Josh, 17, Michigan
We're in a huge Detroit photo studio usually used to shoot cars. Josh disappears to transform himself with his mother's help. He comes back as a more confident, less inhibited person.
Josh was born in 1989, 7 years after Ace Frehley left Kiss, but he's happiest when he disguises himself as the (now middle-aged) heavy-metal guitarist.
"When I'm in this outfit, no one calls me Josh. They call me Ace. I get to act different, because I'm someone else."
Josh's mom is totally into Kiss too. His dad was a fan back in the day - he actually went to a few Kiss shows in the 1970s. But Mom discovered them at the same time as Josh, and now she cranks them in the car, even when Josh isn't there.
When he's not in disguise, Josh hangs out by the garbage can at the front of his school with the other music kids. School starts at 7:50 but they all get there at 7:30 to talk about what band they just found online or what show they're going to on the weekend.
The other kids, especially the jocks, look down on the music kids. This one football jock named Rubio always messes with Josh. Like when Josh is sprinting down the hallway late to class, Rubio will stick his foot out, slamming Josh face first into the floor, sending his books flying everywhere.
In spite of the abuse, Josh and his band mates decided to go to school in full Kiss regalia one day. "All the preps and jocks made fun of us, but we didn't care, because we weren't who we were before."
Josh says they made a bunch of friends that day. The next day, they came in and there girls were like, "Oh, that was you guys? That was so cool."
Josh first dressed like Frehley 2 years ago, in tenth grade, when he and his friend Justin played Kiss's "Rock and Roll All Nite" in their school's talent show. He walked out on stage to face 800 people and was petrified. The video of that performance shows Josh frozen in place as he screams the words, "I wanna rock and roll all night and party every day" over and over. But he says he's gotten over his stage fright and now jumps all over the place when he performs, like the real Ace.
He tells people he wants to be a history teacher - because he's supposed to. (And maybe because Gene Simmons was a seventh grade teacher before Kiss made it big.) But Josh dreams about how cool it would be "to walk up on the Grammys and get an award and have that loser Rubio on his couch seeing me on TV."
The story above is from Michael Franzini's One Hundred Young Americans, reprinted on Neatorama with permission.
Check out our review of the One Hundred Young Americans book and website - or get your copy here.