Some might consider Steve-O an artist; others just think he’s absolutely insane. However, no matter what your opinion, the truth is that when Steve-O, often known as the “Icon of Mayhem” gets in front of a camera, we’re all fixated – except when he’s doing something really, really disturbing. But, most of the time, whether he’s piercing his ass together or lighting himself on fire, we can’t seem to get enough of this self-professed attention whore.
Gaining an immense amount of fame on MTV’s smash “Jackass,” Steve-O has gone on to make us laugh, squirm and often cringe. And now he’s taken his antics to YouTube…finally. I recently spoke with Steve-O for TSJ about his new YouTube channel, moving on from “Jackass,” and perhaps the weirdest/funniest tattoo story in the world…
The Smoking Jacket: You’ve finally taken what you do to YouTube – How’s that going?
Steve-O: It’s awesome! I’m uploading a new video as we speak, so by the time this comes out it’ll be up.
TSJ: Can I ask what it is?
Steve-O: Well, I’m calling it “Poo Dime.” It starts off as a nifty bar trick and then turns and goes down another path.
50 CENT VS. STEVE-O
TSJ: What you’re doing for YouTube, is it much different than what you’re used to doing?
Steve-O: It’s not, but no matter what the outlet is, I just found that I’m putting incredible pressure on myself to outdo anything I’ve ever done before. On some level, whatever the forum is, it doesn’t matter; I’m always pushing myself. With this, I’m going back to my roots and pushing things further.
TSJ: I’m assuming having over 517,000 YouTube subscribes in just two weeks doesn’t help alleviate some of that pressure. Is that crazy to you? That’s over half a million people.
Steve-O: I know! I love it! But also, I can’t enjoy it because I just put so much pressure on myself. But at the same time, it’s crazy exciting. It’s a weird mixture of anxiety and excitement. I don’t know if it’s healthy, but it’s exciting nonetheless.
TSJ: Where do the YouTube ideas come from? Are they throwaways you couldn’t do on TV?
Steve-O: Well, I’ve been into these little bar tricks lately, and they are tricks that I’ve known for years…like 15 years. I’ve been sitting on them forever and they just managed to never find a home because in and of themselves they are never outrageous or anything. So, when I decided to make a YouTube channel I knew I had an outlet to do them. But I knew that just by themselves they’re not good enough, so I decided to do them but take them to the next level. I think with the first videos I’ve set the bar pretty high for myself, but I like that. It forces me to really make stuff unpredictable.
TSJ: Obviously you were a huge part of “Jackass.” And that was enormous, still is. But there’s always a fear of what can I do beyond this? Did you ever have that fear?
Steve-O: Sure, totally. That’s always been a fear, and it absolutely still is. Luckily, I managed to carve out a career for myself in comedy, which I think is really an incredible scene.
TSJ: Was that a plan or did that happen organically?
Steve-O: I got into it by accident. Over seven years ago now, I was invited to the Laugh Factory on Sunset Blvd. Someone invited me to get onstage and do a crazy stunt. So, I agreed to do it and I couldn’t think of a crazier stunt than me doing stand up. [laughs] I tried it and was so terrified. Believe it or not, I had a pretty good experience winging it. It took me a while to really dive in but I’ve been doing stand up tours for about three years now. And if I do say so myself, I think I have a pretty incredible show at this point.
TSJ: It’s interesting that, seeing who you are, that stand up was still such a challenge for you. I guess that’s the cool part about it.
Steve-O: It was utterly terrifying. I think no matter who you are it’s one of the hardest and scariest things you can do.
TSJ: Do you enjoy it more than doing everything else?
Steve-O: I don’t know. I’d put it in the same category, because at my core, I’m an attention whore… through and though. [laughs] That’s what drives me, so whether I’m doing stand up or shoving something up my butt, it’s all about getting attention.
TSJ: [laughs] Did you start doing stand up around when you got sober?
Steve-O: The first time I did it was 2006, so I was decidedly un-sober. [laughs] But when I really dove in I had just over two years of sobriety.
TSJ: I wonder if it’s a scarier thing to accomplish when you’re not sober.
Steve-O: I think it’s easier to just get up onstage when you’re loaded. It’s scarier to do when you’re sober. But having said that, being clear headed is a real advantage. Even though it’s scarier you do a much better job sober. I do, at least.
TSJ: When you got sober, was there ever a thought I don’t want to do these crazy things anymore.
Steve-O: Not really man. If anything, it was important to me that I continue doing it. I wanted to do stunts even more because I was so afraid that people would think I’d gone soft or turned into a pussy. I felt an overwhelming urge to prove that I still had all that crazy shit in me.
TSJ: And they were still enjoyable and exciting?
Steve-O: Yeah! The dynamics of “Jackass” stunts didn’t change for the third movie. It was easier to do them in the other movies but I think my urge to do them in the third movie was even stronger because I wanted to prove myself.
TSJ: It’s interesting to me that the idea of being sober is equated to being a pussy.
Steve-O: I know; it’s weird. But for someone like me, and not to sound arrogant, when you’re an “icon of mayhem,” [laughs] I guess it’s weird that you’re sober.
TSJ: Granted, this is a loaded question, but has there been anything you’ve done that you wish you didn’t do?
Steve-O: [laughs] I actually talk about this in my stand up. In short, I got a tattoo of a guy fucking a baby. It started out innocent with a friend of mine. We were drinking heavily and talking about how we never want kids. I thought wouldn’t it be funny I got a tattoo of a baby with one of those cigarette signs on it. Like, “No baby!” But then it evolved into a tattoo that said, “Fuck Babies!” Then we kept drinking more and more and I ended up getting a tattoo of a guy fucking a baby. At the time, I thought I was just being edgy and pushing boundaries but when I stepped out of the tattoo parlor the first people walking down the street saw me and asked for a picture. I said check out my new tattoo! The look of horror on their faces said it all, man. I knew I fucked up right away. [laughs]
So, I lived with the tattoo for about a month, and then went back to the tattoo parlor and had the guy cover a baby with this black blob. After that, I was talking to Bam Margera and he said, “Dude, you should turn that blob into an ostrich!” That’s kind of the punchline of the bit: when your cover up tattoo is one of a guy fucking an ostrich, you know you started out with something pretty terrible. [laughs] But you know what, I can’t say I regret it because it’s a funny story.
Though, if I could edit my life at all, the time spent with a guy fucking a baby on my arm, I could quite happily trim down that little period of my life. [laughs]
TSJ: [laughs] I understand that, but what a funny ass story. That couple, what a horrible feeling.
Steve-O: Right! And I remember being at the doctor getting a physical just thinking I bet this doctor hopes I’m sick and dying. But luckily all is okay. Now I have a guy fucking an ostrich. So, that’s good.