From as far as I can remember my brother has been this band’s fan. We had an aunt who lived in the Bronx, and he had this craziest idea about them living in the same building. It was the 70’s you never know, maybe he was right.
Which takes me to being absolutely thrilled for him each time he get’s to live experiences that make him happy. So my dear friends, today I’m going to share his journey to Sin City to see the as he says, “One of the hottest bands in the world”.
…….by now you all know that I like to self-promote. It’s a characteristic developed to mask my low self-esteem and insecurities growing up and into my early adulthood.
None the less, self-promoting is something I can relate too when it comes to arguably the flashiest Rock and Roll band of over the past four decades.
Here is a group that back in 1973 needed a gimmick or something of sorts to set them apart.
Now even with distinctive make-up, high heels, leather all over the place and even monster explosions, they still weren’t doing anything original that couldn’t be compared to some other group by naysayers or haters as they are more commonly referred to today.
What made KISS what they are, is their innate ability to believe in what they’re doing and their at times delusional projection ability to make everyone who comes to see them believe they are the best.
If you’ve ever been to their show, they start it with the uniquely and classic introduction.
“Alright (insert town or country here)! You wanted the best! You got the best! The hottest band in the world…KISS!”
But this story is not about KISS as so much as it is about me.
This story is about how I got to go to Las Vegas, with my wife Awilda to see their residency at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino on November 23, 2014.
I was in transition and busy with trying to adjust to my new situation as a civilian when KISS announced their Las Vegas residency. I was thrilled, but knew I couldn’t go. We were on a budget, I just couldn’t go. As a matter a fact, a friend, William Bosworth, a partner of a great Army buddy of mine, Chris Larsen, who I only knew through Facebook invited me to go to celebrate Chris’ birthday at the Hard Rock’s The Joint in November, but I declined for that reason.
By then life moved along, I was enrolled in college and going about my day-to-day business.
During early Fall a local radio station, KICT 95, was holding a contest to see KISS in Vegas. I thought,
“Cool, here’s another chance.”
I was mowing my lawn one day listening to T-95 KICT, the Rock Station of Wichita, when Hank the Mechanic came on and asked for listeners to call in. The lucky ninth caller would qualify to be a finalist. Yours truly pressed the contacts on my phone, brought up T-95 (yes it’s on speed dial) and I qualified.
In usual fashion, I immediately went crazy. I think Hank had to calm me down. He needed to do a recording and give me the instructions. In summary, I won a chance to be a one of ninety five finalists, $20 in Kansas Scratch Lottery tickets and got to be on the radio. I think being on the radio was the coolest. My son Jay recorded it and put it on his Facebook. Being the humble guy I am, that just power injected my ego.
The drawing was set for November 1st, it was to be held at the sponsor, E-Cig Smokeless Cigarette Shop.
On the day of the contest, I finished some school work, got in the car with my wife and off we went.
We arrived at the place in Northeast Wichita to find a bunch of contestants already there and lined up. We were to get in line, verify our identity, age and be assigned s ping-pong ball to be placed in a tumbler in the strip mall parking lot. I was given number 39 by Jen, the Station’s Promotions Manager. While going through the process, I made small talk with people in my usual fashion.
One of those folks was John Maze, the Station’s program director. He noted I had one of my KISS shirts which by the way, no one else present had on any KISS merchandise on. I spoke with him about the D.C. Show and some other things.
I was fired up, super nervous I spoke with people next to me in line and I know they were thinking I was some crazy Mexican, because you know all Latinos in Kansas are Mexicans even though I’m Puerto Rican.
While all this is going on, at some point instructions and contest rules are read and stressed by John and he also said that only seventy-something contestants out of the ninety-five who qualified showed up. I hand my ping-pong ball over to Hank, feeling my inside burning, he makes sure I see it go in and I step aside.
John keeps talking and he reiterates that whoever the winner is, must go as part of the contest agreement. The prize can’t be sold nor exchanged or even given away.
I remember thinking, “That shouldn’t be a problem, I’m retired and can work whatever school work I had for that week in but I wouldn’t probably win anyway.”
When everything is ready, they announce the drawing would be a reverse drawing. It was a last man standing type of deal! Wow!
Not to make this part too long, the drawing began, some suspense was involved, I kept on “wooing and yeahing” occasionally as Awilda watched with disbelief as contestant after contestant was eliminated.
In a haze I remember the first guy’s ping ping ball out the tumbler, I thought that must have totally sucked! In a regular drawing he would have been the winner. During the entire process I was getting ready to be just a loud when my number was pulled out, even thinking what I was going to say. I figured at this point I’d be just as obnoxious if I lost. The countdown continued, 50, 35, 25, 11, 6. Yes, I was still there. I was totally attention grabbing with 5 guys and this woman. I turned to one of the guys and told him, you’re next, and he was! At last it was down to three.
The ante-penultimate contestant (number 3) was gone! It’s only some other guy and me. When “BOOM”, this number came out before mine and I had won! Graciousness is not what I do best.
I took off my jacket exposing my KISS shirt again, pretended to pick up my air guitar and did my imaginary guitar slinging sweet victory dance, imaginary riffs and all. Everyone was cracking up and enjoyed every second of my “bad winner” a la Richard Sherman. I was so excited, I just could not believe it! I was going to see KISS in Vegas, by total chance.
My brother Tom being his useful self.
In the end, my so called luck had prevailed.
Never in my wildest dream would I have imagined I’d win this contest. I didn’t believe I could, but never let anyone of my fellow contestants know that.
I was the champion that day. I was the “God of Thunder”, the “Strutter” the “Doctor Love” of the moment.
I heard in my head “God gave Rock and Roll to you, gave Rock and Roll to you. Put it in your soul for everyone”. I truly was grateful for the opportunity. Should I have been more humble? Probably. But then it would not have been that fun.
I’m positive T-95 wanted the best. Guess what? They got the best. The greatest “cobero” in the world, me. The legend of El Gran Tommy Martinez continues.