Here in Las Vegas, we've had the ideal KISS-themed spot for a decade now - KISS Monster Mini Golf. Having initially opened in a strip mall location across from the former Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, it's been a one-stop shop for all things KISS, with services that, in addition to the golf course, include a gift shop, a wedding chapel, and plenty of memorabilia on display. The establishment moved to the Rio Hotel and Casino a few years into operating, giving them a larger location with greater potential and more special events.
Following the obligatory closures and the like during the recent pandemic, KISS Monster Mini Golf is back in business and doing what they do better than anyone else. And we now arrive at the latest chapter in this establishment's story - Gene Simmons opening a KISS Museum of his personal memorabilia on the property! This had been talked about for quite some time, with a back area in the establishment having been blocked off for construction and the like. I wasn't sure exactly where and how this concept would be incorporated, but during a "soft open" that was being done this past weekend, I had a chance to go and see what was being offered.
According to KISS Monster Mini Golf's owners, what audiences saw during this "soft open" weekend wasn't necessarily final and that they were still working on setting up additional memorabilia and the like. I took several pictures (what you'll see in this article is just a small portion of the photos I took and what's on display) but I'm especially eager to see what else comes available in the coming weeks and months. Keep in mind any photos you see here or words that I may have regarding what I saw reflect what the museum looked like and had to offer by my visit; these are by no means indicative of the "final" incarnation or any future changes and additions.
It's difficult to say if this is meant to be more of a "KISS Museum" or more of a "Gene Simmons Museum." Much of what's on display here is from Mr. Simmons' personal collection, which as you may have imagined, is extensive, and filled with KISS memorabilia and more surprises. The museum's exterior panels also bill it as "Gene Simmons' KISS World."
So, what's to be found on there?
The best answer would be "a little bit of everything."
The space utilized in the building for the KISS Museum was previously used for a bar area, which I believe is where they held birthday and private parties and the like (don't quote me on this; I was never quite as familiar with the current location as the older one). After paying the admission fee, I headed inside to see what was on display (ads for the soft opening didn't state a specific cost, but the person working the register charged me $6; this isn't necessarily the final price for the attraction upon its actual opening).
Upon stepping past the entry rope, I was immediately surprised by how much memorabilia was crammed into the fairly small space. Countless cases were filled with every kind of KISS collectible and piece of merchandise you could possibly think of, and even several you likely couldn't! Immediately to my left upon entering were several cases filled with KISS Hello Kitty merchandise; I knew they had a deal with Hello Kitty to make merch, but had no idea THIS much existed! (I did work at the old KISS Mini Golf location for roughly a year in the gift shop, and in my time there, KISS Hello Kitty dolls were the hottest item.)
Of course, there were the obligatory concert posters, musical instruments, and albums/singles/etc. But it was some of the more eclectic stuff that won this fan over and made this trip more of an unexpected pleasure. One case at the far end from the entrance had several city keys that the band had been awarded over the years. There were other awards and recognitions that I didn't know the group had received as well. From KISS wine to a box of KISS Kondoms autographed by Ron Jeremy, there really is a little bit of everything. One part of the museum even has a desk and chair with Gene's Demon boots (most likely well-made replicas of them) which people could pose with for photos. How much is packed in here is incredible, and that number is bound to continue growing.
Gene Simmons' KISS World is looking to be a promising addition to KISS Mini Golf, and this preview weekend didn't disappoint. Rock personalities Eddie Trunk and Brian Slagel were discussing it on Trunk's radio show the morning of me writing this article, and they seemed equally impressed and enthralled with what they saw. I know I'll be back, and seeing what Mr. Simmons adds to this exhibit. Over time, I know it won't disappoint, I'm sure. Any KISS or rock and roll fan living in or visiting the Vegas Valley should get down there!