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Gene Simmons Called KISS Groupie Hookups "More Honest" Than Real Relationships

The co-frontman has also estimated that he's slept with almost 5000 women.

"We wanted to form a band sort of like the Beatles on steroids," KISS singer and bassist Gene Simmons said earlier this year of the early '70s genesis of the group. Part of the rock star lifestyle they achieved meant gaining a legion of female fans, many of whom had sexual relationships with the band members. And KISS were hardly apologetic about their participation in groupie culture. During a 1988 appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Simmons and co-frontman Paul Stanley defended their dalliances with mega-fans, arguing that groupie hookups were more straightforward and honest than traditional romantic relationships. Read on to find out more.

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Simmons said they started KISS to meet women.

In 1988, during the group's Crazy Nights era, Stanley and Simmons were guests of Oprah Winfrey, alongside Rock Star author Jackie Collins and I'm with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie memoirist Pamela Des Barres. The musicians discussed rock star/groupie relations and gave some insight into the rather unsophisticated origins of KISS.

"Anybody who tells you the story of wanting to impart some greater knowledge onto humanity is really not telling the truth," Simmons said on the show. "The reason we first started strumming guitars was because we wanted women and lots of them. And their daughters."

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They claimed everyone was there to have a good time.

Paul Stanley on Oprah

"It's kind of like being at a buffet where everything is laid out, and you don't have to take this or this or this, but it's all there to be eaten if you want it," Stanley added in the 1988 interview. Despite comparing women to food, the hair metal stars dismissed the idea that they had "little regard" for women, suggesting that their groupie hookups were more real than traditional dating due to a lack of superficiality.

"I think the relationships that happen on the road—one-night stands if will—are much more honest than a lot of the 'let me take you out to dinner, gee you're an interesting person' [dates]," Simmons contended.

Clad in leather and epaulets but without their trademark face makeup, the two looked surprised when Winfrey suggested some women might want a deeper connection.

"I think the nicest part about is that it's very honest and it's upfront and nobody has any false expectations of what to expect," Stanley elaborated. "I think it's a good time … it doesn't go through the facade of those preliminary dates when you're not interested in what the person wants to have for dinner, you're obviously more interested in getting dinner over with."

Simmons made an overture to Winfrey.

Gene Simmons on Oprah

The episode also broached the topic of Simmon's most iconic appendage, which would 14 years later become the subject of his brief-lived magazine, titled Gene Simmons's Tongue. Winfrey asked just how long his tongue was, noting in a widely circulated TikTok clip from the episode that she had heard it was "longer than most." A smug Simmons responded, "It's long enough to make you my very closest friend."

The talk show host covered her face in response.

Simmons said he had slept with at least 2000 women (as of 1988).

Shannon Tweed and Gene Simmons in 2023

Elsewhere in the episode, Winfrey noted that Simmons had an infamous Polaroid collection of groupies and asked just how many women he had slept with. "Over the last 10 years…over 2000," Simmons replied to the audible gasps of the audience.

The group still had a lot of touring ahead of them, however. As late as 2005, Simmons continued to straight-talk the groupies in his life, according to a Contact Music article quoted in Brave Words. "I don't lie, like most men do. I will tell a girl I want her and desire her, but I'll tell her straight, 'I want your sister and your mommy as well,'" he said.

These days, Simmons estimates the number of women he's been with to be about 4800, per The Sun. As for the Polaroid collection? The star said he burned it when he married his wife, actor Shannon Tweed, in 2011 after 28 years of dating.

"I did have the Polaroids to prove it, oh yes," he told The Sun. "But most of them were burned … Shannon and I got together with them and we had a ritual."

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His former bandmate accused him of groping his wife.

Ace Frehley in 2018
Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images

There are more than a few people who were left unimpressed by Simmons's claims. In 2019, on-again off-again bandmate Ace Frehley took to Facebook after Simmons made remarks on why he and fellow ousted member Peter Criss would never be full members of KISS. Per the AV Club, Frehley alleged that Simmons had groped and propositioned his wife, who had wanted to sue him.

"Today's comments have made me realize you're just an [expletive] and a sex addict who's being sued by multiple women, and you're just trying to sweep it all under the carpet!" the guitarist wrote.

At the time, Simmons was facing a lawsuit brought by an employee of one of his Rock & Brews restaurants, who alleged that he had touched her inappropriately. (She dropped the lawsuit the following year.) In 2018, he settled with an unnamed radio personality who alleged in her suit that he "turned standard interview questions into sexual innuendos" and groped her during photos.

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Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller is a pop culture writer living in New York. Read more
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