KISS' Paul Stanley Reveals a Physical Deformity Pushed Him to Pursue Stardom

"I had what's called a microtia, which is basically not having an ear," Stanley told Dan Rather on The Big Interview

Paul Stanley
Photo: Lily Lawrence/WireImage

KISS frontman Paul Stanley is opening up about why a birth defect pushed him to chase stardom.

During a sit-down with Dan Rather on The Big Interview, Stanley, 67, says he pursued fame “as a way to compensate for a lot of insecurities.”

“I was born deaf on my right side and I had a birth defect. I had what’s called microtia, which is basically not having an ear. Having a crumpled mass of cartilage.”

According to the Center for Disease Control, microtia “happens when the external ear (the part of the ear that can be seen) is missing completely.”

Because of this Stanley says “I wasn’t very socially adept.”

“When you have something physical that sets you apart from people it makes you really a target of unrelenting scrutiny and sometimes ridicule. And, quite honestly, the idea of becoming famous was a way to push it in people’s faces and go, ‘You see, you should have been nicer to me,'” Stanley told Rather.

Although Stanley, aka Star Child, and the members of KISS grew to become legendary figures in music after forming the rock band in 1973 — he realized success wasn’t the answer to his problems.

Kiss attend the 'America's Got Talent' Season 13 Finale Live Show
KISS. Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic

“I was fortunate enough to have success come to me and realize that didn’t change anything. So I was really blessed because, at that point in your life, it’s either a disappointment because it’s not a remedy and you either put a needle in your arm, a gun in your mouth or you live your life as a victim, and I’m not cut out for that,” Stanley explained.

“So, I decided that I would spend my life and my time on self-exploration and trying to make myself a better person and seeing where that was going to take me.”

“I was blessed to be a part of an idea to become the band we never saw and that led me on a course that I’m still on today — where it’s taking me God only knows,” Stanley said.

Stanley previously spoke of the years of bullying he endured because of his condition in his autobiography Face the Music: A Life Exposed.

Stanley echoed his sentiments in his conversation with Rather, saying “songs and groupies” didn’t change his insecurities.

“I couldn’t have written the book if it didn’t have a happy ending,” Stanley wrote. “The point really is, we can hide our secrets but we can never hide them from ourselves, and the only way to find happiness is to let go of those secrets.”

Back in 1982, Stanley underwent reconstructive surgery by Dr. Frederick Rueckert of New Hampshire, according to his memoir, Variety reported.

Rueckert removed pieces of cartilage from Stanley’s rib cage and formed them into an ear. The surgeon died in May 2017.

“My dear friend Dr. Frederick Rueckert has died at 95. He truly changed my life when he constructed my right ear from my rib. God bless you,” Stanley wrote on Twitter following Rueckert’s death.

After 45 years in the business, Stanley and KISS members Gene Simmons, Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer announced their farewell tour — End of the Road.

“All that we have built and all that we have conquered over the past four decades could never have happened without the millions of people worldwide who’ve filled clubs, arenas and stadiums over those years,” KISS said in September.

Paul Stanley performing
Paul Stanley. Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

“This will be the ultimate celebration for those who’ve seen us and a last chance for those who haven’t.”

The tour officially kicked off on Jan. 31 in Vancouver.

In total, KISS has released 20 studio albums, eight live albums, and 13 compilation albums plus over 60 singles.

The band has been noted as America’s #1 Gold Record Award-winning group of all time, according to the band’s website. KISS was also inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2014.

Stanley’s appearance on The Big Interview is set to air on April 23.

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