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Jackass star Steve-O has been through all manner of very public humiliations and self-flagellations in the name of laughs, taking kick after kick to the nuts with remarkable good humor. But there was one instance where the pain he felt was “unbearable”: getting covered in jet fuel and set on fire.
“There are really different criteria to the pain,” he said in a recent conversation with YouTube’s Doctor Mike. “There’s the duration, and then there’s the intensity. And I would lean towards the quicker it’s over, the better. And then when I suffered third degree burns on 15 percent of my body and needed skin graft surgery, that actually checked both boxes, emphatically. The duration and the intensity of the pain were in another world.”
Steve-O recalled feeling the pain at the time, then said that the next day it “wasn’t as bad,” but got “more and more unbearable” with each passing day that followed. But it wasn’t until day five that he finally went to the hospital, where he joked that the doctors said “what the fuck were you waiting for?”
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“I went on, effectively, a tour of burn units after that,” he continued, “and heard multiple times that people who have been both shot and stabbed as well as suffered burns would tell you burns are the worst pain of everything.”
Steve-O’s Jackass co-star Johnny Knoxville has also spoken publicly about the injuries he sustained while making the wildly popular MTV show: in 2007, he broke his penis while filming a motorcycle stunt. “The doctor said a couple centimeters down and it would’ve been out of commission,” he said earlier this year, before pointing to his children as proof that it’s still “in great working order.”
Philip Ellis is a freelance writer and journalist from the United Kingdom covering pop culture, relationships and LGBTQ+ issues. His work has appeared in GQ, Teen Vogue, Man Repeller and MTV.