Wizard World and the strange power of celebrity
Kato Kaelin, who has his own complicated relationship with fame, comes to Tulsa to serve as the emcee for a pop culture convention.
Courtesy CBS Cleveland
To paraphrase William Shakespeare, “Some are born a celebrity, some achieve celebrity, and some have celebrity status thrust upon them.”
Perhaps few people could appreciate this sentiment more than Kato Kaelin.
For those unfamiliar, Kaelin was thrust into the national spotlight as a witness during the O.J. Simpson murder case in 1994 and 1995, achieving an improbable status as a minor celebrity during the trial.
More than two decades have come and gone since Kaelin, with his long blond hair, boyish charm and sly smile, was called to testify on the witness stand, but he has since been making the most of his time in various forms of media and projects.
Fans of Kaelin can catch up with him this month, when he comes to Tulsa as part of the Wizard World Comic Con from Sept. 7-9 at the Cox Business Center.
“I can’t wait to be out in Tulsa,” Kaelin says. “We did the Wizard World Comic Con show in Oklahoma City last year, and it went great. I think I was in Tulsa about 10 years ago, so I’m looking forward to coming back. It’s going to be a great show.”
While the announcement of Kaelin’s presence at a pop culture convention best-known for science fiction, comic books and various fandoms might seem an unlikely inclusion, his role will be that of host.
“So, at Wizard World, while the celebrities are signing the autographs and meeting the public, we’re going to have an entertainment stage, which will feature continuous, ongoing entertainment,” Kaelin says. “I’m going to be the emcee of that, and if you come to the con, you’ll see me. Everybody that walks in, they’ll stop by, and see me first.”
He says he was brought into the Wizard World Comic Con family by John Maatta, president and CEO of Wizard World. Maatta happened to be in Austin, Texas, where he saw Kaelin emcee a show.
“John called me late, late, late when I was doing a show in Austin and told me that I was going to be an emcee for him at the next show,” Kaelin recalls. “That was honestly one of the best phone calls I’ve ever received. It really changed my life in terms of helping me to make contacts and meet people. Maatta is doing great things with Wizard World, and I’m thankful to be included.”
Kaelin’s emcee duties will be nightly, Friday through Sunday, during which time, he’ll “work the audience” and “basically have fun with them.”
“We’ll have the shows going on, but I’ll be going through the audience and talking to people, having fun with them, telling jokes, giving away gifts — that kind of thing,” he says. “We’ll be doing some trivia giveaways related to the artists who are at the Con, and of course, we’ll end every show with Kato-roake (karaoke singing with Kaelin).”
Cosplayers — a common sight at nearly all science-fiction and comic conventions — are among the most positive people Kaelin has ever met.
“I think cosplayers are a different breed of people, and I mean that in the best way. They’re just full of kindness, and it really shows,” he says.
A comic book reader himself as a boy, Kaelin says he and his brothers would often quarrel about the best superheroes.
“I have three other brothers, and my brothers had mostly Marvel and some of the DC Comics,” he says. “When you’re growing up as a kid, you always want to ‘be’ one of the characters, so there were a lot of fights over that. I was the Silver Surfer and Thor. My other brother was Iron Man. I can just remember as a kid, laying on the floor and just looking at comics and going, ‘Wow, it’s a whole other world.’ It was a great escape.”
Before being connected with Wizard World, Kaelin has kept busy working as a radio and TV show host, as well as appearing in various movies, most recently, “The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time” — a project of which he’s particularly proud.
“Being in a ‘Sharknado’ movie was on my bucket list, so I’m pretty happy that I got to be in one, which, of course, I called ‘Shark-Kato,’” he says. “I do have a project coming up that will show people a different side of me, though, called ‘Wrong Place, Wrong Time.’ It’s a true crime show that examines people whose lives were changed by being on the sidelines of crime and how their lives could have been different if they hadn’t been, as the name says, in the wrong place at the wrong time. I’m usually a joker, but this will let people see my more serious side.”
Although Kaelin’s popularity might be seeing a renaissance of sorts, he’s fully aware of the unconventional and tragic start of his rise to fame.
“You know, I understand completely how I got into the public eye — through a horrific situation. I realize that,” he says. “What the Goldmans and the Browns experienced was unbearable, and there’s no way that anyone could ever mistake it as anything but that.”
However, Kaelin says, “I already had my goal in mind when that happened. I didn’t ever change my original goal, which was always to get into showbiz, but I’m very aware of what was kind of the ‘birth’ of my career, the ‘birth’ of Kato. It’s sort of like I was born out of tragedy, but I’ve tried to make the most of that, to put good into the world and to be a positive influence in whatever I do.”
Asked what he most enjoys about hosting shows such as Wizard World Comic Con, Kaelin became thoughtful.
“You know, I’ve said the crowds are amazing — their support of one another is incredible,” he says, “but doing the shows gives me the opportunity to make people feel good, to see people leave happier and more upbeat than when they came in. There’s no feeling like that.
“I believe that when you make people happy, they make the people around them happy, and the world becomes a much better place.”
Wizard World Comic Con attendees can see Kaelin’s positivity for themselves, but until then, they can follow Kaelin on his Facebook page, Twitter or Instagram pages at @Kato_Kaelin.
For more information, visit wizardworld.com/comiccon/tulsa.