Of all the films currently circulating on bootleg video, “KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park” holds a special significance for me thanks to an overzealous ex-Marine who tried to get me thrown into a federal penitentiary for the sale of a bootleg copy of this title. While many people have been imprisoned for the dumbest of reasons, it would have been a new milestone in the realm of insanity to wind up behind bars because of that 1978 rock music/sci-fi cheesefest.

My problems began last spring when I found myself in a situation which is fairly common to many New York writers: I was broke, or pretty much running on financial empty. Deciding to make some quick cash via that digital flea market known as eBay, I dug out a stack of videos which no longer inspired emotional attachment. Among the videos was “KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park,” which I purchased from eBay a year before and only watched once. This title went up for sale and was quickly acquired by one Arron Brown, a former member of the U.S. Marine Corps who resided in Riverside California. Mr. Brown happily paid $10 for the video plus $5 for shipping and handling. I sent the video to Mr. Brown and began making plans to direct my newly acquired $15 to the Everest of bills that beckoned.

A few days later, though, I received a none-too-happy e-mail from Mr. Brown, who was displeased to learn his newly-acquired “KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park” was not an original retail copy, but was actually a bootleg video. This actually came as a surprise to me; while the video was being offered in a plain white box (which is how I originally received it), I did not recall the label and blithely assumed it was the genuine article. Mr. Brown seemed justified in his anger, as he was planning to present the video to an 11-year-old KISS addict as a birthday gift and he did not want to tender his felicitations with a bootleg video (the fact he was giving a second-hand video as a birthday gift seemed more peculiar to me, but that’s not relevant).

I offered Mr. Brown a full refund if he returned the video, which is standard retail practice (send it back first and get your money). Mr. Brown, however, decided to launch into full-throttle Crusader Rabbit mode and alerted the New York office of the F.B.I. that I was engaged in the enterprise of selling bootleg videos. My full contact data was provided to the feds and I believe Mr. Brown assumed that the New York F.B.I. would sweep in with search warrants and handcuffs and put me in a position where I’d be in a holding cell wearing an orange jumpsuit while making a collect call to Chris Gore for bail.

Of course, people get arrested for such exotic miscreancy like jewel theft, stock swindles, and murdering wealthy spouses. But for selling a bootleg video of “KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park”? That concept is actually more intelligent than the film itself, which isn’t saying much.

Get the rest of the story in part three of THE BOOTLEG FILES: “KISS MEETS THE PHANTOM OF THE PARK”>>>

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