We are ... MINIKISS! Joey, left, is Mini-Gene, Terra (Mini-Paul), Nic (Mini-Ace) and Karrie (Mini-Peter).

Little licks get kicks

It's one thing to enjoy the costume spectacle that is the rock band KISS -- but to see an exact replica of that with four little people? C'mon, that's like Halloween twice over! It's a joke, right?

Full-sized sound

Featuring MINIKISS

Where: Pipeline Cafe, 805 Pohukaina St.

When: 8 p.m. Friday

Tickets: $17.50 presale and $20 day of show, 18 and over

Call: 589-1999

But Joey Fatale, the head man of MINIKISS, is quite serious about making the tribute band into a viable musical entity, more than just an amusing novelty act. (The band that's small in stature but big in heart and sound plays the Pipeline Cafe Friday night.)

The inspiration that transformed Fatale to his onstage guise as Mini-Gene began about 6 years ago for, not surprisingly, a Halloween party gig. "As I was going through my vinyl records in preparation for a move," Fatale said by phone from his Long Island, N.Y., home Monday, "I came across my original sealed vinyl copy of 'KISS Alive' and I thought, yo, wouldn't it be cool to dress like KISS? So when this guy I work for every Halloween called me up and asked me what I wanted to do that year, I told him how about something called MINIKISS?

"He said that sounds cool, so I got a bunch of local friends together, and we ended up lip-synching to some of KISS' songs, but wearing T-shirts and torn-up jeans. From there, we started to get calls and, little by little, I realized that I had to get this thing started out for real."

Fatale was always a rock 'n' roller in spirit, despite his size. In his role as Mini-Gene in the band, he proudly admits that "I am the man behind the mask. Before this, I was basically a huge KISS fan, always loved metal. It inspired me to be a musician." (He's learned to play scaled-down drums, guitar and bass.)

"I just loved their craziness, man. And they were looked at the way that little people usually are. But we don't consider ourselves as outcasts. This is the way we are. People tend to get loud and demeaning towards us sometimes -- it's not as bad anymore -- but, with MINIKISS, I wanted show them we could do it, complete with makeup."

Fatale is still in awe of the originals, whom he also saw in concert in the 1970s. And as MINIKISS has evolved over the years, the band's gender makeup has changed as well, thanks to seeing KISS singer-guitarist Paul Stanley in performance.

"To me, personally, the way he dances on stage, it's so cool. Seeing him in his Starchild getup, I thought, you know, a female in that role would kick ass. And with Terra, our queen of hearts as Mini-Paul, it's really worked out great." (The band is rounded out by Nic as Mini-Ace, and another woman, Karrie, playing Mini-Peter.)

RIGHT NOW, MINIKISS sing on stage to pre-recorded backing tracks, but Fatale says that "the next step is getting to play for real, and including some originals.

"We do a little bit of everything from the entire history of KISS. Our group brings all kinds of people into a venue. It's not all just insane metal guys, but females as well. We make sure to play a lot of the hit songs. Depending on the crowd, like if it's full of guys, we'll do the loud and heavy songs, and make sure that they see our female singer can actually sing.

"Yep, MINIKISS was born in New York, just like the big KISS. Every year, more and more, it's nonstop, solid booking for us. New York, Los Angeles, and TV. I remember we did HBO's 'Inside the NFL' one year, I was told by the producers to bust host Bob Costas' chops. So I was doing things like putting my tongue up to him. I don't think he enjoyed that. But the other guys, Dan Marino, Cris Collinsworth and Cris Carter, they were so nice. And I'm a big Miami Dolphins/Marino fan, so I had him autograph some stuff of mine.

"We also did the launch party for Gene Simmons' Tongue magazine. He didn't know we were coming, but he was a nice man, and very surprised in seeing four little people dressed as KISS."

And it seems that with every passing year, the legend of MINIKISS grows in popularity. "Three years ago, we went to the KISS/Aerosmith show in Jones Beach dressed as MINIKISS, and we were invited to go running up to the front of the stage, with the crowd chanting 'KISS, KISS, KISS ...' The next year, at the same show, this time with Poison, we did the same thing, but people were actually chanting 'MINIKISS, MINIKISS, MINIKISS ...' this time."

A very content-sounding Fatale realizes that life is good. "It's the coolest thing. I'm having a blast. I'm serious, man! It's like being a rock star, being up on stage, meeting a lot of girls. We've really been kicking."

And the kicks will obviously continue in Hawaii this weekend.

| | |
E-mail to Features Desk


© Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- https://archives.starbulletin.com