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 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

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

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

New Year Resolutions from the Dalai Lama & Ben Franklin

Ok, its close to New Years, so everybody is worrying about resolutions and reminiscing about old resolutions that didn’t work…  So author James Hannon decides to share two guides to a successful life from two successful people who aren’t currently trying to sell you an entire package for hundreds of dollars…   Hey, it can’t hurt, and can only help, so why not give it a shot?

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Ok, this is gonna be easy to write. I’m basically gonna steal two lists of life principals from two great writers, thinkers, and humanitarians and tell you to follow their rules…   It could very well be a Twitter or Facebook update to give you motivation, but I didn’t want it to scroll off within 20 minutes after posting it – I plan to look at the list regularly during my life..   As I’ve said before, sometimes these blog entries are more for me – but if it helps someone else, all the better :)

The first is from the Dalai Lama…   Now don’t get scared – you don’t have to give up your current religion to follow these – they are practical and simple guidelines that should be a part of EVERY religion.    Even Carl from Caddyshack gets it (See the end of this blog for the video)

And now on to the first list:

20 Ways to Get Good Karma

By The Dalai Lama, Published 11/16/2006
Stolen verbatim from: http://www.spiritualnow.com/articles/25/1/20-Ways-to-Get-Good-Karma/Page1.html

The Dalai Lama isn't pointing in judgment..  He's giving us finger guns for Pete's sake..

The Dalai Lama isn't pointing in judgment.. He's giving us finger guns for Pete's sake..

Instructions for Life by The Dalai Lama

  1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
  2. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
  3. Follow the three R’s:
    – Respect for self,
    – Respect for others and
    – Responsibility for all your actions.
  4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck
  5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
  6. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great relationship.
  7. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, Read more

What I learned about Human Nature from Hurricane Irene (and the small earthquake a few days earlier)

Well we’re finally out of the woods on Hurricane Irene…  The last few days have been pretty intense with the buildup the media has been giving – And while Jackie & I survived it pretty much intact, not everyone was so lucky.   There was a river running down the main street of our town (and we aren’t close to any regular rivers), and the reports and pictures from Facebook show that people in other parts of town had some real damage.

My good friend Anna Zelikman took a bunch of pictures of Scotch Plains-Fanwood showing the damage that Hurricane Irene did to our town.

Here is the link to those pictures…
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.243539165685094&type=1

As you can see, it was no joke – Yes, that is a picture of a tree that split down the middle and crashed into the street AND landed on the side of some poor bastards house in there.

Now Jackie & I did the smart thing and stayed indoors throughout the hurricane so we can’t really comment on the actual devastation out there outside of Anna’s pictures, but we did watch a LOT of TV and see a lot of my Facebook friends postings about what happened…  And that dear reader, is the theme of this blog.

What I learned about Human Nature from Hurricane Irene (and the earthquake a few days earlier).

First, pre-hurricane, people were already skittish about ol’ Mother Nature.  A couple of days earlier there was an earthquake in Virginia that was felt all the way up to Maine.  Here in NJ we felt it as well, but it was very small and lasted maybe 30 seconds tops.   But it was very telling about human nature and that leads us up to my first Human Nature insight:

1.  People want to know EVERYTHING about something before they react.

Read more

Tribute to a friend who passed: Mary McDonald

My friend, co-worker, artistic supporter, and mentor passed away about 3 and a half weeks ago. I started writing this about 2 weeks ago, but I was hoping to have more info on what happened by now. But, nobody (who I know anyway) has any new information other than that there will be a “Celebration of her Life” in two months. So figured I’d just go with this post instead of waiting anymore.

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Last Thursday (7/7/2011), I got an email from a friend informing me that my old boss passed away. Most of you who will read this won’t know her, but her name was Mary McDonald. The story of the moment (7/11/2011) is that she came home from yoga on Friday 7/1/2011 and had either a stroke or a heart attack. Her apartment is under police seal pending an autopsy/investigation, so who knows what that will uncover. But until that, I’m not going to speculate on how she died, but rather how she lived.

I met Mary back in March 2000. I had interviewed with her for a consulting job at PaineWebber. After burning out on a previous job, I had taken a 3-month sabbatical between consulting jobs to try and make a go of Lantern Media Web Design. But that didn’t go over so well (a blog entry for another time perhaps), and after much prodding from a particular recruiter who thought I would be a perfect fit for this job, I decided to give it a shot.

Mary gave me a phone interview that went well, and I went in for a face-to-face interview with Mary, and three other interviewers. Other than one interviewer (who I found out over the years has an industry-wide reputation for not-liking any candidates), I had a GREAT set of interviews. I had such good connections with 3 of the 4 interviewers that I almost felt like I was goofing off there since each of the interviews were more friendly than business-like (FYI until this interview, I had never met any of them). That recruiter was right on the money about me fitting in there – I was pretty much told I had the job before I walked out the door.

So now I was working for Mary and some other cool people in an organization that people liked (at the time anyway). Work life was good again, and slowly I started to enjoy coming to work again. All the work got done in an efficient manner, but there was a friendly environment that I had missed in the prior few jobs. Mary actually supported my film-making aspirations, and gave me a lot of freedom to work on my Richard & the Young Lions documentary (as long as my work got done – which it did) – Mary was thanked in the credits of that movie.

Read more