These Boots Were Made for Rocking

Vans Unveils Kiss-Branded Skate Shoes

By Published on .

Kiss blood fountain
Perhaps no other band since the Beatles has been as prolific with merchandise than Kiss. Just do a little Googlin' and you'll find Kiss beer coozies, light switch covers, auction paddles, table lamps, phone cards, puzzles and, of course, a Kiss bloody water fountain. In his book "Kiss and Sell," C.K. Lendt estimates Kiss' merchandise income during its "peak years" (1977-1979) to be $100 million.

What's almost as stunning is that the Kiss merch train is still running, and one can buy all new unnecessary kitsch like car air fresheners, onesies, knockoff Rubik's Cubes, cue balls, Paul and Gene condoms, baseball bats, navel rings, ketchup and now [catches breath] Vans shoes.

To celebrate that fateful day in 1978 when all four members of the band released solo albums, the skatewear brand (and main sponsor of the Warped Tour) is releasing the Vans x Kiss Sk8-Hi commemorative T-shirt and shoe pack sometime in the "late fall" of this year.

But if that wasn't enough retirement income for bassist Gene Simmons -- the leader of Kiss' merchandising strategy since the '70s -- a 2006 promotion deal with the Indy Racing League probably put him ahead by a ski chateau or two. His company Simmons Abramson Marketing was charged with getting the racing brand "hip" and "edgy" again with a new theme song. Unfortunately, he may be forced to relinquish one or two bungalows if he loses a suit filed yesterday on behalf of a business acquaintance who claims to have fostered the deal and then been cut out of it.

Still, the fact that Kiss hasn't released an album in 10 years -- Simmons did himself four years ago, and it was a flop in every way -- but can still land deals and move lunchboxes is a testament to the bewildering strength of a rock brand that's lived this long because of one song.

Yet that song is one of the few in the world that makes me want to "blood fountain" all over the jukebox when I'm trying to enjoy a pint.
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