Stephen Glover, better known as Steve-O, has made a living doing off-the-wall maneuvers from the disgusting (jumping into a tub of elephant dung) to the stupid (skateboarding antics and setting himself on fire), to the downright dangerous (interactions with lions, tigers and bears) on the TV series Jackass (as well as follow-up feature films) and Wildboyz. But what followed his fame, as often is the case, was a drug addiction more toxic and destructive than anything seen with his daring stints on reality shows. The whole fiasco is documented in his new book Professional Idiot: A Memoir.
On July 30, hell be at Barnes and Noble (Morrison Place) for a signing and hell also be hitting up The Comedy Zone Charlotte, July 28-30, while on his Entirely Too Much Information Tour. The stand-up gig should come natural for Steve-O, as he is more than capable of cracking jokes. Lets just hope he doesnt break anything in the process. Creative Loafing caught up with Steve-O to talk about how he's made a career out of being a moron, his new book and breaking his teeth in comedy.
Creative Loafing: Youre currently on tours for both your stand-up comedy act and your new book. Hows that going?
Steve-O: Its going great. Its so killer. I cant even believe that Im a New York Times best-selling author. And the comedy show, Ive been on tour with it since last November and its really turned into something amazing.
Tell me about when you started doing stunts. I started filming when I was 15 years old, after my dad won a video camera at a golf tournament. I was skateboarding and doing some silly stuff, but nothing I would really classify as a stunt. I would jump down stairs on my skateboard, but it wasnt like Jackass. Back then it was just making skateboard videos. After high school I went to the University of Miami and if I had a major, that would have been not going to class and getting loaded all the time. I spent more time at the University of Miami Olympic pool than I did in class. All I really wanted to do other than drink and smoke pot was jump off the diving board and ride my skateboard. I had this girlfriend my freshmen year and we moved in together. When she saw that I really wasnt going to class and that all I really wanted to do was jump off diving boards and skateboard, she determined that I was going nowhere in my life and she broke up with me. I was really heart broken when this girl dumped me and in short, I started getting drunk and jumping from apartment buildings into shallow pools. That was my way of expressing my angst and pain. I wanted to make this girl who dumped me, worry about me. When I showed people the video footage people really reacted to it. It was totally unlike the reactions I got with my skateboard videos in high school. At the University of Miami, when I showed people the stunt footage I was filming people were genuinely shocked and saying things like Dude, youre nuts. And the way they reacted to it, made me feel like I was really onto something. So, I decided I didnt need to be in school. I was going to shock people and blow them away with crazy stunts that I filmed with my video camera. And thats what I want to do with my life.
Is that when you decided to join Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College?
I dropped out of university of Miami when I was 19 years old. I was totally determined to become a stunt man with my video camera and I was homeless for three years at the point. I followed The Grateful Dead. I had the government test drugs on me for money and I wandered around. I got locked up in rehab, was arrested a ton of times and had surgery that broke my skull. I had all these crazy adventures. After three years of that I finally hit rock bottom and I reached out to my sister and family. I had a deal with my dad that if I went back to college and got passing grades, hed pay for my tuition and I was going to live with my sister in Albuquerque. So at that point, I was kind of beaten into reason. I got good grades, but I still never gave up the dream of the stunt thing. Later my sister told me about a Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Clown College. She said the tuition is free if you can get in, but you have to apply and audition. So I hitchhiked from Albuquerque to Denver and auditioned for clown college. I wound up getting in, which was pretty rad because it was statistically harder to get into than Harvard I was told. I was really into the idea, not because I wanted to be a circus clown, but because I thought I wasnt getting anywhere with my stunts and my video camera and that if I could graduate from Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Clown College, it might bring legitimacy to all that fire breathing, acrobatics and jumping off of things. I had a skill set that I had put together over those years and I wasnt really getting recognition for it. I thought if I graduated from clown college that people might take me more seriously and it might further my goal of being a stunt man and in a lot of ways thats exactly what it did. While I pursued the skateboarding industry and a career of being a stuntman with my video camera I wasnt making any money, but I was able to make a living as a clown. So, it helped me and provided me with legitimate income. It all worked out pretty magically.