Jackass star Steve-O confronts being 'balls-deep in middle age' in brutally honest new book
As soon as Steve-O finished writing his second book, the upcoming A Hard Kick in the Nuts: What I've Learned From a Lifetime of Terrible Decisions, he sent it to his longtime friend and Jackass collaborator Johnny Knoxville to read first. It's the same thing he did when he finished writing his 2011 memoir Professional Idiot, but this time, he was terrified to hear what Knoxville thought of it.
"I was very nervous because there was a lot more candor about the behind-the-scenes of it all and when things were tense and even... I think 'acrimonious' is the word," Steve-O tells EW. "There were some things that I really aired out that I didn't expect him to be particularly thrilled about. It was maybe two days later, the phone rang, and it was Knoxville. I was terrified to answer it, but I did. I was expecting to hear him say, 'How dare you?!'"
Knoxville had read the entire manuscript in one sitting and called Steve-O immediately. "He told me that he just couldn't even express how proud he was of me, and it meant so, so much for that to be the case," Steve-O says. "He said, 'At no point did I ever feel like, How dare you, but there were many points where I thought, Oh my God, why is Steve-O sharing this? This is awful. This is bad. In every case where I had that feeling, in the book, you immediately acknowledged how bad it sounded.' He said that my self-awareness was impressive and that my willingness to share things that are just not flattering at all, it's clear how much work I've done on myself over the last 10 years since the first book. It blew me away. Knoxville, it is testimony to his character that he says, 'Hey, you told the truth as it is.' He has no issue with that, and I appreciate that so much."
In A Hard Kick in the Nuts, Steve-O gets brutally honest about not only the past 10 years of his life but also his future as he approaches turning 50. "On my new comedy tour, the first joke I tell when I come on stage is, 'Hey, everybody. I'm in a really messed up situation. I'm Steve-O in my 40s,' " he says. "It actually counts as a joke. It gets a laugh. Confronting middle age is a test for any human being, but for me, given that I've made this identity that's so based in adolescence, recklessness, irreverence, it's particularly difficult for me to confront middle age. Middle age really is a f---ing hard kick in the nuts."
Part comedic how-to guide on confronting getting older and part memoir, the book addresses everything from his addiction, recovery, relationships, and career. And Steve-O promises that it does not hold back — "however unflattering the situation," he adds. "I think I'm balls-deep in middle age. I don't think I'm approaching it. I feel good about who I am because I'm not creating wreckage anymore. When I do step out of line, when I do f--- up, I own it, I acknowledge it, and I seek to make it right. But I'm still every bit the attention whore that I've always been."
A Hard Kick in the Nuts picks up where Professional Idiot left off, as Steve-O chronicles how getting clean and sober was actually only the first step in his road to recovery. "One might expect that becoming a health-conscious, clean and sober animal-rights activist, life would've gotten rather boring, but in fact, the last 10 years of my life have been every bit as f---ing nuts as any years previous," he says. "I really let it ride, the stories of what brought me into recovery for sex addiction. I had embarked on this comedy tour and despite being clean and sober in a chemical sense, I was on the road acting out sexually as much as I could. I would do a meet-and-greet with the entire audience after every show, promise to take a photo with every single person after every single show, and what that would really end up looking like was an audition for who I would act out with that night. It's so plain f---ed up, the depths that I sunk to in that whole sex addiction."
Stories that Steve-O previously deemed too damaging to tell publicly, he's now baring it all in this book. "Me writing this book is not an exercise in trying to make myself look good, and I don't," he says. "To Knoxville's point, there are a lot of times where you think, 'Oh my God, why is he telling me this?' but I just go ahead and do it. I acknowledge how awful it sounds, and I move forward. Maybe not everybody would see it that way, but I think that being transparent and honest about who you are and what you've done, that's wisdom to me. This is a book of the wisdom I've gleaned from a lifetime of terrible decisions, as absurd as that sounds."
But just because he's getting older and wiser doesn't mean he's done making terrible decisions. Now that Jackass Forever is out, he's already thinking about how to top all those death-defying stunts for his next project. "I have a very distinct to-do list," he says. "I've got basically the next five years pretty mapped out, and there are some scary moments that I've got planned for myself. That's putting it kind of lightly, but there's a good handful of things that I'm going to need to abide by the rule with my family that they should find out about them after they've happened and everything's okay."
He's deep into planning his next comedy tour called, appropriately, the Steve-O's Gone Too Far Tour, in which he'll film "Jackass-like content which I would never be allowed to film for Jackass." And if you can't imagine what kinds of stunts would be too over-the-top even for Jackass, let him paint you a picture: "If it's illegal, who cares? If it's XXX-rated, who cares? I just go for it, and I raise the bar for crazy. I'm definitely committed to my plan to get breast augmentation surgery with the biggest f---ing breast implants that I can possibly have built onto me. I know that when I'm done with having the tits, I'm going to f---ing fire a bullet through both tits. I know that I'm going to fire a f---ing bullet through my f---ing face, through both cheeks, just fitting it in between my teeth. I know that I'm going to have a huge penis tattooed on my forehead. That's just some of the stuff."
Steve-O admits his family and friends aren't thrilled with his laundry list of upcoming stunts, and he understands why. "There's nary a single idea on my Gone Too Far list that isn't aggressively f---ed up to the point where anybody who loves me is doing everything they can to talk me out of doing it, and I don't care. I'm going to do it." Sounds like the perfect content for his next book.
A Hard Kick in the Nuts: What I've Learned From a Lifetime of Terrible Decisions goes on sale Sept. 27 (you can preorder it now here), but check out the exclusive first look at the cover above now.