This month marks 15 years since Jackass introduced a feral group of fun-loving and foolhardy hooligans, hell-bent on destroying themselves (and some of their parents) for the pleasure of MTV viewers around the world. To celebrate, Rolling Stone invaded the homes of Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Bam Margera and, yes, Bam’s folks to find out how it all started, what they think of its legacy now, and why Steve-O didn’t close his mouth in the flying Porta Potty. Other Jackasses who participated in the video include Jason “Wee Man” Acuña, Ehren McGhehey, Preston Lacy, Dave England and Chris Pontius.
“We didn’t expect it was going to get on television,” Knoxville recalls in the video above. “And actually during the pilot … we got shot down three days in. We thought we were done then.”
“None of us knew what the fuck we were doing,” director Jeff Tremaine says. “We didn’t get permits. It was very spontaneous. It was very illegal.”
Bam Margera’s mother, April, remembers feeling aghast when she first heard the name of the show. “I said, ‘Are you even allowed to say that?'” she tells Rolling Stone. “And they said, ‘Well, it was gonna be Asshole,’ but they couldn’t do that.”
While visiting with Bam, the pro-skater also shared what he considers his “worst moments” on Jackass for another video. He grins ear to ear when recalling how Johnny Knoxville tricked him into falling into a literal snake pit, and he jovially retells a story about trying to navigate a stunt course filled with Tasers, among other stunts. “I learned to not tell Tremaine or Knoxville or anybody what you’re afraid of,” he says, smiling. “‘I love spiders, oh yeah. You can dump a whole bucket on me, I wouldn’t even care,'” he added, sarcastically.
Finally, Knoxville, England and Pontius sat on a couch – with their “high five” hand behind them – and relived the “Anaconda Ball Pit” stunt in Jackass Number Two. “I had electrical tape around my wrists because I didn’t want the snake to bite through my arteries,” Knoxville recalls, looking at footage of his ultimately bloody wrist. “In my mind, I was safe. But in reality, the snake’s just gonna bite right through that, too. And then after we shot, the guy’s like, ‘One of these snakes took off someone’s calf muscle the other day.’ I was like, ‘Thanks for telling me afterwards.'”
Videos by Steve Appleford