The Jackass Shark Week Particular begins with a warning to not try the next stunts at house, the identical disclaimer that’s preceded every episode and movie that includes the band of fear-neutered man-children risking bodily hurt within the identify of shock and laughter. Johnny Knoxville remarks, “Shark Week, the Jackass guys: What may go flawed?” Then, after a smirk and dramatic pause: “What may go proper?”
Nobody, not even rabble-rousing stuntmen who’ve been at their jackassery for greater than 20 years, anticipated simply how flawed issues would go.
Seconds into my Zoom with cast member Steve-O concerning the expertise, he turns the digital camera on his co-star Poopies, displaying the gnarly scars on his left wrist and hand, main as much as fingers which are caught erect after his tendons and two arteries have been absolutely severed when he was bitten by a shark.
In all of the hours of celebrity-focused Shark Week programming I’ve watched—this yr alone finds the likes of William Shatner, Tiffany Haddish, Ian Ziering, and Tara Reid featured in specials—it’s the first time I’ve ever seen somebody not simply in precise hazard, however attacked by a shark.
“I can barely transfer it,” Poopies says, alternating between a proud smile and a grimace as his arm is propped up like he’s completely waving whats up. “That’s not his jack-off hand, so it’s all good,” Steve-O provides, uncoiling his acquainted banshee chuckle.
The Jackass and Shark Week collaboration kicks off Discovery’s famous flood of annual summer programming on Sunday evening. From the protection of Los Angeles, Knoxville video-chats along with his minions at a secret location the place they’d be performing a sequence of harmful shark stunts—branded right here as experiments—within the identify of cautioning thrill-seeking Instagrammers towards mingling with the creatures, dispelling myths about their lethality, and even amassing some science.
Chris Pontius attire as a matador and dives into the ocean with a red-and-yellow muleta to see if bull sharks will cost prey in the event that they see vibrant colours. New solid member Jasper bobs in an interior tube over a bunch of sandbar sharks whereas holding a bait device used to measure the drive of a shark chunk. Steve-O, who famously pierced a fish hook by way of his cheek and connected himself to a fishing line to behave as literal sharkbait in an unique Jackass episode, did some grueling cardio earlier than swimming with bull sharks to check if they will odor human sweat.
“If you’re making an attempt to do one thing silly, you then’re actually nailing it,” warned Dr. Craig O’Connell, a shark biologist tasked with defending the sharks, amassing the info, and main the idiot’s errand of constructing certain the Jackass boys don’t get killed. Assume Mrs. Garrett herding the hijinks of the Details of Life ladies, but when Tootie insisted on throwing chum within the water whereas Blair was nose-to-nose with a 400-pound shark.
After I ask him this week about his time with the Jackass boys, O’Connell says, “From the beginning, I used to be very uncomfortable. However they are saying that life begins on the finish of your consolation zone. And I used to be undoubtedly on the finish of my consolation zone.”
The inevitable disaster occurs when Poopies tried a “Bounce the Shark” stunt, impressed by the Joyful Days episode by which the Fonz waterskis up a ramp and over a shark, spawning a phrase now used to explain when a TV sequence resorts to determined, ridiculous measures to generate buzz amidst waning high quality.
To execute it, Poopies rides a wakeboard that’s towed by a jetski. Bait is tossed within the water to lure Caribbean reef sharks, which may stand up to 14 ft, to congregate close to the floating ramp he was going to leap over. It takes just a few tries for Poopies to efficiently journey up the ramp, however the bounce isn’t as grand or wonderful as anticipated. He plops into the water—immediately right into a frenzied, feeding tangle of sharks. Nearly instantly, he’s bit.
You see a shock of purple blood gush into the water as Poopies wails. Instantly, Shark Week’s emergency protocols are employed. The medic, who occurred to be the one driving the jet ski, instantly turns round and dives into the now blood-fogged water to seize Poopies and drag him again to the boat.
“I imply, the extent of dedication and bravado on the a part of that medic to leap in that quick. It couldn’t have been 10 seconds that that medic was diving into all these sharks,” Steve-O says.
“You see a shock of purple blood gush into the water as Poopies wails. Instantly, Shark Week’s emergency protocols are employed.”
“It was tremendous spectacular,” remembers O’Connell. “My spouse is an ER physician and he or she’s like, ‘I need that medic in your present always.’”
Steve-O instantly knew that it was unhealthy. He demonstrates what a standard hand does once you bend it on the wrist, which is maintain its form perpendicularly, like an L. “Poopie’s hand was utterly folded,” he says. “It was completely folded, like vertical.”
The rescue footage is intense. Staff are shouting for medic baggage, tourniquets, and 911 calls. Poopies is swiftly moved to a speedboat to take him to a dock the place a van is ready for the 20-minute drive to the hospital. “That was the worst drive of my life,” Poopies says.
When the speedboat pulled away and the chaos died down, each Steve-O and O’Connell bear in mind everybody splintering off and simply sitting with their heads of their arms in disbelief that the worst-case situation had truly occurred. As he was pushed away, Poopies noticed Steve-O on the deck and shouted his identify. “I really like you, Poops!” Steve-O shouted again. “I really like you, too,” he yelled. After which, addressing one of many producers, “Jeff, what the fuck? I higher get a bonus for this.”
As expertly and effectively because the crew dealt with issues on the scene, it wasn’t as clean as soon as Poopies arrived on the hospital. “I get to the hospital, and so they’re all on lunch break and stuff,” he says. “I’m like, dude, I simply obtained bit by a shark. You recognize, they’re on island time over there.”
Manufacturing organized for him to signal himself out and be transported to a medevac airplane, at which level it was only a matter of ready for presidency clearance to take off. (Everybody we spoke to was requested to maintain the places of the place all of this occurred a secret.)
“We knew there was hazard. There’s no query about that,” Poopies displays. “However we didn’t know I used to be gonna get bit. I imply, it’s a blessing in disguise. I obtained bit, however it’s the most effective episode that Shark Week’s ever had.” At this level he yelps a loud, painful “Yow!” Steve-O had by chance nicked his injured hand whereas they have been speaking. “Some bodily remedy proper there,” he winces.
As Steve-O tells it, there may need been an opportunity that it wasn’t the most effective episode of Shark Week, and even an episode in any respect. He remembers one of many producers worrying that the incident was going to close down all of Shark Week.
“I stated, the one tragedy on this state of affairs is that if that footage will get buried. Throughout the board, because it pertains to Jackass, the extra extreme the implications, then the higher the footage. Now, in fact no one wished anyone to get bit and we have been all visibly shocked and tremendous bummed that it occurred. However as soon as it did occur, I imply, you bought to present Poopies his glory.”
O’Connell thinks that the cautionary-tale facet of what occurred holds worth, particularly at a time when a thirst for social media likes and viral standing has sparked a regarding uptick in folks participating in harmful habits in an effort to seize surprising pictures or movies with sharks.
When the shark bounce stunt was filmed, it was nightfall, when sharks are in hunt mode. It’s after they’re frenzying and feeding. He warned the blokes that then was the worst time to aim the trick. “They virtually used that as extra motivation to do it,” he says. However it was a sobering second. They discovered what to not do, and the acute repercussions once you ignore that. “Don’t mess with nature, proper? Nature will mess with you proper again.”
They really did gather knowledge, he additionally maintains, although clearly by way of strategies he would by no means use once more. And, despite the fact that Poopies obtained bit, the only chunk helped dispel a false impression.
“The media likes to name sharks ‘maneaters,’ like, ‘Oh, these sharks are on the market killing folks,’ which isn’t the case,” O’Connell says. There have been about 20 Caribbean reef sharks the place they have been filming all through the day. In the event that they have been actually maneaters, he says that Poopies would have been bit a number of instances, not simply as soon as by a confused shark. “I believe that could be a excellent factor for sharks, as a result of it reveals that we’re not on their menu in any respect.”
That could be true, however Steve-O nonetheless marvels that it was almost him who was on the menu—or at the least who would have been by chance bitten attributable to silly human habits.
He was speculated to movie a dunk tank stunt that obtained pushed within the schedule for that shark bounce. In it, he would have sat in a recreation of the carnival recreation over sharks that had been lured with bait. In lieu of pitching balls on the goal that will plunge him into the water if hit, they have been going to throw meat. It could have replicated the identical circumstances on the similar time of day that contributed to Poopies’ catastrophe.
“My consolation stage about doing that, in hindsight, was so wrongheaded,” he says.
He cautions his subsequent thought with the disclaimer that it doesn’t justify something that occurred, however he remembers earlier than capturing having an existential second questioning why they have been doing this, particularly having survived so many shut encounters through the years. However then he thought, “One other massive a part of me needs a cool new scar.” And this interview, he factors out, started with displaying that cool new scar.
“I’m not stoked that this occurred. No one is. No one needs one thing unhealthy to occur, however in our world, when one thing unhealthy occurs, you put on it as a badge of honor.”
A badge of honor that’s now definitely one of many extra dramatic Shark Week specials in latest reminiscence. “We laughed. We cried,” Steve-O says.
You virtually died, I level out. He laughs: “We laughed. We cried. We virtually died. It’s worthwhile to make that the article headline.”
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