Pop Culture

Gene Simmons gets 'whipped' on 'Family Jewels'

Amanda Edwards / Getty Images Contributor / Today
Gene Simmons took his son Nick to Israel, where the KISS frontman was born.

It seemed that “Gene Simmons Family Jewels” might end prematurely: After Simmons’ longtime partner Shannon Tweed stormed off the set during an interview, the couple seemed on the verge of breaking up.

But for Simmons (who remains with Tweed), it’s all in a day’s work on the show, now in its sixth season.

“I get a good a**-whipping every episode,” he told TODAY.com. “In a very real way, the show forces me to confront real issues that you may take for granted.”

He said seeing himself on the show has made him “more reflective” on his own behavior.

“It’s one thing to live through it, and another when you sit down and watch it,” he said. “This way I can see how (Shannon) feels about it, and how I come off. It’s like having a separate pair of eyes watching me. Usually we’re too busy being ourselves to see ourselves.”

In this week’s episode (“Blood Is Thicker Than Hummus," airing Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET on A&E) though, Simmons ended up looking not just inside himself, but at his history. In the episode, Simmons, Tweed and their son Nick return to Israel, where Simmons was born. The musician, 61, had not visited since he emigrated with his mother at age 8.

“I came from a small town outside Haifa, which you can’t even pronounce or spell, but now it’s a modern place,” he said. “I remember hills and dirt roads.”

It was all a surprise planned by Tweed. “I knew nothing. We just went with the TV show because she thought I should visit my homeland. She also thought it was important for Nick to get a sense of where one of his parents came from. Shannon planned the whole thing – she was sneaky.”

Sophie, the couple's daughter, was "stuck in school" and did not accompany them.

Tweed also engineered a family reunion: Simmons met a half-brother and half-sisters he never knew he had, and learned that his father, who left him and his mother when Simmons was around 7, had been married “as many as” six times.

“Who knows how many other kids he’s got?” said Simmons.

That’s all heavy stuff to show up on camera around the world, but the KISS leader takes it in stride.

“I don’t like it, but it’s necessary,” he said. “It’s important to get a sense of who came before you and why.”

Still, he added, “Celebrities – methinks they protest too much. When they don’t get attention, they complain. When they get too much attention, they complain. It’s just about complaining. I’m a lucky bastard, and anything’s OK with me. My hair’s all messed up in every episode, and I don’t care. I’m OK even if they visit me in the loo.”

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