Gene Simmons & Shannon Tweed Need To Get Real With Their Audience

It’s the undeniable elephant in the room.  The patriarch has strayed but no one is saying when and how and with whom and for what reason.

So goes the ongoing struggle to make sense of the tension between Gene Simmons and his longtime companion, Shannon Tweed.  If you’ve been following the sixth season of Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels closely like I have, you probably share my fascination and frustration.

To recap:  During the premiere episode, Gene brought a couple of beautiful women with him to his latest business dinner.  When it was over, he was photographed exiting the restaurant with both of them on each arm.  The pic was mysteriously sent to an openly weeping Shannon, an odd occurrence on the show.  (Not once did she ever have a problem with him hanging around babes before.)  Later, she confronted a confused Gene who proclaimed his innocence.  Ultimately, she left the family home and temporarily moved into a hotel room.  Because she insisted, a reluctant Gene eventually went to a therapist.

Since that time, the show has jumped back and forth from sequences that were taped last year to more recent developments.  One of the more moving episodes involved a trip to Israel where Gene learned for the first time of his extended family, thanks to previous arrangements made by Shannon.

When he visits his father’s grave (a man he has publicly villified for decades), the phony rock god persona he’s carefully cultivated since the early 70s instantly melts away leaving behind a guilt-ridden, immensely sad son named Chaim Witz expressing feelings the audience rarely sees.  This guy, I like.  The Demon?  Not so much.  He’s way too full of himself and in denial of reality.

If only there was as much honesty and clarity about his deteriorating relationship with the former Playmate Of The Year.  Since that sixth season premiere, it remains unclear why she is so upset with him.  The words “unfaithful” and “womanizer” have popped out at times but no specifics have ever been freely offered.  It’s truly maddening when you want to understand the whole troubling situation.

In an earlier piece, I speculated that the real reason Shannon has been angry at Gene was because of a sex tape he appeared in three years ago which he unsuccessfully tried to keep private.  Throughout the season, Shannon and even her son, Nick, have noted that the last few years have been difficult.  So, why hasn’t anyone mentioned the sex tape?  Is it really that much of a taboo subject for a reality show that has pointedly promoted this estrangement?

When Howard Stern appeared on Larry King Live back in 2006, he made a good point he’s made for years.  That he’s always admired broadcasters and performers who are real with their audience, whether they’re decent people or not.  When are Tweed and Simmons going to be completely real with theirs?

When are they going to stop acting coy?  When are they going to end this annoying dance around this persistent issue?  You can’t go on TV and show viewers only the good side of your private life, like this family has done in the five previous seasons of their show, while keeping the darker stuff off-camera.  That’s not reality.  That’s propaganda.

If you’re going to devote a considerable amount of time on the breakdown of a longterm relationship, you can’t skip anything.  What would be the point?  Based on what’s been shown so far, it looks like Shannon is just upset about that damn picture.  But that’s obviously not the problem.  It’s merely a symbol.

Beyond the question of fidelity, there’s also Gene’s stubborn refusal to scale down his workaholic ways (to be fair, a central theme throughout the series), especially when he’s bored or not the centre of attention.  Consider the very revealing episode where he accompanied Shannon back to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, the place where she spent much of her pre-Playboy existence.

At one point, Shannon tries to tell her man about the city’s decision to name a street after her, a lovely honour most of us will never have the privilege of enjoying.  But she never manages to break her news because Gene rudely interrupts her by focusing on himself, at one point with a historical Kiss reference.

When she’s asked to do a ceremonial face-off for the local hockey team, Gene has to be given something to do so he won’t be bouncing off the walls.  (He ends up being a goalie during a break in the game.)  When she’s given an honourary jersey with the number one on the back, Gene wonders why he has number two on his.  When she’s out of her seat at the arena, a couple of women (whose faces are blurred) are sitting on her boyfriend’s lap as photos are snapped right in front of Shannon’s family.  And when she does a radio appearance, he just has to squeeze in that kissonline.com reference among other self-indulgent moments.

In the most recent episode, the second-to-last of the season and easily one of the strongest this year, Gene’s therapist is flown in during a Kiss tour stop.  Although she is understandably shy about talking about it, daughter Sophie eventually opens up on camera to the point where you wish she would go even further.  (Nick has strong opinions, as well, and seems less uncomfortable talking about his family life.)  Clearly, there’s a lot of resentment about Gene’s lengthy absences from home, among other things.

Which brings me to the tease for the season finale.  Is Gene, the most famous critic of marriage today, about to do a 180 in order to save his relationship and bring his family closer?  If so, what a stupid idea.  I’ve long believed that the issue, despite countless half-joking comments to the contrary, hasn’t been the nature of their union, it’s always been Gene’s selfishness.

Here’s a guy who probably never has to work a day in his life ever again thanks to all the hit records he made with Kiss and all those ridiculous endorsement deals that turned him into a self-parody.  So, why does he keep doing it?  He’s addicted to the attention from his audience, especially the females, hence his constant need to be surrounded by them, whether he actually fools around with them or not.  Hell, at one point, while in his Demon get-up just before a show, he actually inappropriately flirts with his therapist right in front of Shannon!  (Dr. Wexler actually has to remind him of their strictly professional relationship.)

When the therapist sits down with the entire family, one point is made abundantly clear.  Gene shouldn’t do what his kids and common-law wife want, it’s what he wants that matters.  Does he really want to be married?  Is Shannon the only woman he wants to be intimate with from here on out?

I seriously doubt it.  A good friend of mine asked me in a Facebook message last month if I thought they were on the verge of splitsville.  I said no.  But now, having seen several more episodes and read a good number of articles about this near 30-year relationship, I’m starting to have my doubts.

Whatever Gene and Shannon decide to do, regardless of their TV show, is their business, as I noted previously.  But if they want to become closer and leave the mistakes of the past behind, they need to start getting real with each other and, while they’re on TV, their audience.  Nothing will change if the status quo remains the same.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
1:55 a.m.

CLARIFICATION & UPDATE:  What I originally thought were the final two episodes of season six are actually the final shows of the first half of that year.  Speaking of that, A&E is releasing all the Family Jewels programs from 2011 on DVD in late Spring.  Look for Season Six Part One (which ends with the proposal cliffhanger) and Season Six Part Two (which concludes with the wedding) on June 12.  Season seven is scheduled to air sometime this year but no official announcement has been made just yet.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
9:33 p.m.

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Published in: on July 20, 2011 at 1:55 am  Comments (13)  

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  1. I strongly urge you to take the time to read even a little bit about Gene Simmons and his history. He is a notorious womanizer and unabashedly so. There is no reason to go into the salacious specifics of “who what where when why how and what position”. Your analysis is strong enough to refute your own argument. You obviously understand what is going on.

    Basically, it sounds as if you are having a bit of a temper tantrum because they have not gotten enough into the “tasty” details for your liking.

  2. Thanks so much for posting this, I have spent several hours wasting time online trying to figure it out also. Did you see the sex tape, ICK…it definitely looks real and recent but was so hard to watch, like and old man taking advantage of a kid, the girl wouldn’t even let him kiss her, it was just so gross.

    • No, I haven’t seen the tape. Just still photos posted on Gawker.

  3. I completely agree with your analysis. It started out with the freak out over the two girls (a video-taped business dinner after which he quickly ditched the girls just outside the restaurant). As you noted, it didn’t make sense that Shannon was that upset over it. Also, she kept saying that it was “so disrespectful” to her. And later in the hotel when she’s talking with Sophie and Nick, she talks about the “promises” between her and Gene that nobody knows about.

    She implies that they are married in their hearts and that everything else is just image spin for Gene, but that she’s tired of it. I took it to mean that she is tired of the game and that she wants to be publicly acknowledged and accorded due respect as his wife and only lover.

    In one of the counseling sessions, she says that she wants to know that he won’t leave her for a younger woman. She wants to know she matters and that he’s in it for the long haul. Further, she’s tired of him never being there for the important family life events, specifically Sophie’s high school graduation.

    So, at this point, I’m not even thinking infidelity. Then, the latest
    episode really threw in a surprise curve ball. The last 10 minutes were riveting for the sheer brutal honesty of Nick and, particularly, Sophie. Also for the complete lack of response from Gene.

    During this episode, Sophie specifically states that her Dad was unfaithful, that she is disappointed in him and will never look at him in the same way.

    So, I’m now wondering just as you are — what the heck is going on here? Shannon says in the episode that “this is reality”, but it seems that some of the “reality” has been edited out and shoved under a rug, because something is missing that would explain the terrible angst that at least three of the family are going through (I just don’t know what is up with Gene–he seems emotionless).

    Have the past few years of the series been a complete sham for everyone but Gene? Has he been unfaithful recently? Years ago? Ongoing for years and years? What’s the truth? Where are the ladies telling/selling their stories of how they banged him?

    What I notice about him is that he seems unable to disclose the truth about himself to anyone. I don’t have the impression that he’s actually disclosed anything truthful about himself to the therapist. Maybe he’s so discombobulated in his mind that he no longer knows the truth. It’s very weird to me. He’s obviously intelligent and articulate on nearly everything … except himself.

    As a side note, I really admire how the family is not pulling any punches at this juncture. It’s raw and life-changing for the three of them. I admire and respect how they want him to just choose what he wants, not what they want, but what he wants. Further, I was awed and deeply touched by Sophie’s heartfelt rejection of Gene’s claim that it’s all due to his own absent father.

  4. I think the 2/3 year-old tape was probably the last straw, too. Nick and Shannon said that they’d ignored much of the bad press over the years and probably rationalized to themselves that it was just National Enquirer type coverage designed to sell papers, largely untrue, but useful to Gene for publicity purposes. That tape shoved it into their faces in the cruelest way possible – a girl young enough to be his daughter and their father-husband caught in a way none of us ever want to see ours. For 28 years, Shannon’s been at every KISS show trying to fend off groupies while arranging every event, birthday, vacation, holiday, graduation, etc of every family member for nearly 3 decades while running the house on a day-to-day basis. She’s obviously involved with his mother, knows more about his family history than he does and seems resposible for keeping the extended family involved and together. What has Gene done beside providing for the family materially? It’s probably a shock to him that a woman can actually do all this, love him and yet resent it all the while. Resentment sneaks up on people over the years and women finally realize that with all this sacrifice and subliminating their own wants and needs, the man might just well take off for a newer lamb. It’s obvious from the old video that she really loved him and surely hoped that he’d come to appreciate her by the time he reached his late 50’s/early 60’s. I didn’t think I’d sympathize either but I do. Shannon knows that he’ll be very lonely without her, has big-time psychological problems that his womanizing and bravado are designed to cover up, and that he’ll end up worse off alone than she will. He’s an intelligent man; surely he couldn’t have believed that a 28-year old realtionship that resulted in 2 children and a woman who took care of most of his needs wasn’t as binding emotionally as a legal marriage would have been.

  5. I totally agree with you about the sex tape.That was the first thing that entered my mind. At one point Shannon said “I’ve been crying for the last 3 years and I’m tired of it.” I think it’s been about three years since the sex video appeared. I read somewhere online that the engagement was called off after the season ended; do you know if that’s true?

    • Here’s what I know. The proposal that happens during the season finale actually took place “several months ago” during a vacation in Belize, according to People Magazine. As of this writing, it is not certain what Shannon’s response to Gene’s surprise gesture was during the taping. According to that same article, she has since moved out and they’re not together anymore. So, to answer your question, I don’t know if they were actually engaged and broke it off or if she simply said no. (The season finale will, hopefully, enlighten us all on that point.) All I know is, based on that one article, it’s over. I can’t say I’m surprised.

  6. And it is “to be continued”…………..

  7. […] the season neared its end, I wrote a follow-up called Gene Simmons & Shannon Tweed Need To Get Real With Their Audience.  It’s been accessed more than a thousand times and yes, it has also provoked a number of […]

  8. […] would be five more Family Jewels entries in this space this year.  The second one, Gene Simmons & Shannon Tweed Need To Get Real With Their Audience was the second most popular piece in the history of this blog.  As of this writing, it’s […]

  9. […] Gene Simmons & Shannon Tweed Need To Get Real With Their Audience (3300 […]

  10. […] other 2011 Gene Simmons Family Jewels pieces continued to be popular in 2012.  Gene Simmons & Shannon Tweed Need To Get Real With Their Audience earned an additional 1700 hits on top of the 1800 it generated last year while Unanswered Questions […]

  11. […] the Kurt Cobain biography, Heavier Than Heaven (over 900 added; it now stands at over 1100), and Gene Simmons & Shannon Tweed Need To Get Real With Their Audience (over 500 added bringing its overall total to more than 4000) round out the Top […]


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