Kato Kaelin is best known as O.J. Simpson’s houseguest turned witness in the ex-football legend’s 1995 double murder trial in the deaths of ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ronald Goldman.
Nearly 20 years after taking the stand in what was dubbed the “Trial of the Century,” Kaelin, 55, has teamed with longtime friend and St. Petersburg entrepreneur Rhonda Shear, creator of the best-selling Ahh Bra, to launch his own lounge-wear line called Kato Potato. The line, which includes robes, pajamas, socks, shorts and T-shirts for men, women and children, will launch in the fall. We caught up with Kaelin this week while he was here working with Shears.
Q: What was the inspiration for your Kato Potato lounge-wear line.
Answer: After the trial, I went on a lot of talk shows, and everyone always joked about me being a slacker and a freeloader, being on someone’s couch, and everyone would laugh and I’d laugh. I kept thinking, ‘Is that really a bad thing?’ I don’t think so. When someone gives you lemons, you make lemonade, or you buy some vodka and have a drink.
Q: Does it bother you that nearly 20 years after the trial people still think of you as a slacker or a freeloader?
Answer: I think a freeloader and a slacker are two different things. Freeloaders don’t pay their way for anything. A slacker can be a very hard worker that slacks off when it’s time to slack off.
Q: So your lounge wear line targets slackers?
Answer: I don’t know anyone who doesn’t say they are going to veg out on the couch or in front of the television set and just chill. Well, now they can do it in Kato Potato. That’s why the tag line is “embrace your inner slacker.”
Q: Why should people buy lounge wear from Kato Kaelin?
Answer: Because no one knows how to get comfortable like Kato (laughing). And this isn’t a cheaply made line. It’s classy and comfortable. It has pockets with zippers for the remote and a pocket for your Doritos or Cheetos. If it ends in ‘o,’ you should wear Kato.
Q: Many people think they know you from the (Simpson) trial. Do they?
Answer: I don’t think they got to know the real me under the circumstances. There was a trial going on, and it was such a tragedy. Two people lost their lives. My first time being in a courtroom was for a murder trial, and my life all of a sudden becomes public. There was a time when I became a caricature of what people wanted to believe.
Q: So what do you want people to know about you?
Answer: I’m really about the light, not about the dark. I love happy. I was never this hard party guy. I never stopped working. I work hard, and I’ve never been a freeloader. I’m the complete opposite. (Since the trial) you haven’t heard anything negative about me because that’s not me.
Q: It’s going on 20 years since the trial. Do you think O.J. was guilty of murder, or is the killer still at large?
Answer: My opinion is that O.J. is guilty. O.J. did it. He’s in jail for something else, but I think he did it.