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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019 1 week ago

KISS ALIVE … The Tribute coming to Showcase Winter Garden Friday

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The tribute act will bring its full-blown KISS experience to fans in Winter Garden.
by: Tim Freed Managing Editor

If you want to “rock and roll all nite and party every day,” one Florida-based tribute band is turning the clocks back and the volume up — way up.

This Friday, KISS ALIVE … The Tribute is headed to Showcase Winter Garden to tear through a set of KISS classics for fans of the legendary rock band.

It’s the first time the tribute act is making an appearance in the Orlando area, and the band hopes Winter Garden is ready for a show.

“We’re going to blow the roof off the place,” said Andrew Goodpaster, who takes the stage as the blood-spitting, bass-playing demon himself, Gene Simmons.

Alongside Goodpaster is John Carlazzo, who takes the stage as guitarist/vocalist Paul Stanley; Jim Cullen, who dons the Spaceman suit of guitarist Ace Frehley; and Erik Winger and Randy Hibbard, who split the duties of whiskered drummer Peter Criss.

Goodpaster said Winter Garden can expect to hear hits like “Deuce,” “Detroit Rock City” and “Rock and Roll All Nite,” along with some deeper cuts from the KISS discography.

What started as a band that simply played the songs of the world-renowned rock act evolved into a spandex-wearing, makeup-sporting tribute to the 1970s era of KISS, Carlazzo said.

The band originally formed under the name Parasite about 11 years ago.

“Every time we would do a show, people would say, ‘You guys sound great, but you should put on the makeup and do the costumes and the whole thing,’” Carlazzo said.

Members of the band started shopping around and commissioning artists for different pieces of the costumes — all while learning how to do the makeup for each member.

“Fortunately, for KISS, there’s no shortage of photos,” Carlazzo said. “It’s a band you love from childhood on. You’ve seen the faces a thousand times — you’ve probably doodled them on your notebook in high-school and college classes hundreds of times. You just do a little research, find out what makeup they were using, buy it online and go for it.”

Not long after embarking on its costumed rock crusade, the band also changed its name. The band morphed into an entirely new beast, becoming a tribute act that perfectly replicated everything from the music and the makeup to the members’ mannerisms and stage setup.

It isn’t easy putting on all of the makeup, spikes and spandex though, said Carlazzo, who takes about 45 minutes to get dressed for a show. That’s pretty fast compared to the rest of the group — the band’s Gene Simmons has his routine down to about two-and-a-half to three hours, while Ace Frehley and Peter Criss each take about two hours.

“It’s a very interesting time in the green room — four grown men putting on makeup,” Carlazzo said. “It’s a lot of fun. It’s sort of like a cross between Kabuki and drag.”

When it comes to KISS, the band doesn’t leave out any details, Carlazzo said. Goodpaster even spews fake blood from his mouth through an evil grin. Halloween is coming up, so Goodpaster knows its almost time to stock up on costume blood after the holiday — when prices are marked down. 

Florida rocker John Carlazzo takes the stage as guitarist/vocalist Paul Stanley for KISS ALIVE ... The Tribute.

Goodpaster even busts out a fire-breathing bit like Gene Simmons, too. He prefers the lamp oil method, spitting the tasteless, odorless liquid onto an open flame.

“I can tell you this — I’ve never felt more like a man in my life than breathing fire,” Goodpaster said. “It’s like being a dragon.”

Carlazzo said every piece of the show is carefully planned to create that iconic KISS experience.

“We’re not just throwing on a wig,” Carlazzo said. “We’ve got pyro, we’ve got smoke, we got lighted signs, we got authentic guitars and authentic costumes, and we got hours of makeup. We’re dancing around in 5- to 7-inch boots. It’s not easy to do. It’s fun, but it’s not easy.”

Carlazzo said the four members always have a blast on stage, though — that 90- to 110-minute set makes all the hard work worth it, especially when fans show their appreciation afterward, he said.

“We’re doing it for the love of the music, for the love of the band and — I know it sounds cliché because KISS says it — but it’s really about the people who come and see us,” he said. 

“We put on a show that we would want to see if we were standing there in the crowd.”

Tim Freed is the Managing Editor for the West Orange Times & Observer and the Windermere Observer. He previously spent six years covering the Winter Park/Maitland area and is a graduate of the University of Central Florida....

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