Every good crew throughout history has had a ‘quirky’ one. In boy bands it’s usually the one who isn’t that good-looking but he can really sing, in the A-Team it was Murdoch, and amongst the wild-living bunch of dangerous stunt loving pranksters called Jackass, there was one member who was the biggest Jackass of all, the enigmatic, possibly insane, and above all fun-loving Steve-O. But where has the King of the jokers, the qualified clown, ended up in 2016 after a lifetime of profitable clowning around? Read on to find out.
Steve O’s Early Life
Steve-O was born in London, England on June 13th 1974 as Stephen Gilchrist Glover. His Mother Donna was Canadian and his father, Richard, was a high-flying executive for the Pepsi-Cola corporation. Richard’s job meant that Steve-O was brought up in a rich variety of environments. During his youth he lived in not only England, but also Canada, Venezuela and Brazil, as well as periods in Connecticut and Florida.
Steve-O eventually ended up at the University of Miami in 1995, but educational facilities seemed to bring out the wilder side of him, and after only one year he was kicked out for disobedience and poor grades. Another short stint at the University of New Mexico followed, but the result was the same and after only one year he was out of the school. Steve-O then decided to get the sort of education that he was really interested in, and enrolled in the Ringling Brothers Clown College in 1997. This time he had plenty of enthusiasm for his studies, and graduated from there as a fully qualified clown in 1998.
For the next two years Steve-O worked in a variety of jobs, he performed as a clown in a Flea-market circus, worked as an entertainer on cruise ships, and occasionally appeared in talent shows as ‘Steve-O The Alcoholic Gymnast’, which mainly consisted of him getting drunk and performing intoxicated gymnastics, although he noticed that the audience would eagerly chant ‘Steve-O, Steve-O’, and it became his performing name from that point on.
During that time Steve-O was also heavily into skateboarding. He sent videos of his stunts to various Skateboarding magazines, but also knew that he wasn’t an exceptional enough skater to stand out from the crowd, so Steve-O looked for an angle that would make him unique. There have been countless numbers of potential future stars throughout history who have sought a similar trademark gimmick that they can truly call their own, but Steve-O showed just how different he was, by developing and performing a ‘stunt’ where he would staple his scrotum to his leg.
With shockingly painful stunts such as that, Steve-O soon got noticed by the editor of the skateboarding magazine ‘Big Brother’, Jeff Tremaine, who was at that time looking for a group of people for a stunt based show. He had recruited an actor and stuntman called Philip Clapp Jr, known these days as Johnny Knoxville, to perform a variety of stunts for the show, such as being tazered by various self-defense gadgets, and he wanted a crew to work alongside Clapp for a new show on MTV.
Steve-O and Jackass
Jackass premiered on MTV in April 2000. It was almost instantly a big hit amongst MTV’s young viewing base, and the anarchic Jackass crew eventually stayed at MTV for three seasons, but they were controversial times for the show, and the network. Almost inevitably there were copycats who decided that they too could act like Jackasses, but of course the Jackass crew were trained stuntmen who knew what they were doing, technically at least, and it wasn’t long before someone got badly hurt.
A teenager in New Zealand decided to douse a school friend in gasoline and set him on fire, the boy was badly burned but fortunately survived. Critics panned the show, insisting that producers who created content for young audiences had the responsibility of making sure that the content was suitable for impressionable minds. A thirteen year old from Connecticut decided to copy a stunt where Johnny Knoxville had worn a flame retardant suit and cooked steaks attached to it by laying over a grill. The boy ended up in hospital with burns to over 25% of his body, he survived but Jackass faced a new onslaught of criticism.
Senator Joe Lieberman from Connecticut became one of the shows loudest and most influential critics. He campaigned to have the show removed from the airwaves, MTV increased their restrictions on the stunts that could be performed and made the disclaimers at the start of each episode even more clear, originally the warning had been “The following show features stunts performed by professionals and/or total idiots”, but by the second series it had become far less jokey, instead it now warned viewers that stunts were performed under carefully controlled conditions by trained stuntmen. MTV producers took the stunts away from a back-yard environment and tried to make the whole thing seem a little more professional, but despite the disclaimer at the end of every episode that Jackass producers would never accept submissions from viewers, the copycat incidents continued.
Eventually Johnny Knoxville became increasingly frustrated at MTV’s insistence on removing the more dangerous stunts from the show, and even though Jackass regularly pulled in four million viewers, making it one of MTV’s most popular regular shows, the writing was on the wall for Jackass on TV.
The first Jackass movie was released in 2002, to critical acclaim, and Steve-O and fellow Jackass Chris Pontius embarked on a new spin-off show on MTV, ‘Wildboyz’, that ran for four seasons. The show involved the pair travelling to exotic locations and was similar to Jackass, in that the pair were frequently put into situations for which they were not adequately trained or prepared, but Wildboyz also had an environmental twist, often educating the viewers about the local wildlife and culture.
Steve-O and Chris’s most infamous moment came when they jumped into water just 25 feet away from a great white shark, dressed as seals, but to some people dressing as Zebras in the Sahara and wandering towards a lion den was considerably more risky. Despite the dangerous nature of the stunts, Steve-O and Chris’s love of their fellow creatures was both spell-binding and revealing, as it showed that Steve-O did care passionately about something other than hedonism and playing the fool.
What’s Steve-O Doing now in 2018 – Recent Updates
Now in 2018 Steve-O has stayed close to his Jackass roots, but he is also a star in his own right. The wild unpredictability of his younger days has left him for good now, the crazier parts of his character disappeared sometime around March 2008, when Steve-O finally gave up alcohol and drugs, an episode that he discussed during his stage show, ‘Guilty as Charged’.
Steve-O has been touring constantly since about 2010, and his stage show has a few Jackass style stunts, such as when he gets choked unconscious by UFC fighter and former Green Beret Tim Kennedy, or the part when he inevitably gets tazed. But the show also has an impressive nod to his circus background, with a trick that involves him drinking a glass of water without using his hands. It’s a display of physical strength and dexterity that is particularly impressive coming from a man who is now over forty, and even though the cracked voice is evidence of years of alcohol and drug abuse, Steve-O is hardly showing the scars from his wild-living years, in fact he seems almost boyish when compared to some of his former Jackass colleagues.
Steve-O’s proud declaration that he has been eight years sober is greeted with a rousing cheer during his stage show, and he reveals that Johnny Knoxville was instrumental in changing the course of his life, arranging an intervention when his erratic behaviour and drug binges became too out of control. And the strength that he shows when talking about his former addictions is a glimpse into the real Steve-O, the one who isn’t a clown.
In 2015 the serious Steve-O decided to draw attention to SeaWorld and their captivity of killer whales, which he asserts is cruel, so in typical Steve-O style he climbed a large construction crane in Hollywood while carrying an inflatable orca, all the time posting videos and photos to his Facebook page as he went. The stunt had quite an impact, eventually tying up eighty first-responders who waited until Steve-O climbed back down again. He was given a thirty day sentence as a result, but due to California’s prison overcrowding crisis ended up serving just nine hours, and he milked the occasion as much as possible to gain even more coverage of his objections to SeaWorld, telling the media at the time ‘If your goal is to make a statement about captivity, you may as well get locked up’.
Steve-O is an attention seeker, by his own admission. He has described Johnny Knoxville as ‘an attention whore’ and himself as ‘an attention whore-house’, and there is recent evidence to show that his love of entertaining hasn’t been diminished by more broken bones than you can wave a splint at. In August 2016 he added a few more injuries to his medical history during a stunt for his youtube channel.
It was fairly average fare for Steve-O, all it involved was pro-skating legend Danny Way driving a car at high speed towards a porta potty, one with Steve-O balanced on top with a skateboard. All Steve-O had to do was jump off the thing as it was destroyed by the speeding car and land cleanly on the skateboard, and twice he almost made it, but it wasn’t perfect. On the third attempt it was a disaster, Steve-O’s ankle finished up shattered in three places. He took advantage of the injury by displaying the joys of anaesthetic drugs to his legions of online followers and sharing the gruesome snaps of his stitched up ankle, overall he seems to be more-or-less enjoying the experience, even though he cannot take pain relieving medication due to his former addictions.
Steve-O has still not settled down with a long time partner in 2016. He dated British actress Stacey Solomon after they met on a TV show in 2015, he declared her ‘the perfect woman’ but the relationship barely got off the ground before it was over. Most recently he was linked to Kat Von D of ‘LA Ink’ fame, but they split up in March 2016 after a few months of dating, and possibly the reason for Steve-O’s inability to lead a normal life is best summed up by himself. When asked shortly after his accident why he kept on doing these things to himself he explained that it was what he had always done, because ‘I’m an attention-whore, it’s that simple’.