Gene Simmons recalled how he talked a promoter into booking Kiss for their first show – although the band was called Wicked Lester when he made the call.

By the time they made their debut appearance at the Popcorn Club in New York City on Jan. 30, 1973, they were using the name that became world-renowned. In a new interview with Classic Rock, Simmons remembered the event as a loss-maker.

“We didn’t have a manager,” he said. “So I called the guy. ‘You won’t believe this band, Wicked Lester. They do original material and, if you want, [they will] stick in a Wilson Pickett song or an Otis Redding song.’ Over the phone, I sold the band to him for $35. Never mind that getting the truck to move our equipment and all that was going to cost more. We just wanted to flex our muscles.”

Watch Kiss' First-Ever Show

While the concert was sparsely attended, with friends making up most of the small audience, it featured the first outings for future Kiss classics “Deuce,” “Firehouse” and “Black Diamond.” It was also the moment they debuted early versions of their trademark makeup.

“We didn’t sound like what we looked like,” Simmons said. “One day we went down to Woolworth, which was a chain of department stores, and bought long mirrors – $15 or something like that – and bought clown makeup, God knows why, and started putting makeup on our faces. There were no makeup artists or anything. And designs on the whiteface. Nobody could point to a reason why or what the spark was that started the fire. I don’t know. There are things in science called ‘singularities’ – they just happen.”

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