Steve-O: Unfiltered - INTERVIEW
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • January 15, 2014 @ 10:07pm
Steve-O is incapable of doing anything halfhearted. It’s either full bore in one direction or a beeline in the opposite.
During his prime years as a central member of the MTV-inspired ‘Jackass’ crew with Bam Margera, Johnny Knoxville and Chris Pontius, Steve Gilchrist Glover—known simply as Steve-O—flourished as an entertainer, a daredevil so saturated with energy that he wouldn’t sleep for days at a time.
The precipitous plummet in Steve-O’s life came in the latter stages of “Jackass"s popularity, when major drug addictions (cocaine and whippets, in particular) fueled dark rumors of suicide, and, if it hadn’t been for concerned friends and a 14-day stay in a psychiatric hospital, Steve-O wouldn’t have lasted long enough for “Jackass 3D.”
Fortunately, Steve-O has cleaned up his act, tackling sobriety head-on with the peculiar aid of two rescue dogs—Walter and Bernie—and a smooth 2014 would mark Steve-O’s sixth year without drugs and alcohol.
Well, I should clarify that Steve-O has cleaned up his life—his sense of humor, general irreverence and proclivity for dangerous stunts remain a fixture of his identity, released through his stand-up comedy routines and his absurdly popular YouTube channel.
For a man brave enough to snort wasabi, eat a rat and staple his butt-cheeks together—check out Trending Buffalo’s top five Steve-O moments—you’d think stand-up comedy would be a breeze.
When I interviewed Steve-O in lieu of his Thursday (8 p.m.), Friday and Saturday performances (each 7:30 and 10 p.m.) at Helium Comedy Club, 30 Mississippi St., Buffalo, the still-kind-of-erratic actor shed light on several topics.
Tickets are $22 for the Thursday show and $25 for the weekend shows, and they can be purchased here.
(Warning: Language and subject matter may be considered offensive, especially toward the conclusion of the interview).
Buffalo.com: We hear you’re coming to Buffalo this weekend. Have you been here before?
Steve-O: If I have, I can’t remember. Which means I definitely could have been there. I know it’s pretty cold there, and I know about the Bills.
Buffalo.com [chuckles]: You’ve done stand-up comedy for almost four years now, but we’ve read that it was scary for you at first. Why was that?
Steve-O: I have a lot of irrational fears, over-developed concerns for the opinions of others. I guess I’ve learned over time to put myself out there—it’s a function of doing it more and more.
Buffalo.com: You’ve gotten into a comedy groove after four years. What challenges you in comedy now?
Steve-O: It’s a challenge for the inspiration to come—I wish I had more control over it. A bunch of ideas usually just don’t come to me, but lately I’ve been hot and productive.
For me, the biggest part of enjoyment is doing fresh stuff and going to a place I haven’t been. There’s a lot of pressure when you go back to a place where you’ve already been—people expect new material and have higher expectations.
Buffalo.com: You reference the “Jackass” days a lot in your stand-up. Does it make you miss that time in your life?
Steve-O: In a sense, yeah. Well, yes and no. I’m grateful for where I am and having gotten through what I’ve gotten through. Man, f*ck, we made history. We changed the world somehow. We made history.
I was so proactive in emulating the lifestyle of Motley Crew—moving to California onto Sunset Strip, and the debauchery and mayhem was all really deliberate. But that sh*t almost killed me.
Buffalo.com: Do you ever rewatch any of the “Jackass” movies?
Steve-O: No, I would have to be really nostalgic to do that. I’m still kind of incredulous that it all happened.
Buffalo.com: Speaking of those “Jackass” days, you really put your mind and body through a lot. How much wear and tear do you feel now?
Steve-O: My body has been really resilient to trauma. I visited a chiropractor recently—he knew I was Steve-O and expected the worst—but it wasn’t so bad. My esophagus is in terrible shape. [Editor’s note: Plus, as you can see from his recent Facebook page update, he’s got a hole in his nose forever.)
Buffalo.com: Your YouTube Channel looks alive and well.
Steve-O: I love it. That last video—I had to think long and hard before posting it. It was more of a tragic social experiment than a funny prank. But we’ve got about two million subscribers, so I’d say it’s doing a little better than “alive and well.”
Buffalo.com: How do you come up with ideas—are you still using pranks that you’ve kept in your pocket for a while?
Steve-O: I’ve got a gnarly list of ideas. Some of them come from doing stand-up, but there have also been some intensely personal sh*t in my life over the last month or two—I’m not ready to share that with the media yet, but sometimes it just comes out in my stand-up.
Buffalo.com: What’s the most satisfying part of being Steve-O?
Steve-O: That’s a really good question—well, a really tough question. It’s sad that my first reaction was to think that I’m not satisfied, I’m tormented. That’s actually really true, and I wouldn’t have it any other way, but it’s still sad.
If I had time to be satisfied, I’d be dead.
Buffalo.com: You travel a decent amount—how often do you get to see Walter and Bernie, [your rescue dogs].
Steve-O: Oh, every f*cking minute I can. I’m known for waiting until the last minute to leave on the road, and I always try to take the first flight back.
These two aren’t your average rescue dogs—they’re majorly troubled animals. I’ve hired a group of people to watch them [when I’m on the road], and the dogs are pretty bad.
Walter hides under the bed, and if you make a move toward him, he goes “Ughhhhhh!”—you can’t even put a leash on him. It’s the last house on a really f*cked-up road for them.
Buffalo.com: Okay, the last question is a little unorthodox—I may have crowd-sourced it. If you had the choice of being a traditional mermaid—human head and fish body—or a backwards mermaid—fish head and human body, which would you pick?
Steve-O: [Quiet for a second, thinking] As long as I could jack off, I’d be all right. My first priority is, “What about my wiener?” Still though, a fish head? Ugh.
If I could have a human head and a bird body, that’d be better. I’ve heard that birds have the dopest sex of any animal. Male birds apparently don’t have wieners—they just have these openings, and in order to reproduce they have to vigorously rub their openings together with the female bird. It’s a difficult and challenging process.
As a result, birds have insane sex drives, so that’s why I’d want to have the bird’s body and a human head. I don’t actually know if the part about the birds is true—if it’s not right, I don’t f*cking care, I want it to be true.
Editor’s note: You can watch the 45-minute MTV documentary on Steve-O’s rise, fall and re-rise. I’d say “rise again,” but that sounds quite blasphemous.
I’ve embedded it below—another warning: there’s lots of visible drug use, including cocaine and enough whippets to make your head spin.
(Images are courtesy of Steve-O’s Facebook page, except the photo of Walter and Bernie, which may have originated at WeHeartIt.com).