The hostess with THE LEASTEST
April 05, 2012
For Shannon Tweed, the motivation is simple.
"I figure that every year, I will do something that scares the s out of me," Tweed replies when asked what inspired her -- actress, pinup model, reality-TV star and Hollywood mom -- to take on the out-of-left-field challenge of hosting a standup-comedy show at this year's Winnipeg Comedy Festival.
"Last year, I jumped out of a plane. The year before, I was going to ski, but then I fell down the stairs and broke my arm, which put the kibosh on that. But I'm trying to do something every year that puts me outside my comfort zone."
Tweed, the former Playboy Playmate of the Year who's best known these days as the long-suffering spouse and recently wedded wife of KISS bassist Gene Simmons, will return to the scene of her husband's somewhat controversial key-to-the-city presentation to host the comedy fest's early Friday-night (April 13) gala, Characters.
The show, which features Scott Thompson, Seán Cullen, Craig Lauzon, Renée Percy, Patrick Maliha and Sarah Cornell offering a variety of in-character roles, is Newfoundland-born Tweed's first foray into the realm of live standup comedy. Despite the fact -- or perhaps, because of the fact -- she hasn't been asked to perform as anything other than herself, the model-turned-actress-turned-stay-at-home-mom admits to being a bit unsettled by the task.
"I'm completely uncomfortable," Tweed says during a recent telephone interview from her Los Angeles home. "One of my biggest fears in life is public speaking -- that's No. 1; No. 2 is singing in public, along with being myself live (onstage). That's why you'll never see my onstage singing."
Tweed says she was a bit surprised that the fest's organizers approached her with a comedy-related offer, but added that she understands what might have motivated their overture.
"We were just there, when Gene got the key to the city, and maybe that put in someone's mind, 'Oh, yeah -- she is Canadian, and she has been on a lot of sitcoms.' And we are still doing our show (Gene Simmons Family Jewels, which will premiere its seventh season later this year). So maybe that's what happened."
Ah, yes -- the key to the city. There weren't many celebrity-related events in Winnipeg last year that generated as much fuss and bother as the decision to bestow the supposedly dignified civic honour upon the famous -- and, in many minds, infamous -- glammed-up heavy-metal star.
Recalling the controversy, Tweed can only chuckle.
"Overall, the reception from the fans on-site was great, and from the press on-site, it seemed to be great, but in retrospect, in reading about it, it was, 'What the hell?'" she says. "And honestly, it doesn't open anything; I tried opening a jewelry store, and nothing happened. So everybody can relax; I'm sure there's a duplicate key, and they're going to give it to somebody else."
Locals who watched the city hall ceremony last June probably remember Tweed as being anything but bubbly as she watched Simmons accept the civic key from then-city councillor Gord Steeves. The couple's stop in Winnipeg came just days after Tweed walked off U.S. cable's The Joy Behar Show when Simmons joked about the serial philandering that had been part of his rock-star touring.
"It was a very delicate time," she recalls. "Obviously, we were dealing with a bunch of crap at the time, and here we were, on an outing where I'm thinking to myself, 'I don't care how many keys to the city you get; you're a d--k.'
"At the time, I was standing there dealing with my own issues, and some things being given priority didn't mean a lot in the grand scheme of things. But the gesture was really appreciated by him, and for those people who protested it, it really is just a gesture. It's not a key to anything, so relax about it. There are much, much bigger problems, and I was certainly having one of them at the time."
As was documented at the end of Gene Simmons Family Jewels' last season, the rocker and the Playmate eventually did reconcile, formalizing their long common-law relationship with a wedding ceremony last October at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
Tweed says tying the knot and beginning a new chapter in their relationship created a different kind of challenge heading into a new season of their reality-TV series.
"The thought of not continuing it had to do with the thought that no one would watch," she says. "After that (last season), what are we going to do? We're going to continue with our married life, which might be boring. There's no drama this year... OK, maybe there's a little bit, but not like last year. Gene's going on tour, and I have to monitor it now, because now I know what was going on."
With KISS about to hit the road on a co-headlining tour with Mtley Crüe, Tweed says it'll be up to her new/old husband to prove he's serious about his wedding vows.
"We'll see what happens," she says. "There's an adjustment, especially for him. My physical life won't change, because I was so oblivious and I was kind of doing the same thing I'm doing now. But for him, there's going to be an adjustment period. He's still going to be the god of thunder onstage, but he's not going to be able to act out that persona (offstage).
"We're going to see how that plays out in reality. ... There's being committed emotionally, and there's being committed physically, and for him, it's going to be a challenge. We'll see."