Hang The O.j.
Kato Kaelin is Pretty Sure O.J. Simpson Killed Nicole
by jeff johnson
Vice: People portray you as a loafer. As a houseboy. As a man willing to invite himself on a burger run with one of the greatest players in NFL history and not even possess the decency to steer the guy to In-N-Out instead of McDonald’s.
Kato Kaelin: That’s the biggest misconception I get. I do work. I’ve had my SAG card for seven years now.
You did commercials in the 1980s, right?
My first audition in California was for a Coca-Cola commercial, and I got it. Then I got a part in a film—a lead—in a movie called Beach Fever. If you’re ever on an aircraft carrier you might see it. Then I thought things might be easy, but it is very competitive here. So I worked at a restaurant called Bobby McGee’s, where employees dress up as a character, poke fun at the customers, and have fun. It was all actors.
And as the 1980s were unfolding, you also got married and had a kid? No one talks about that.
Yeah. I got married very young. I don’t know if you know anyone who was actually a virgin at marriage, but I was one of ’em. It’s that Catholic upbringing. In hindsight, I think that was a mistaaaaaake! When you have your reception at Chuck E. Cheese, you know you are too young.
Maybe it was your pure midwestern youth. You grew up near Milwaukee and then went to a university in a small city in Wisconsin. When and why would you leave placid Eau Claire, Wisconsin?
The whole thrust of me going to California was that I had a TV show at school with my friends and I said, “Oh, my God, I gotta do something bigger than Eau Claire.” I got that bug. I moved out to California in 1980.
But I heard you moved to California thinking you might play baseball?
In high school, my baseball team won the state championship, and I made the varsity team in Eau Claire my freshman year of college. I got a little cocky. I eventually transferred to Cal State, Fullerton, a great baseball school. I got out here, looked at the team, and compared to them I looked like I was maybe 12 or 13. This was when Mark McGwire played for USC, and they were in our conference. All these guys were just hulks. So I said, “No…” and then I started emceeing events in our college pub. And then I did a play and that was it.
What were the circumstances that led you to meeting O.J. Simpson?
After a while, I started a casting business with a partner, an acting buddy named Grant Kramer. Grant also had an acting studio and was on General Hospital. [Ed—That would be The Young and the Restless] We formed an extras company. We had a contract with a company that did these B films at the time. Lorenzo Lamas was in a lot of them. And Don “The Dragon” Wilson, who is a karate guy. I was a wrangler, so my hours were 14 to 15 hours a day, and that was pretty much all I did. The business did well, so Grant and I took a vacation to Aspen, where I met Nicole—Grant already knew her. I hit it off with her as friends. I was living in Hermosa Beach at the time, and the commute to work sucked, and she said I could move into her guesthouse in Brentwood. That’s how it all started. I lived one year at Nicole’s and six months at O.J.’s before June 12 happened.
So, a typical day in your life pre-June 12 wasn’t spent sponging off O.J. or hanging out with him all day?
O.J. and I are not guys that hang out. I was living in the back house, far from his house, but if I saw him, he was very friendly. If he called, I went out of my way to say, “Hey, what’s going on?” He has a lot of friends, but if he was lonely, he would definitely want to do something. He’d knock on the door…
Did you guys have any heart-to-heart chats in those six months, or did your relationship stay superficial?
At first, things were superficial, and then there were moments where he was going through phases—dating girls, wondering why he couldn’t find the right one or why Nicole was dating other people, and we’d talk. Bottom line, I think O.J. is the kind of guy that wants his cake and to eat a lot of cake from other people, too. He really does. He loves to be adulated by the crowd. He loves when people come up to him. But I don’t know a lot of what was going on in his house. I was out pretty much every night. I’m not really a partier, drugger kinda guy, but I’m around friends all the time. Always have stuff going on.
What was a night out like for you before the murder?
I guess dating girls, because I met a lot of them on film sets. And when I say dating, I mean just going out and having fun. You know how some people nowadays have car phones that actually work? I’d drive around with friends with this huge princess phone, with the rotary dial and a cord. As a joke. I’d make believe I was talking to people. And as we pulled up to another car, I would roll down the window and say, “Excuse me, it’s for you…” and I’d talk to the girl in the car next to me.
LA antics. Is O.J. sort of rudderless?
He golfs and plays cards a lot. He had a contract at NBC at the time, I think, announcing Notre Dame football games. He was on the board of 12 companies, and now, during the trial, they’ve all dropped him. One was Swiss Army Knives.
Did he charge you rent?
I’ve taken a beating as being this freeloader, but at Nicole’s I paid rent, and at O.J.’s, he said, “I don’t need any of your money.” I offered him rent money every month.
On the night of the murder, you tagged along with O.J. to McDonald’s… you couldn’t get him to go to In-N-Out or anything?
I run 10 to 15 miles a day. I do marathons in LA. I was starving, and I invited myself. I didn’t know we were going to McDonald’s. In retrospect, I think O.J. was hesitant to take me along, as if in his head he was going, “Oh, no, what do I do?” I think he was plotting something. I think I screwed up all sorts of timing for him.
Photo from AP
Close. Nicole’s house that I lived in was on Gretna Green, not Bundy. But she moved to Bundy, and O.J. lived on Rockingham. During the trial, they’ve tried it and made the drive in a minute or so.
When you lived with O.J. would you still hang out with Nicole?
It was sort of off and on with Nicole. She and O.J. had broken up. They tried to reconcile and had dated, but I think she thought I was friendly with O.J. and not her, but that was the furthest thing from the truth. I just don’t hang around with the Brentwood crew. There is a lot of keeping up with the Joneses—who’s got the Range Rover, that sort of thing. My friends like to go to dive bars.
Did you find a new place to live after the murders?
I moved out pretty much immediately. I moved in with friends in West Hollywood.
Do you get stalked?
It is the most amazing experience of not going out. I’m an extrovert having to become an introvert. I hate everything about it. I’m on TV every day. People in the streets want to fight me all the time.
I have death threats. Remember Talk Radio, that film by Oliver Stone? It feels like that. I have to have three security guards walk me out to the car. People have an opinion of the trial, and if it is not going the way they want it to—well… Everybody wants to be connected to this. This is reality on TV.
A reality television show?
Yeah, it is how TV will be in the future. This O.J. thing is gigantic. I don’t know. I hope in ten years I can say that things are phenomenal. People might understand that I’m a good person, who was thrust into the spotlight. Maybe I’ll do some comedy in clubs in 15 years where I say, “Never has a man who has done so little been recognized by so many.” My whole thing is no more living with NFL players. I’ll upgrade and move into Phil Spector’s or something. I’ll do car shows! That will be a good income.
The Phil Spector part sounds cool. He seems pretty low-key. Any groupies?
Do you take advantage of that?
I’ll just say that at this time I am single. And I know that at this time in my life, there is no possible way I will put a relationship or a girl through this kind of thing because it is too crazy.
Do you think your opinion of O.J.’s guilt or innocence may change from what it is today?
If anything, it will become more and more that I am sure this guy is guilty. It never started out “not guilty.” But it was like, can it be possible? I think in the future, my opinion will become, “Yeah, this guy is so guilty.”
Since you know the guy, you kind of don’t want to have that opinion right now?
Exactly. It’s like, “Could he have done this?” I can’t come out with an opinion now, because of the trial. I’m hoping it is not true.
It must be strange even suspecting that someone you were sort of close to is capable of something like this.
Growing up in Wisconsin, with the exception of Ed Gein and Jeffrey Dahmer, you didn’t know people like this.
Yeah. With Dahmer, the kids were like, “Hey, Jeff Dahmer! EAT ME! It’s just an expression! Please!!”
What do you see yourself doing in the future?
I’d like to do a show called The 16th Minute, where I give people with 15 minutes of fame a 16th minute. I will shoot a pilot for it.
And as the years roll on, what perspective do you think you might get on the trial? What’s one thing you think will stick out to you?
That the media is all about using other people and their agenda is about themselves and they can ruin people’s lives. People like to see other people’s pain.
That’s fair enough, thanks.