It was the “Crime of the Century” that captured everyone’s imagination in 1995. The prime suspect: football hero-turned-actor and TV pitchman O.J.Simpson — accused of a heinous double murder.
There among all the chaos and conspiracy theories was Kato Kaelin, the blond surfer dude who may have been a hapless house guest or a key witness to it all. In the 21-plus since the case, Mr. Kaelin has tried to escape the shadow of that fateful day. He has worked as an actor, clothing designer, reality TV star and frequent talk show guest.
But no matter what he does, he will always be “Kato from the O.J. Trial.” And that’s sad. Because if you spend more than a few minutes with Mr. Kaelin, you find a funny, likable guy who was just at the wrong place at the wrong time.
At Stan Lee’s Comic-Con Mr. Kaelin, now 57, talked all things O.J., his clothing line and the rereleased prehistoric horror B-movie “B.C. Butcher.”
Question: Why are you here? And why are you in the Troma Films booth?
Answer: I am in the Troma booth because I am in the feature film called “B.C. Butcher,” which is on DVD. I’m in that film. I don’t want to brag, but I dominate!
Q: What is plot of the film ?
A: I play Rex the caveman, and B.C. Butcher is a character that appears to the women in their nightmares, and he comes alive and starts taking over by killing the women.
Q: So are you the monster in this picture?
A: No, I’m the savior. B.C. Butcher is the killer.
Q: Who is your favorite costumed character you’ve seen walking around today?
A: There is this guy dressed up and acting as a journalist. I kid.
Q: Is he the same guy currently interviewing a guy who is acting as an actor?
A: I’m acting as Kato. I kid. I’m having a great time here. I think it was great to be asked to come here by Troma president Lloyd Kaufman.
Q: What is the most common thing people say to you when you do an autograph signing?
A: Most people say, “I didn’t know you had a personality.”
Q: Away from the acting, you also have a clothing line, yes?
A: I do. That is called SlackerWear.com. My partner is Rhonda Shear. She invented the “Ahh Bra.” She is at Home Shopping Network.
[SlackerWear.com] is casual wear, mostly for guys. We are launching a women’s line called “Sweet Potatoes and Hot Potatoes” Kato Potatoes. And it’s going well.
I’ve got my hands in a lot of different things.
Q: Any other TV gigs in works?
A: We’ll see if I sell this or not, but I have a show called “Wrong Place, Wrong Time.” I’m working with ICM Partners. It’s a terrific show about people that are caught up — other people besides myself — who are ancillary to crimes. A third party. And the series looks at how life changes for them.
Q: What is the strangest thing you’ve ever been asked to sign?
A: This is my third autograph show. It’s just been pictures. Nothing too bizarre. I’m waiting for that. No breasts yet. Unfortunately I’ve been asked to sign my own butt. Just me asking myself.
The people I meet here are just terrific.
Q: People come to these shows to meet their heroes. Who would you most like to meet?
A: My parents passed away. I would like to see them again.
Q: That’s kinda sweet.
A: I just want people to understand that life is very short. Never judge someone. I was judged in the court of public opinion. And I’m really just on earth to make things better. I goof around, but I always try pay it forward.
Q: Why do people still talk about the O.J. Simpson trail so many years later?
A: I think it’s because there was the [Emmy-winning] ESPN show [“Made in America: O.J. Simpson”] and the FX series “People vs. O.J. Simpson.” It was such a landmark case. The first really televised case.
Yeah, it will always be out there. Nothing I can do.
Q: What do you think the greatest misconception about you is?
A: I think people automatically think there is not a lot to Kato. But you really got to get to know me. To know me is to love me. People always say, “Oh his 15 minutes of fame” are up. Well I feel like I’m in my 16th minute. I keep going, keep motivated, keep hustling and try to do so much.