Operation Concrete

So, here's a thing. A bit of an insight into what I was like when I was a student, just how great a journalist I really was...Back then, as well as being a student of journalism, I was the music editor of The University of Licoln's 'Bullet Magazine'. I traveled up and down the country interviewing anyone I could get my hands on skipping classes and causing mischief, I did alright, I even won an award, but the first BIG interview I bagged was with Steve-O, infamous from Jackass.

Now, back in 2004, Jackass was at it's peak really, especially across the UK where it had recently hit down...Youtube was just around the corner and millions of teens across the country were going out with their newly video enabled camera phones filming themselves jumping off buildings and setting themselves on fire. I bagged an interview with one of the lead stars in Steve-O and after the fact, thought the night was so surreal and bizarre, that I needed to write up more than just a 1000 word feature.

This turned into the 9000 word short story below, which actually does include the interview, but is more about me trying to be Hunter S Thompson at the age of 20 and not doing very well...It is however, very funny reading back through it. I've not done any editing from the original file that I found today apart from a couple of full stops here and there, which were apparently my kryptonite back then (still are today). Anyway, I hope you enjoy it.

Richard Galbraith - Fear and Loathing in Nottingham…And Justice for all - 03/06/2004

In mid February I traveled to Nottingham for an ominous assignment with the potential to turn nasty at any point. A state of caution had to be maintained at all times as I was interviewing “Steve-o” possibly one of the most infamous stars of the series of Jackass programs whilst on their 'Don't try this at home tour. A sort of terrible roaming circus of violence and abuse.

Getting into the venue was easy, my friend and I were on the guest list. After a quick bag search an angry bouncer pushed us into the club. Packed with freaks, geeks, dope fiends and losers every possible subculture of the newly born 21st century had a representative here to see this nightmarish spectacle of self-abuse and loathing. Stuck in a momentary batch of confusion in the middle of all of this was a six feet seven Goliath that is my very good friend who shall remain only known as Bevski and the twisted powder white booze hound that is myself.

We rushed quickly to the bar where we were robbed over £3 for a warm flat beer, I decided to try and get the ball rolling by finding my contact at the venue. After a lot of bad noise I was finally pushed on the merchandising guy, “Hi, my names Richard Galbraith, I’ve organised an interview with Steve-o through Work Hard PR, and his American agent Chris Holly,” I stated, he said he would go and check it out for me moments later he came back with a brute of a man. He was obviously some sort of security, he ordered us to follow him, beginning to feel very intimidated I started to sweat heavily and to think our gig was up before it had even began. We were taken through what seemed to be some sort of youth night at the back end of the club, escorted like the bad boys through a fire exit I was sure he was taking us outside for summary execution.

This was not the case, he talked to some management person and came back to us only to say to check after the show, as there may not be any time for my interview. Fairly disappointed at this juncture in our night we decided to go through to the main stage area and wait for the show to begin.

An angry youthful looking band confidently walked onto the stage to a wave of abuse. As they began to play it became clear they were some sort of mongrel heavy metal band trying to mix a series of genres and failing at the same time.

I sent Bevski to buy some more beer, unfortunately the crowd’s mood was turning uglier by the second. The band had not helped by giving the audience as much abuse as they got. Constantly telling us all to fuck off, the trendier and hip contingent of losers here, which were obviously unused to such abuse off a band, had started to get violent and were throwing everything they could get their hands on at the stage. Bevski’s return though had settled my mood slightly, and then finally Steve-o and his band of freaks had landed on the stage to indulge the crowd in their form of entertainment.

One of his first tricks was the so-called tequila challenge. This required three members on stage, each starting off by sniffing a few grams of salt, then by trying to down an entire 50cl bottle of Jose Cuervo followed by squeezing half a lime into each eye, which, must be kept open at all times. Minutes into the show a young lady collapses next to me, a pile of innocent flesh at my feet I was slightly confused as to what to do, Bevski was laughing so hysterically I knew it would be pointless to talk to him about the situation. Soon after the incident however a short man of average build who seemed to be walking through the crowd aimlessly picked the young lady up put her over his shoulder and carried on walking.

And so the show carried on, Steve-o had stapled his scrotum to his thigh, set his head on fire with absinthe, eaten a small portion of a smashed light bulb and generally abused his body to an extraordinary extent. Not only had he done this to himself however, active crowd participation was encourage. Ladies were asked to throw items of underwear onto the stage, which were then stapled to Steve-o’s body, and the young males that were either brain dead or so completely overcome by excitement, were invited on stage and told to punch themselves in the face, the deal being that the first one to bleed got backstage access after the show to ‘hang out’ with the gang.

A boy whose face was ugly to the point of being offensive, even before the event, had won by seemingly splitting his nose open. As blood poured from his face he was brought to the front of the stage, arms raised like a triumphant boxer trying to smile in front of a twisted crowd. Was he still so excited about getting backstage with this special breed of celebrity? A difficult question to answer, at this point especially, as my mind set had moved on to worrying about my interview rather than the show of self-harm.

As the exhibition drew to a close Bevski and myself wondered around trying to find someone of importance, after being dejected by several more vicious looking security men we were about to give up. Walking down some stairs feeling particularly full of self-pity I said to Bevski “Lets wait until the bulk of the crowd has moved, no room to think in this gang of misfits.”

Bevski agreed and around fifteen minutes later we were back up by the main stage, and a spot of luck. Previously in the show Steve-o had been promoting his latest home video by showing clips of it on a large screen, I had watched and a man who was on the video and was seemingly Steve-o’s manager was now stood before us. After trying to call his attention away from trying to convince girls to come backstage I gently grabbed his arm and explained the situation. After dropping a few names he yelled “Sure thing”, and we followed him backstage.

A quick march around the security and down a narrow and particularly steep set of wooden stairs and we were backstage. Wondering exactly what to do I barged passed a group of stupefied looking girls into the main dressing room. A group of cameramen, a few other stars of the Jackass series, a strong smell of marijuana and more confused looking girls greeted me, but no Steve-o. After questioning some random heads I found out that he was signing autographs up stairs, despair struck me. After a lot of ugliness upstairs and finally getting to the dirty pit called backstage my interview was back out front. Fuck it I thought, there was only one cause of action to be taken, drink as much alcohol in the shortest time possible and ride any wave that we might be able to fall onto. I’d simply had enough of chasing and was more than prepared to let fate guide me at this point.

After a brief chat with the band that had opened the show earlier on in the evening, who happened to be an incredibly nice bunch of Welshmen, we decided to buy 40 cans of premium strength beer between the six of us. I caught the attention of a man whose sole purpose seemed to be supplying everybody with alcohol and generally keeping people happy. Probably a very good idea as both rooms has the potential to turn into a cloud of violence at any second.

I was chatting to a fairly attractive young lady when the man returned, I quickly left her, my priorities were now bound by one purpose, getting drunk. The young lady already seemed to be there however, as I was turning around opening my first beer she fell down the narrow, steep set of stairs that we had come down to get backstage, she must have fallen on her head because she seemed to be unharmed and was quickly back on her feet. Her sole concern seemed to be that she had lost some part of a cannabis smoking mechanism and not the fact that all around groups of people were in hysterics directing their laughter at her.

I moved back into the other room, and began chatting with a cameraman. “How’s your night been?” I quizzed.

“Full of shit…" He replied. "I’m ill dude.”

This was apparent just to look at him, his face was pale and his eyes were half closed as if at any point he could drop out of consciousness in a wave of virus induced fever. I gave up with general chitchat and stood in the corner observing the crowd whilst Bevski chatted music and politics with the Welshmen. I failed to see the young man who had earlier split his nose open onstage for the chance of meeting his hero’s after the gig, I felt sorry for the guy for a second until I fully realised what he had done. That being he had stood onstage and repeatedly punched himself in the face until it bled, after which I really could not feel anything for the kid. He was probably in his parent’s car on the way home now a hopeless mess. I could see it; “but dad I did this so I could get backstage!”

“You’re never going to one of these S&M parties again!”

“Dad its not S&M, please can’t I stay?”

“No we’re going home, and you better not tell your mum you did that to yourself, I’m so disappointed.”

No time for that now though, my sight must be set on getting this interview, and after five beers my confidence was beginning to build. Suddenly Steve-o was there, cleaning the blood of his face he sat down and began generally chatting, I calmly walked over and asked for my interview. I was turned down at this juncture due to him wanting to relax and not get hassled for a bit, reasonable enough I thought, there was still potential so I was not totally unhinged.

Things were now starting to get rowdy, Ryan Dunn, one of the other Jackass stars and a professional BMX rider, had taken it upon himself to start knocking out groupies with a choke hold of some form. He stopped the flow of blood to the brain by wrapping his arms around their neck, forearm pressing against one jugular bicep against the other, this temporarily knocked a person unconscious. I was not yet prepared to indulge in this act so I continued to stand, observing, trying to get a grasp on the mood. One of intimidation and apprehension on behalf of the people who had managed to get backstage, and on the other hand the vibe of overwhelming confidence coming from the ‘stars’ of the show. A mixture that seemed to fit accordingly to the situation and what was taking place.

Things all of a sudden took a turn for the worse, there was a homosexual stood over his friend or lover, it was hard to decided which, who had just been knocked out by Ryan.

“You’ve fucking killed him” this extraordinarily skinny and camp looking man shouting to a crowd of bikers and extreme sports fanatics. I continued to drink my beer as the person on the floor now began to have convulsions. His gay partner was getting seriously angry, it was apparent that something had to be done.

“You’ve fucking killed him,” he kept repeating, when the person in question was clearly not dead, a twisted wreck on the floor, but not dead.

“I don’t care who the fuck you all are I’m calling the fucking police”. This instantly got a reaction from everyone; one of the security men broke out of formation quickly picked up the wafer thin man and began to carry him out. His friend had woken up now and was slightly confused but giggling nonetheless, until that is, he realised the situation in hand and how badly his friend had reacted to him being unconscious and fitting on the floor.

He quickly stood up, apologised grabbed his coat and left after his friend. The mood in the small room had changed, a slight hint of fear had crept over everyone, not only from the violent reaction of the gay and his boyfriend fitting on the floor, but at the prospect he would call the police.

There was however no time to worry about such trivial matters, I’m perfectly legal, no drugs on me sir, search all you like. Another beer down and I was lucky to regain my place in the room, as when I returned there was an ex-playboy model showing off her breasts and letting Steve-o lick them and suck them for the camera, all in full view of her husband. The situation again had the potential to turn ugly, the husband was a chisel faced bald man of medium height and build but looked defined in his shoulders and could clearly hurt someone if he so intended. He realised however it was all in the name of fun, I’m sure he was expecting something along these lines to happen, having come back stage with these ‘neo-rockstars’ and so he let the groping continue.

After a short period it seemed time for everyone to leave, the lady had left with her wonderful breasts and mean faced husband and the thrill of being backstage was beginning to wear thin. Again, fear crept over myself at the prospect of losing my interview, I quickly rushed towards Steve-o but was caught just before I got to him by his manager Mike. “Dude, can I get my interview now?” I asked.

“We’re going to the hotel now” he turned to ask Steve-o if I was permitted to come back to the hotel to do it there. “Steve can this guy come back and ask you some questions?”, Steve-o must have heard me name drop his Chris Holly and replied “If he mentioned Chris then sure.”

Chris was my contact in America that I had arranged the interview with, apparently quite a close friend of Steve-o as well as his American agent, Steve-o himself trusted Chris’ judgement and if Chris had said I would get an interview then in his eyes I was.

Everybody began to filter out of the backstage area up the stairs and out back to a parking lot. I began to worry intensely after I realised there was no space on the tour bus for Bevski and I to get a lift back to the hotel. I quickly shouted to Mike “What’s the name of the hotel, we’ll get a taxi.”

“The Nottingham Plaza Hotel or something, I’m sure the taxi guys will know, just ask for that, and we’ll meet you there.”

“No problems,” I replied as they crammed a few more girls into the bus and drove off.

Initially getting backstage was a real bonus to the evening even though the prospect of my interview dwindled as I continued to drink, now I was going back to the hotel with them, this required some mental preparation. The adrenaline was quickly clearing my brain and I began to think straight, a set plan had to be made and carried out with military precision to get from the back entrance of the club, to a five star hotel in central Nottingham.

We both had large bags full of beer so manoeuvring would be restricted. I needed money, and after a brief trip to the cash machine that task was completed, now for a taxi. Lucky for us there was a cab rank a mere 30 seconds from where I had picked up the money I jumped in the front saying, “we need to get to the plaza hotel stat! Do you know where it is?”

The taxi driver took us straight there, reaching the hotel only moments after the tour bus had. I raced to the door of the hotel seeing the crew inside through the large glass walling. The door was locked, it was after all getting close to 2am by this time, a small black man came to open it for me wearing a full butlers uniform. I knew immediately this place was high class and I began to sweat again. The first wave of adrenaline was beginning to wear off as we walked through into the hotels lobby, Steve-o was no where to be seen but I gone past the point of caring, all I wanted was some more drink.

After an introductory chat to a few more of the crew, some camera guys and sound techs, we were moving on to someone’s room. No problem I thought, get up there and carry on putting back the beer, we’ve got enough to last a good hour at least, by that time I should have my interview complete.

The elevator trip was tense, Bevski and myself were seemingly on quite a large endorphin rush having been invited back to ‘chill at the hotel’ with some of our idols. The others though looked wrecked and starved of oxygen in the small compartment, the nervous sound of loose change rattling in people pockets filled the air and everyone immediately rushed off once we hit our floor.

We all piled into a small room, probably an executive suit deigned for single night stays by businessmen. It was in surprisingly good order, and it turned out to be the room of the ill camera guy I had spoken to previously. He wanted an early night so was trying to get everyone out of his room but with little luck. Mike had set up an iMac on the dressing table and was beginning to watch some recordings made during the day. “This shit’s really cool,” he said as he started to become excited.

The video showed Ryan Dunn performing the chokehold move on Steve-o at different points during the day. Initially when he had just woken up, then whilst he was on the phone doing an interview with Radio One, right the way through the day. The last time he did it do him it looked particularly disturbing, he had had the blood cut off to his brain six times during the day and on the sixth it looked, for a short period, as if he was permanently brain damaged. His walking had become uncoordinated and clumsy with an inept look in his eyes that seemed to portray an intense difficulty in controlling basic motor skills. Everyone in the room seemed to retort with bad vibes, Mike said something like, “I think we should go back down stairs and get a drink.”

So we did, another slightly awkward elevator trip that brought us back down to the lobby where we ordered some drinks from the small porter gentleman who had opened the front door for me. Everyone was sat around on large leather chairs, in the middle of us of all was an elongated leather foot rest broken in places by a shined stainless steel plate obviously for resting drinks on.

The man soon returned with our drinks, Bevski had a double vodka and I had a double Pernod with water and plenty of ice. The butler type man pushed a small tray under my nose with a receipt on it, it was ludicrously expensive but I had no time to argue, we needed drink, so after an initial biting remark to Bevski I put the appropriate money on the tray and handed it back and said keep them coming. “Sorry sir?” I heard, the last thing in the world I wanted to hear at this point, I didn’t want any trouble I was in no mind set for it, I could only hope Bevski was prepared for this potentially fatal milestone in our evening.

“Sorry sir, but you have to be a resident to buy a drink, we don’t accept cash as it is after regular hours.”

“Damn it man, I am a resident, why didn’t you tell me?” He passed me the tray with the receipt on it again, after close inspection it did have a section on the bottom requesting you put your room number and signature. This was the fatal milestone, as I was not a resident, but he didn’t know this and as far as he was concerned I was with the Americans so burn him and the hotel I thought. We’ll be out of here in a few hours, long gone and Steve-o’s people will be back out on the road, a little bit of straight fraud never hurt, it should work. What I hadn’t realised however is that virtually all hotels, start at room 100. I put room number 69, the first pseudonym that came into my head and handed him back the receipt. “Thank you sir,” he said as he disappeared through a door, which seemed to lead to a bar area. I began to relax and drink my Pernod.

He quickly re-appeared however, stating that the hotel didn’t have a room 69. This was it I thought the gig was up, we’d be ejected, tossed out onto the street left to fend for ourselves. I could see Bevski and I in Nottingham city centre at 3am with two bags full of beer and no-where to go. Well, fate had dealt his cards and we would just have to cope with the consequences. As I really began to despair Mike interjected, he must have spotted my face quickly loosing what colour it actually had left. “What seems to be the problem here?”

“Apparently you have to be a resident to buy a drink, if I give you the cash can we get them on your room?”

“Sure, no problem there dude, here let me sign that.”

Mike quickly signed the receipt and sent the butler away. He disappeared as he had before and I began to question where Steve-o was. “He’s up in his room with some lady friends,” Mike replied. Fair enough I thought, he’s out here doing the rock star thing. I knew if I was him I’d rather be in my room humping with fresh young groupies than down stairs with a group of freaks binge drinking and getting hassled by a rather unprofessional student of journalism. Bevski and I chatted generally within ourselves for a short period making sure that the Pernod and Vodka kept flowing, trying to make conversation with the others was much too difficult. There was a culture gap between the English bums and the American bums that seemed to halt even the lowest form of conversation.

I asked Ryan Dunn how he was, all I got was a short and to the point reply, “I’m fine” he said with a smile, well I’m sure he was sat there with his bottle of Jack Daniel’s and bucket of ice. Maybe this new ‘celebdom’ these people had found had gone to their heads I thought. From being relatively well known inside a small sector of a vast industry and sub culture within our society that is extreme sports they were now world-renowned mad men, and it is the mad men that last. No one remembers the quiet one out of a band, or the polite politician, the consumers want for terrible and vicious characters is never ending. Few people would know who the other members of Black Sabbath were, but everyone will know who Ozzy Osbourne is. The relentless alcoholic mad man that seemingly knew no boundaries. Now these young men were the pretenders to the throne, they where to be the next mad men these ‘neo-rockstars’ and it looked like they knew it.

No problem there though, I tried to talk a little more, asking about his tattoos, nothing really came of it, showing me various parts of his inked body I decided I would show him mine. A straight strategically placed tattoo on my lower back simply reading ‘beer’ in capital gothic letters, Ryan seemed pleasantly surprised and asked over one of the camera men.

“Hey Demitri come over here and check this out”. Demitri was, as far as I could tell, the lead cameraman and a very nice guy too. Possibly the only member of the crew more than willing to join in small talk he was eager to see what Ryan had for him as he jumped over the central leather footrest with his camera.

Turning it on he began to film my back from various angles with questions being floated from all around. It became apparent that the key to opening these guys up was something a little over board, extravagance and eccentricity were a pre-requisite for them and having the word Beer permanently engraved on my back seemed to do the trick. So suddenly a break though I thought. People were asking all sorts of questions now, “has your mom seen that?” “How long have you had it done now?” Answering as I went a long I thought I should keep the ball rolling, all gates must remain open after this juncture so however long we were permitted to stay at least we would be able to make conversation. I asked Ryan to perform the chokehold maneuver on myself, he was more than willing and Demitri kept the camera rolling.

The experience itself was a very strange one, as Ryan wrapped his arms around my neck my adrenaline glands started to work in overdrive as my fight or flight response began to kick in. Luckily the alcohol in my blood quickly reduced what could have been a large and violent reaction to a small rise in heart rate. Demitri said something like “what do you have written across your back?!” As I began to go unconscious “beer” I said as my vision began to disappear.

I woke up on the marble floor after what felt like a very long time, fortunately it transpired that I had only been unconscious for a matter of three seconds, so no real damage could be done I thought. Everyone was in hysterics as I picked myself up off the floor with the camera being forced in my face, Demitri began to ask me “what did you see dude?” I thought for a second and said “lots of lights, thousands of bulbs all glowing in unison and each distinctive”. Suddenly, a large and offensive man who had been sitting at the opposite end of the room was now stood about two feet away, he turned Demitri round saying something like “That’s not funny, this is funny” and he grabbed the glasses off my face.

Normally this would incite an extreme reaction from myself as without my glasses I can see very little of what is going on, I quickly realised though the man was a giant and could easily cause me some serious injury if I reacted to him in such a way. After the momentary spark of thought concerning how to react I realised the man had my glasses in his mouth, he was eating them and shouting about how funny this act was. I immediately pounced and trying desperately to grab them back, the fact that his girlfriend and everyone around didn’t find what he was doing at all funny unquestionably helped my situation and I quickly retrieved them. Slightly twisted and with bite marks on the lenses I sat back down and ordered more Pernod.

After the terrible incident with going unconscious and the man eating my glasses I was beginning to tire. The adrenaline was again wearing off and as a result my body was going into some sort of distress mode, realising that danger is no longer present all non-vital systems closing down and preparing for rest. I had no time for rest though, I had an assignment to complete, and it was now apparent that Bevski and myself were welcome guests for the night, after my exploits with the choke hold trick and showing my tattoo. I ordered the small butler to bring me a bottle of coke a double vodka, two table spoons of ground coffee and a tall glass, which he did without hesitation. Whilst I was mixing it all together in order to produce my own form of energy drink one of the groupies Steve-o had been spending his time with had come down and was sitting on the edge of her seat looking down at the floor with an air of nervousness. Everyone began to laugh at her except for Bevski and myself who were, at that time, not in on the joke. She quickly left and I began to scrape the brown foam, which was the result of mixing the coke and coffee granules, off the top of my energy drink and put it in an empty glass.

Demitri came over with a digital camera and said “dude, because we found your tattoo so sweet you get to have a look at this”. Immediately it became apparent why everyone was sniggering at the young groupie when she came to sit down and why, when she realised everyone was laughing at her, she must have left so promptly. The picture displayed on the small LCD screen was of Steve-o and the girl locked in a position, two bodies becoming one, yet whilst the girl had a face of passion, Steve-o’s face was simply of pleasure. With possibly the largest grin I’ve ever seen spread across his face it looked on the small screen as if his head was slightly warped and misshapen. I immediately burst into laughter and told Demitri he had to show Bevski, he also went into hysterics.

We soon calmed and I realised I had had my energy drink sat in front of me for about five minutes now, it had to be drunk. This concoction is a potent mixture that tastes as if it has been brewed in hells mouth. A tall glass with a double vodka, two table spoons of ground coffee and the best part of a bottle of coke it is a pick-me-up that weak contenders usually cannot cope with. I began to down the drink and instantly knew I couldn’t make the entire glass, which is vital to this drink as drinking it in two parts only makes the experience twic e as horrific. I had to put the glass back down and as I did I realised the coffee was not going to mix well with the Pernod. I began to have stomach convulsions, the need to vomit came over me very quickly and I recognised I had no time to reach any toilets, but after years of experience with such situations it was not a problem. I calmly lit a cigarette and sat back with a smile on my face as my eyes began to water, I couldn’t possibly show such a sign of weakness in front of these madmen and vomiting on the floor was out of the question. The cigarette calmed my stomach however and after a few moments I began to recover.

I sipped on the small bit of Pernod and water I had left and contemplated drinking the second half of my energy drink. At this moment however Steve-o came walking down the stairs that lead into our lobby area. Looking slightly detached from what exactly was going on the stark reality of what was about to happen hit me. Finally after waiting for the entire night for my interview it was soon to take place, now however I was a twisted drunken mess. I could barely talk, and even if I could keep down my energy drink it would be at least 20 minutes before the coffee began to perk me up at all. I was incoherent, blurry eyed and I couldn’t read my own questions I had written out earlier that day on the train into Nottingham, I was a terrible mess, but there is no time in this business for the weak, no matter how I felt I had to get the job done. Why was I here? To entertain myself or to complete my assignment? To complete my assignment of course, get in, get the job done, get the fuck out, only things were no longer that simple.

I wrestled with myself trying to sit up straight and look as composed as I possibly could, but nothing could help me now I’d crossed that fine line, beyond the point of no return. Now it was clear there was nothing to be lost. So whilst Steve-o chatted with other members of the crew I tried to finish off what was left of my energy drink. This time however the drink fully disagree with me, as the thick brown foam floating on top hit the back of my throat the gagging reflex immediately kicked in, my stomach convulsions were far clear of the point of control and so I vomited the entire drink back into the glass. I wiped my mouth, looked up and realised I had filled the glass back with such precision it was hard to believe it had previously been drunk apart from a slightly off smell.

I was feeling a lot better yet I knew this was a momentary high that would soon be lost. The brutal truth was apparent, now instead of having a small amount of caffeine in my stomach that had the possibility of waking me ever so slightly I had none at all, and I had an upset stomach that had the potential of turning aggressive at any given moment. Luck had given me some extra time however; Steve-o was in conversation with the crew all around and seemed happy enough. I was took it upon myself to go to the toilet and freshen up as best I could. I had been many times during the night and they were dapper, perfect temperature and humidity controlled no doubt by an elaborate air-conditioning system. No terrible smell of urine with cheap Formica tops in this establishment, only the aroma of lemon with black marbled sides. Small slightly warmed hand towels were neatly piled in a pyramid formation beside each sink that had scent’s and soap beside it, a perfect place to gather ones self try to regain some grasp on the situation.

After perhaps five minutes I re-emerged slightly better off but still in no state of mind to interview a man who was on such an enormous ego trip it engulfed the room. Steve-o himself is only really a slight man, a defined face with a square jaw and high cheekbones that could give him a somewhat handsome look if he wasn’t so gaunt with it. Of average height his build was perhaps a little skinny all over. Yet having been in front of over 1500 people, all screaming and shouting for his praise and at his command wincing in horror at his stunts he projected an air of extreme confidence. This combined with having been followed back to a five star hotel by beautiful young women who’s sole purpose of being there was to have sex with him and then finally coming down stairs to have high powered stimulants pushed on him and generally being the centre of attention had pushed his ego into some sort of ludicrous mode. This was going to be no easy interview in the first place, now however; I was in a proverbial world of shit having uncontrollable fits of sickness. As I sat back down in my chair I was beginning to get the fear, shivers were racing up my spine as I had short bursts of more adrenaline. Steve-o had moved and was sat directly opposite myself now so I thought I would politely interrupt to try and get this ball rolling. “Dude, can I get this interview now?”

“Yeah, okay,” he replies, “lets get started.”

“That’s great, I’ll just get my questions and stuff together.”

I quickly pulled out my questions, ran a few through my head trying to mentally prepare myself and figure out my scribbled handwriting at the same time reading the in-depth review of the instant knockout. Demitri came over at this point. “Dude look at what this guys been drinking,” as he pointed to my energy drink “What is it?”

“It’s my own form of energy drink, vodka, coke and two heaped table spoons of ground coffee. Normally it has crisps of some sort crunched up in it as well, then it contains all major food groups, alcohol, sugar, caffeine and protein, it tastes like Satan’s own piss,” everyone began to laugh, since some people prefer to take a delicious green drink and other natural product instead of this. I was happy with the way our introductory chat was going, I thought best start things as soon as possible and get the ball rolling so to speak and just hope it doesn’t roll off. “That’s cool dude, I think I might try and make a stunt out of that one, would you mind? I think I’d call it the ground coffee challenge.”

“That would be seriously cool.”

“See, I like to respect intellectual property, so I would consider the new ground coffee challenge to be your intellectual property, do you kind of mind if I take that ball and run with it?”

“Hell no dude, I’d be honoured to say the least,” at this point a guy who had been sitting in the background all night had started to move closer. Realising with some sort of predatory skill that Steve-o was no longer in conversation with his crew and friends so therefore must be open to random discussion.

“Hey Steve-o, I’ve been practicing my clown skills” he said and began to balance three mobile phones on top of one another length ways on his chin. The skill was undoubtedly acquired with hours of practice and deserved some praise; Steve-o grabbed everyone’s attention and the young man began to balance all sorts of things on his chin and fingers. At one point he had five mobile phones balanced on his chin whilst he juggled another three. All the while however my mental state was deteriorating at a gradual rate. I must get this interview started before it is too late. “Hey dude, can we get this thing started now?” I asked politely.

“Sure, so what’s your first question?”

The initial questions did not go down very well at all. I knew I had to start off with some so called ‘run of the mill’ questions in order to get information that the regular reader would want to hear. “What was your worst injury?” I asked.

“Dude you know, if you’re going to be asking me all these generic questions then we can just finish this interview now, seriously, I’m sick of these bullshit generic questions.”

“I’m sorry dude, I thought I…” what I was trying to explain was that I needed to ask the questions that the people wanted to know, Steve-o however had obviously heard them so many times he was disgruntled to say the least when people began asking him them. Fine, if he was on Radio One he would answer them, but to a lowly, very drunk student journalist he obviously was not prepared to co-operate. This was where the ego became apparent, maybe the drugs had taken over I thought. No matter, I could not stop. “I would ask some normal questions to start with that the people want to know about.”

He wasn’t prepared to listen though, “no way am I carrying on with this unless the questions get better and fast.”

“Well you have been likened to stunt masters such as Evil Kenevil and Harry Houdini, what do you personally think of this?” I hit him with what I thought was my finest question, at least I would get one good answer.

“That’s better dude. See Evil Kenevil only ever did one trick, and to his credit, like anyone else, the actual content of your art is irrelevant unless you take the action of bringing your art to the people, whatever that art is. Evil Kenevil has more accomplishments to praise in the actual promotion category than the content of his stunts and once again to his credit he made fully packed arenas. The original stunt was him with a ten-dollar bet to jump over a car in the street. It doesn’t matter that he only had one trick though, what matters is that he did such a great job of promoting it. He is kind of one-dimensional, see the thing is with his one trick is that he was doing these arena jumps on the heaviest Harley Davidson motorcycle with one of the motorcycle helmets of course, so no disrespect, he is an American legend. The person who I do have as an idol is Houdini, he had so many stunts. Houdini was much more multi dimensional than Kenevil. If I seriously had a goal, it would to be compared, strictly in the realm of idiots, to Houdini.”

I recoiled with despair I was an incoherent wreck running out of ‘good’ questions fast and here was a guy that just hours before was stapling his scrotum to his thigh and was now giving articulate answers to myself. I tried not to talk and just carry on with questions I thought he would react well to. “Would you put yourself in a barrel and roll off Niagara Falls?”

“Im working on a ‘crash capsule’, which is going to be devoted to doing the bump over Niagara Falls. See it’s going to be very hard to go over Nigeria falls because I simply cannot get permission”. We now began to talk in with more fluency, he seemed to understand that I had realised I had annoyed him and was trying my hardest to keep the interview on its feet with as original questions as I could think of or read.

”I heard that you don’t like people copying yourself because you want all the lime light?”

”There is a blurry line between recognising imitation as a form of flattery and compared to recognising imitation as a type of threat. And you know I really don’t care one way or another, I like to think of it as often imitated never duplicated. I take a lot of pride in what I do. When it comes down to it though, say Tony Hawk (Professional skateboarder), he is not responsible every time some kid falls off a skateboard, and Im a professional and Im not going to be held responsible for anything bad that happens. I’ve created my own field and I’m a professional at it.”

“That was another thing that I was going to ask, in that, I read that you enjoy doing what you do so much because it gives people a laugh, do you think you’ve invented a new genre of comedy?"

“You see, most people don’t enjoy their day, a lot of people don’t want to be in their marriage, a lot of people are dying, hate their jobs, if they can just watch a half hour of me doing dumb stuff, even if its for that half hour, its taking them away from their bad day, then thats great.”

“Yeah, but are you actually trying to invent a new genre of comedy?"

”Its not even necessarily comedy that I do dude, what I do is entertain, its rock and roll man and no one’s going to stop it!”

Things were going quite well on the interviewing front; I had finally established some sort of rapport with him even if it was small. However, as I searched for my next question I realised he had taken out a small cellophane bag with a white powder in it, which had to be cocaine. Steve-o begins laughing and carefully pouring it out onto one of the stainless steel bits of plating on the footrest in the middle of us all. Once a small pile is in front of him he begins chopping it up into small lines with a credit card and asks over Demitri. “Hey dude, come over here and film this” he shouts with a tone of excitement. Once Demitri is over with the camera set up Steve-o simply says “Welcome to Nottingham” and snorts a number of lines.

As Steve-o ingested more stimulants I on the other hand was beginning to fall into an alcohol induced sleep. I had no hope, my brain was closing down on all fronts, complete loss of speech and temporary paralysis had taken over, it was clear to see I was in a bad way. Drinking so much Pernod was obviously not a wise idea, luckily however Steve-o had come to my rescue. “Here dude, give me your questions and I’ll just read through them.”

He grabbed my piece of paper with my scribbled questions and began to look for the ones that pleased him most; unfortunately he had seen one that made him particularly irritable. “Where do you get the nerve to ask me if this is making me a rich man?” he questioned me with an angry tone.

“Seriously? Where do you get the balls to ask such a question, you were going to ask me that weren’t you?”

I had no choice but to reply, however incoherent I may sound, “look, sorry, I’m just a student, I didnt realise you’d be so offended”. His manner changed immediately, he seemed to be having irrational mood swings which I simply put down to the drugs and tried not to get offended “yeah okay,” he said.

“Just you’ll have to remember that one for the future, but seriously dude, you have to be more sober the next time you interview someone, ill read though these and just talk.”

“That’s perfectly acceptable,” I replied.

“Funniest stunt? That’s a new one, I’ve never been asked that before, I really like that question. But Im really not all that much about comedy dude, its more shock value, shock value, even as a clown I wasn’t making people laugh, it was more getting people to be entertained and show that by clapping. But to be honest I don’t care if they laugh or drop their jaw, to me shock value is the same as comedy, and that distraction from the days problems, whether they laugh or are shocked as long as they are distracted from all these problems thats what counts. But funniest stunt, gauging from people’s reactions when they see the footage it was when I was in Mexico locked out of my room. So I decided to go down to reception totally naked and really drunk. Low impact, no danger, but simply made people laugh, a naked dude in a hotel, simple. It’s a good question though, what is funny? There’s a difference between what’s funny and what’s shocking.”

This mood swing had seemed to take a turn for the better as Demitri interjected “yeah but your shocking stuff is funny, if it was anyone else then it probably wouldn’t have been.”

“I guess, see, if I wasn’t very very happy to be doing this then it would be just me hurting myself, and me hurting myself is simply tragic and depressing unless Im happy and having fun. Now,” as he moved onto the next question I was sat opposite him with my head in my hands virtually asleep, the drugs Steve-o had taken however were working their wicked way on his body and giving him an air of happiness as his speech began to increase in speed.

“Am I without pain? Well no, Im just the same as everyone else but I just want attention more that’s all it is. The pain that I go through is insignificant compared with the pain people cause their souls when they’re doing something they don’t like, you know? At the end of the day, what ever I do to my body is nothing when I get free money and naked chicks, and making people happy and don’t forget living for ever” he says as he breaks into laughter.

“Do I think the crowds will ever dry up? Well why do you think Im so busy trying to get my own T.V show dude?” He was now talking at me whilst I sat with slightly twisted and uncomfortable across from him. “I know eventually touring on my own the crowds will dry up, but if we keep Tremaine (Jeff Tremaine, Jackass The Movie director) and I get my own T.V show we can keep these fires burning.”

I tended to agree but I could not motivate myself to answer. Steve-o had endured enough of talking to an asleep interviewer and trying to decipher my illegible handwriting, he turned away saying the interview was over and began talking back with his crew at the other end of the table. The discussion moved onto one of politics and the war in Iraq, no sense was really made by anybody as even the most sober person at the table had drank a fair amount. I continued with my position of rest, head in hands snoozing lightly, I could hear people talking about me, “is that guy okay?” “Has he drank to much?” I couldn't possibly answer such questions but thankfully Bevski had come to my defense, answering each quickly and with an appropriate answer, “he’s fine, I think he hasn’t actually drank enough and has fallen asleep as a result,” he explained. Everybody must have been delusional by this point as no one queried what Bevski had said or my state again during the remainder of the night.

After brief respite I sat back up and began talking and listening, everyone was voicing their irrational views on the war and George W Bush. The basic opinion was one of discontentment with how the election had turned out and how democracy had brought them this so called leader that was fighting a war that was unjustified. I largely disagreed with what everybody was saying but was in no position to argue any points, my priorities had shifted to ensuring shelter for the remainder of the time we had before we were due to catch our trains. It was around 4am and everybody was starting to drift up to their rooms. I stood up and kindly thanked Steve-o for his patience and asked for a photo, which he was more than happy to have taken, grabbing my crotch and patting my back the photo was taken and he began his way to the lift with the others.

Now we were in a predicament, I had organised a place to stay in Nottingham but it was outside of the city centre and out of the question at this point. We agreed the best policy was to catch the elevator to the top floor and rest in the corridor for the remaining time until our trains were due. As we stepped out of the elevator we were hit by a surprise, on our immediate left a conference room had been left open, we quickly moved in. After turning on the lights and scanning the room it became apparent we had hit the jackpot. There were bowls of fresh fruit still lying around, a 42-inch television, bottled water, kettles, tea and coffee, comfy chairs. Everything we needed for a short period of recuperation. I shut the doors, turned on the television and we both began to feast on the fruit.

Conversation w as little, we were both physically as well as mentally exhausted, I personally had been without sleep, apart from almost going down during the interview, quite some time, Bevski had similar problems. Soon enough however it was time to stop watching the Motor-cross and begin to move to the train station. I had recorded almost four hours of conversation and it needed to be listened to in order to corroborate my twisted memories. As we left I picked up the largest pineapple I could find in the bowl saying to Bevski, “I think I’ll make a pineapple punch when I get home, lots of rum," - “a good call,” Bevski replied.

We caught the elevator to the ground floor and asked the morning bellboy to open the front door for us. What he must have though when two 19 year olds smelling of booze and walking with difficulty would have been doing leaving at about five thirty am from a five star hotel in central Nottingham god can only know. I was slightly paranoid and was wondering whether he would detain us and call the police, however, he asked us no questions and let us on our way.

On the way to the station I picked up a newspaper and a soft drink. Bevski and I were talking about the night in more detail now but were both keen to see what had been recorded. Upon reaching the station we shook hands congratulated ourselves on a job well done and parted our ways to our respective destinations. A very surreal night with typically savage icons of the cruel 21st century.

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