Monday, May 27, 2013

KISS Fan Takes Love Of Band To Extreme

CHILLICOTHE — They looked like something out of a comic book with their elaborate costumes and their faces painted to conceal their identities.

Marvin Chester, not yet 10 years old, had never seen or heard anything like Kiss when he listened to the band’s 1976 album “Destroyer.”

“My uncle told me, ‘There’s this band you have to hear,’” Chester said. “We sat and listened to the whole album. From that point on, I was a diehard Kiss fan.”

“They had the makeup and the costumes. They looked like superheroes. Plus their music was totally awesome,” he said.

Now 45, Chester’s obsession with the band has only intensified.

He owns thousands of pieces of Kiss memorabilia, many of them on display in a Kiss-themed room in his home near Chillicothe. His collection includes records, action figures, lunch boxes, belt buckles — even a toothbrush that plays their hit, “Rock and Roll All Nite.”

“It started with their bubble gum cards and before you knew it, Kiss’ name was on everything you can imagine,” Chester said. “This isn’t even the tip of the iceberg (of what’s available).”

Chester has seen the band in concert more than 15 times. He also has attended several Kiss fan conventions. Many of his collectibles were acquired in trades with other fans.

“Whenever you meet a Kiss fan, you instantly become friends,” he said.

A couple of years ago, Chester took his love of the band one step father when he began performing as “The Demon.” His one-hour, one-man show has him singing over high-quality karaoke tracks impersonating Kiss vocalist and bass player Gene Simmons, complete with full makeup and costume.

Off-stage, Chester is somewhat soft-spoken. When he performs, however, he’s a live wire, spewing fake blood and igniting smoke bombs hidden in his prop guitar.

Past gigs have included Frankfort’s Sunflower Festival and a number of fundraisers.

“I believe in trying to help the community out,” he said.

Chester’s wife, Peggy, runs the sound board when he performs. Although he uses karaoke music as his backing tracks, he doesn’t need any help with the lyrics.

“I know all of their songs by heart,” Chester said. “They kept me out of a lot of trouble. When you’re mad, you start singing along with the band and you forget why you were so stirred up to begin with.”