by Leah Sottile
Be careful what you wish for," Steve-O says through a rumbling smoker's cough, "because all of the clich & eacute;s about the price of fame are true."
This coming from the man (yes, man -- he's 30) who's found fame, fortune and a Victoria's Secret model for a girlfriend by wearing a diaper loaded with crawdads, by snorting a live earthworm up his nose and coughing it out his mouth, and by stapling his own scrotum to his inner thigh. He's shamelessly notorious for all of it, and while all the baggage that goes along with fame can get to him, he says that he wouldn't trade any of it.
Perhaps that's because this is the same guy who, when asked if there was anything too painful for him to do, answered that minimum-wage work would be the worst pain he could imagine enduring.
True physical pain is tolerable, however, because it means money for Steve-O, and he's had no qualms of doing hilariously strange, sadistic and shocking things to his body to continue raking in the bones. Yep, he's one sick puppy.
Strangely, he wasn't one of those kids who was always eating glue and jumping off of the swing set for attention. In fact, Steve-O was one of those kids who never really knew what he wanted to do when he "grew up."
"I pretty much dodged the question of what I wanted to be when I grew up," he says. Career aspirations never extended too far beyond becoming a professional skateboarder.
The official Steve-O Fan Club's Web site reduces his life from childhood down to only the most important details in this format:
First Iron Maiden Album: 1984
Started skateboarding: 1985
Met Motley Crue: 1987
Landed first kickflip: 1989
Dropped out of University of Miami: 1993
Followed Grateful Dead: 1994
Sold a lot of pot: 1998
That's just the important stuff.
After his brief stint at the University of Miami, he dropped out to seek out bigger, but not necessarily better things. After graduating from the Ringling Bros. Barnum & amp; Bailey Clown College (he was one of 33 chosen out of 2,000 applicants for the intensive program) and working short stints in various acting gigs, he made his way back home to Albuquerque, N.M. Either he was craving attention or he was just bored, but it was there that he began trying to catch the attention of Big Brother Magazine, and he finally did so. Thing is, he had to light his face on fire to turn any heads. Big Brother ran an article about Steve Glover: the kid who willingly lit his face on fire.
It took a lot of burns and bruises, but when he finally got to MTV, fame found him quickly -- in fact, you could say it found him in three days. That's how long it took Steve-O to do ALL of his filming for the entire first season of MTV's Jackass. And if you don't remember, that season entailed piercing his butt cheeks together, wearing a jellyfish as a hat, eating a regurgitated omelet ("a vomelet") and jumping off an Olympic high dive into a pool on stilts. Somehow the show continued for a few more seasons, documenting what happens when drugs and alcohol are combined with everything from firecrackers to tattoo guns.
After the show had pissed off enough people and enough kids had destructively imitated it, Jackass went off the air. But when the movie came out and people kept laughing, the two major stars of Jackass -- Steve-O and Chris Pontius (aka Party Boy) -- found themselves with their very own idiocy-driven show, Wildboyz. Soon thereafter came the "Don't Try This at Home Tour" -- the show that will come through Spokane this weekend -- which Steve-O describes as "a horrifying display of alcoholism and self-mutilation."
Between the two gigs, and the hundreds of self-mutilating stunts that they involve, you'd think that Steve-O would be completely immune to the pain now -- or else just dead.
"Everybody assumes that I don't feel pain. I wouldn't make all those funny faces if I didn't," he says. "[Pain] doesn't deter me."
His motivations are simple, he says. He just wants to entertain people.
"No matter who you are, you turn to look at an accident. I'm in tune with that, so I just create accidents," he says. "I just go for distraction -- I just care that I distract people from their problems."
It's only been recently that Steve-O has started to think that he's probably not going to be able to keep making money as a walking car accident forever.
"I've been kind of having a crisis in my life over that," he says. "I've been pushing the bar pretty high. Now I'm getting strangled unconscious six times in a row."
Steve-O says he is constantly on a quest to be funnier and crazier, but sometimes it scares even him. He says he's glad that he got jumping in the water with a great white shark out of the way -- he did that stunt during Wildboyz, and he says it terrified him.
"That's something I've checked off my list," he says, sounding relieved.
He's conceded that his career has come to a point when success isn't necessarily dependent on him risking his life -- it's all about coming up with new ways to make people laugh. Or just gross them out.
"Everything doesn't have to be gnarlier or crazier. It just has to be different or new."
Apparently the crisis isn't stopping him much: He says that every "Don't Try This at Home" sideshow is "a blood bath" where he gets to do all the things that he can't on television.
"They are really sketchy about bodily fluids on TV," he says, "and I bleed a lot."
In a way, he has to bleed - and keep bleeding. Because it's blood, broken bones, sliced flesh and every bodily function imaginable that have made the name Steve-O, a guy whose friends call him "dude," a recognizable name. And for Steve-O, he considers that a success all in itself.
"At the end of the day, it's all about historical significance," he says.
He'll go down in history all right, as the guy who made his millions off being a jackass.
Publication date: 09/09/04