Ben Galinas, Edmonton Journal
He’s a man known for tattooing his own face on his back and getting slingshotted skyward in a used porta-potty for laughs. But masochistic stuntman Steve-O is also an animal-rights activist who eats a healthy breakfast.
The wild boy of MTV’s Jackass fame braves the Edmonton cold this week to do standup and stunts at a comedy club in West Edmonton Mall.
While here, the man born Stephen Glover also plans to weigh in on the debate over whether to move Valley Zoo elephant Lucy to a refuge in a warm climate. Though he’s not always on board with PETA’s often-controversial protests for animal rights, the Lucy campaign is something Steve-O says he can get behind. In the evenings, Steve-O will pack five shows into three days at The Comic Strip on Bourbon Street at WEM. He’ll share crazy stories from a life that has taken him from amateur skateboard videos to the depths of drug abuse to his starring role in the Jackass film series.
He will also pull out a few tricks on stage, including one that he promises will get any bar-goer who does it free drinks for life.
The Journal spoke with Steve-O about giving up animal products and just where dropping out of college gets you.
Ben: Are you going to do anything specific involving Lucy when you’re here?
Steve-O: I’m just going to speak up on Lucy’s behalf and see if we can’t get her a better situation than she’s in.... I’m sympathetic to Lucy because I know that elephants in their natural habitat will walk some 30 miles every day. I don’t understand how the zoo’s able to keep her. It seems so black and white. I’ll go there and offer my two cents. I think Lucy should be able to go to a sanctuary.
Ben: When did you decide to go vegan?
Steve-O: I first decided to stop eating meat before I got sober. I was sitting in front of my computer with a platter full of ketamine and a plate with a big pile of cocaine on it and just pill bottles everywhere, nothing in my fridge except for vodka and beer. I came across this YouTube clip of this Hare Krishna guy saying that it’s very difficult for westerners to be saved because they have no respect for life and for the planet. Then he said: “How can you expect to be saved if you eat meat?” My reaction to that, while snorting and guzzling and smoking, was I gotta quit eating meat. The whole incident with the YouTube clip and my decision to eat meat was less than a month before my intervention.
Ben: How long have you been sober now?
Steve-O: March 10, 2008 is my sobriety date.
Ben: Do you have any good vegan recipes?
Steve-O: I don’t know if I have anything that really qualifies as a recipe. Generally in the morning I make a mixture of whole grain cereal with almond milk and a slice of banana on it. And about once a day I’ll eat a whole pack of Tofurky. I love that stuff, man. I’ll just eat it right out of the pack with mustard.
Ben: I heard you dropped out of the University of Miami after one year with poor grades and lack of interest.
Steve-O: That’s about right. But I did return for my second year, still a freshman because I’d done so poorly my first year. Come Thanksgiving weekend I dropped out and travelled, which ultimately turned into three years of couch surfing.
Steve-O: I went to northern California to try to become the employee of a ski resort. That didn’t work out. So I turned around and went to Colorado for a while, tried to do the same thing. It didn’t work. So then I went down to Texas and had the government test drugs on me for cash. That worked.
Ben: What sort of drugs did they test on you?
Steve-O: It was called ractopamine hydrochloride. They were trying to get FDA approval to administer the drug to cattle, the goal being to make the cattle have less fat and more muscle for leaner meat to appeal to a more health-conscious consumer. But the law required that if humans were going to eat the meat, then they had to do studies to determine how much of the drug humans could withstand. It was a pretty dangerous study. They didn’t know much about it except that our heart rates would go crazy. For 12 days they paid us $2,000. It was a fortune to me at the time.
Ben: And eventually you went to Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College?
Steve-O: In Sarasota, Florida. That was in 1997. It was more like boot camp than college. We trained for 14 hours every day. They broke up the days into different hour-long sessions like acrobatics, dance, makeup, improv, clowning, circus history. Truthfully my motivation for going to clown college wasn’t to become a clown. I went to clown college to further my goal of becoming a stuntman, but what was great about it was I was able to make a living as a clown before the stunts turned into a profession. My last day in the circus was my first day filming Jackass.
Ben: What can people expect from you on stage at the comedy club?
Steve-O: I describe it as a variety show. During the standup portion of the show, it’s painful to admit that all of the stories I tell are true. I call it the Entirely Too Much Information Tour because it’s really just me shovelling out juicy true stories, which I think people really appreciate. After the standup part, I do a set of tricks and stunts. I start off with a genuinely impressive bar trick that I share with everybody so that they can drink for free in bars for the rest of their life. People really like that. The first trick is impressive. The second one is scary. The third one is painful. I love entertaining people, man. I’m just a performer in every sense of the word.
Where: The Comic Strip, West Edmonton Mall
When: Thursday to Saturday at 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday also at 10:30 p.m.
Some shows sold out
Tickets: $49.95 at thecomicstrip.ca
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