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Originally published Tuesday, May 13, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Who knew he was such a catch?

The other day, I was having a TV Addict moment. The stars of Discovery Channel's "The Deadliest Catch" were hosting a private party at Duke's...

Seattle Times columnist

The other day, I was having a TV Addict moment. The stars of Discovery Channel's "The Deadliest Catch" were hosting a private party at Duke's in West Seattle, and although I: A.) don't watch that show and B.) never go to West Seattle because it seems far, I went because if I don't attend closed-door celebrity functions and report back, then what am I good for? Discuss.

Now because I am a serious journalist, I prepared for this outing by TiVoing a few episodes of "The Deadliest Catch." But I quickly lost interest because, frankly, I'm not that interested in reality shows that don't involve Real Housewives, the most dramatic rose ceremony ever or vapid conversations between Lauren and Audrina.

So when I arrived at the party with my friend Nicole and we were greeted by a gentleman wearing a Harley Davidson jacket and snakeskin boots, we had no idea who he was. He ushered us through the buffet line — lots of crab legs and clam chowder, natch — and invited us to join him on the deck for dinner. Nicole and I had a quick nonverbal conversation by reading each other's minds — "Who is this guy?" "Should we eat with him?" "Sure, why not?" — and sat down.

This could have been awkward, but Captain Mysterious was as genuine and charming as Tim Gunn, if Tim Gunn had facial hair and kind of a potty mouth. In between insisting that we taste his food, he graciously signed autographs ("Shut Up and Fish!") and posed for pictures with dozens of fans who approached the table — including one who had skipped his son's kindergarten orientation after winning tickets to attend the party. ("They're both once-in-a-lifetime experiences," he explained.) We tried, inconspicuously, to read the captain's autograph. It looked like a scribble.

He regaled us with stories about his home in Maple Valley — "I've got a hot tub in my room and a hot tub on my porch" — and offered to give us a ride in his red Corvette. At one point, he pulled out a digital camera from its holster on his belt (another Tim Gunn fashion "don't") and showed us pictures he'd taken of a 40-foot billboard of himself and other stars of the show in Times Square in New York. "The police recognize me there," he said. "They call me 'Kid.' "

Around the time he started throwing ice cubes at "Phil" — that's Capt. Phil of the Cornelia Marie, and do you like how I say that with such authority? — we decided our work was done. That is, after we figured out the identity of our dinner companion. We pointed him out to a nice lady who appeared to be in charge of something.

"That's Capt. Johnathan Hillstrand of the Time Bandit," she said. And then it all made sense: About a year ago, The Seattle Times tried to give him a makeover. He wouldn't go for it.

But you know what? He kind of makes it work.

("The Deadliest Catch" airs at 9 p.m. Tuesdays on Discovery Channel.)

Pamela Sitt: 206-464-2376 or psitt@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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