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Gene Simmons of Kiss happy to shed ‘empty’ Vegas mansion

Updated October 23, 2021 - 9:30 am

Gene Simmons would not be considered “homeless” by any measure. But the rock star and Kiss co-founder says he has taken on one home too many, as he is selling his Las Vegas-area mansion.

“I have many houses. I just bought another home in Beverly Hills,” Simmons said Thursday during a VIP party for his art exhibit at Animazing Gallery at The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. “It’s like, how many (expletive) homes do you need?”

Simmons will be in the gallery 3-5 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, times that are open to the public.

The great bassist made news just ahead of Thursday’s session in the gallery. Simmons has just listed his hillside estate and adjacent lot in the ritzy Ascaya community in Henderson for just under $15 million. The listing, through Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Nevada Properties, was made public just five months after Simmons purchased the property, for $11 million.

Simmons appeared to be moving into Southern Nevada as at least a part-time resident, especially as Kiss plans its headlining residency Dec. 29, continuing on to Feb. 5. But his estates are very spread out, including property in the Malibu mountains he bought for his wife, Shannon, he says is so high, “The eagles fly below it.”

Simmons also owns a mansion in Whistler, British Columbia. His kids all have their own houses, too, next to each other, and Simmons just bought the Vegas home.

“Nobody was going to visit me. We were all on tour, so the house in Vegas was empty, right?” Simmons said. “We now have six houses among four people. So I couldn’t get my family here, and I just didn’t want to deal with the heat.”

Simmons did make the purchase in August, in the teeth of an especially brutal Vegas summer. The temperature outside when we most recently spoke was 115.

But the rock legend says he will be in town frequently.

“There is a lot of business for me here,” he said. “I will be coming in and out to trade goods.”

His art exhibit is the latest good-trading event. A couple dozen Simmons pieces are on display at the gallery owned by Houston-based businessman Nicholas Leone, a friend of Simmons’ who discovered value in Simmons’ paintings. A couple already have been sold.

A few others that Simmons planned to “throw out, in the garbage pail,” also are up for display. Bob Torti, the former “Rock of Ages” co-star and Las Vegas resident, spotted some of these pieces and said, “I like these.” So they were saved.

“Immortal,” a hand-pulled screen print in red, silver and black, is one. It’s up for a sale for $975 unframed, $1,175 framed. The prices range from around $1,000 to upwards of $245,0oo. That’s the price tag on a personal favorite, “Mother & Son.” The work is an acrylic on canvas, a self-portrait of Simmons as a 5-year-old with his mother, Florence, a Holocaust survivor.

Simmons is not sure what will resonate with his fans, most of whom (of course) are veterans of the Kiss Army.

“I don’t know what people will like,” Simmons said. “It’s like when we play. We consistently do songs that I’m not crazy about that the audience goes crazy for. That shows you something.”

Simmons has an expansive view of art, his own and that of others.

“I am one painter who has many influences,” Simmons said. “You can see some Jackson Pollock in here, though I wasn’t consciously thinking of him while I was painting. Roy Lichtenstein, and Andy Warhol, who I hung out with at Studio 54 and knew socially, were people who did things the way I liked to do them.”

Simmons had contracted COVID just after his most recent appearance at the gallery in August. He says he feels fine now, though he has dropped a few pounds. Simmons has been vaccinated. He continues to rail against those who refuse to be vaccinated against the virus.

“The later and deeper we get into this pandemic, the more shocked I am and can’t believe just how many people refuse to do it,” he said. Simmons wore a mask throughout Thursday’s session, removing it only for photos next to his artwork.

Simmons has previously joked, “Farm animals will not be harmed” in the upcoming residency. He joked the band would play it “shy, because we want to appeal to a higher number of tourists.”

There will be no dancing or use of backing dancers in the show.

“We’ll leave that to those who lip-sync, and the pop chanteuses who are fantastic, but who can’t sing and dance at the same time,” Simmons said.

Simmons also is continuing to promote his MoneyBag line of soft drinks (the creme soda is tasty) and vodka. He compares his entrepreneurial path to that of a rat pursuing cheese in a maze.

“Rats love cheese. If you give them the same maze every day, at first they go really fast because they want to get the cheese,” Simmons said. “Then a few years later, you know they take their time because they know if they make a left here make a right there, they’ll finally find the cheese.

“To get me really excited, to get my heart pumping, give me a new maze.”

Cool Hang Alert

“Tease: A Burlesque Revue” set for 8 p.m. Saturday at The Space. The production is headed up by longtime Vegas burlesque performer Buttercup. We last saw her shaking up Brian Newman’s “After Dark” show at NoMad Library. The shindig is a benefit for “The World’s Sexiest Museum,” the Burlesque hall of fame, the nonprofit dedicated to celebrating and preserving the history of burlesque. Tickets are $20 and $40, hit thespacelv.com for the specs.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Dr. Miriam Adelson, the majority shareholder of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Las Vegas Sands operates The Venetian.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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