Paul Turenne, QMI Agency/News Canada
WINNIPEG, MB - Giving Gene Simmons the key to the city was "a big mistake for our city," the speaker of city council said Thursday.
One day after the 61-year-old KISS frontman and reality TV star was handed the key to the city, Coun. Grant Nordman spoke out against the move, revealing he advised the mayor's office against it because of Simmons' unabashed claims of having slept with thousands of women over the years.
"Initially when the press release came out I replied back to the mayor's office and said, 'Is this a joke?'" Nordman said. "I told them it's a big mistake for our city."
Nordman said he doesn't believe Simmons is a worthy recipient because of his womanizing.
"He's just not a role model," the city councillor said. "The morality of the guy and his lack of humility about it is just not a good fit for our city."
A spokesman for Mayor Sam Katz said the key was meant as a gesture of goodwill towards someone with a wide international audience.
"It's basically given as a gift to leave a positive impression of our city," the spokesman said, noting the honour has gone to many athletes, musicians, politicians and other dignitaries who have passed through the city over the years.
Nordman said he was a KISS fan in the 1970s and once dressed as Simmons at a Halloween party "when hardly anyone knew who KISS was."
He said he has no problem with Simmons coming to town or people enjoying his music, TV show and speaking engagements, but simply doesn't see how that qualifies him to receive an award from the City of Winnipeg.
Coun. Gord Steeves, who made the presentation to Simmons on Wednesday because Mayor Sam Katz was out of the country, said Simmons' "indiscretions" decades ago -- Simmons now has a longtime partner, with whom he has two children -- don't disqualify the good things he's done.
"He received the award for what he's accomplished in music and as an entrepreneur," Steeves said. "We're trying to accentuate the positives and the good things he's done. With people who are famous, there's always going to be some disagreement. Everyone you choose to give an award to, inevitably they have a side some people don't like."
Last January, Simmons was awarded the key to the city in Dallas, Texas, where he also had a street named after him.