The BME vs. Steve-O Interview
"Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things."– Edgar Degas
While in the UK filming the upcoming BME movie/documentary/mockumentary (scheduled for spring 2004 release), The Lizardman, Martini (one of iWasCured’s frontmen, who’s probably done more flesh hook performances than any other Canadian), Mars (our West Chester secret weapon), and myself had the pleasure of bumping into Steve-O in Cambridge. Most of you know Steve-O from his lead role in MTV’s Jackass as well as his own “Don’t Try This At Home” series of videos, now backed by a live tour.
Armed with nothing but a human lizard and carrying high-grade British weed to pry open the doors, we persuaded Steve-O to allow us an interview before the show.
Marty and Erik (The Lizardman) ham it up for Steve-O’s amusement.
The FREAK was a little bit too much for some of them!
It’s really fun being around people who aren’t used to seeing genital piercings daily.
Steve-O turned out to be one of the most genuine, personable, and funny people I’ve had the opportunity to interview in a long time. I don’t know if I can effectively convey his message with a cold transcript, but I’ll try — Steve-O’s stories are told viscerally, like his act, and the words themselves are only a small part of his repetoire.
In any case, because he’s one of the few celebrities that’s gone to the effort to put up pictures and explanations for all of his tattoos on his website, we began by talking about those.
The Lizardman: Tell me about your tattoos, or, as you put it, your “dumb tattoos”. What’s the main motivation behind them?
Steve-O: I would say a lot of people get tattoos for what the tattoo means to them, but I tend to get tattoos for what the tattoo’s going to mean to everybody else. All my tattoos are supposed to make people giggle.
The Lizardman: You’ve reversed the perspective… instead of “it’s for me”, it’s “for the world”.
Steve-O: Yeah… For example, I’ve got an “I have a small wiener” tattoo.
From viewing his DVDs, and later seeing it live, I did not observe Steve-O’s genitals to be freakishly small — the tattoo really is there not to advertise his shortcomings, but to brighten other’s days (“Feel bad about yourself? Are people laughing at you? Don’t worry about it — you can laugh at me if you’d like”). Over the next hour it would become very clear that Steve-O would martyr himself in an instant if it meant a legacy of humor.
The Lizardman: You seem to have spelled it wrong — Weiner is in fact a small town in Arkansas of about six hundred people. Was that on purpose?
Steve-O: It was completely unintentional — I had it for three days before I realized it! I mean, three days after I got the tattoo I was just like, YES!
The Lizardman: Unexpected bonus, right?
Steve-O: Yeah, totally… And then I have my anagram “I love to bone”, and my Holy Satan fish. This one’s not that funny… it’s just the owner of a bar in Albuquerque. He sold it so I put a sword through his head. Then there’s my smiley face off-road tattoo.
For those that didn’t see it in Jackass: The Movie, Steve-O was tattooed in the back of Henry Rollin’s Hummer as they tore across an off-road track at high speed. Needless to say, it’s a far from “accurate” tattoo — more of a strange blurry stippled mess that vaguely resembles a cluster of stars in the shape of a face — unlike his exceptionally well done full-back self-portrait tattoo.
The Lizardman: Now, when you went into it with the off-road tattooing you obviously knew that the results were not going to be…
Steve-O: Yeah, I expected we’d do the whole arm… The guy showed up ready to do my entire arm!
The Lizardman: You’ve mentioned stuff before about going for records… the world’s largest self portrait tattoo?
Steve-O: I say it all the time. “I have the Guinness Book of World Records largest self portrait, I just haven’t called them yet.” I haven’t talked to them, but I’m sure it’s the biggest.
The Lizardman: That expression in the photo, did you specifically do a photoshoot or did you just pick a photograph you liked?
Steve-O: We had a deliberate photo session to shoot it — just to make a dumb face. It was a toss up… a tough decision between a bunch of them.
At this point Steve-O began to become quite animated, hamming it up and making silly faces to illustrate the photoshoot. It was quite clear that he was happiest answering questions where the answer involved a performance or at least a good joke. It’s not that Steve-O is “always on”, but more that he doesn’t have a stage persona — he’s just Steve-O, onstage or off. The conversation moves back to his primary drive: making people laugh…
The Lizardman: I really like that just by walking down on the street I turn everybody’s day surreal. They may be driving to work and all of a sudden, “What the fuck was that?” It breaks them out of that mindset where they go to work, eat, sleep, die.
Steve-O: Yeah, some people just hate in their day or they’re having a shitty ass day, and they watch half an hour of me doing dumb shit and after that first half hour they didn’t have their shitty day, and life’s not a problem any more… But as much as I like doing the live tour, it’s historical significance I’m after. You know?
The Lizardman: Right.
Steve-O: I want to make people giggle forever.
One of my favorite Steve-O quotes is a scene in one of his DVDs where he’s asked something along the lines of “do you think you’ll ever invite Jesus into your heart?” and he replies “yeah, I might do that one day, but for now I’m pretty much dedicating my life to Satan.” You can tell when he’s said something that amuses him — his face contorts and lights up as he giggles at his own joke, and that spreads to everyone around him.
The Lizardman: Why the Holy Satan Fish? What’s your take on organized religion?
Steve-O: The first person that proved the world is round got stones thrown at him. Religion is just hype — people get religious and they’re not being good because they’re feeling good and acting good: it’s just out of fear or threat. They’re being good to literally to get a place in heaven…
Shannon: But what if that is “the deal”?
Steve-O: What if it is the deal? It’s pretty arrogant for us to feel we deserve our own judge and jury you know.
The Lizardman: I still find a lot of resonance in myself with different Satanic philosophies but I’ve gone away from it because I feel that you’re still playing “their game”.
Steve-O: Yeah, you know, I’m not into worshipping Satan, I’m just into disrespecting Jesus!
The Lizardman: (laughs) I’m not a vegetarian because I love animals, it’s just that I really hate plants.
And, like clockwork, the entire room burst into mutual demonic laughter as Satan scores another victory with the youth of the day.
While Steve-O doesn’t have piercings, he does have a five inch outline of a heart branded on his chest. We asked him about it and found out that like his tattoos, the brand had been done for the benefit of others. Unfortunately the censors killed his message.
Steve-O: Yeah, I should have fucked the lady that gave me the branding… We got permission from MTV to film me getting branded, so I got branded. When the footage came to the censors they said, “Oh we didn’t say anything about any singeing smoking flesh!” and it wasn’t allowed on TV. So I don’t own the footage of getting branded and it’s not allowed on TV so it happened for absolutely nothing… but yeah, I got a heart branding over my heart. A metaphor to show that love hurts.
The Lizardman: Since you said love hurts, give us your take on pain.
Steve-O: I really don’t have a very high threshold for pain. But I do seem to have an overwhelming need for attention that outweighs that! You know?
The Lizardman: I think that if you did have a high threshold for pain your reactions wouldn’t be something that people would want to see.
At this point the band that was opening for Steve-O came on and the noise in the bar we were using became overwhelming and we moved up to the green room where Steve-O told us about performing with the Genitorturers.
Steve-O: I hammered a nail through my scrotum once with the Genitorturers.
The Lizardman: Oh yeah! GEN…
Steve-O: Yeah, the girl that hammers the nail through the scrotum. I don’t think she contributes to the band musically: she’s the actual designated “genital torturer” of the Genitorturers. She helped me hammer a nail through my scrotum into my leg.
The Lizardman: Have you heard of Hell On Earth? It’s a band they worked with on their film. In their act they put three live rats into a blender, spin them around, drink it, and then pour the rest on the crowd.
Steve-O: Wow. Is that legal?
The Lizardman: That’s why they don’t go outside of Florida. The last time I was down there, for their Halloween show, the guy fucked a calf corpse on stage. He had painted his ex-girlfriend’s name on the side of it, and when he was done said, “That’s the last time I’ll fuck that cow!”
Steve-O: Having sex with a calf corpse on stage…
Steve-O’s Lawyer: And he nutted on stage?
The Lizardman: Oh yeah. He took a sawhorse and mounted what was left of the calf on it.
Steve-O: Did he get a boner? You know, full boner?
Preston Lacy: Full boner?
The Lizardman: Oh yeah, he jerked off — they all jerk off on stage all the time.
Steve-O’s Lawyer: Full boner?
Steve-O’s lawyer, who he travels with (for obvious reasons) was impressed due to his attempts earlier that night — on a $100 bet — to masturbate to orgasm in under 60 seconds. He had enough trouble doing it with the entourage around, let alone buried in a calf corpse!
The Lizardman: Their keyboardist wraps his dreads in anal beads but he makes sure they’re used — he’ll take a new one out of a package throw it out into the crowd and he won’t put it in his hair until he pulls it out of somebody’s ass.
Steve-O: Nice. Yeah, you know I’m always reaching into people’s asses.
The Lizardman: I pull half my show out of my ass.
Steve-O’s Lawyer: Have you got any wiener piercing stuff?
Steve-O: Let’s see some cock and balls.
The Lizardman whips out his bits for a quick show’n’tell, tapping his large apadravya on the lense of the camera not far from Steve-O’s face.
Steve-O: Yeah nice! You know… I’ll fuck with my scrotum and shit but that shit I’m just not down for.
Marty whips it out as well, showing off his giant scrotal ring.
Preston Lacy: Hey! I know you!
Steve-O: OK, stick it in my mouth dude.
The Lizardman: Given that you did the nail, which is generally known as CBT (“Cock and Ball Torture”), is that something you get into in your personal life, sexually, or is it strictly a stage thing for you at that point?
Steve-O: Well, I try to steer clear of activities that are other people are doing. People get their wieners pierced but I’m trying to make up my own stuff. I’m okay with piercing my nut sack with staples and stuff, but I’m simply not okay with piercing my shaft (laughs).
The Lizardman: So it’s strictly a performance aspect for you?
Steve-O: Yeah… It’s really not sexual in nature for me.
The Lizardman: Because there are a lot of people to whom it is a huge sexual thing. There are some that are just performance and there are people that blur the line: “This is how I do it at home, and this is how I do it on the stage.”
Steve-O: Oh… okay…
The Lizardman: Yeah, that’s my thing, I’ve nailed my dick to a board for a show and that’s great, but at home I just want the piercing.
Steve-O: Yeah, yeah, yeah… it’s understandable. (Very uncomfortable laughing).