EVERETT — For $50,000, the real Gene Simmons will come to your house and party with your friends.
Or you can get this Gene Simmons impersonator for $200 — and he can save your life.
What’s up with that?
It’s the alter ego of Jack Murrin III, 47, a longtime Everett firefighter-medic with short hair and a wide smile. Off the job, he’s a blood-spitting rendition of the ’70s KISS frontman known for demonic antics.
Murrin rocks the look with a spiked vest atop his exposed washboard abs, bat arm wings and a blingy codpiece. A black crimped wig frames his painted face and he’s got a serpent tongue that rivals the “Demon” himself.
It started as a Halloween costume seven years ago … and kept going.
He dresses up as Gene Simmons for contests, parties, concerts and to officiate at weddings.
“I have fun doing it and it makes people laugh,” Murrin said. “Other than that, I’m just a regular guy.”
Yeah, right. Regular guys spend an hour putting on makeup then stomp around in 12-inch silver dragon boots?
“I typically don’t just put on the costume and then strut around town,” Murrin said. “But any reason to put on a costume is a good reason for me.”
Jack of all trades
Gene Simmons is a notorious self-promoter who has plastered the KISS name on everything from pacifiers to caskets. He’s currently peddling “The Vault,” a box set of his solo material for $2,000 — and for 50 grand more he’ll make a house call.
Murrin has placed a for-hire ad a few times on Craigslist. That’s it.
Unlike Simmons, Murrin said he’s shy in real life. “When I have the costume on it is easy to talk to people,” he said.
He has been married to his Marysville High School sweetheart, Karen, for 27 years. They raised their children, Alisha, 25, and Jack IV, 22, in Arlington before a downsizing move to north Everett a year ago.
Alisha describes her dad as “normal, quiet and reserved.”
“As soon as he gets into his makeup he’s a completely different person,” she said.
At times she joins him dressed as rhythm guitarist Paul Stanley to go to KISS concerts. “Three years ago we went to White River Amphitheatre and it took us two and a half hours to get to our seats because so many people stopped us for pictures,” she said.
Dad eats it up. Daughter, not so much. “I am pretty embarrassed the whole time,” Alisha said. “But thankfully I have face paint on.”
She wears the Paul Stanley costume her mom wore for that pivotal Halloween party seven years ago that triggered a side of Jack Murrin that apparently he didn’t even know he had.
“He got such a great reaction, then he started winning contests,” Karen Murrin said. “I was like, I’m done, it’s over. It’s time for new costumes.”
She was a good sport when on his way to a KISS concert he surprised her at the Lake Stevens office where she is a dental assistant. Also surprised was a patient, loopy on nitrous oxide.
“The doctor had to explain, ‘It’s not your nitrous. It’s OK. Gene Simmons really is here,’ ” she said.
She chauffeurs him to gigs because it’s hard for him to drive when in full armor.
When she drives him down I-5, she hides behind sunglasses.
A costume was born
Murrin made his costume from old football shoulder pads, catcher’s shin guards and fabric store finds.
“And a lot of foil,” he said.
The codpiece is over women’s yoga pants that he strategically blinged up. His father-in-law made the silver guitar that he wields. The dragon boots are old duty boots on 12-inch platforms.
“I’ve fallen half a dozen times, at least,” Murrin said. “Once I fall I go all the way to the ground.”
Nothing to call 911 about. “I’ve scraped my elbow,” he said.
His Gene Simmons costume has raked in about $6,500 from contests. He took home $750 and third place over the weekend at Quil Ceda Creek Casino, where an Iron Man placed second and the bull-headed monster Minotaur scored first.
Murrin would rather not talk about the time he placed second to a Seahawks 12th sponge.
“It was pretty lame. It was a blue and green shower scrunchy,” he said.
Summoning the “Demon”
Murrin discovered KISS when he was 7 and got the “Destroyer” album for his 8th birthday.
“I was enthralled by the cool makeup and all the blood and pyrotechnics,” he said.
He doesn’t breathe fire in his act. Too dangerous, he said.
Murrin has used his internet-ordained credentials to officiate at 20 weddings. Nineteen were as Jack. Only one was as Gene. Another is in the works. He has the perfect line: “You may now KISS the bride.”
Parties are his main excuse to dress as the “Demon.”
One of Murrin’s favorite performances was at the 16th birthday celebration last year for Cheyann King. The Arlington teen with Down syndrome has been a major KISS fan since she was 8.
“Cheyann just went crazy ,” said her mom, Shawnn Allen. “She kept fanning her face. She was in love, blowing him kisses all night long.”
Allen said Murrin, who refused to accept payment, did it up with green lights, a smoke machine, spit fake blood and perfectly sang Cheyann’s favorite song, “God of Thunder.”
It left a lasting impression on more than her daughter. “We still have the blood stains on the floor,” she said, “and we are going to keep it there.”
Lipstick and polish
The Grand Avenue bungalow Murrin shares with his wife is chic and stylish — there aren’t KISS posters on the wall. No sign Gene Simmons lives here, except for the costume parts spread over the dining room table, like a dismembered rock star.
That was because Murrin was preparing for open mic night at Cafe Zippy. The bathroom counter was his cosmetics counter.
“This is the goods,” he said. “My face cream. Black nail polish, black eyeliner, black lipstick.”
He’s cool with buying makeup when he’s in his regular guy clothes.
“Today I had to get new lipstick,” he said. “So I went to Bartell Drugs, and the lady behind the counter said, ‘Huh. Lipstick. What are you going to do with that?’ I said, ‘Well, I’m going to put that lipstick on my lips.’ And she had to think about it. She didn’t know what to say.”
The white face paint he gets online.
“It’s the best stuff,” he said. “It’s what all the clowns are using.”
Putting out fires
Murrin has been with the Everett department for 20 years.
“I lost my dad, he died in a fire, when I was 17. That kind of put me in that direction,” he said
At Everett Fire Station 6 on Evergreen Way, Murrin wears black uniform slacks and shirt, like the other first responders who come to our rescue.
You bet he gets razzed about it from his buddies at the station about his KISS persona. He also gets praise.
“He will work extra hard to make sure that call goes as excellent as possible,” said his work partner, Joe Paterniti. “He’s doing the same thing off shift. Jack doesn’t do things halfway.”
Not as a firefighter, and not as a Gene Simmons impersonator.
Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @reporterbrown.