Ace Frehley goes all in

Lydia Criss has more KISS stories to tell in the second printing of "Sealed with a KISS"

By Peter Lindblad

Sealed with a KISS - Lydia Criss 2013
As the ex-wife of one of the most recognizable drummers in the world in Peter Criss, Lydia Criss has plenty of stories to tell about her days with the “hottest band in the world. Interviewed at length recently, Lydia has a lot to say about Peter, KISS and all who had a hand in helping drive KISS to the top, and we’ll have a much more expansive Q&A with her in future postings.

As a teaser, however, Lydia provided a couple of her own Ace Frehley anecdotes.

By now, everyone knows how Frehley walked into his audition for Wicked Lester wearing one orange sneaker and one red one. Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and Peter Criss – the group’s newest recruit – could only stare as the long-haired Frehley strolled confidently past them to plug in and play.

As they have all expressed in interviews over the years, none of the three expected much from Frehley, given how he looked. Against all odds, however, the mercurial Frehley impressed them with his prowess on the guitar, and the rest is KISStory, as they say.

Lydia Criss knows the story of Frehley’s odd introduction to his future band mates well. She writes about it in her book,“Sealed with a Kiss,” which is now in it's second printing with additional stories and photos. The book can be purchased by going to

For Lydia, Ace “is a story in himself.” This is, after all, the man who brought a smoking flute onto the set of VH1’s “That Metal Show.”

“He’s a character,” she adds.

One of the tales she could tell about Ace – which is included in her recently revived and expanded biography “Sealed with a Kiss” – does get rather blue and involves a hotel balcony and a female companion. You’ll have to get the book to read that one. We’re not going to spoil it for you.

There are others, though … many others.

KISS - Ace Frehley 
I’ve got a story about Ace. I probably don’t have it in the book. Okay … well, maybe I do. I’m not sure,” says the Brooklyn-born Lydia, the former Lydia Di Leonardo, who was married to Peter Criss from 1970 to 1979. “Anyway, Ace is here one day. He’s at my apartment, and he’s going over to see this girl Linda, who lives on 72nd. I’m like a couple of blocks away from there. A few blocks from the Dakota. So he’s going over to see Linda, and he goes, ‘Lydia, could you lend me $20?’ I said, ‘$20? What the hell are you going to do with $20?’ And he says, ‘Oh, you know, just in case I need $20.’ I said, ‘Ace, I’ll give you $50.’ So I went over the safe and got $50 out of the safe and I gave him $50, and he goes, ‘Hey, you got a lot of money?’ And I said, ‘No, but I’ve got money.’ And he goes, ‘Will you marry me?’ Needless to say, I never got the $50 back (laughs).”

Matrimony wasn’t in the cards for Lydia and Ace, but he would get the chance to win back that $50 for Lydia.

“He loves to gamble. I was at his apartment once. It was me and [Frehley’s ex-wife] Jeanette Trerotola,” recalls Lydia. “We were at the apartment, and he took a Lear jet to Atlantic City, and he called up Jeanette. And he says, ‘Jeanette, I’m not coming home tonight.’ She goes, ‘What do you mean?’ We were in his Manhattan apartment. He had a house at that point I think it was up in Irvington, New York. It was just a rental. Or maybe he owned it. I’m not sure. He might have owned it. I’m not sure, but it wasn’t the big house that he bought in Wilson, N.Y. He goes, ‘I’m not coming home.’ And she goes, ‘Why not?’ And he says, ‘Because I’m winning $40,000. I’m up $40,000. And I’m not coming home. We’re rained in.’ And she goes, ‘Okay, fine.’ The next day he takes the plane out and comes home with $25,000. She goes, ‘What happened to the other $15,000?’ And he goes, ‘Well, I lost it. And I also bought you a mink coat (laughs).’ He’s hysterical.”

There are plenty of funny and touching moments in Lydia’s book, which is jam-packed with KISS photos taken by Lydia and a treasure trove of KISS memorabilia. Riding a rollercoaster of emotions, Lydia’s book tells the story of KISS’s rise to fame through the eyes of someone who was there, experiencing all the highs and lows the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle has to offer.

We’ll have a much more expansive Q&A with her in future postings.

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