By TAMARA WARREN/New York Times
Smoke spurted, the curtain lifted and in rock star fashion Kiss took the stage Thursday morning at the New York auto show. The band wore full makeup, stilted heels and shiny spandex and posed next to four Mini Cooper Countrymans, customized according to each member’s face makeup pattern and persona — the Demon, the Spaceman, the Catman and the Starchild. The signed cars and other Kiss memorabilia will be auctioned for Unicef.
Gene Simmons, the bassist and vocalist, stuck out his infamous tongue and raised his arms, while the guitarist Tommy Thayer and the drummer Eric Singer lunged for the photo opportunity. The fourth Kiss member, Paul Stanley, was unable to attend because of a family emergency, Mr. Simmons said. Mini USA President Jim McDowell wore Kiss-inspired makeup and introduced the band. In their tall heels, they towered over Mr. McDowell. “I seem a little short,” he said.
Richard Drew/Associated Press
Jim McDowell, Mini USA chief, with Gene Simmons of Kiss.“You don’t seem short,” Mr. Simmons said in response.” You are short.”
The band gathered in the basement of the Javits for interviews with Mr. McDowell after the conference. Mr. McDowell used a makeup artist for the event, but the band said they always apply the makeup themselves.
The auction begins online May 29 and runs to June 19. “We don’t make it a habit of doing press conferences and trying to convince people that we care about the planet we live and we live on the planet,” Mr. Simmons said. They also work with the charity Wounded Warriors. “We’re very blessed to lead this life.”
They have 20 concerts scheduled for this summer. “Detroit’s got its wonderful qualities and New York does too. What a great way to see America in the Mini Cooper. Wouldn’t that be cool?” Mr. Simmons said. “I’m going to get me one. I want the Demon. Jim is going to get me the Demon Mini Cooper.”
Several of the band members collect cars. “We are car aficionados,” Mr. Singer said. “I have a couple vintage cars. I go to car shows on the weekend. Southern California is the car culture of America when it comes down to it.”
When it’s time to tour, they take to the skies “We have a Kiss jet,” Mr. Thayer said. “But we’re all into cars we can appreciate great cars. Mini Coopers have a rock and roll history. Back in the ’60s the Beatles used to drive Mini Coopers, Paul McCartney, John Lennon.”
None of the Kiss members drive Minis, but they each expressed an interest in driving Minis around Los Angeles. “Not as many cars would look good with your face wrapped on them,” Mr. McDowell said.