[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6yIti02SkM&feature=related

Monday tends to be a serious day ’round these here parts and the only serious stuff I can think to write about would sure as crap result in Big Drama and, gee, I’m up to here with Big Drama.  And, heck, it’s Beach Week 2009 for many of you out there anyway (but, alas, not for me) so today I’m going to write seriously about my serious affection for Gene Simmons.

As in tongue-y Gene Simmons.  As in really stupid costumes Gene Simmons.  As in patron saint of adolescent boys Gene Simmons.

As in loving father and partner to the lovely Shannon Gene Simmons.  In short, as in unexpected romance hero Gene Simmons.

Considering my total disinterest in Kiss (to be honest, they kind of scared me as a kid) it’s more than fair to say I initially had zero interest in A&E’s Gene Simmons Family Jewels when the show first debuted a few years ago. Then came a marathon. Ah, yes. The dreaded marathon when a woman with nothing to do or  with too much that she totally doesn’t want to do, gets sucked into her own personal little serial indulgence. When one episode just bleeds into another and, before you know it, you’re racing into the kitchen to fix yourself something quick to eat so you don’t have to miss a minute.

That kind of marathon.

Anyhoo, much to my shock (and some chagrin), instead of sneering cynically at the self-proclaimed “rock god” as I expected, I found myself totally charmed by Gene and his love for his family. Add in the fact that he’s not afraid to laugh at himself, is proudly geeky about his children, and seems to have a sharp appreciation for the value of every dollar he ever earned, and his attractions grow.

And here’s the capper:  Together with Shannon Tweed, he’s raised two terrific kids in Nick and Sophie. Both are privileged and appreciate that fact, but Nick and Sophie are grounded, sensible, and all around destined to do great things in life. In fact, my favorite Simmons moments involve his kids.

Gene’s tendency to overdo everything is a source of frequent embarrassment to Nick and Sophie. When Sophie had a chance to model in Paris, Gene accompanied her and worked hard to stay the hell out of Sophie’s business. But when she complains about his interference (Gene just can’t help himself), here’s how he responds (paraphrasing here):  “I never thought I would have a little girl, and when I did, I promised myself that I wouldn’t screw it up.”

Sophie melted.  I melted.

In another favorite moment, Nick and Gene are once again discussing the perennial topic: How Gene embarrasses his children. When Nick complains of a specific incident, Gene responds:  “Well, that’s a loving father.”  Nick’s reply? “That’s a loving father with too much money and too much time on his hands.”

Wise kid.  Wise Gene to take his lumps.

And, frankly, I think that’s the crux of why I’ve grown to like him so much. You never doubt for one moment that Gene has a heart the size of Texas. He worships the ground Shannon walks upon and pops with pride over his two children. But, just as important, he also respects all three and values their opinions – even when they differ from his own. He makes mistakes, but acknowledges them when he does.  And, gee, when you put all those things together, isn’t that what being a good person is all about?

As for Shannon and Gene’s real life love story, they fit. Perfectly. And, considering that this is a man regularly surrounded by big-breasted bimbos (and it’s crystal clear that Gene appreciates said bimbos), at the end of the day we know he’s going to be in the bed of the woman he’s been with since the 1970s.

But I promised a think piece, so here’s what I think. I’ve met the stars of a reality show three times now and they are exactly the people you see on TV. Really and truly. And, though I know that the Simmons family story is Hollywood-ized for TV, I’m betting that the real guy we see and the love of that family is the real deal.

Gene is overbearing and obnoxious, but he’s the man. He’s a man.  And, from where I’m sitting, he is one grade A prime romance hero specimen.

Okay, the hair’s not too great, but you can’t have it all, can you?

-Sandy AAR