"I don't really want to talk about Tommy Thayer," Ace Frehley told the Village Voice during a recent interview, reasonably pointing out that he'd rather talk about himself. But Frehley understands that people are probably never going to stop asking him about Thayer performing with Kiss as the Spaceman character he created, and he opened up just enough to make it clear that he understands it's all based on business decisions -- even if he does think one of Thayer's endorsement deals is pretty shady.

"I could sense he always wanted to be me -- he used to be in a Kiss cover band," Frehley shrugged when the subject came up. "He didn't do anything; he was hired by Paul and Gene to put on my makeup and costume and play my guitar solos -- a business deal. Look, if he wouldn't have done it, they would have hired somebody else. I walked out on the band; I quit. What they really should have done is, if they wanted to dress up a guy to play lead guitar, they should have come up with different makeup like they did with [other Ace replacements] Eric Carr and Vinnie Vincent. That's what the fans are upset about."

Frehley's point of view is shared by Lita Ford, who's quoted as saying, "I always thought that anyone could hide behind Kiss's makeup. The band could grow old and no one could see through the makeup: a brilliant idea. Tommy Thayer is one hell of a nice guy but he is not Ace Frehley and shouldn't be in Ace's shoes. There is only one Ace!"

Of course, that doesn't mean Frehley doesn't still feel some ownership of the Spaceman -- or that he isn't willing to call Thayer out for overstepping his bounds, as Frehley feels he did by making an arrangement with Epiphone for his own signature "Space Man" guitar. Scornfully marveling at the deal, Frehley scoffed, "I mean, how big are the balls on this guy?"

Still, Frehley's careful to point out that any rivalry that might exist between himself and his former bandmates is still fairly friendly; in fact, he shared the story of a recent phone call he shared with Gene Simmons while wrapping up work on his new solo album, 'Space Invader.' "The press made out that we hated each other, which wasn't true," he insisted. "I called Gene just a few months ago when I was mixing my record. I was driving up to L.A., and after five minutes of talking, he started bringing up stuff that happened in the '70s, when we used to drive around in station wagons. We were on the phone for almost half an hour. He wouldn't let me off the phone. There's all this rivalry that the press tries to draw out of us, to have a dialogue going on."

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