New Year – New Cosplay – Why I made an Ace Frehley Costume

Why did Bronx author James Hannon make a cosplay of KISS member and famous Ducky Boy Ace Frehley, when he wasn’t a fan of KISS? Read on…

In case you didn’t know, I premiered a new cosplay on New Years Day 2019. This new one was Ace Frehley the Spaceman from the original lineup of KISS – or at least it was supposed to be. After all was said and done, I looked more like Tommy Thayer who is the current KISS guitarist who is wearing the Spaceman makeup. But more on that later.


So, this was a big surprise to my friends who know me and know that I was never really a big KISS fan. Sure I knew their music and gimmick and it wasn’t bad. My sister owned the KISS Alive II LP until I stole it from her. And I also bought the KISS Platinum 8-track tape (still have both of them).

But the real reason I did not want to be a fan is that when I was a kid, the biggest KISS fan in my circle of acquaintances was a pariah in the neighborhood because he was the “smelly kid”. Its not that he was unclean, but whatever detergent his mom used had a horrible stench that was just unbearable to be around. I realize that isn’t PC in today’s world, but this was the 1970s and most in my group hadn’t even turned 13 yet. The bottom line is that we didn’t want to be associated with him – and liking KISS was a sure fire way to do that. So KISS fandom was always downplayed.

When I got to senior year of college in 1989, I got into Ace Frehley a little bit. He was out of KISS for a while by this time and performing solo. Gordon G. G. Gebert was a friend of a friend of mine, and Gordon was good friends with Ace at the time. I was part of a software sharing group and Ace was looking for a particular piece of software which I had. So I shared it with Gordon to give to Ace, hoping to meet the big man eventually. But it never happened as Ace and Gordon had a big falling out shortly after. But I did learn more about Ace’s music during the time. And realized it was ok to like Ace’s music again since the smelly kid was long out of the picture.

Flash-forward to 2005, and I was starting to do research into a documentary I was planning on the real life gangs of the Wanderers movie. This video project would eventually become my book Lost Boys of the Bronx: The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang. In my initial round of research, I found out that Ace Frehley grew up a couple of blocks away from me (Marion Avenue and 201st Street in the Bronx), and was a member of the infamous Ducky Boys. After all this, I figured Ace Frehley was destined to be a factor in my life “somehow”.

I reached out to his manager, and I had about an hour-long phone conversation with Ace one day. I told him about my project, and what I found in my research about where his old friends in the Ducky Boys ended up. At the end of the call, I asked him if I could film a short interview with him for the documentary, but he shut me down hard asking for a $10,000 appearance fee – which was way more than I could afford, so we parted ways.

When my documentary eventually turned into the book, some doors were opened for me. I received permission from Gordon Gebert to use a section of his KISS AND TELL book where Ace’s buddy Bobby McAdams talked about Ace’s involvement in the Ducky Boys. It wasn’t the optimal choice, but I had no choice but to cover Ace’s involvement. For months after going public with my project, I was getting dozens of emails a week from people telling me that Ace Frehley was a Ducky Boy. I still get occasional emails from people telling me this – LIKE I DON’T buy xanax uk ALREADY KNOW BY NOW! LOL

James and Jeff Hornlien meeting a un-enthusiastic Ace Frehley in 2008

In late 2008, shortly before the Lost Boys of the Bronx was released, I finally got to meet Ace at a local Chiller convention. I was even wearing a Ducky Boys shirt which one of his friends/handlers LOVED, but Ace didn’t even seem to recognize it or remember the conversation we had. Supposedly this was during his sober days, but he really seemed out of it. Not just to me, but everyone in the line. All he did was grunt and put his thumb up when taking the picture with me and my friend Jeff Hornlien. I was bummed for me, but even more so for Jeff (and all the other people there) who grew up idolizing this guy. Jeff is an extremely talented guitarist who learned to play because he was inspired by Ace and KISS. It was sad.

Figuring the Ace connection was completely dead at this point, I moved on and did other stuff – like write the book Anatomy of a Cosplayer: Tales from Behind the Mask. I met a lot of other cosplayers in my travels, and this one particular Batman costumer named Ed Universo lived in my town, and we became good friends. At one convention, he showed up in a full Gene Simmons Demon costume – and it was amazing. He asked if Jeff and I were willing to do a Halloween appearance with him in his personal KISS costumes. We couldn’t make Halloween but the thought was planted in my head.

And not just my head…. Jeff Hornlien completely wanted to costume as Paul Stanley at a convention… And he wouldn’t let it go. He kept bugging me so I had to do “something” to shut him up.

The big objection for me was “Dude, theres no way I’ll be able to walk in those heels!” Well Ed, brought over his personal Ace boots for me to walk around in, and you know what? They weren’t that hard to walk in! And I kinda liked being 6-7 inches taller…. So I started thinking about it more and more…

And then Ed sent me a link to someone selling an Ace Frehley Destroyer era costume. And well that was all I needed to know. The die was cast and my fate as the Spaceman was sealed!

While waiting for the costume to arrive, I attempted the Ace Frehley makeup. I got the specifics from a YouTube video, and gave it a shot.

First attempt at Ace Frehley makeup

And it didn’t come out too bad. Sure, there were some issues, but I spoke to Ed and he suggested different makeup to try for next time.

Which leads us to New Years Day 2019. With the new costume in hand, and the right makeup, I decided that I couldn’t wait for the next convention to premiere this costume and posted on social media….

So far the response has been great. I realized that I don’t look that much like Ace Frehley with my facial structure, but I can definitely see a strong resemblance to Tommy Thayer – so making lemonade out of lemons, we’re going with that!

Now for the second part of my plan…. Not going to give it away here, but there will be others involved…. And all I can say is you shouldn’t have let me start this mission…. There is only one way to finish it…

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James Hannon, Jeff Hornlien, Jackie Hannon and Ed Universo
James Hannon, Jeff Hornlien, Jackie Hannon and Ed Universo
James Hannon as Kiss Spaceman and Bronx Ducky Boys member Ace Frehley on New Years Day 2019

The Richard and the Young Lions album was finally released!

It’s finally here! The FIRST Richard and the Young Lions album ever – 51 years after the band began (and 14 years after “Richard” passed away)!

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw it for sale on https://wickedcoolrecords.bandcamp.com/ – the long (and I mean LONG) awaited album of Richard and the Young Lions! I still can’t believe that I have the LP, CD and MP3 files in my possession now

A short history:

Back in Summer 2001, when I was learning to be a filmmaker and web designer, my co-worker and friend Shelly Riff joined this 60’s band called Richard and the Young Lions that was getting back together as a replacement keyboardist. As luck would have it, they needed somebody to create their website from the ground up, so Shelly recommended me. I met the band, and got the job and became fast friends with the guys.

As I was working on the site, one of the key pages was the Legend of the band. As I started writing this page, I learned a LOT about the band’s history. And as a budding filmmaker, I couldn’t have found a better first project. So I approached the guys and they thought it was a great idea.

I spent the next three years of my life working with Leon Leybs on this documentary – in addition to holding down full-time jobs. We learned so much about the band, film-making, and ourselves during that time.

The band’s musical comeback was going great in Summer 2001 and they were regularly playing clubs in downtown New York City. And then September 11th happened and everything changed and the NYC music scene was changed forever.

RYL continued on, but they decided to focus on putting out an album under Little Steven’s guidance. Every Sunday they were there working on this album – and I was there every Sunday shooting footage.

Eventually we met legendary NYC disc jockey Pat St. John, and he graciously offered to narrate our film. And to say I was blown away was an understatement. But with great opportunities comes great stress not to blow it. And we went buy xanax without perscription into overdrive to finish this project.

Sadly, Richard Tepp, the lead singer became seriously ill during the filming and slowed down the album work. But that put even more stress to finish the documentary.

Which Leon and I did in late May, 2014. And I am so glad we did. On June 17th, 2014 – two weeks after we showed our final product to Richard and the band, he passed away. He was really sick, so I wasn’t in the room with him when he watched it with a couple of his RYL bandmates, but they told me that he loved it and said “We really had a great run, didn’t we?” Knowing that I was able to give Richard that moment is one of the greatest rewards I’ve ever gotten.

We had our video release on July 8th, 2014 which turned into a huge tribute to Richard. We really felt Richard was in the room smiling down at us.

After the premiere in 2004, the documentary had a good run and made it to the Hope and Dreams (NJ) and Anchorage Film Festivals. The album on the other hand really lost steam without a lead singer. There were a few replacement singers (Richard’s son Casey and the very talented Mike Fornatale), but without Richard (who had recorded all his vocals before getting sick), everything kinda floundered.

I never expected this CD to see the light of day. And then I got the call from RYL drummer Mark Greenberg aka “World Famous Twig”. I was shocked..

James Hannon with his copies of the Richard and the Young Lions albums in front of the poster for his documentary Out of Our Dens The Richard and the Young Lions Story

I got the LP and the CD in the mail !!!!  And they were great!   Richard would have been so proud!

Important Links

Richard and the Young Lions website
Purchase the $18 RYL Documentary DVD from me
(FYI Amazon never has it in stock and resellers charge $80)
Purchase the RYL CD from Wicked Cool Records

The premiere of James Hannon and Leon Leybs documentary Out of Our Dens: The Richard and the Young Lions Story
The trailer for Out of Our Dens: The Richard and he Young Lions story by James Hannon and Leon Leybs – narrated by Pat St. John

Casualty at the Saint, Asbury Park, NJ – 6/10/2011

Its been a crazy two weeks, so I’m trying to keep up with the individual blogs before I forget to…   They’ll be shorter than my longer-winded ones :)

Casualty at the Saint, Asbury Park, NJ – Friday, June 10th, 2011

I drove down to Asbury Park to see one of my best friends Jeff Hornlien play his first show with his new band “Casualty”.

If you haven’t heard by now, Jeff’s old band “The RiffSurfers” (that I managed – against my will LOL), are no more.  <insert huge sad face here>   No dramatic fight between the 5 J’s (Jeff Hornlien, Jimmy Diamonde, Jenna D’Onofrio, John Kraemer & James Hannon (umm, that’s me),  but things weren’t happening, and we all eventually went different directions.  I went on to promote my book “Lost Boys of the Bronx: The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang“;  John became Johnny Rox and joined the band “Tasting Grace” (see my review of their shows here and here);  Jenna joined the successful cover band Decades Invasion and is probably playing somewhere near you this weekend (and next weekend, and the weekend after that);  Jimmy became James Giunta, Certified Hypno-Therapist and currently has a thriving practice in Red Bank, NJ.   And Jeff started up this new band called “Casualty” with old RiffSurfer drummer Sean O’Connor and bass player Nicky Vitucci.   So now that you’re all caught up with the history of the band, lets move on to their first show.

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Band Review: Black 47 at the Stone Pony, Memorial Day 2011

Band Review: Black 47 at the Stone Pony, Memorial Day 2011

As biased as my previous review was, this one will be also.  But, unlike the previous review, I became biased towards Black 47, not because of friendships (which came later), but because I was just a super fan going back to their early days (1989-1991) when they were playing in the Norwood/Bainbridge section of the Bronx – which just happened to be my old neighborhood.

I’m kinda embarrassed to admit this, but I never did see the band live when they were playing back in my old neighborhood.  They had played in the local Irish bars, and by this time I had already given up drinking at the ripe old age of 16 (more common in my Irish-American neighborhood than you would expect)

I don’t remember who exactly, but “someone” recommended Black 47, and I picked up their CD – probably at Crazy Eddie’s on Fordham Road. I was really surprised that I liked their music.   I DID NOT like Irish music at all at that time tho – too many parentally-forced listenings of “Wild Colonial Boy” and “The Unicorn” on WFUV’s Sunday radio program will do that to you.

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Review/Blog: Brandon Flowers at the Stone Pony – Dec 1st, 2010

This is not really a “review” of the show, but more of a journal of the “James & Jackie Experience” of the Brandon Flowers show last night.

Well, it’s the beginning of the holiday season, and what better way to celebrate than with Brandon Flowers of the band The Killers right? What, you don’t celebrate Christmas season with the Killers in your house? But my beautiful wife Jackie tells me everyone does it! (FYI Jackie is celebrating her birthday today so feel free to wish her well in the comments – Happy Birthday sweetheart!)

I’m joking of course, but it was a way to tell you that every year on World AIDS day, The Killers put out a Christmas song and video where all the profits go to fighting AIDS… So yesterday (December 1st 2010), they released their newest Christmas song “Boots” at fine establishments everywhere. I picked my copy up on ITunes and it’s actually a pretty good song that I recommend you getting (or at least watching the equally good video) – The money goes to a good cause so it’s a win-win situation.

The “Boots” video link is at: http://www.starbucks.com/share/#/the-killers – Supposedly every viewing make STARBUCKS/RED contribute a nickel to the Global Fund to help fight AIDS in Africa.

The other thing is that my wife likes the Killers. I mean she REALLY likes them – almost bordering on obsession. as I mentioned in an old Blog , if Jackie had to choose between me and lead singer Brandon Flowers, I’d be worried.  Please see the August 2008 blog where Brandon Flowers checked out my wife’s boobs.

Mr. Flowers is doing a solo tour now, and he happened to come to the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ last night. You may know the Stone Pony from when the band I managed called The RiffSurfers played there a couple of summers back or probably more likely from a little known New Jersey-ite named Bruce Springsteen

The Stone Pony is a great venue to see big acts. Its relatively small and intimate, and usually when acts play there they hang out and take pictures and sign autographs. I’ve seen some great acts there such as the aforementioned RiffSurfers, my pal Larry Kirwan and Black 47, The Smithereens, and the New York Dolls to name a few.

So when my wife’s obsession Brandon Flowers came to Asbury Park, the day before her birthday, you know I was gonna be there… Plus it was a Wednesday night in the middle of the holiday season down the shore for a “little known” solo act of a band that’s popular in a certain population – so I figured if 20-30 people came out that would be a lot. And Jackie could meet the dude, get a picture and maybe an autograph.

Boy did I underestimate the selling power of Brandon Flowers! Last night we drove down to Asbury Park, and got an early whiff of my mistake in judgment when parking was a little difficult. Asbury Park in winter is a normally a pretty desolate place – but tonight we had to park a few blocks away..

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Download Fest 2008 – The Full Report

Download Fest 2008 – The Full Report
August 2nd, 2008

Originally posted at https://jameshannon.com

Part 1 – Almost Didn’t Go

For those of you who don’t know, my beautiful wife Jackie is a HUGE fan of the band The Killers, and specifically their lead singer Brandon Flowers.  If this Brandon guy and I were in a burning building, and Jackie could save only one of us, I would be quite worried who she would pick… Luckily, the Killers don’t play the New York/New Jersey area very often, and that scenario’s possibility is at a minimum…

Last night (August 2nd, 2008), the stars aligned for Jackie, and the Killers played the Susquehanna Bank Center just outside Philadelphia in Camden, NJ.  (Yeah, I know, I was worried about Camden’s reputation as well – but the police were all over the place).

Personally, I think the band is pretty good, but I wouldn’t have gone to seen them on my own… But since it is Jackie’s favorite band, how could I not go?  If you look thru all my pictures, she has ALWAYS gone to all my goofy things…  So Jackie got the tickets about a month or two ago the day they went on sale (and I didn’t look at them closely until yesterday morning – you’ll see why that’s important to mention later)…

After Jackie ordered the tickets, I went online to see exactly where they were playing…  And I found out they weren’t playing their own show, but were part of this thing called the Download Festival 2008…  I thought, “Oh great – in the middle of a bunch of teeny-boppers watching bands like the Jonas Brothers and Hansen” until the Killers came on some time between 2pm and Midnight…

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