No place for hiding, vandals, no place to run! Spanish authorities have vowed to apply the law “with the greatest possible force” in response to a drawing in permanent marker on the face of a Medieval statue from the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, making over the figure with the iconic face makeup of KISS drummer Peter Criss. Not to put too fine a point on the reference, the vandal also wrote “KISS” on the sheaf of papers held by the statue. ¡Qué lástima!
This transgression took place in early August, following a restoration of the statue and other elements of the cathedral — a destination point on the historic Catholic pilgrimage route, the “Way of St. James,” since the 9th century. Construction began on the cathedral in 1075, and components of the sprawling complex continued to be built throughout the Middle Ages. A university was added in 1495, and the whole campus of Santiago de Compostela was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.
1985 is also recognized by historians within the period of “unmasking years” for KISS, during which the band opted to perform without their signature make-up and costumes. This proved to be a huge tactical error, in terms of their mystique and popularity.
But not as big a mistake, perhaps, as the actions of this rogue fan, whose probable membership in the KISS Army may escalate the level of this act from vandalism to that of open warfare. Spanish authorities seem prepared to respond with due vigilance to the crime, which regional culture minister Román Rodríguez declared to be “patrimonial barbarism.” One can only hope they do not dare to reopen a dark chapter in history by launching the Spanish InKISSistion in their determination to identify the culprit.
Though this vandalism is a terrible blow to Spanish antiquities, still smarting from June’s botched restoration of a 16th century wooden carving of St George on horseback that has been a feature of the Romanesque church of San Miguel de Estella in Navarre, it is only the second-worst act committed against statuary in the name of KISS, if the 1977 song “Plaster Caster” (Love Gun) is to be believed.