Gene Simmons, advertising conventioneer

You don’t expect to run into a rock star in the hotel lobby at every ad-industry conference—not in dull-as-dishwater Orlando, Fla., and not a rock star who specializes in blood-spitting, fire-breathing and tongue-wagging. It’s weirder still when the rock star is actually attending said conference. But it happened last week at the Association of National Advertisers, when Gene Simmons of KISS fame sauntered into the Ritz-Carlton, small entourage in tow, to drum up business for his 1-year-old marketing company, Simmons Abramson Marketing. Yep, there he was at cocktail parties and official event dinners, mingling with P&G, Campbell Soup and Hewlett-Packard execs, seeking sponsors for Indy Racing, which his company now reps. Simmons created the “I am Indy” work and personally penned the campaign’s song. I learned this over a 20-minute interview with him and his business partner, Rich Abramson. Check out the whole interview here. I had to do it. It was too strange an opportunity to pass up. And it was a pretty surreal meeting, but not because he was weird and crazy (which I guess is what I expected) but because he was very measured and articulate, as well as pretty funny and fairly charming. (I’ve been around agency CEOs who are far more arrogant and piggish). The only tongue-wagging Simmons does is talking about his various and sundry business ventures. But the conversation does veer into territories such as KISS as a brand (the video above), money, marriage and his immigrant’s work ethic, America’s reliance on foreign oil, and the A&E show Gene Simmons Family Jewels. By the end, no blood was spilled—literal or otherwise.

—Posted by Alison Fahey