Kiss frontman Gene Simmons—until this week, a favorite guest on Fox News and Fox Business Network programs, which couldn’t get enough of his supposedly outrageous rock-star antics mixed with conservative politics—has been banned for life from the right-leaning cable channels.
Fox finally had enough of Simmons after he crudely insulted female Fox staffers, taunted them and exposed his chest, and otherwise behaved like the “demon” character he plays onstage. Management was not amused, and Simmons’s photograph was promptly posted Wednesday at the security entrance of the company’s Manhattan headquarters along with a “do-not-admit” advisory.
Simmons’s publicist didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The trouble started Wednesday morning after the Israeli-born Simmons—birth name: Chaim Witz, who dresses like a preening teenager at age 68—appeared on Fox & Friends and Maria Bartiromo’s Fox Business Network show, Mornings with Maria, to promote his new book On Power.
Things seemed to be going well enough when Simmons jumped up from the Fox & Friends couch to help meteorologist Janice Dean do her weather report—a delighted Dean later posted video on her Twitter feed—and then sat on a panel with Bartiromo, who asked his views on the Harvey Weinstein sexual-misconduct scandal.
“The lunatics have taken over the insane asylum when respected business entities such as yourself ask guys that like to stick their tongues out,” Simmons answered, “what I think of Harvey Weinstein.”
“Okay, I’m a powerful and attractive man, and what I’m about to say is deadly serious,” he continued. “Men are jackasses. From the time we’re young we have testosterone. I’m not validating it or defending it.”
Maybe not, but within minutes he was demonstrating it. According to a knowledgeable Fox News source, Simmons showed up on the 14th floor to do a book-plugging interview with FoxNews.com’s entertainment section, but instead barged in on a staff meeting uninvited.
“Hey chicks, sue me!” he shouted, and then pulled open his red velvet shirt to reveal his chest and belly, according to the source. Then he starting telling Michael Jackson pedophilia jokes, and then bopped two employees on the head with his book, making derisive comments about their comparative intelligence according to the sound their heads made when struck.
“It was pretty severe,” the source said.
After Simmons’s misconduct was reported to a supervisor, and then to human-resources executive Kevin Lord, the Kiss frontman was permanently banned from the building and will no longer be permitted on any Fox News or Fox Business Network programming.
His interview with FoxNews.com, meanwhile, was taped but will not be published.
UPDATE: Simmons released a statement: “I have appeared frequently over the years on various Fox News and Fox Business programs and have a tremendous amount of respect for the talented women and men who work there. While I believe that what is being reported is highly exaggerated and misleading, I am sincerely sorry that I unintentionally offended members of the Fox team during my visit.”