“Beth” Nags Peter Criss

For better or for worse, the KISS drummer is forever wed to his Top 10 Destroyer hit — and this entry, from John Moe’s Pop-Song Correspondances for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, is a snapshot at their turbulent relationship:

Peter,

Let me get this straight: you don’t have time to answer the phone when I’m calling, and you lack the ability to call me back, but you somehow have time to compose a long schmaltzy handwritten letter that is then delivered by an intern? This intern in a Destroyer tour T-shirt, a leather vest, and Dockers who is now sitting on our lawn smoking Marlboro Lights while I scribble out a reply?

Jerk.

Even now my parents are sitting inside having a cocktail before dinner and asking, “When exactly is this husband of yours going to be home, dear?” It’s a reasonable question, of course, given that we’ve had these plans with them for weeks. And now this. This intern bearing a letter. “Oh, pretty soon!” I just said with as much cheer as I could feign.

Help me honor your commitment, Peter, and get home.

You say you and the boys just can’t find the sound. Here: loud guitars and lots of people bellowing in a not particularly melodious way. There. Done. There’s your “sound.” You ain’t Bowie. And, honestly, if the band is really searching for a new sound (what, is Gene going to go prog-rock? Ace trotting out a folk protest ballad?), they probably don’t even need you, Peter! You’re the drummer for KISS! What are you going to do, recommend more hydraulics on the drum platform? I think they’ll get by without you for an evening.

But that won’t happen, because the Cat Man can’t stand up to the Star Child and the Demon. I think I hear them callin’. “Oh, Beth, what can I do?” you ask. “Oh, Beth! Boo-hoo! Paul and Gene want me to come thump along to their screaming again! What can I do, Beth? Oh, boo-hoo!” You can do this, Peter: Say, “I’m sorry, boys, I’ve got plans for this evening. Beth’s parents are coming over and I need to impress upon them that playing in a band is a legitimate career.”

Maybe you could even continue with these comments: “You see, Beth’s parents don’t really understand rock-and-roll and still can’t quite follow why their son-in-law finds it necessary to dress up as a kitty cat in order to play the drums. And why, they wonder, does this supposedly scary heavy-metal band have someone dressed up as a kitty cat? Doesn’t that seem kind of stupid? Was he unable to figure out a teddy-bear or gumdrop-unicorn makeup pattern?”

Look, I swore I would never tell you this, but remember how this cat business came about? Gene was working on his demon designs, Paul was on his sci-fi kick, both were talking about how their characters reflected who they really were. So, when the suggestion was made that you dress up like “a total pussy,” that was an insult. The fact that you took the idea as inspiration for a cat costume amused the other guys (and me also, to be honest) so much that no one ever let you in on the joke. Sorry.

As to your comments in your note that our house ain’t a home, well, you’re right. But it has nothing to do with you being gone so much and me being here alone. I actually like that arrangement. It’s not a home mostly because of the enormous carpeted scratching posts and massive catnip mice you had built to “keep in character.” A house can never be a home when 10-foot-long cat toys dangle from the ceiling, Peter. Christ, I wish I could host the book club here once in a while.

Peter, you need to stand up to Paul and Gene (Ace, I suspect, won’t notice you’re leaving, since he probably doesn’t even know he’s there himself) and come home whether you find “the sound” or not and no matter how much they’re callin’. And please take a moment to clean the makeup off and change out of the costume before arriving at the house. Honestly, I don’t know why you need to wear it when you’re practicing, but I do know that it caused a lot of problems and screaming when you showed up for Easter dinner last year. Mother still talks about how you ordered Friskies, a saucer of milk, and a bottle of Jack Daniel’s.

All right, I’m giving this note to the intern now. I won’t bother calling even though I know you hear me. Come home. Right now.

Beth

P.S. Forgot to mention: I have some plans this weekend. Going out with an old friend named Eric Carr. I don’t think you know him.

That’s one saucy song. And don’t be surprised by the post-script, either. Like they say: Once you go KISS drummer, you never go back.

Tags: KISS