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

Rest in Peace “Mean” Gene Okerlund 1942-2019

So I was writing a piece about my newest New Years 2019 cosplay today when I got a heartbreaking Breaking News indicator on my phone that “Mean” Gene Okerlund passed away. So I decided to switch gears and write this remembrance of Gene instead.

Details of his passing were pretty sparse at this writing, but I knew he had been sick for a while and it was said that he had two kidney transplants recently.

I recently met Mean Gene on November 9th, 2018 at a local comic shop in Northern New Jersey. He was unable to stand for pictures due to “pulling his back that morning”, but I noticed that one of his hands was really swollen. I had hoped it was all part of something temporary. But looking back knowing he passed away today, I guess it was all part of something else. But enough of that – I’d rather talk about the good times.

“Mean” Gene was a laughable nickname for Gene Okerlund. He was one of the friendliest people ever – you could tell it by his WWF/WWE interviews. Anybody who has ever met him will agree that he was the opposite of mean. Funny thing is that he got that name from Jesse “the Body” Ventura, and I was cosplaying as former Minnesota Governor Ventura when I met him.

My wife, Jackie and I have been fans of WWF wrestling since the 70s and 80s. Like me, her brother watched wrestling all the time when he was a kid, so she watched a lot of it with him. And when I came into her life in 1984, we would watch it together. Mean Gene was all over the WWF back then and Mean Gene was her favorite character. For still unknown reasons, she nicknamed Mean Gene “Briefcase” – and the name just stuck.

Flash forward many years, and my friend Sean Wolfe mentioned that Mean Gene would be appearing at a comic shop in Ramsey, NJ called Gotham Underground. And my wife and I decided to go. But it was a heavily raining Friday night, and traffic was horrible. We had debated skipping the event due to rain, but I had learned my lesson last time with Roddy Piper back in 2015.

I REALLY buy xanax from canada wanted to meet Roddy Piper at a convention in New York City in March 2015, but the NJ Transit bus we were taking was over an hour late, and we decided to go out to eat instead. We could catch him at his next appearance right??? Well Roddy Piper died a few months after that and we never got to meet him. So I vowed to never miss out on an opportunity to meet one of my childhood heroes.

Which was why we decided to brave the weather and Friday rush hour traffic. And we were glad we did. The rain scared off a lot of other people so the comic shop wasn’t crowded that night – and we had a bunch of time to talk to Gene about his career, about other wrestlers, and about his wonderful appearance on WWF Legends House. (Try to watch if you can – its a great series if you have ANY interest in 80s wrestling)

If you’ve been reading my page, you know I’m a cosplayer. That being said, my wife Jackie and I have Jesse “the Body” Ventura and Adrian Adonis costumes as part of our 80s wrestling legends cosplay group. So we decided to wear them to meet Gene.

We were a little worried as wrestlers aren’t really a cosplay-friendly environment, but I had done it at a Jesse Ventura book signing event (See my book Anatomy of a Cosplayer for that story) and it went over really well. So we brought it to meet Mean Gene

We need not have worried – Gene loved it. He took pictures for his personal social media and had a great time getting into character. It was a dream come true to have Gene Okerlund yell “Holy Balls” on tape at my Jesse Ventura. (see video below)…. It was a great night and I was so glad we went. I would have been miserable had we not gone and never got another chance to meet him.

Mean Gene was the voice of a huge part of my childhood, but he also was so nice to us that night. We will miss him tremendously.

A microphone Mean Gene Okerlund signed for me when we met him in November, 2018

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

TURNAROUND: Why the Hannon’s changed their minds and got a new kitten

Months back when Cosmo wasn’t doing so hot health-wise, Jackie & I swore we would not get another cat after he passed.  We never wanted to go thru the pain of losing a beloved pet ever again. where to buy cheap cialis online. Two days before Cosmo passed away, two kittens just showed up in our backyard and reminded us that all the years of having a healthy Cosmo was worth having to go thru a few months of pain in the end.   A month later when we needed a cat around, those same kittens reappeared out of the blue and a chain of events occurred that brought a new kitten into our lives… But not what you might expect… Read on to see why…

FYI:  This is a followup to the blog titled Eulogy for a loved pet – Cosmo – RIP 7/2/2012 – If you haven’t read it yet, go check it out – this blog may make more sense knowing the history, but this blog can stand alone if you don’t have time.. This particular blog isn’t going to get advertised much since its pretty personal, so if you found it, then you’re just awesome.

Back around Thanksgiving 2011, our 15 year old cat Cosmo began having some ear infections and neurological issues that began a decline in health that ended with his passing on July 2nd, 2012.   It was a rough time period for Jackie & myself, and we saw our beloved Cosmo slowly deteriorate.  It was a painful time for us…So painful in fact that Jackie & I vowed to never get another pet afterwards…  We never wanted to go thru that again…

And we maintained that attitude up until June 30th – Two days before Cosmo passed away on July 2nd…

What changed our mind?   Read on… Read more

Eulogy for a loved pet – Cosmo – RIP 7/2/2012

Some blogs are written for other people. Some are just written purely for myself (and Jackie). This is one from that latter category. mens health. You are more than welcome to read it, and if it makes you smile, or helps you get over a similar experience, all the better.   If you are one of those people that go “It’s just a cat, get over it.”, you may want to skip this blog, it’s gonna get a bit sappy.  You’ve been warned…

Last Monday, July 2nd, Jackie & I lost our little buddy – Cosmo D. Cat Hannon.  Old age, ear tumors and the first real heat wave of Summer 2012 proved to be too much for him, and we had to take him to the vet to be euthanized. He was in pretty bad shape, and it was the right decision – even though it was one of the most horrible days in our lives.

I don’t really want to dwell on the sadder aspects of Cosmo’s final days in this blog.  If I forget the sadder parts of this story later in life, I’m kinda fine with it.   But I just want this to make me remember the good times with as much clarity as I have now.

Shortly after his passing, I went to post a picture of him on Facebook in honor of him.  But when I went to look for the “right” picture, I found a whole lotta other pictures of him that I loved.   I’m not going to lie, I went a little (ok, a lot) overboard. I eventually found and posted 34 or so pictures of Cosmo that Jackie & I loved. (See the bottom of this blog and my Facebook link).

While looking thru the pictures, I found Read more

Weird Coincidences: The Ducky Boys and Costuming.

Author James Hannon finds out that his Bronx/Ducky Boys World and his Costuming World are starting to blend together in very strange & coincidental ways.  This looks like a job for SuperGirl – who was instrumental in uncovering this string of coincidences.  Sound interesting?  Read on……

Well, so far every big project I’ve worked on has had at least one huge coincidence that made me realize I might be onto something really cool.

For my 2004 documentary, Out of Our Dens: The Richard & the Young Lions Story, while looking for Detroit names who remembered the band RYL, I came across legendary NYC radio DJ Pat St John – who unbeknownst to me was a legendary Detroit radio DJ before coming to NY and not only did he remember the band, he LOVED them. buy cheap cialis europe. And while thats cool, thats not the coincidence  part.   The coincidence part is that when I spoke to him and invited him out to the bands rehearsal studio to see them play, we found out that Read more

Estate Sales – An education over two Saturdays.

James and Jackie get caught up in the estate sale mania that is going on in reality TV and spend two weekends experiencing it.   And they learned a few things on why it isn’t for the faint of heart.

Well, for the last few weeks, Jackie & I have been hitting estate sales here in Central and Northern New Jersey.   This is a new thing for us as we have never even really hit garage or yard sales since moving to NJ from the Bronx in 1993.   We just didn’t think it was what respectable people did.

Well, reality TV changed all that for us.  Every pawn shop and antiques reality show had these stories of people finding tremendous deals at estate sales. Even one of our new favorite shows – Kevin Smith’s “Comic Book Men” showed the main characters finding big scores at garage sales and the Collingwood Flea Market.  So Jackie and I decided to check out this suburban phenomena.  And we lived to tell the tale.

We started our expeditions at the Collingwood Flea Market Mall in Farmingdale, NJ after seeing it on Comic Book Men.  The characters on the show said that “the people who went to this mall were not allowed in regular malls” – and that was enough to pique our curiosity.   And after asking around, we found it was a “ghetto mall” (which are usually awesome) where you could find “anything” – from brass knuckles, swords, and grappling hooks (seriously), to Nazi paraphernalia (we think – we didnt go in that section as it looked too shady). This is the type of mall where you could find the million-dollar Read more