In Ladies of the Night, the former Kiss member discusses the world's oldest profession.
Your book makes the argument that prostitution gives women access to power that they would otherwise not have. Have you always felt that way?
Surprise! I actually respect women. I've always had that point of view. I look on the issue as one of self-empowerment for women. Women should be the sole judges of how they want to lead their lives. And let's be frank—many ladies have made more money in their line of work than they would have sitting in front of a computer.
How long have you been interested in the subject of prostitution throughout history?
I've always been fascinated by the “forbidden fruit” of America's Puritan culture. The book is meant to be humorous, historical, and to give people an understanding that the exchange of money for sexual relations has been around forever. I actually have no agenda other than engaging people in a conversation about the question: “What does anybody else have to say about consenting adults behind closed doors?” I argue that people should stay out of other people's bedrooms.
What was one of your favorite historical periods to write about?
The Renaissance in Europe, when courtesans enjoyed more power than housewives. These ladies were not common prostitutes. They were part of the culture and the fashion of the times, like Madame de Pompadour, Louis XV's mistress. The wives of the men of the period? They were invisible. They meant nothing.
Your co-writer, Julie McCarron, also worked with you on Shannon Tweed's Kiss and Tell. What does she bring to your work?
Julie was amazing at finding the visual material I wanted, but she also wouldn't let a single piece of information get by that wasn't completely researched. And she's terrific at rewriting. She made sure that I separated my viewpoint from historical facts.
Tell us about your publishing endeavor, Simmons Books.
So far, Simmons Books has mostly been related to me and my interests. But Ladies of the Night is primarily a beautiful and classy art book, and I would like to do others like the big, expensive books Taschen Books has done. The advantage I have of being Gene Simmons and having my name on the imprint is that I get to talk to guys like you. Because if the only thing I ever accomplished was being proofreader at Publishers Weekly and Library Journal—which I did a million years ago—people would say, “So what?” It gives me access, but you have to have the goods, because, let's face it, a lot of people just aren't reading anymore unless a book is featured on Oprah's show.