Even though the TV show aired for only three seasons, Jackass became a pop-culture phenomenon in the early 2000s, spawning a handful of spinoff series and three movies, the last of which was released last year in 3D. Along with Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera and crew, Steve-O, or Stephen Glover, subjected himself to countless dangerous stunts and asinine antics, all in the service of cheap laughs.
But along with broken bones and split lips, Steve-O picked up a debilitating substance-abuse problem on the road to stardom. In his new memoir, Professional Idiot, he chronicles his life story and comes clean about his adventures and the difficulties of kicking his habit.
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How long have you been working on your memoir? Why now?
It's been my intention to write a book for years. I actually started writing my life story in March of 1996, while serving a 10-day jail sentence in Florida. It was during the summer of 2009 that I really buckled down and started the process with my co-writer David Peisner. Even though we wrote this book while I'd only been clean and sober for two years, I think I was able to tell my story with a perspective that makes it worthwhile.
Throughout the book, I appreciated your unvarnished candor. Was it difficult to admit to certain episodes in your life, or was it a simple outgrowth of the balls-to-the-wall honesty that you demonstrated on Jackass and Wildboyz?
In many ways, it was a scary and uncomfortable process, yes. The fact is that my story isn't a flattering one, and I'm sure it would have reeked of garbage if I tried to sugar-coat it. I think what's made Jackass and Wildboyz popular is that none of us try to spin anything to make ourselves look good, and I think the same can be said for this book.
Was the rich-kid-feeling-guilty aspect a big part of your need to seek attention elsewhere? In some ways, did that drive you into certain trouble situations?
I think I came out of the womb with an unreasonable hunger for attention and a knack for feeling uncomfortable in almost any situation. I would guess that those tendencies would have prevailed, regardless of the circumstance of my upbringing. It goes without saying that those tendencies got me in plenty of trouble throughout my life, yes.
Did you ever think that your crazy antics would lead to a career, or were you just having fun?
When I dropped out of school my only plan was to turn crazy antics into a career. That's not to say that I was sure it would pan out, but I'm quite sure I'd have died trying if it didn't. I can also say that I think it worked out because I was genuinely having fun doing it.
Do you think you could have kicked your substance abuse without the forced intervention? How have you been able to stay clean?
I couldn't have kept living that way much longer. At a certain point you either get clean and sober or you wind up dead or in jail. There's no question that I was at that point. When I decided to commit myself to sobriety I knew that statistics have clearly shown that the odds would be stacked against me, so I was deliberate about giving myself every advantage that I could. I stayed in treatment for six months, and then moved into a sober-living environment where I remained until I had two full years of sobriety. That, and taking the direction from people who have more experience than me, has helped me stay clean and sober one day at a time.
What’s next? More Jackass movies? More comedy tours? Another book?
I'll be on tour for the rest of this year and will likely start shooting a new television series fairly soon. I'm not sure about another Jackass movie, but I wouldn't rule it out as a possibility. I could see myself working on another book, that's something that I'd really like to do. Thanks so much for taking the time to read my book; it means a lot to me that you enjoyed it.