General News

R.I.P. with Kiss

By:
Jun 18, 2001 | 1:44pm EDT

Kiss fans can now take their love for Kiss to the grave.

The blood-spitting rock mogul of Kiss, Gene Simmons, has added yet another product to the glam rock band's ever-growing merchandising universe: the "Kiss Kasket." The coffin features the faces of the four founding members of the band, the Kiss logo and the words "Kiss Forever."

"If you want to take that final trip with Kiss, you can," Simmons said when he unveiled the coffin last week at the Licensing Trade Show, the New York Times reported.

If the idea of death was too morbid, fans could use the casket as a cooler, Simmons added.

"We figured, why not use it while you're alive?" he told Reuters. "For a guy that's home watching the game in the living room, he could just reach over and grab a cold one."

A Kiss coffin might not be best used as a cooler, said Ken Steling, president of The Casket Store in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Most caskets are made of steel or wood for durability.

"The one concept about a casket is that you are supposed to keep it dry," he said. "[Caskets] have a lined interior, and the water will decay it and make it rot."

As a farewell gesture to affluent fans, Kiss and Signatures Network entered into an agreement with White Light, which will manufacture the caskets.

"Kiss represents the rebelliousness, outrageousness, authenticity and non-stop partying which are synonymous with 'Rock and Roll,'" Signatures Network president and CEO Dell Furano said in a press release.

Only 2,500 caskets are available, which fans can purchase for $5,000 apiece on the band's Web site, www.kissonline.com, and at selected funeral homes across the country.

"This is the ultimate Kiss collectible," Simmons said in a kissonline press release. "I love living, but this makes the alternative look pretty damn good."

Even though it seems like an original idea, Kiss fans have expressed mixed reactions to the new collectible item.

"I love it. I'm buying one. I figure I got to spend 5K anyway for one so I might as well get it as soon as I can and enjoy it while I'm alive. I wanted to be buried in a KISS T-shirt anyway. This is even better," Frank White said on the band's official message board.

Some fans, however, have expressed some indignation as to the Kiss merchandising empire, which it claims is now valued at north of $500 million. According to kissonline.com, Simmons pitched the product last week on Howard Stern's radio show saying, "Most caskets go for $3,000 but ours will sell for $4,500." This prompted Stern to chastise Simmons for not giving fans the read deal even in death.

"What next? Pre-burial arrangements? A KISS-funeral package, and decide if you want to be buried with Gene, Paul, Ace or Peter makeup?" fan Leslie wrote on the message board.

Steling said he believes that most of the fans who would buy this would be on their teens or early 30s and their odds in dying are "relatively slim."

"Most of the public wants the same thing that their parents and grandparents were buried in," Steling said. "The service does not rely on the person that is going to go in [the casket], but for the family that's left. It's a process of closure."

The caskets sold by Steling vary from $1,500 to $2,000. He has made customized caskets, but they did not cost as much to make as what the Kiss coffin will require a fan to pay.

Sterling said that his job is to give families whatever items they require to help them cope with the loss of a loved one, and if there were ever a need to acquire a Kiss casket, he would provide the family with one.

But if one is going to fetch $5000 on a Kiss casket, bear this in mind: "For $5,000 you can get a solid bronze casket, which will last much longer," Sterling said. "I will even apply a Kiss photo on the lid."

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