"Jackass" stuntman Steve-O isn't obscene, he's an American hero, according to the show's star, Johnny Knoxville.
Steve-O, whose real name is Stephen Glover, faces obscenity and assault charges stemming from a Louisiana nightclub performance in which he stapled his scrotum to his thigh (see "Steve-O Suffers For His Art, And It May Land Him In Jail").
At a "Jackass: The Movie" screening and backyard barbecue in Los Feliz, California, on Thursday, Knoxville expressed little surprise over Glover's trouble with the law, pointing out that his co-star has also been known to staple his scrotum to his stomach in a move called "the turtles."
"I think he got in trouble for the butterfly, which is one here," Knoxville said, motioning to one thigh, "and one there," he continued, motioning to the other thigh. The stunt is captured on Steve-O's home video "Don't Try This At Home."
"So you want to tell me about the fine line between art and obscenity?" Knoxville said, rattling off a list of other artists, comedians and publishers who've tested the limits of free speech, including Jim Morrison, Lenny Bruce, 2 Live Crew and Larry Flynt. "The people vs. Steve-O," he said, laughing. "He'll be wearing an American flag thong instead of the diaper. He is an American hero."
Though Glover plans to invoke freedom of speech and artistic expression as his defense, he was more modest about his stage act and more solemn about the effect this incident could have on his life and career. If convicted on all charges, he'll face up to eight years.
"Art is inherently open to interpretation," Glover said. "I've always pushed the boundaries of art as far as I can, and I expect to do that for quite a while in the future. It's art, man, and let's leave it at that."
As for his stage act, Glover said that he "can't imagine any way [the charges] wouldn't" affect future stunts he might pull. If authorities had hoped to get Glover to clean up his act, it's going to have the reverse effect.
"Oh, yes, it's going to get worse," Knoxville warned, before turning on the sarcasm. "And he's really stopped to think about things with this. We all learned something, you know. The guy staples his balls to his leg — what's he going to learn from this?!"
In the meantime, Glover hopes to get his $1.12 million bond reduced on Wednesday by convincing a Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, court that he's not a flight risk (see "Steve-O To Turn Himself In To Louisiana Authorities").
"I'm certainly not running away from anything," he said. "So I'm going to handle it and see what happens — keep the fires burning. We'll see how it all pans out."
As for Glover and Knoxville's next series of stunts caught on film, "Jackass: The Movie" has been pushed back from a late-August opening to an October 25 release. Paramount sources said the move was to avoid competition for teenage male audiences posed by films like "XXX."
Jennifer Vineyard, with additional reporting by Nick ZanoNick Zano
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