As KISS' bass-playing, fire-breathing demon, Gene Simmons is the embodiment of sex, drugs and rock and roll. But on A&E's Gene Simmons: Family Jewels (Sundays at 9 pm/ET), the occasionally kabuki-faced father of two and partner of Shannon Tweed (don't dare call him a husband) is an iron-fisted paterfamilias and tireless businessman. We asked Simmons to wag his legendary tongue about his nonconformist lifestyle and the success of his series, which was recently renewed for a third season.
TV Guide: To what do you credit this show's success?
On the surface, there's nothing particularly exciting. People like train wrecks, but as much as we'll try to be Bobby and Whitney, we can't. It's not who we are. I've never been high or drunk in my life.
TV Guide: Your family life is conventional, but your relationship with Shannon is anything but. Do you consider your relationship with her an open one?
All relationships are open. Don't believe there's any difference between a monogamous and a polygamous relationship. Those are all just big words, like "gymnasium." Human beings will do whatever the hell they want to do. [But] they lie about it, because they think they have to answer to somebody. I want Shannon to stay with me only because she wants to, not because she has to.
TV Guide: Are you a fan of HBO's polygamist drama Big Love?
I do like it. The only problem I have with it is, ironically enough, I'm a women's-rights guy. I want women to make as much money as men. I want women to literally rule every country in the world. Men are built to fight; women are not. They will talk your f---ing head off.
TV Guide: Would you like to see Shannon pose for Playboy again?
Sure, if she wants to. It goes back to dominion, that you think you own somebody. You don't. At a certain point even your children will leave you.
TV Guide: Your son Nick has said he genuinely likes hanging out with his parents. That must make you proud.
Very proud, but it's not the cornerstone. The cornerstone is never to negotiate with children. This permissive society has created monsters and they're called "kids." Nick and [daughter] Sophie behave and are charming and polite because they're not allowed not to be!
TV Guide: You have such an aversion to drugs and alcohol. I expect the kids have been duly warned.
Oh, they know the rules. Ever see that movie Holes? If I catch them once, they'll find themselves in a camp out in the middle of the desert, digging holes.
TV Guide: Did that strict stance ultimately affect your relationship with original KISS members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss?
Absolutely. They were thrown out of the band because they were drug addicts and alcoholics. Period. It's difficult enough to agree with someone who is straight, much less having to deal with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This whole culture is obsessed with drugs and alcohol and smoking, and I will have none of it.
TV Guide: Would you play with them again? Or is that era of KISS over?
It's difficult to talk about that because... they're damaged. Even if you're straight, can you play your instrument well enough to get up there and physically go through it? You're talking about 30 years of abuse. Everybody cares about Ace and Peter. I love them to death. But I don't want them to die on tour.
TV Guide: You're a famed entrepreneur. Besides a third season of Family Jewels, what other projects do you have coming up?
We have the Simmons-Abramson marketing firm, which does all the races for Indy Car. We also just took on an energy drink, and Turks & Caicos hired us to do all their marketing branding. And check out NGTV.com. We have 10,000 hours of the biggest stars in the world doing things you'd never believe they'd do. You'll be blown away.
TV Guide: Can you confirm this number for me from one of your episodes? "4,897." That's supposedly how many women you've slept with.
A lot of them didn't get a lot of sleep, but that's a good guess.
TV Guide: So... any advice to help a single guy land a girlfriend?
Never lie. Tell her the god's honest truth: "I find you devastatingly attractive, charming and wonderful, and I would be so honored if you shared my bed tonight — but I also find your sister and your mommy attractive, too." If she can get over that hump, you're in, babe!
TV Guide: It works?
It does! Even with an ugly bastard like myself.
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