Bu La 'ia: The Legend Continues

Published: May. 26, 2011 at 3:31 PM HST|Updated: May. 26, 2011 at 3:35 PM HST
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Kaui Hill
Kaui Hill

By Keahi Tucker - bio | email

MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Whatever happened to Bu La 'ia? Hawaii News Now set out to find the Hawaiian Superman.

Since his rise to fame in the 1990s, the comedian Kaui Hill has lived on five different islands.

He's not in the phonebook and his old friends lost touch long ago. When we finally made contact, Kaui didn't even know his address.

Eventually, we found him at the end of a dirt road in Waikapu, Maui.

It's hard to believe it's been nearly 20 years since Bu La 'Ia began making people squirm, making nice ladies run in fear and making his own people look in the mirror.

Throughout the '90s, Bu La 'Ia's TV show and comedy albums drew a line across the state, separating those who didn't like it or didn't get it, and the rest of us who couldn't stop laughing.

Now, fast forward a generation to a place where time stands still.

Even without the hair and missing tooth, the voice is unmistakable.

But don't be fooled, this is not Bu La 'Ia. It's Kaui Hill. A 45-year-old father of fourth with another baby on the way.

These days, he sells solar panels, but most of all, he's a farmer working the land that's fed his family for hundreds of years in Waikapu Valley.

If you rewind far enough, it starts from his days as a professional surfer. A few minor bits on a surf show led to his own show as the "Hawaiian Superman."

"I just had my wife point the camera (and) at one point I just started pointing at myself," Hill said. "We can conquer the land and we can get back the aina, eat the laulau Hawaii."

Raw and edgy, the anti-establishment hero began cashing in.

"Yeah, I had crazy Bu La 'Ia money. My first check after the first CD it said 'Kaui Hill $70,000.'"

Then came his first run for governor in 1994. At age 28, he was too young. Using his brother's ID and a scribbled signature, he made it.

Of course, Hill was later disqualified and almost got into big trouble, almost going to jail for fraud.

Life was getting complicated.

"It got overwhelming because I started working for HIC and then Nissan and then other people."

And then the downfall came. The personal demons, the run-ins with the law -- Kaui Hill was burned out.

But he never gave up and Bu' never really went away.

He's older, wiser and perhaps even funnier.

Every true Hollywood story ends with a comeback, and Hill says he's ready.

Copyright 2011 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.