Are you ready for the O.J. Simpson memorabilia museum?

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The kid peeked out from the window of his mother’s car and saw a white sheet with a body beneath it.
It was Monday, June 13, 1994. The kid was 6, and his mother had picked him up early (he had a stomach ache) from the YMCA on Bundy Drive in Brentwood. He didn’t know the significance at the time, but that white sheet was part of one of the most notorious crime scenes in history. Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman had been knifed to death at that location, and O.J. Simpson was the main suspect.
“I thought it was creepy,” said Adam Papagan, now 29.
Today, Papagan is acutely aware of the significance of his drive-by glimpse.
On Aug. 18, his exhibit of O.J. memorabilia — he calls it “murderabilia” — will be on display for one week at the Coagula Museum in Los Angeles. Papagan, the curator of the exhibit, has collected more than 300 items of O.J. lore — from a replica white Ford Bronco to “Free OJ” T-shirts to an autographed helmet to three different O.J. board games.
The charge will be $5 ($4 if you buy in advance). The exhibit is called “The OJ Museum.”
Here’s what you won’t see in his exhibit: Stuff from the investigation.
“This is not about the crime,” Papagan said. “This is about the O.J. phenomenon. Legally, he’s not guilty (of murder), but of course, he did it. He’s an awful guy, but I don’t have a personal vendetta against him.”
He knows some people, maybe many people, will find this O.J. emporium offensive. But he says the O.J. case is a cultural touchstone. Everybody knows where they were, what they were doing when they heard about O.J. and the murders. They remember the 1990s and Bill Clinton and the rise of tabloid TV; they remember Kato Kaelin.
Tanya Brown, whose sister was murdered, didn’t want to talk about the O.J. exhibit.
“I’m not making any more statements,” she said. “My life’s gone on … The Browns have moved on.”
Mat Gleason, curator of the Coagula Curatorial (974 Chung King Road in Los Angeles) said the public’s fascination with all things O.J. hasn’t waned.
“The exhibit will work anywhere,” Gleason said. “It will stand on the strength of the interesting objects that Adam has gathered.”
Gleason said he heard a statistic that 80 percent of Americans weren’t interested in O.J. Simpson during the trial. But that means 20 percent were interested.
“So, one out of five people will want to see this exhibit,” Gleason said.
O.J. has existed in the peripheries of Papagan’s life for a long time. As a young child, the story was on his television set. Then he went to middle school with O.J.’s youngest son, Justin.
He said he always felt sympathy for Justin Simpson. “One minute his life was awesome,” Papagan said. “Then it wasn’t.”
Papagan went to UCLA, but he’s not into the sports rivalry between O.J.’s school and his own.
“I knew he was a good player, that’s about all,” Papagan said.
Papagan grew up wanting to be a talk show host. In 2004, he started the “Del Talk Show” (a play on fast food restaurant Del Taco) on public access television. He’s been the host of several shows over the years, most recently an interview show called “There’s a Place” on DromeBox.com.
The bulk of his income comes from his tour business. He drives people around Los Angeles. Many, he says, want to see the sights made famous by the O.J. case. In 2018, he plans to start a strictly O.J. tour.
A few years ago, a friend gave him a “Free O.J.” T-shirt. It was as a snarky gift, but Papagan noticed how much conversation it provoked. It got to the point where he couldn’t walk down the street without being stopped by someone who wanted to talk about O.J.
“I had to stop wearing the shirt,” he said.
Then, this summer, he talked to a friend who works at the “Museum of Death” on Hollywood Boulevard. That museum features photos from the Manson and Black Dahlia crime scenes. It has autopsy and taxidermy instruments and replicas of execution devices.
He and his friend came up with the idea for an O.J. museum.
“Just because something is upsetting doesn’t mean it can’t have an artistic interpretation,” Papagan said.
His exhibit, like so many of the details of the 1994 murder, made the pages of the National Enquirer last week under the header: “Awful Artifacts.” Papagan thought that was funny because several of the “awful artifacts” are National Enquirer editions from the 1990s.
The big-ticket item from Papagan’s collection is the white Ford Bronco. He is quick to point out that the Bronco involved in the infamous slow-speed chase wasn’t the only one involved in the O.J. case. The slow-speed Bronco driven by O.J. friend Al Cowlings was manufactured in 1993.
The white Bronco O.J. owned — which was discovered with blood stains inside — was manufactured in 1994. Papagan raised $8,000 in a kickstarter campaign and bought a 1994 Bronco.
“The Bronco is going to be the selfie station,” Papagan said. “Everybody wants their picture in front of the Bronco.”




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