrical, they're just great."

KISS formed in New York City in January 1973 with original members Paul Stanley (nee Stanley Eisen) on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Gene Simmons (vocals and bass), Ace Frehley (lead guitar and vocals) and Peter Criss (drums and vocals).They became widely known for their hard rock sound, face paint, dark outfits, and great live performances, including fire breathing, blood-spitting, smoking guitars, levitating drums, and pyrotechnics.

Today, Stanley and Simmons the only remaining original members with two new members taking on the personae of comic book-style characters: The Starchild (Stanley), The Demon (Simmons), The Space Ace (Frehley) and The Cat (Criss).  KISS has sold more than 100 million records and countless millions in branded merchandise. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014.

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