The band is one of a few different bands, notably of the 1970's and 1980's, to dress up and paint their faces for shows and they did so out of a desire to be different from the norm. Working together with the odd dress were the outrageous antics of the band members, all designed to scare away those people not suited to the lifestyle; subsequently it was these aspects of Kiss that pulled in many loyal followers because of their own innate desire to be different from the masses. Because of this, it is ironic that the struggle to be different culminated in the conception of a club; the Kiss Army boasts thousands of members and each of these is dedicated to the principles on which the band was founded: namely, the daring to be different and to willingly repulse normal members of society, and of course a real appreciation for the music. It was this undying fan loyalty and image that helped Kiss become of the most successful bands of all time in terms of merchandising2.
Kiss Army member Chris Jenson has said that being a part of this particular fan club is unlike any other fan club experience: "Kiss Army members are more adventurous and connected to each other than people in other fan clubs. They joined because they like what the music and the look of Kiss did to society and they'll always remember that"3. The dress code is not what fundamentally binds these members together, but it is what lets them identify each other and feel at home within the group. The giant black boots, the fake spiked costumes and the black and white painted faces are all a part of dressing to belong and to simultaneously express oneself. Although the seeming conformity of dressing alike and in reverence to one band might negate the efforts of the individual to set him or herself apart, if you think of it more in terms of each individual coincidentally expressing themselves in the same way, you can get a feel for what the Kiss Army members experience in dressing up.
The Kiss fashion style donned by thousands of fans has not in itself evolved over the years although the band members have experimented with different looks since the inception of the Kiss Army4; men, women and children all dress alike5 and no major modifications have been made to the costumes as they still mimic the band members at the height of their popularity several decades ago. All in all, it is the unchanging facets of the Kiss fan subculture that keeps members sure about what they are identifying with and what they are expressing by dressing up accordingly.
Jason Jarmo. A KISS Army of One. IQ, 2005; http://www.indstate.edu/iq/Geek_Issue/Kiss_Army.htm.
This source was helpful for understanding the background of the Kiss Army and gaining insight to the reasons why such a group would form and be one of the more substantial fan clubs.
C.K. Lendt. Kiss and Sell: The making of a supergroup. Billboard Books, 1997.
This book makes it clear that Kiss is not only a phenomenon because of its music, fashion and followers, but because of the shrewd marketing abilities of the members. Kiss is a huge success in merchandising and without this the continuation of the band might not have been