And then you ended up being involved in the first Big Brother video.
Yeah, Shit was the first video. Jeff wanted to put out a skate video since it was a skateboard magazine. He also wanted to put out the so-called Jackass stuff in between everything. He suggested to me, Hey, let’s paint you blue and dye your hair orange and just run around the streets of Beverly Hills and let’s just film footage like that. And I was like, Sounds good to me.
When did you guys first realize that you had something that would catch on and get huge?
It was around the third or fourth video that Jeff and everybody realized that these Big Brother videos that were just skateboarding any which way and Jackass stuff were outselling hot skateboarding videos. We were wondering why, and then we realized mainstream people outside of the skateboarding industry were buying these videos just to see the Jackass stuff.
Big Brother is a skating magazine, and you are a skater. Did it ever bother you that it was the pranks as opposed to the skating that was getting the attention?
No, ’cause ever since I was growing up I was pulling pranks on the public anyway. It’s stuff that I was always doing, so it didn’t bother me at all. It was something where skateboarding comes natural, and so does pulling pranks on people. So it didn’t bother me one bit. It’s an easy day’s work.
Are you Jackass guys ever able to be comfortable around each other?
Nope. You assume the worst—always have one hand over your nuts and sleep with one eye open.
What if you were to wear a cup?
Would that be a dishonorable thing? Yeah, then you are a pussy. Whenever you get caught with your hand slipping, something is going to happen. Plus, you don’t want to wreck gold footage—know what I mean? Film is forever; the pain only hurts for a little while.
Of the countless pranks you have pulled, which ones are the most memorable?
They are all memorable in some way. Like when I got blown off the airboat in the river and Manny [Puig] thought I was going to be dead, or me bungee jumping off of Preston [Lacy] into the ocean in Miami. We drew that up on a napkin and thought, Hey, we can do this! When it was done I couldn’t believe we’d just come up with this idea and made it happen.
What I’ve always enjoyed about the Jackass stuff is the simplicity of a lot of it, like when you were being dragged behind the van on a red carpet, being king of the neighborhood.
People do love the really simple ones. It’s insane. That one came to mind while we were driving around. What made that happen is that we would wrap Knoxville up in the red carpet and I would roll him down stairs, so by the time it unrolled he would be all dizzy and I would hit him in the nuts or kick him in the nuts just to get a reaction. I could only beat him up enough so that we would still have half a day to film, and that’s when we came up with dragging me behind the van.
You have a fair amount of scars and tattoos. Tell us about some of your first ink.
My very first tattoo is covered up now. It was a burning heart with a girl’s name in it. When I went and got that covered up I had to put the “Man’s Ruin” tattoo over it, which has a naked girl on it, a martini glass, and some cards and dice. So it’s a perfect cover-up. People always ask what it is and I just tell them I love women, drinking, and gambling. My second tattoo was also kind of a cheesy one; it was a girl flying on a red rocket, but it just looked really elementary. So I lasered it twice and eventually Dejah Garcia at Trusted Tattoo did a great job covering it with a beautiful full sleeve. That one’s pretty significant, and it covered up a full crappy one and you can’t even tell.