Steve-O shows his dance with self-destruction

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - “Dancing with the Stars” viewers expected crazy antics when “Jackass” performer Steve-O joined the show this year, but what it took for him to overcome drug abuse and exhibit ballroom manners is another story.

Cast member Steve-O smiles at the world premiere of "Jackass: Number Two" at the Grauman's Chinese theatre in Hollywood, California September 21, 2006. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

That side of the shock stuntman’s life will be shown on Sunday, in a documentary called “Steve-O: Demise and Rise” on cable channel MTV.

It relies on Steve-O’s video footage of himself snorting cocaine at parties and inhaling countless nitrous oxide cartridges, in between performing stunts such as jumping from a glider plane into open water.

After Steve-O’s time in a mental hospital and drug rehab, the documentary ends with his first appearance as a ballroom contestant on ABC hit show “Dancing with the Stars.”

Steve-O, who had tangled with untamed animals in exotic lands on MTV’s “Wildboyz,” was eliminated from “Dancing” on April 14, ending a run on the show he called nerve-racking.

“It’s weird, getting ready to do these dances on live TV I felt, especially in the beginning, more stressed and anxious than times when I filmed with bears and lions,” Steve-O told Reuters in a recent interview.

Steve-O, born Stephen Gilchrist Glover, was one of several “Dancing” stars injured this year. But unlike the others, he went beyond the normal requirements to hurt himself.

Wanting to electrify one of his dance performances, Steve-O attempted a flip during rehearsal and landed on his back. The stunt sent him to the hospital.


Steve-O, 34, is covered in tattoos. He displays a young child on one arm and an older version of his face on another. He has an expletive imprinted on each hand, which he changes with a black marker before TV appearances to spell the words “Save” and “Rock.”

Over the years, his stunts have included landing face-first in a tub of elephant dung, stapling his scrotum to his thigh and getting pierced through the cheek with a hook.

He starred in MTV’s “Jackass” from 2000 to 2002, the year “Jackass: The Movie” came out and made $80 million at global box offices. The 2006 movie sequel “Jackass: Number Two” topped that with $85 million.

Drug abuse has been part of Steve-O’s life since his teen years, when he started smoking marijuana and capturing his exploits on video, before going on to become a circus clown with a cocaine habit, as shown in the documentary.

As a stunt performer, drugs became part of his shtick -- he once injected shots of vodka directly into his arm, he said.

His addiction to a multitude of drugs left Steve-O alienated from his friends and made his behavior increasingly erratic. The film shows Steve-O hacking at the wall in his apartment, trying to harass the neighbor who had complained to police about noise.

Eventually, in March 2008, Steve-O’s friends dragged him to a psychiatric facility for treatment. Doctors told him he was bipolar, before discharging him into a rehabilitation program.

“I think if anybody did as much drugs as I did, they’d probably be bipolar too,” Steve-O said.

But Steve-O said he has been sober for a year, and that he is considering starring in a reality show about whether he can be “this gnarly Steve-O character” without drugs and alcohol.

“I have a chip on my shoulder wanting to prove that I can,” Steve-O said.

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Bob Tourtellotte