There are times when you refer to your GChat list for passing entertainment, to ping a workmate, or to see what that guy you last exchanged emails with in 2008 has posted as his status. Then there are times when you see Gene Simmons, whose availability was presently being marked by a bright green Google dot in my personal email.
"Hallo," he wrote.
I have never been so excited to GChat with someone in my life.
"Hey!" I wrote back.
"Wie sagt man 'Hey' auf Deutsch?" Simmons wanted to know.
This was obviously no normal conversation, on GChat or otherwise. Beyond the occasional renunion with his Kiss bandmates and proposing, 28 years too late, to wife Shannon Tweed on "Gene Simmons Family Jewels," Simmons is an active partner in Ortsbo, a software program that translates instant chats in realtime. Now he was graciously showing me how to use the software himself, with all incoming text from him translated immediately into German, a language I'm fluent in.
Why Gene Simmons, you say? Well, did you know that Gene Simmons, born Chaim Weitz in Israel, can speak five different languages fluently? Did you know that Kiss versions of "Angry Birds" and Hello Kitty are coming out and that the Gene Simmons axe guitar for Guitar Hero was a smash hit? Did you know Gene Simmons is an extremely slow typer? I didn't.
The conversation continued, with Simmons typing in English on his side, and me typing in German on my side. For brevity's sake, I've clipped only from the English-language side -- the side that appeared on Simmons' screen.
Youyoung: Do you GChat a lot?
Gene Simmons: Occasionally. The big problem of course is having enough free time to ..chat.
Youyoung: I'm still listening to this song really loudly on my headphones.
Gene Simmons: What song?
Youyoung: I was made for loving you!
Silence. Did I go too far? Perhaps the rock legend did not take too kindly being sent YouTube links of his own songs. I took a look at my browser's lower right-hand corner again. Relief: Gene was typing...
Gene Simmons: FYI, I'm the host of the Classic Rock Awards Show in London on November 9th. And hosting an Ortsbo global chat in London.
Not quite the reaction I was hoping for. Sometimes, translation program intact or otherwise, things fail to get effectively communicated. I tried again.
Youyoung: If you had to choose one emoticon to represent yourself, what would you be?
I would be -_-
Youyoung: (I'm Asian)
Gene Simmons: I'm Israeli
Youyoung: So what would be your emoticon?
Gene Simmons: Face sticking out my tongue
Youyoung: Eeeek! maybe something like this? :-)~
Gene Simmons: LOL
That's more like it! But could I get the Kiss rocker with a seemingly tough exterior to open up a bit more with hard-hitting questions about his marriage and infidelity? Emboldened by the anonymity of the Internet, I treaded forward...
Youyoung: So, how is the marriage coming along?
Gene Simmons: Do not know what I was so scared of all my life
Youyoung: What was your life-long fear? To be married?
Gene Simmons: That's every man's biggest fear. Loss of control. More specifically, men do not want to answer to anyone
Youyoung: Do you feel differently now that you and Shannon are married?
Gene Simmons: I "feel grown up"
Youyoung: Did you have a rabbi or a pope at the wedding?
Gene Simmons: An "Officiant." Don't you read People?
At this point, Gene's publicist rang me on my telephone to tell me in a very real voice that it was time to end my GChat conversation with Gene in German. But before signing off, I had one last question for the 62-year-old, whose nickname, "The Demon," is ostensibly derived from his scary stage makeup and famous serpentine tongue.
Youyoung: How does Ortsbo translate "The Demon" in other languages??
Gene Simmons: God.
Gene Simmons and the CEO of Ortsbo, David Lucatch will be the keynote speakers at this year's Mobile Marketing Association conference on Nov. 17.