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It’s not that Steve-O wants to die. He just doesn’t want to grow old either.
At least, that’s what he says the first chapter of his new book, “A Hard Kick in the Nuts: What I’ve Learned from a Lifetime of Terrible Decisions,” is about.
In the chapter, aptly titled “Don’t be Afraid of Death, Be Afraid of Getting Old,” he admits to feeling jealous when his “Jackass” co-star Ryan Dunn died in a fiery car crash in 2011 at age 34, just a few months after the release of the third installment of the “Jackass” film franchise.
“My take on death was – and I say in (the book) and I’ve never said this anywhere else – that at the point when Ryan Dunn died, we had just had a No. 1 movie come out. It was barely six months (after) the (release of a) No. 1 box office hit movie. And I say he was young, he looked great, he’d never been in any financial distress, he was on top of the world,” Steve-O explains. “He’d never gotten to a point where he was in any undignified place. (He) didn’t have to grow old, didn’t have to have his body deteriorate. He went out on top, you know? In my view, he went out on top, and I felt like part of me, if not all of me, felt jealous of that.”
Now 48, Steve-O has learned the value of aging.
He’s matured, he says. He’s been sober for 14 years, and when we spoke, he was on a 985-day meditation streak. He does 40 minutes a day.
“I have an unshakeable belief that it causes the universe to conspire in my favor,” he says.
This, from a guy who got famous by throwing himself into painful, life-threatening and embarrassing situations. Like the time he dangled himself over live alligators wearing raw chicken in a jock strap. Or when he put a fish hook through his mouth and swam in shark-infested waters in the Gulf of Mexico.
Reflecting on it now, he believes he was “mocking and taunting death” because “I was mad at it.”
After getting kicked out of college and experiencing homelessness early on, Steve-O says he “legitimately thought that I was going to fail at life.”
“I expected to die very young, having failed at life. And I was mad at the idea of dying – like, not only am I gonna die young having failed, but like, everybody’s gonna die,” he says.
If he can come out the other side of his lowest moments, anyone can, he says. Hence the book.
“It’s a book of wisdom, which I’ve gleaned from clearly a lifetime of terrible decisions,” he says, laughing. “And I say a lot of unflattering stuff about myself.”
The second chapter is on sex, and “goes into extreme, kind of graphic details,” he says.
“I really detail how outta control I got with acting out sexually,” he says. “I got to a point where I was approaching 40 years old and I was just like, ‘man, the way I’m acting is not the path to being happy.’”
He eventually subscribed to the idea that his future happiness was dependent upon learning how to be in a healthy relationship.
“Finding a life partner and stability, I really got proactive about doing the work. This was my mantra. I was doing the work to become the man that the love of my life deserves,” he says, “That’s sort of the wisdom of that chapter.”
He is currently dating a prop designer from Los Angeles.
The idea at work in the book, he says, is to help, but also poke fun and the ridiculousness of him being a self-help author.
“What makes it work is that there’s probably 90% unbelievably shocking true stories about my life and maybe ten percent actual wisdom to be gleaned and maybe the ten percent helps you,” he says. “It’s patently absurd to think that a self-help book of wisdom is coming from Steve O.”
Of course, he decided to promote the book in true Steve-O fashion, he says – “going down the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles at 50 mph on a swing set, mounted on top of a truck.”
As usual, he made it out alive.