John Meneray wasn’t expecting much when he volunteered to help with a military display at a Vancouver fundraiser.
But the night quickly turned into a whirlwind of celebrity meetings for the South Surrey man, and ended with a “crazy” opportunity he won’t soon forget – a chance to appear on rock legend Gene Simmons’ reality show, Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels.
“This is just nuts,” Meneray told Peace Arch News last week.
“It’s still kind of surreal. I watched the show last night and it’s just – wow.”
Meneray, a former CN Police officer who for four years patrolled White Rock’s waterfront, scored the walk-on role at Operation: Western Front, a tribute dinner held to support and honour Canadian soldiers and their families. The 42-year-old was among about five from his Seaforth Highlanders reservist unit to volunteer to help at the March event.
Initially, he wasn’t expecting his participation to go beyond manning a weapons display and helping with set up and take down efforts. He soon learned his night had more in store when he was called on to escort a couple through the event.
He spent the next 90 minutes with a rock icon and the star’s former Playmate-of-the-Year wife.
“I find out who I’m escorting is Gene Simmons and Shannon Tweed,” Meneray said.
Just when he thought his night couldn’t get better, Meneray was invited to join the dinner as a military guest. He wasn’t at Simmons’ and Tweed’s table, but that didn’t end his connection with the celebrity pair.
During the evening’s auction, Meneray stepped to the stage as the former frontman for Kiss shared details of one of his items up for grabs: an appearance on Family Jewels.
Bidding started at $20,000, Meneray noted.
Building on the relationship established while escorting Simmons and Tweed, Meneray got up and headed for the stage. When Simmons spotted him coming, he readied the mic and Meneray went with the flow.
“I pick the mic up and I go, ‘what’s the military discount?’” Meneray said.
“I just wanted to make a joke and leave.”
The joke got a laugh, and it prompted the response that would cap off Meneray’s night – an offer from one bidder in the crowd to buy the role for the first uniformed military person to get on the stage.
“I was on it before he even finished what he was saying.”
Meneray and a lieutenant from Vancouver Island will be flown by private jet to the California set for taping in August.
He’s been sworn to secrecy as to exactly what situation he’ll play a role in, but he said the episode will be one of the season’s last.
Filming won’t be his only memory from that night, however.
Tweed tweeted a photo of her and Meneray cheek-to-cheek describing Meneray as her date for the night. Within minutes, Meneray had 80 new followers on his own Twitter account – including Tweed herself.
Months later, they’re still following each other on Twitter, and Meneray is still riding the high of that March night.
“It’s a crazy story,” he said. “I kept thinking, this isn’t going to get better.”