The best Dayton KISS fans: Turning being a fan into art

Ryan Roche of Dayton holds one of his most prized pieces in his KISS collection: the lunchbox.
Ryan Roche of Dayton holds one of his most prized pieces in his KISS collection: the lunchbox.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

We all need friends to be real with us from time to time. That’s the kind of person and KISS fan longtime Dayton resident Ryan Roche is. He still loves the band, but he pulls no punches when it comes to talking about KISS’ perceived missteps over their career.

“I wish they would have quit years ago. They've ruined it for me,” he says.

Roche said the band’s mystique disappeared the moment they took off the makeup and ventured into the neighborhood of hair metal in 1983.

“I've been saying they should never have been allowed to do interviews outside of character,” Roche insists.

But when he was 6 years old, KISS could do no wrong. The same went for his older cousin, who got him into the band by supplying him with their records.

“You couldn't see the paint on his walls from all the posters that he had,” Roche says of his cousin. “And I worshiped him because he was a guitar player. So I was immediately a KISS fan. I'd never heard them-- didn't know what they sounded like. But because of him, I was a Kiss fan.”

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KISS understood the importance of pushing their music through imagery, and they reeled Roche in with it.

“I started tearing KISS pictures and posters out of magazines,” Roche remembers. "I'd hang them on my wall. At night, because they scared me, I'd have to take them down and put them in my mom and dad's room. The next morning, I'd go back in and get them and hang them back up,” he recalls.

And did Roche ever dress up and pretend to be in KISS?

"I did. In the worst ways ever! I wish I still had the costume. I had an Ace Frehly (Halloween) costume. It was Christmas, and I was still wearing that thing," he laughs.

Roche was 14 when he went to Hara Arena to see the band for the first time. Rather than wait around after the show to try to meet his idols, he had a plan to head to their hotel in downtown Dayton.

“After the concert, me and three friends went down there. We were going to try and meet them. Rumor had it they had the whole top floor all to themselves. So we found some stairs that went all the way up.”

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Roche and his friends made it to the floor they thought the band was on, but the teens were soon chased out of the hotel after being spotted by a security guard.

Over the years, he’s built up quite a KISS collection, but he was inspired to do something unique with it while attending a party.

“They had an Elvis bathroom. I'm not an Elvis fan, but it was cool and fun. So I thought, I've got a lot of (KISS stuff). So, of course, the more I started putting in (my bathroom), the more I had to get,” he says.

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Roche’s bathroom became an artistic attraction. Friends would spend countless minutes, much to the chagrin of others waiting their turn, just staring at all the KISS ephemera without even using the facilities.

Despite the fact KISS is coming this month, Roche doesn’t feel the need to see them live anymore. He saw them when they reformed with the original members, and that’s enough for him. But he’d still like to meet the band. After all, they, in particular Frehly, had a powerful influence on his life.

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“I think my love for Les Pauls probably came from Ace. He was my first guitar hero,” he says.

But Roche remains a fan of the band’s “classic” era, and considers the first three albums the best representation of KISS. But, if you’re ever fortunate enough to visit his parent’s home in Riverside, you should venture down to the basement where you’ll see “KISS” still carved in the staircase…right next to “VAN HALEN”.

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