On Sept 8, 2012 New Jersey was again, for the 2nd year, home for the KISS Expo as it was held at the Raritan Convention Center in Edison, NJ. Ross Koondel and Peter Arquette are the men behind the Expo and they both did a hell of a job. With a fantastic upgraded location from last year's Expo it suited the show much better. This year's guests were none other than Peter Criss himself along with other notables such as Bruce & Bob Kulick, Ken Kelly, Len Delessio, JR Smalls and a few others.
The running schedule for this year's show was as follows:
9am - DOUBLE Platinum VIP ticket holders enter
11am - Gold and Platinum VIP ticket holders enter
12pm - 2012 KISS EXPO begins ...ALL ticket holders enter
12:30pm - Peter Criss Starts VIP signing
2pm - Dylan, the 9 year old Peter Criss impersonator performs
3pm - Panel with JR Smalls, Ken Kelly and Len Delessio
4pm - Costume contest with Peter Criss judging!
4:45pm - Raffle ticket numbers drawn for 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes!
5pm - Bruce Kulick and Bob Kulick question and answer session
Some things that I liked about going to the KISS Expo were not only do I see many KISS collectibles I've never seen before but meeting friends again that I have not seen in years. I went to the Expo with long-time friend Bill DeMild and met up with another long time friend Bill Hriczko, who attended the convention with his dad, George. The Expo Center was more spacious than last year and the two rooms were much more comfortable with access to anywhere you wanted to walk and stretch out. The attendance this year, I would say, had expanded from last year's debut New Jersey KISS Expo and I'm not surprised in the least that the manners of Kiss collectors were impeccable. People I've never met in person like Bill May (KISSNATION) coming over shaking hands made this day a special one for me. I'm not sure the total number of tables at this year's event but there were plenty of great collectibles to be had with reasonable prices and dealers that were willing to work with you for that KISS item you just had to have. On another note Ross Koondel (as I said earlier, one of the gentlemen running the show) went to every dealer table making sure that everyone was happy with their location and at the end of the Expo again went to dealers asking were they happy with the turnout. That's a class act and I look forward to working with him again at future Expos. For myself, as a dealer, I was extremely happy with the way everything turned out and just about selling out of everything I brought to sell wasn't a bad thing!
This year was also really exciting as I met up with Jon Ruben (KISS Rocks), another long-time friend who was there with his six year old son Jesse. Jon was teaching his son the value of money by letting him buy KISS collectibles with his own money. I had a chance to meet up with Vince Albano (of the NJ band CASHMIER) and many other long-time friends and I feel this KISS Expo has the potential to grow every year not only with dealer tables and attendance but also a chance for new and old friends to meet in person and have a chance to chat a little about the band they love. One touching moment for me personally was when Janice Marino & her son Anthony, who is wheelchair bound visited my table. My emotions took over and I offered Anthony anything on my table for free. As his mother picked up items showing Anthony and him nodding what he liked he finally settled on two 8 x 10 framed photos with authentic KISS guitar picks (one of Paul and one of Gene). One thing for me personally is that money has very little value when I can make a young man like Anthony smile.
Other friends of note that attended the Expo and I had a chance to reconnect with were Philip Elliott , Michael Aimone, Dave Romeo, Danny Farrow Anniello (of the band LORDS OF MERCY), Eric "Toddorocks" Carr @ the Eric Carr table, Bill Kershaw, Russell Dannecker, Ray Ricafort and Marc Scallentine. It was great to see them again and I hope to see them again next year.
Peter Criss was one of the special guests who I really didn't even have a chance to see but Bruce Kulick and Bob Kulick were available to all fans. You gotta admit Bruce and Bob really are two class guys both worked with KISS and entertain KISS fans on all occasions. Original KISS drummer Peter Criss had a choice to pay $275.00 for a VIP package that included One-on-One With the Catman - Personal, private meeting with Peter
- TWO autograph on two pieces of your personal merchandise
- One photo of you and Peter together taken with YOUR own camera that you supply.
- Exclusive event men's-sized T-Shirt