A Long Night Waiting to See KISS Unmasked in 1983

Picture ran in the Austin American-Statesman on September 19th, 1983 showing KISS without makeup.
For millions of fanatics, September 18th, 1983 was the day their rock 'n roll super heroes KISS showed their faces to the world for the first time in dramatic fashion on MTV. It was a moment that could only be compared to Batman, Spider-Man, or the Flash coming on the national news and removing their costumes and masks on camera. Although Ace Frehley and Peter Criss had already left the band, new members Vinnie Vincent and Eric Carr had spent the better part of a year hiding their identities behind faces painted up to look like the Ankh Warrior and Fox, respectively.

What many don't realize is that cable TV wasn't as widespread as it is now in 1983. Many millions of people didn't have MTV or pay television and therefore didn't see the big unmasking. I was one of those unfortunate souls with no access to MTV or a ride to the store to pick up their album, "Lick It Up," which had come out that same day. Many devotees wouldn't get our first glimpse at KISS sans the makeup until the next day when the newspapers picked up the story and ran articles with the picture of the bare-faced band used for the cover of their "Lick It Up" album.

You see, there was no internet in 1983. We didn't have the instant gratification you get today with dozens of different websites running their version of the same story. We common folk had to wait a full twelve to twenty-four hours before our first look at KISS without their trademark makeup.

At the time, I was living outside of Austin, TX in a suburb called Cedar Park. On September 19th, I was eleven years old and getting ready for school that Monday morning. My stepfather always got up early to read the local newspaper, the Austin American-Statesman, before he headed to work. He silently slapped the paper down in front of me at the dining room table. I remember looking at the picture of the four members of KISS without their war paint and reading the blurb, which named each member from left to right.

I didn't find it too hard to pick out Paul Stanley's slightly pursed lips and Gene Simmons with his tongue protruding from his mouth. Vinnie Vincent and Eric Carr were recognizable mainly because of the shapes of their faces and through the process of elimination after picking out Stanley and Simmons. It was a monumental moment for millions of KISS fans and remains a pivotal point in rock and roll history and the career of the Hottest Band in the World.

On a personal note, I always laugh thinking back on that day. After reading the article, I exclaimed, "Wow." My stepfather pulled the paper back to himself. With a straight face, much like that of Red Forman's on "That 70s Show," he proclaimed, "They should've kept the makeup on." The ridiculous things old people say.

The video below is the MTV footage of the first time KISS appeared in public without makeup.