By Ken Sharp
KISS Kruise V's special guest Lita Ford took some time out from the ship-rockin’ action onboard to speak to us.
For you, what was the appeal of coming on the KISS Kruise?
Lita Ford; Oh God, for me it’s an honor to be on the KISS Kruise because there’s only four bands playing and we got picked. I just felt very honored by it, whereas on the other cruises there’s a lot more bands that play.
The people that go on the rock cruises are primarily the baby boomer audiences and they’re not going on to kick back but rather party hard.
Lita Ford: Oh yeah. Besides all the stuff that goes on on the ship itself, they go off the boat and they go on adventures to different places they’ve never been to before. Different drinks, different food — they go wild. People are pretty worn out by the end of the cruise. I’ve been on other music cruises before and it’s a similar thing with the KISS Kruise, too. On the prior cruise I was on, on the last day I looked out at the crowd and I went, “You guys looks fried!” They were all totally sunburned with red faces, just really lifeless. (laughs) I asked then, “Are you guys burned out or what?” and they all nodded their heads yes.
Were you skeptical before being asked to go on a music cruise?
Lita Ford: Prior to the KISS Kruise, I also took part in another music cruise two times. I know the waters. I lived on a deserted island for almost a decade and I know the Bahamas area, Jamaica, the Turks and Caicos islands. I know the water is not very deep unless you go far out to sea and that made me feel better. (laughs) I was like, ‘Oh God, am I gonna get sea sick? Are the waves gonna be huge?” All these things were going through my mind but when I realized where we were going I thought, we’re really not that far off the shoreline so we’re safe. I never was afraid to go on a cruise, it’s just different. You’re with a lot of people on a ship. They’re very careful about safety. They put you through what to do in the case of an emergency. You get the fire drill, so to speak. They make you put on a life jacket; they don’t care who you are, whether you’re Gene Simmons, whoever, you’re gonna have to put on a life jacket. So they make everybody do that and they go through the fire drill so to speak. Then you go about your business and have fin. You start looking around; there’s shops on the boat and there’s food, music. It’s just so much fun.
Are you having fun on the cruise thus far?
Lita Ford: Oh yeah. Being on a cruise is very different and different is fun. A lot to people fly in to get on the cruise, a lot of expatriots come into the United States; it’s really cool and everybody is having a blast!
For people on the fence about going on a cruise like the KISS Kruise, what would you tell them?
Lita Ford: Well, it’s kind of like staying at the Hard Rock Hotel. There’s hard rock music playing all the time and everywhere you go there’s rock 'n' roll. Like the Hard Rock Hotel, it’s not just Sting (laugh), it’s the Holiday Inn Express. (laughs)
You go back a long way with KISS.
Lita Ford: Yeah, I’ve known them since the ‘70s. They would be at functions where the Runaways would show up and we got to know KISS from going to different functions, mainly Paul and Gene. I became friends with Gene and Paul first; they’re the two that used to go to the functions the most being the frontmen of the band. I always thought Paul was hot; he was such a handsome man. Then later on down the road I ran into Ace and we became good friends. Recently, in the last five years I just met Peter Criss and his wife. A lovely man, what a great man. They’re good people all the way around. KISS get their bad raps; Gene is this and Paul is that but I was never one of those to bad rap or bad mouth the KISS Army. (laughs) It’s funny, when Jackie Fox, the Runaways bass player auditioned for the band, we played “Strutter” so that’s a bit of rock 'n' roll trivia that I don’t even think KISS knows. (laughs)
You have an autobiography, “Living Like a Runaway,” slated for publication next year. Take us through the experience of working on the book.
Lita Ford: It was an adventure putting the book together; there were a lot of highs and a lot of lows. I wanted it to be correct; I wanted everything to be right so I had to really dig deep and bring stories back to life. Some of them were painful; some of them were like, ‘God, I need to get away from this computer and go for a drive’ but with some stories, there were tears streaming down my face because I laughed so hard. (laughs)
What was the greatest joy putting this book together?
Lita Ford: Just reliving everything that I had done since I was a kid, reliving all the hurdles that I had to jump and still am because I’m a female. That really made me think, Wow, how did I do it?
Ken Sharp is the author of New York Times Best Seller "Nothin' to Lose: The Making of KISS (1972-1975)."