(May 1998 - present)
Every husband and wife gets the “How did you meet?’’ question from time to time, and usually, they’ve long since gotten their stories straight. But about five years ago, as Gigi Criss listened to her husband’s version of events, she felt she had to correct his memory.
“Peter told this one story which was totally not how we met,’’ Gigi, 40, says with a laugh. “I looked at him, like, ‘What are you talking about?’ ” It’s funny how the rock star wants to tell one story, and the girl who meets the rock star wants to tell another.
“His story was: He sees this beautiful girl standing in the audience, and he tells the security guy, ‘I wanna talk to her.’ And I’m totally not that kind of girl. If some guy came up to me and said that, I’d say, ‘Get away from me.’”
Born in Point Pleasant and raised in Wall, Gigi studied theater and worked in modeling for about 15 years. Gigi was transitioning into model scouting when she met Peter.
She recalls: “I was with my friend (drummer) Rob Affuso, who’s in Skid Row. He asked me to go to a Kiss concert (at Madison Square Garden). Long story short, I’m backstage and Peter sees me. I asked him for an autograph for another friend of mine who was a drummer. He checked me out on the way out.’’
Days later, Gigi and Affuso attended another Kiss concert.
“I saw Peter again at the after-party,’’ Gigi says. “He wanted to talk with me. (Kiss manager) Doc McGhee asked me to go up to his room. I said, ‘Absolutely not. He can come down here and talk to me. I’m not going to his room. I don’t know this guy.’ He said, ‘Oh, no, Peter’s not like that. He would never do anything.’ I said, ‘Well, I’m not going to his room.’
“After an hour of them coaxing me – ‘He can’t come down here,’ ‘There’s too many people,’ blah blah blah – I said, ‘OK, but I know a lot of people in this city, and if this guy puts one hand on me ...’
“I went over and talked with Peter. We talked for a really long time. That’s how we met.’’
Peter soon learned that Gigi was a Jersey Shore girl.
He recalls: “When I met Gigi and she said she lived in Jersey, I wasn’t really thinking of the ocean. I was thinking, the ‘Garden State,’ this and that. She said, ‘No, I live near Spring Lake.’ I said, ‘You’re kidding me.’ I said, ‘Oh my God, it’s one of my favorite places. I don’t believe this.’ I didn’t believe this girl lives where I really found a place for me.’’
Later on, an omen sealed the deal for Criss.
“The year before we got married,’’ he says, “I came out here for Christmas. I hadn’t had a Christmas with snow for eons. I really missed it in California. We were dating then. I was taking the garbage down. There were all these deer surrounding the garbage area. They were beautiful, man. I just love deer anyway. Some people can shoot them. I don’t get that.
“Something happened – an epiphany, call it what you want. But I just felt God said, ‘You’re gonna marry this girl, and you’re gonna live here.’
“I said (to Gigi), ‘Go find a house. Buy it. Make sure it’s got a pool, a lot of privacy and land.’ Gigi looked at a bunch of places. I came here. We named the house Harmony. I fell in love with it. I’ve got land, I have privacy, I have my studio downstairs, I have a pool. I have all the great things a kid from Brooklyn – trust me – never had. What more do you really want in life?
“I find here and now is a great place for Peter Criss. I love it here. It’s paradise.’’