September 10, 2004 in Seven

Crazy for you

By The Spokesman-Review
 

“Don’t Try This At Home”

When: 7:30 p.m. tonight

Where: Big Easy Concert House

Tickets: $23, through TicketsWest

Name: Steve-O.

Occupation: Self-mutilating druggie.

Drink of choice: Screwdriver.

Drug of choice: Marijuana.

Death of choice: Airplane crash.

Wait, airplane crash? With the perverse sense of humor of MTV’s most notorious scrotum-stapling, hotel balcony-diving, skull-cracking “Jackass,” one might guess his plane crash fetish would be more about the thrill than the kill.

But Steve-O fantasizes about his death the same way he does his life: It’s just another means of making him famous. That, and the fact that he’d rather take the express lane to hell than drown or burn to death.

“By the time you realize it’s going down, you’re left with just enough time to think your last thought and not dwell on it,” Steve-O said during a telephone interview from Los Angeles. “Plus, there is no way around being ‘The Man’ if you die in a plane crash. Unless you’ve got someone more famous than you on the plane, you get rad press.”

Steve-O, 30, has been getting “rad” press for crashing and burning since his MTV series “Jackass” took off as one of the highest-rated television series in MTV’s history. His 2002 “Jackass” movie earned $22 million domestically in its first weekend.

Add to that a second series, “Wildboyz,” (which is essentially “Jackass” in the jungle) and you’ve got a grotesque pop-culture phenomenon in the vein of a nightmarishly twisted circus sideshow.

But his most obscene stunts are reserved for his sickeningly successful run of “Don’t Try This At Home” videos.

“That’s all the stuff they won’t let me put on TV,” said Steve-O, who was just waking up at 2 p.m., his voice sounding somewhere between the peak of a raging hangover and the pit of a drunken stupor.

Steve-O’s latest DVD, “The Early Years,” is a documentary-style feature that follows Steve-O through his youth, showing a lifetime of footage censors have barred since his “Jackass” pilot, including pictures of him drinking alcohol as a toddler, and setting his face on fire and completing a perfect backflip before putting out the flames.

In one scene Steve-O takes pride in, X-rays show his cracked skull after he took a face-plant off a hotel balcony. Another shows his friends filming him as he lays half passed out, making a pillow of his own puke.

Now Steve-O and his “Jackass”/ “Wildboyz” posse, Weeman and Chris Pontius, are packing houses across the world with the “Don’t Try This At Home” tour, which stops tonight at the Big Easy Concert House. It’s an 18-and-older event, with full bar with ID. Local metalheads Five Foot Thick open the show.

“It’s basically a horrifying display of alcoholism and self-mutilation, but it’s all new stuff,” Steve-O said between puffs from a bowl of weed he loaded at the beginning of the interview.

Since it’s an adult show, Steve-O said he ought to be able to do the infamous scrotum-stapling stunt, which even made Howard Stern squirm, but local law enforcement would have to approve it first.

Steve-O was arrested in 2002 for violating obscenity laws in Louisiana for pulling out a similar bag of tricks.

Born Steve Glover, Steve-O has been stealing his dad’s camera and making whacked-out skateboarding videos since he was 15.

A college dropout and rabid alcoholic, Steve-O elevated his repertoire each time he turned on the camera. He later attended the only college that does not require tuition, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Clown College.

After getting some ink in a number of magazines, Steve-O got MTV to bite onto his crazy concept for a television series.

Getting paid to support his death-teasing habit and having it broadcast in living rooms around the world was the ultimate dream for the scrawny attention-whore.

“They couldn’t convince me not to put it on TV,” Steve-O said.

He has more scars on his skin than real teeth in his mouth (only “Freddy Kruger” nubs remain beneath his top grill of crowns). He’s on one drug or another virtually every time he’s on camera, indeed nearly every time he’s conscious. And he’s living out his dream, even if it kills him.

And it’s all because he figured he’d be dead long before he would get a chance to be famous.

“I was counting on failing in life and dying young,” Steve-O said. “So I figured I better make sure the camera was running.”


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