Is Johnny Knoxville the Gayest Straight Guy Ever?
By Will Doig
Johnny Knoxville has taken the theory that scars are sexy to a disturbing extreme.
'Hands, arms,' he says, ticking off his history of bone fractures. 'Ankles two or three times apiece. I never really counted.' Certifiable behavior'when it doesn't net $80 million, the Jackass movie franchise's total haul to date (the film cost $5 million to make). The sequel, Jackass: Number Two, is currently in production. 'I think I might have to have surgery on my shoulder after this movie,' Knoxville muses nonchalantly, as if he is talking about helping himself to seconds of chicken-fried steak. 'I postponed one earlier because'well, no sense in getting it fixed if I'm just going to rip it again.'
Jackass, which premiered as a 30-minute television series for MTV six years ago and will spawn its second feature-length movie this fall, began with Knoxville, a handgun, a Kevlar vest, and a simple idea. For a skateboarding magazine, Knoxville videotaped himself testing various types of self-defense weaponry, including a 38-millimeter handgun that he borrowed from his neighbor's wife and with which he shot himself in the chest. He Tasered and stun-gunned himself. He shot pepper spray directly into his eyes, a stunt that he counts as his most painful to date. 'It's in your eyes for 15 minutes,' he says. 'Someone told me to pour milk in my eyes. Milk doesn't do a thing.'
These videotapes begat Jackass and jump-started Knoxville's acting career. 'We didn't even think it could be a television show,' he says. 'I didn't realize it would take off and do what it did'whatever that was.' Six-foot-one with a dark, square-jawed face, fine abs, and a pickup truck'owner's sense of style (he actually drives a black 1970 Cadillac), his look would help him get his foot in the door. Jackass added the necessary r'sum' item and helped him land roles as a manipulative skateboard promoter in Lords of Dogtown, as a chronically aroused Luke Duke in The Dukes of Hazzard, and as the leader of a band of sex addicts in A Dirty Shame, where director John Waters dubbed the Jackass team 'his most favorite gay straight guys ever.'