George Varga of the San Diego Union-Tribune recently conducted an interview with KISS guitarist/vocalist Paul Stanley. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
San Diego Union-Tribune: It's hard to imagine the pain and taunting you endured growing up without a right ear, an experience you vividly detail in your book ["Face The Music: A Life Exposed"]. Given the reconstructive surgery you had in the early 1980s and recent advances in medical technology, can you now at least partially hear on your right side?
Stanley: I can't. There have been technical breakthroughs, in terms of stimulating the auditory nerve, and surgeries to create ear canals. But my brain is wired this way at this point. And anything that goes against it just confuses it. I can't imagine hearing like you hear (with both ears), because what I have is my idea of normal. I can't tell direction of sound, never could, and that has a lot of impact on you as a child. You always have a sense of vulnerability, because you can't triangulate (sound) if you can't see somebody. Or, if you hear a firetruck, you could walk into its path, because you don't know where it's coming from.
San Diego Union-Tribune: Your childhood, as your book makes very clear, was filled with anguish.
Stanley: It was not a good one. It was lonely and scary. My parents loved me, but they didn't know the right way to love. The idea of toughening a kid up by not complimenting them, by not acknowledging their achievements, by telling them everything is OK when it's not, doesn't produce a tough kid. It produces the opposite. ... My parents certainly loved me, but didn't know how to do it in a constructive way.
San Diego Union-Tribune: The book feels, to the reader, like a cathartic journey. Does it feel that way to you?
Stanley: More the process of living it was cathartic. Writing about it was more a feeling that, by opening up my life, I might help somebody else. The word that keeps coming back from people who read the book, and who are not necessarily KISS fans, is "inspirational." The only reason I wrote the book is because I thought that perhaps people could find a little inspiration or strength in seeing that they are not that different than I am. I think people tend to look up to their idols, or the people who they emulate, and think: "Those people are perfect." The truth is, we're all pretty much the same. I believed that my ticket out of my unhappiness, or issues with my growing up, or my birth defect, or my hearing loss, was becoming famous and successful. I was fortunate enough to become famous and successful, so I could see that wasn't the answer. At that point, you have to decide: "What do you do?" Some people self-medicate, and we know where that leads. Or, you live life as a victim, or you roll up your sleeves and move forward. I'm a great believer in self-improvement and self-survival. The book felt great, because my revelation was that the less judgmental you are of others, and the less controlling and more giving you are, the more you get, and — ultimately — happiness comes from within you and your family. No matter how many people admire you, you have to go home with yourself.
Read the entire interview at San Diego Union-Tribune.