Gene Simmons may be renowned the world over as the multi-millionaire, acid-tongued, straight-talking, fire-eating bassist in Kiss, but the heavily made-up, high-heeled wearing god of thunder also has a much more caring and sharing side.
In other words, behind his bluff bravado, gruff demeanor, painted face, massive bank balance, and barbed insults, “The Demon,” as he’s affectionately known by the Kiss Army, is something of a big-hearted philanthropist.
The 65-year-old teddy bear recently revealed to Mike Walter on Full Frame that he has a passion for philanthropy, and sincerely believes in the importance of giving back.
“Philanthropy is a big word and people don’t understand, really, what it means… It means giving back. It means, you don’t really need all the money you have, those of us who are in the West and doing okay.”
And despite what you might think about the notoriously outspoken Simmons, when it comes to putting his money where his mouth is, the Kiss bassist is bang on the buck.
Simmons sponsors more than 140 children through ChildFund International, a nonprofit organization that helps children living in extreme poverty. He is also a proponent of microfinance lending programs like Kiva and Heifer International. Simmons is also a major donor to Mending Kids International, an organization that provides quality surgical care to children who could not otherwise afford it.
CCTV America reports that self-made man Simmons appreciates the value of giving something back because he knows what it is to go without. Born in Israel, and raised in a bullet-hole-speckled, one-bedroom home by his mother, a Holocaust survivor, Simmons immigrated to the United States at the age of 8.
Not being able to speak a word of English, Simmons found himself a stranger wandering a strange land full of refrigerators, televisions and paved streets – all things the Kiss rocker had never laid eyes on before.
“We came from nothing. My mother was making $35 a week. Rent was $37.50 a month, but I didn’t know anything. I had never seen a television set, or Kleenex, or toilet paper. We just didn’t have those things.”
Simmons admits that living frugally became ingrained. Even after tasting success with Kiss, Simmons didn’t own a car until he was 34-years-old. Yet his one abiding lesson from the lean years, is the feeling of being hungry and how it taught him “more is a good word.”
“Above and beyond the money and the fame and the power and the stuff is you’re in competition with yourself every day to do better than you did yesterday. And we should all aspire to that. More is a good word.”