He helped propel “Jackass Forever” to become one of the year’s biggest blockbusters.
On May 1, Steve-O hits Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in West Virginia.
“I’ve been doing stand-up for 12 years now, really grinding on the comedy circuit, and I got to a point where I graduated to theaters and now I’ve made my stand-up fully multi-media,” Steve-O told WTOP. “The show is called ‘The Bucket List’ and it’s all these things that I never would have been allowed to do for ‘Jackass’ that I did with no insurance.”
He says we’ll see plenty of stunts that are “flagrantly illegal.”
“I got a medical professional to administer stolen anesthesia drugs into an IV in my arm while I was hauling ass on a bicycle,” Steve-O said. “I got another medical professional to put a four-inch needle in my spine and inject a drug that paralyzed me while in a full sprint. … There’s another where I’m butt naked in an airplane with a man strapped to my back.”
He says he’s been planning some of these stunts for decades.
“I could call it the Bottom of the Barrel Tour … knocking out ideas that I have been sitting on forever,” Steve-O said. “One idea goes back to seventh grade. I remember hearing a joke, ‘What’s the definition of macho? A man who jogs home from his own vasectomy.’ … I call the idea The Vasectomy Olympics. That makes full-grown men faint in the audience.”
Born in London in 1974, Steve-O grew up in five different countries.
“My dad was a corporate executive for American multinational companies, I had a super privileged upbringing … but I just wasn’t destined to work a normal job,” Steve-O said. “I went to the University of Miami and my plan was to be a creative advertising guy. … I dropped out and decided I wanted to become a famous crazy stuntman in 1993.”
He was homeless for three years before finally finding his path.
“In 1997, I found out about Clown College and I thought that if I could graduate from Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College … people would take me more seriously as a stunt man,” Steve-O said. “It helped me stop selling drugs for a living and I worked as a circus clown right up to the day I started filming the ‘Jackass’ series.”
His life changed when he sent videos to “Big Brother” magazine editor Jeff Tremaine.
“I made it my business to track them down and get into the pages and videos of this crazy skateboarding magazine,” Steve-O said. “Jeff Tremaine reached out to his buddy Spike Jonze, they’d known each other since Spike was 12 [and] put together a VHS tape of ‘Big Brother’ videos minus the skateboarding, added in some ‘CKY’ … and MTV went for it.”
Thus, “Jackass” became a pop-culture hit from 2000-2007, making Steve-O a star by swallowing a live goldfish and inducing himself to vomit, only for the fish to still be alive.
“That was my very first thing I taped … within 30 minutes of washing off my clown makeup for the last time in the circus,” Steve-O said. “I was working in a flea market circus in South Florida and they came to film me. … As soon as I got done barfing it up, [Johnny] Knoxville said, ‘Well, Mr. O, if you weren’t already famous, I’d say you’re gonna be famous now.'”
“It was my job to get bitten by an alligator,” Steve-O said. “I got away without being bit, but it was a pretty iconic bit. I’d say that was my biggest thing in that first movie except maybe getting my back tattooed with my self portrait. … I turned down putting the car up my butt [in favor of late co-star Ryan Dunn]. … That actually worked out pretty well for me.”
The movie was so profitable — grossing $79.5 million worldwide off just a $5 million budget — that the cast returned for the successful sequel “Jackass: Number Two” (2006), featuring Steve-O in The Fart Mask, The Butt Chug, The Leech Healer and The Fish Hook.
“The Fish Hook was my biggest one in the second movie,” Steve-O said. “I put the fish hook through my eye twice because we had two days of shooting for that bit. The Fart Mask we shot on two days as well because I barfed before I even got the mask on.”
The third movie “Jackass 3D” (2010) featured the iconic Poo Cocktail Supreme where Steve-O was launched up into the air inside a porta potty with feces flying all over him.
“That’s gotta be my biggest bit of all time,” Steve-O said. “OSHA [Occupational Safety & Health Administration] has a strict rule against contact with human feces, so for that porta-potty bit, they found a company that will sell as much dog poop as you want. … The name of the company was We Do Doo Doo. … It was every bit as disgusting as you’d imagine.”
The latest installment “Jackass Forever” (2022) was a box-office hit as Steve-O braved a beehive on his junk and fell on a treadmill in a marching band. He’s blown away that audiences still remember and appreciate the “Jackass” crew after all of these years.
“Ten years ago when ‘Jackass 3D’ came out, I don’t think most people had video on their cell phones,” Steve-O said. “There’s been so much fragmentation of media. … The fact that we could rise above that noise is a big deal. … In the past, ‘Jackass’ was a thorn in the side of critics. … Years later, the critics are swooning, which we think is hilarious.”
We ended our interview with a rapid-fire Q&A about his “Jackass” co-stars:
“I think of his [penis].”
“He’s a footage blocker. He went out of his way to not get pranked.”
“He’s funny, man. He’s witty.”
“Dave England is super creative and even wittier.:
“Danger gets picked on a lot and it bothers me. I’m the one guy who doesn’t bully Danger.”
“Bam, I’m just rooting for him to figure it out. For Bam, the word is ‘tragic,’ really.”
The late Ryan Dunn
“Ryan was just like: here’s the epitome of ‘Jackass.'”