When a roaring T. rex dinosaur came through the door of one of our Los Angeles Public Storage locations recently, he caused quite a stir. There were screams.
“That’s the strangest thing I’ve ever seen come into my job!” said Denise, manager of the location where Kojo the YouTube star stayed during his tour of Southern California. “It was scary at the moment, but then I had to laugh about it.”
The lifelike animatronic T. rex earned viral status for playing pranks on unsuspecting pedestrians, partygoers and anyone else in his path, even Public Storage employees
We chatted with KHA Entertainment, which owns Kojo and produces his videos. Co-Owner Billy Brenner is not the man inside the suit, but he was able to give the “inside scoop” on the Kojo phenomenon, powered by a 100-pound foam latex costume and supported by a steel frame. Two very strong puppeteers take turns animating the 15-foot-long-by-4-foot-wide monster.
KHA Entertainment started as a costume rental company, Billy told us. But when popular YouTube prankster Roman Atwood did a video with Kojo that went viral in December 2012, they knew they were on to something!
Now Kojo gets calls to attend a multitude of corporate marketing events and conventions. He’s appeared at Comic-Con, gone to nightclubs and even took a stroll through Compton during his recent trip to California. Kojo hits the road with his own crew as a staffed production.
Did Billy ever think Kojo would become so popular?
“No, we thought it would just be a local thing. We figured it would be popular in our hometown. But to be honest, we do very little in New York City, we’re always getting calls to ship him out.” Kojo travels by road freight in a custom 9-foot-by-4-foot case. To prepare him for the trip, his “skin” is removed and his frame is partially disassembled.
While Kojo is primarily stored at the KHA Entertainment headquarters in Central New Jersey, Public Storage became the dinosaur’s home away from home during the recent bookings in Los Angeles. There, Billy’s team could leave Kojo secure, fully assembled and ready to go pranking directly from one of our large, drive-up spaces.
A crew of three to four people accompany Kojo and act as dinosaur bodyguards to protect him from overzealous people in the crowd. “The visibility is kind of low for the person inside the costume and people can sometimes try random things like pull his tail. If someone tries to jump on his back and ride him – which someone did try one time – the puppeteer can get hurt.”
Yes, anything can happen when you’re in the business of scaring people. But does it make people angry? “Very rarely,” said Billy. “They’re only scared for a split second but then the absurdity hits them and they don’t have a chance to get angry, they just become amazed by the costume and they can’t believe that it just happened to them. Then they usually just want to take pictures with us.”
So what happened when Kojo was set loose on the team at Public Storage? “That was a lot of fun,” Billy said. “We opened up a storage unit and we figured while we’re there, we might as well send him into the office. I was following a little bit behind him and as soon as his head went through the door I heard someone screaming and I saw the girl behind the counter half laughing and half crouched behind the counter!”
See for yourself in the video:
Do you keep anything interesting in your Public Storage space? We’re always looking for interesting customers to showcase on the blog. Tell us about it in the comments below.