Steve-O is just about the last person one imagines caring about what goes into his body. The Jackass star has stapled his balls to his leg countless times, swallowed a condom full of weed and done more drugs than a bus full of Grateful Dead fans in 1978. But in the past few years he’s dramatically turned his life around. He’s been clean since 2008, and he’s also a vegan. He even narrated a video for Farm Sanctuary, a group that saves farm animals from the slaughterhouse.
We chatted with Steve-O about living as a vegan, performing stunts off drugs and the possibility of a fourth Jackass movie.
Where are you right now?
I’m on the road right now headed to Las Vegas. I’m doing a bunch of shows with Tom Green. We’re both MTV-generation idiots that somehow turned into standup comics. We sort of relate to each other since we’re both known for shit other than stand-up comedy. I start off the show with a set of standup comedy, then Tom does a set that he ends with a killer rap. He’s fuckin’ awesome at rapping. Then I’ll finish with a bunch of gnarly stunts and we’ll finish with one gnarly stunt together.
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I’ve always felt that Tom is very underappreciated for his contributions to that whole scene.
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Yeah, seriously, dude. Before we ever knew that Jackass was going to be a TV show I was just a kid doing skateboard videos. When The Tom Green Show came out I was huddled over the VCR recording each episode. When a commercial came I hit the pause button with precision. I had the whole fucking complete season minus the commercials. That’s how much I love the guy.
Tom has been a great friend of mine for a lot of years. When I was going through my hardest times he really stuck by me, and he had no reason to do that.
Switching gears a bit, what made you want to become a vegan?
It started back before I got sober. I was doing so many drugs that I literally started hearing voices. I considered the voices my spirit friend, and they were telling me to kill myself. Some of them were nasty characters, but other ones told me they were worried about me and this and that.
One of them told me I was going to have to answer for shit. One time I did something particularly nasty. I tried to really hurt someone’s feelings with a text message. I heard a voice in my right ear say, “You’re going to have to answer for that.” Later I came across a YouTube video where this Krishna consciousness guy in India was talking about how it’s difficult for Westerners to be saved because there’s such little respect for life on the planet. This guy said, “How can you expect to be saved if you eat meat?” I put that together with the voices I was hearing and I became afraid of having some kind of spiritual punishment.
Do you ever crave a cheeseburger or anything?
Sure, man. I miss fuckin’ Whoppers, but I also miss eight-balls and ganja. But I find being a vegan so rewarding that it’s worth it for me.
Do you think more people would be vegans or vegetarians if they saw what went on in slaughterhouses?
Absolutely. Absolutely. It’s commonly said that if slaughterhouses had clear glass walls nobody would eat meat. I think people go out of their way to remain ignorant about how factory farm animals are treated.
How did you get involved with Farm Sanctuary?
I got a request through my publicist to narrate this video. Generally I don’t like to pull out the soapbox, but I cared enough that I’m glad I did it. I don’t go around lecturing people and telling them they shouldn’t eat meat. I just don’t think that’s terrible effective. I just try to tell people how I have personally benefitted from the vegan lifestyle. People work really hard to stay ignorant. If they didn’t, if they watched this fucking video that I narrated, I think that a great number of them would stop eating meat.
Are your stunts more painful now that you’re clean?
Yeah. Definitely. The stunts don’t get any easier, that’s for sure. The reason I’ve always done these stunts is that I’m an attention whore at heart. That’s not something that has changed. I never did stunts because I was wasted. I did stunts because I’m an attention whore. Whenever you put a big crowd of people in front of me, it gets easy to do crazy stuff.
Are you still stapling your balls to your leg and everything?
Sure, man. I’ve stapled my balls a bunch of times since I got sober.
Do you think you have a higher pain tolerance than most people?
No. If any of the guys from Jackass did it, wouldn’t be as interesting to watch our movies. The trepidation, apprehension and the reaction is really what makes it interesting. You just can’t help but laugh when you see that look of pain on my face. It’s something about human nature. It’s just funny. There’s also something about testosterone. You wouldn’t want to see a woman in that situation.
I’ve seen lots of rumors about Jackass 4. Some people think it’s going to be called Bad Grandpa. Is that happening?
Ah, I . . . I can tell you we’re sure there’s no Jackass 4 happening.
What about Bad Grandpa, which is supposedly based around Johnny Knoxville’s grandpa character?
I really can’t speak for that. I certainly . . . I certainly don’t have any involvement in such a project at this time.
I’ve seen Bam [Margera] talk a bit about that. He says it’s happening.
I can just tell you that . . . at this time I have no involvement in such a project.
OK. Is the gang still together? Have you guys splintered apart?
I mean, we’re still in contact with each other, but we haven’t signed onto a project together. I just don’t know.
The last movie was pretty huge. Do you want it to keep going, or are you hoping to move onto other things?
I’ve got it in me, you know? I’ve got a bunch of wild ideas. I kind of feel like if there isn’t going to be another Jackass movie, I really like the idea of pitching my Jackass ideas to other movies. I think that would be rad.
I think people will be disappointed seeing a Jackass guy in a movie and have that guy not do anything crazy. It’s kind of a tricky situation for us to show up in other movies. It’s kind of like the way I approached the roast of Charlie Sheen. I went over there, told some jokes, and then I broke my face on Mike Tyson’s fist. I think that was a pretty rad call.
I’ll say this, and I’m happy to have this on the record: should there never be another Jackass project or a Jackass spinoff project for me to get involved in, I’m perfectly prepared to be crazy in other forms. I’ve got plenty of crazy left in me.