Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Demon has a heart

When you think of Gene Simmons, what comes to mind? KISS? His seven-inch-long tongue? Thousands of women?

If these details construct your whole frame of reference for the infamous rocker in the sky-high platform boots, then it won't surprise you to know that he hooked up with a Playboy model, will it?

Yeah, it didn't surprise me either. Then I started watching Gene Simmons Family Jewels, and my perspective on Gene Simmons has changed immensely.

Did you know he likes to sleep in footie pajamas? Or that he has never had a drink of alcohol, never smoked, never partaken of illegal drugs, or that he has no tattoos?

Would it surprise you to know that he and Shannon Tweed (the Playboy model I mentioned) have been "life partners" for the last 26 years? They have two children together - Sophie, 18, and Nick, 21 - and they live an unbelievably (in Gene's words) "unconventional conventional life." It is that unconventional conventionality that draws me to the show.

It's fun to watch Family Jewels because, after all, it is Gene Simmons! He's very funny. But he's also a truly dedicated father and "boyfriend." (Gene refuses to marry Shannon, no matter how often she asks.)

I decided to write this post after watching the opening episode for Season 5. Shannon found a lump in her breast and went to have it checked. The lump she'd found was nothing but a cyst, but the doctor, while examining her, found a different, suspicious one and decided Shannon needed a biopsy. KISS had just started a new tour, and Gene was on the road. Shannon thought it best to keep the biopsy from Gene (and the kids). Nick and Sophie found out, though, and Nick called "Daddo." Gene came home.

When Shannon went for her biopsy, she let the cameras in. Even though she's beautiful and a former Playboy model, there was nothing sexual when she bared herself for the biopsy. She was simply a woman living a moment thousands of other women live every day. But Shannon forewent the privacy most of us cling to and underwent the procedure honestly and openly for her viewers to watch. I, for one, am grateful.

Watching the doctor perform the biopsy demystified that process for me. If I should ever have to go through that myself, at least now I have a frame of reference for the process. I'll have enough to worry about if that ever happens. Thanks to Shannon's generosity in sharing her experience, I won't have to worry about what the needle looks like, how much it will hurt, or how they'll find the lump with the needle. I'll just have to wait for the results, as Shannon did.

When her appointment to meet with the doctor and go over the test results rolled around, Gene was back on the road. Shannon made her way to the doctor's office alone, but found Gene sitting in the waiting room when she got there. As she hugged him, Shannon said something like, "Somewhere there are 60,000 very disappointed KISS fans." He told her there was no place else he needed to be. Unconventionally conventional.

Shannon's tests were negative. The lump was a benign cyst. Having lived through the ordeal, Shannon decided to volunteer at a breast cancer center in LA, and Sophie joined her. There's also a link on the Family Jewels page about breast cancer awareness.

There's just nothing to dislike about this show. Unless, of course, you have something against laughing from your gut and wiping away the occasional tear. Oh, and watching Gene Simmons walk around in footie PJs is pretty cool too.

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