WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS CRUDE LANGUAGE, INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR, AND DISTURBING ANECDOTES, ALL WRITTEN UNDER STRICT EDITORIAL SUPERVISION. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO READ IF YOU HAVE A WEAK STOMACH OR ARE PRONE TO MORAL OUTRAGE.
”I’ll do it for you, if you want to see it,” Chris Pontius says. The it is a stunt called the Helicopter, which sounds impressive. We’re somewhere in central Florida, at a grassy spot called Camp Payne (now dubbed Camp Pain), for the shooting of ”Jackass the Movie,” which is just like ”Jackass” the MTV show, only three times as long and 10 times as indecent. I’m snug in a folding chair, April sun glinting off the lake, cold Miller by my side, and now…
A stunt? For me? Sure I want to see it!
Pontius positions his crotch in front of my face. Unzips his pants. In a dazzling display of flexibility and flaccidity, twirls that thing round and round, so quickly it looks like the blades of…a helicopter!
Pontius tucks himself back in and looks at me expectantly. Proper etiquette suggests I respond with my own trick. But panic sets in: I can’t do anything funny with what I’ve got. Instead, I clap demurely. There is a bright side. It’s not yet noon, and I’m guzzling beer, getting sun, watching naked men act silly. And I’m getting paid. Now I see what life is like for a Jackass.
Think of ”Jackass” as MTV’s Ritalin-needy bastard child of ”The Real World” (spiky, camera-hungry talent) and ”The Tom Green Show” (gross-out goofiness). It all started with an exploit both dumb and dangerous. In a 1999 story for L.A.-based skateboard magazine ”Big Brother,” Johnny Knoxville (ne PJ Clapp), got zapped by a Taser, and, wearing a cheap bulletproof vest, was shot with a .38. Knoxville, his editor Jeff Tremaine, and Tremaine’s high school buddy, director Spike Jonze (”Being John Malkovich”), then successfully pitched a series to MTV execs — who’d seen a tape of this self-torture. A wannabe actor who’d peaked with spots for Bud Ice, Knoxville, 31, was designated ringleader, backed by a cast including professional skater Bam Margera, 23; 55-inch-tall Jason ”Wee-Man” Acuna, 29; the XXL Preston Lacy, 30; party boy Pontius, 28; and Steve-O (real name: Stephen Glover), 28, a former circus clown.
MTV viewers got treated to such sights as Knoxville, trapped inside a loaded Porta Potti that’s flipped upside down, and covered with meat and barbecued. They liked what they saw. And while it unsurprisingly became a magnet for controversy, ”Jackass,” which ran for three seasons, was also an inglorious smash and the channel’s most popular show ever (before ”The Osbournes” arrived).
Booze, sleep, film. Booze, sleep, film. To battle the vicious cycle, Knoxville is getting a B-12 shot to the tush. (These guys make even vitamin intake painful.) Waiting for the day’s shoot to begin, there’s an aggressive laziness in the air. The boys have been launching surprise hair-clipper attacks: Wee-Man and Knoxville bear bloody circles on their scalps, and the back of Lacy’s noggin now reads ”Fat F—.” Thanks to cumulative abuse, Margera threw up so much yesterday his eyes are bruised.