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The make-up went through many changes before it became what we know (and love) today:

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Gene played around with his image for a while, but it somehow always centered around a demonic look. On pictures 1 to 5 you can see early variations of his make-up, starting out in late 1972 when he just painted his face white, and added some red eye shadow (picture 1). Over the next few months the make-up evolved into the demonic character we know today. 
Picture 5 shows Gene in the spring of 1973, and by then the look was slowly coming together, even though it would still be refined some more times. From the hairline and down his forehead, there was now a black triangular shape, resembling Bela Lugosi's hairstyle in the original Dracula movie. And the batwings around the eyes had also begun to take shape. 
Picture 6 is from the late summer, and now the batwings had started to look like they do today, even though the tips were bending back, but soon they started to point upwards (see picture 7 underneath here, taken in the fall of 1973).

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Picture 7 is from the photo session for the debut album's cover (which would be the fall of 1973), and the upper tips of the batwings were now bending upward. More interestingly Gene now had three lower tips at the corner of each eye (you'll have to look very closely to see that!)
Picture 8 is from January 8th 1974 (according to the Farewell Tour book), when KISS officially signed their contract with Casablanca Records. The batwings are here much more angular, and the tips are moved away from the forehead. 
Picture 9 should be from around February 1974. The shape of the batwings are now more like we know them, even thought the upper tips are still moved pretty far back. Now there is only one tip at the side, this one pointing upwards. 
On Picture 10 another point had been added, one just under his eye, pointing outwards. This photo is from the Spring of 1974.
Picture 11 shows the progress of this: a little later in 1974, Gene had started to paint the last point downwards instead. The make-up pretty much stayed this way until early 1976!
Picture 12 is a very rare variant of the make-up! I have only seen a few photos of this variation, from around the summer of 1975. Look closely and you'll see that Gene has TWO small tips at the brink of his nose, instead of just one!! Most photos I have seen is from an outdoor photo session in front of The Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, but I have also seen a few concert photos!

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For the European tour in 1976, Gene had added another point down (picture 13) to his make-up. This was altered slightly over the next year or so, ending up like the one we know today (picture 14). The three outer points (one up, two down) had become broader, instead of the thin points on picture 13!  
There is another variation from the Love Gun tour. Many people has wondered why Gene's make-up looks different on the cover of Alive II. As you can see in picture 15, Gene had dropped the two upper point at the brink of his nose. The rumor has it, that Gene also extended the two downward tips on the nose, to under the tip of the nose, where they were join! It is hard to determine if this is true... I have not seen any photos where the connection is clear, and it is usually hard to see, since the part of Gene's nose is usually in shadow!! This was apparently only for the shows in Los Angeles in August 1977 when Alive II were recorded, and the reason was to be able to pick out photos from this occasion. 
The make-up stayed more or less the same as in picture 14, for the rest of Gene's career, with a few small variations. For the 1979 and 1980 tours Gene broadened the make-up a bit more (picture 16). But by the Creatures Of The Night tour (picture 17), the make-up had again been slimmed down, to look like the 1977 variation.
When KISS jumped back into the costumes and make-up for The Grammy Awards Show 1996, Gene had seemingly forgotten what his make-up looked like... as you can see in picture 18, his make-up resembled the style used before the European tour in 1976 (picture 11)!! It was only at the Grammy Show that his make-up looked like this. For the rest of the Reunion tour and the Psycho Circus tour the make-up looked like the 1977 variation (picture 14).
For the Farewell Tour, Gene altered the make-up just slightly. If you look closely at picture 19, you'll see that the two tips at the brink of the nose had now been extended a great deal.

return to KISS make-up main page
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Many thanks to Jan Laursen for letting us use these pages.
Here is the link to his website:

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