Steve-O on his Bucket List Tour, Jackass, and building an animal sanctuary

Bungee jumping and roller coasters are two thrills even Steve-O can't handle.
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Steve-O. // Courtesy Steve-O

Steve-O is the kind of guy that would tattoo his own face on his back and set himself on fire. The daredevil star made a name for himself as the raspy-voiced, ready-to-die member of MTV’s Jackass in the early 2000s but quickly evolved into something more.

When he’s not filming theatrical Jackass outings with the rest of the crew, Steve-O can be found podcasting in a van or performing stand-up comedy. He’s an animal rights activist with a carpe-diem attitude whose sobriety has remained a beacon of hope for all who struggle with addiction. Even at 47 years old, he’s still no stranger to concussions.

Now, a month and a half removed from the release of the fourth Jackass movie, Jackass Forever, Steve-O is preparing to bring his multimedia comedy extravaganza, The Bucket List Tour, to Kansas City. We caught up with Steve-O for a quick phone call to talk about building animal sanctuaries, bungee jumping, and what he’s doing next.

The Pitch: How do you keep live shows feeling fresh and unique not only for audiences but for yourself?

Steve-O: I always come up with new stuff to keep things fresh. I’d say, in a general sense, that’s what I’ve done. I’ve evolved, and I’ve taken on new challenges and found new things to do.

A lot of people look at Jackass Forever or The Bucket List Tour and say, “I can’t believe these guys still do this shit.” How do you know when you are too old to be lighting yourself on fire?

I mean, dude, we like to point out that we were too old to be doing this when we started [laughs]. For my part, I think I’ve stayed super active, doing all the crazy stuff. I really did have my doubts about a fourth Jackass movie working, given that we’ve gotten old. What helps me with my Bucket List Tour is that it’s as much storytelling as it is stunts. So, when I’m doing the particularly crazy stuff that I did for this Bucket List Tour, I’m telling the story of what it’s like to be doing it at this age.

The whole theme of my show is that I’m trying to hurry up and do the craziest stuff ever before it becomes creepy to watch me do it because I’ve gotten too old. I’m able to let you in on the experience and tell you what it’s like more than just showing you the brutal bits.

The other thing that’s interesting about it is that all of the things I did for the Bucket List Tour—which is, of course, a multimedia show—invariably had implications on my relationship with my fiancé.

In some cases, things were life-threatening, and how she handled that was compelling and interesting. In some cases, she just straight didn’t fucking approve of shit for obvious reasons. There were conflicts in my relationship. In other cases, she was just super loving and supportive and helped me facilitate things that nobody’s chick would get behind.

The one thing that really strings it all together and makes it relatable and cohesive as a narrative that’s compelling is it all being set up against the backdrop of my relationship with my fiancé. So, in short, it’s a love story.

Speaking of your relationship, you’ve talked a lot about building an animal sanctuary with your fiancé. We’d love to hear you describe what your animal sanctuary might look and run like.

We love this fucking idea. We really do. We love it so much that our plan has been to get married on the property that we buy for the animal sanctuary.

In the meantime, while we look at these properties and figure out where and how we want to do it, we’ve been cutting our teeth at our home in the Hollywood Hills.

I consider our home in the Hollywood Hills to be an animal sanctuary startup kit. We built a little barn at the side of our house. We have three goats running around in the backyard, which we put up in the barn at night. We’ve got three dogs, three cats—so we’re kind of getting used to the idea of cleaning the barn, taking care of all these animals, and we love it, man. We really, genuinely, love it.

What the animal sanctuary looks like has been a bit of a moving target. Initially, I pictured it being a destination type of place. Like, a legitimate, 501c3 nonprofit organization, with multiple revenue streams to sustain it, in the way of Airbnbs, a little Steve-O museum—which I would call Disgrace Land—or a café.

We could charge different rates for when we’re physically going to be there. We could have tours, and this and that. That felt like a very viable way for the place to be self-sufficient and really generate revenue in order to sustain itself.

But when the pandemic hit, what I see as fundamental problems with the American economy, were just so dramatically sped up. I started viewing the animal sanctuary less as a destination but more of a retreat kind of a thing. More like a self-sustaining farm where we grow our own food and have a ton of animals. We didn’t even want to draw attention to it and just have it be a place we dip out to. With that second version of it in mind, we were looking at having it be in Canada, so it’s not even in America.

As we grow toward it, it feels a little bit more like a hybrid of both, where we could have one property that’s private and our own deal, and a number of miles away we could have one that we draw a lot of attention to.

So, we could do one or the other, or we could do both. In the meantime, we’re just so goddamn busy with everything going on in our lives, and also, the Canadian border has been closed down for the pandemic. We’re not in a big rush, but absolutely, that’s the ultimate goal of what we’re working toward.

In a recent interview, Johnny Knoxville said that the Jackass crew couldn’t get you to bungee jump. You’ll let yourself be cast out to sea with a hook in your cheek, and you’ll pour hot sauce in your eye—so what is it about bungee jumping that feels like it’s too much to handle?

It’s a tough one, man. I’m not even positive that I know the answer. I just know for sure that, since I was a little kid, I was terrified of roller coasters. I’ve been on them, but I do not like it. My eyes are closed, my entire body is clenched up like a fist.

It’s the most unpleasant, terrorizing experience. I hate roller coasters. I equally hate bungee jumping. I do not like that feeling.

My only explanation for that is that I’m just not even particularly like a thrill-seeker. I’m simply an attention whore.

The things that I do, of course, I’m able to do it, but I do it because I so desperately want attention, not because I actually want to be in any of these situations or predicaments that I put myself in for video.

With that in mind, you climbed a 150ft crane to protest Sea World. Obviously, that stunt took some unexpected turns, but did it have the effect you wanted in the end?

I think it was reasonably effective, yeah. I remember very shortly thereafter there was some court decision, which I like to think I could’ve helped influence.

I do believe that the Black Fish documentary is an important one. It’s pretty evident that what’s going on at Sea World is very tragic and upsetting. I’m proud and happy to have sort of furthered that agenda of the Black Fish movement, but with all of that said, I think it’s also equally evident that I was just sort of attention whoring at the time.

Clearly, my number one motivation in climbing up that crane was to get attention for myself, and I’ve never suggested otherwise. The reality of the situation was that my buddies and I had just gotten our first drone. We learned how to fly the drone, and I wanted to film some cool drone footage.

In my view, to just film drone footage up there is boring as hell. I was looking for some way to get myself very high up in the air for a cool drone shot. I was looking up in the air and I saw cranes, and I thought to myself, “Oh, I could climb up a crane, and that could be a cool drone shot, but that would be half an idea.”

I thought, “All right, up on the crane, I could bring an inflatable killer whale and get a really cool drone shot of being super high up in the air and saying, ‘screw you Sea World.’”

I kind of tacked on the Sea World protest as an exercise in filling out what felt like half of an idea. It ended up turning into a funny comedy bit about just how utterly stupid it was, being that I was nowhere near Sea World when I did that. Nothing about what I was doing was pertinent to Sea World. It was just an attention grab that ended up wasting a shit ton of city resources, in the way of like 80 firemen, 18 firetrucks, or some crazy thing like that.

Overall, it was an asshole move which wasted a lot of resources and got me in a lot of trouble, which I totally deserve. It did further that message, and I milked it for all it was worth. I was sentenced to 30 days in jail and got tons of headlines out of that, and I milked that for all it was worth. When I went to jail, I ended up being let out after eight hours, and I milked that for all it was worth.

But yeah, overall, when people say, “Would you do it again”— I would have left the fireworks out [laughs].

You’ve been performing stunts for more than two decades. From the first episode of Jackass to this Thursday’s show in KC, how have you crafted and evolved the showmanship that goes into every performance?

I mean, technically, I’ve been videotaping stunts since 1990, so it’s been more like 32 years.


Yeah, right? I’m fucking old.

This tour is exciting for me because I spent 11 years relentlessly grinding on the comedy club circuit, developing this craft of storytelling and stand-up comedy. Over the course of those 11 years, my comedy became a multimedia affair, gradually.

My first stand-up special was just me and a microphone and what I did on stage. My second comedy special was me telling stories on the microphone with footage of the stories unfolding, edited in post-production.

This tour is my third show, which will be my third comedy special, but I filmed all-new, super high-level stuff—stunt-wise—for this show. This footage comes on tour with me.

It’s called the Bucket List Tour, and the Bucket List is a bunch of absurd ideas that I came up with that I always just considered crazy things to say out loud and never thought I would actually go through with them. It felt like, being in my late 40s, I’m running out of time before it’s just not appropriate for me to do this kind of stuff anymore.

I viewed it as getting my last licks in, hurrying up to raise the bar for “crazy” one more time, and allowing all of my worlds to converge so that I can go on a multimedia tour and show people things that would never be allowed to be seen on Jackass—things that were just substantially crazier than what I’ve been able to do for Jackass—then weave it all into a cohesive narrative that’s compelling and funny, and dude, I couldn’t be more stoked about it.

I developed the craft of comedy enough to have graduated from clubs to theaters, and now I’m in these big thousand-seat theaters, and it’s just been so fun, man. All of my worlds have converged, and it’s just the gnarliest thing that I could be doing.

Daredevil, podcaster, stand-up comedian—what’s the next artistic medium that you want to tackle?

Man, I don’t know.

I’m pretty all over the place with what I’m doing. I’ve got the podcast I’m doing, which is fun. I’ve got the YouTube channel, which is fun. I’ve got the stand-up tour. There’s not a lot of media that I don’t have covered, and you know, I’ve got business initiatives as well that I’m really excited about.

I’m really trying to set myself up so that I can get out from in front of the camera. There’s going to be a point where I’m older than we really want to be watching me on camera, and I want to be prepared for that time by setting up business initiatives that don’t require me to be on camera.

Steve-O is set to deliver his latest routine at Uptown Theater (3700 Broadway, Kansas City, MO) on March 17. Tickets are available here.

Categories: Culture