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Johnny Knoxville and Spike Jonze Guard Their Groins at the Jackass 3-D Premiere

It was hard not to notice that every guy on the panel that followed the premiere of Jackass 3-D last night was standing a safe distance away from every other guy on the panel, holding his hand protectively over his crotch. With good reason. A few minutes in, without warning, director Jeff Tremaine punched one of the film’s stars, Danger Ehren, in the groin. “Wasn’t he great in the movie?” said Tremaine as Ehren doubled over in pain. (One of Ehren’s big moments in the movie is getting kicked in exactly that spot while attempting to pin the tail on an actual donkey. It took fifteen takes before they got, as he said, “a really good nut shot.” His other big moment is when he gets a perfectly healthy tooth pulled by attaching it by string to a Lamborghini. He’s planning on turning the tooth into a necklace and getting a wooden implant for the gap. Why? “Because I love George Washington. I just think he’s cool.”)

Once he’d recovered, Ehren artfully brought the conversation full circle. “Who doesn’t want to see a grown man get hit in the nuts?” he asked the crowd, as he did exactly that to Tremaine, who immediately crumpled to the floor. “Going to somebody’s house or office is nerve-racking,” said producer Spike Jonze. “We can't raise our arms above our heads because we’re afraid of what the guy next to us will do,” Johnny Knoxville concurred. Knoxville had even more reason than the others to protect himself. He broke his penis trying to do a back-flip on a motorcycle and it hasn’t quite healed. “I have a 10-month-old son. Still works!” he said on the red carpet earlier. “But that was over three years ago and I’m still catheterizing twice a day.”

That all this nut-whacking was happening at the Museum of Modern Art made the whole scene even more bizarre. MoMA’s film curators — both dudes — seemed incredibly enthused about hosting the premiere. They cited Jackass’s origins in the “comedy of cruelty” from the early 1900s. Later, they read aloud an excerpt from a dissertation that suggested that guys’ violence against themselves was a way of demonstrating “violence against a phallocentric regime.” Next to us, Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky looked like he might die laughing. (We wanted to ask him if he was more interested in the antics or those great shots where it looks like a dildo bazooka is heading straight at you, but he ran out of the theater too fast.) And Blink-182 bassist Mark Hoppus, whom we ran into in the lobby, claimed he’d actually come to the museum to see the Abstract Expressionists exhibit. We didn’t believe him until he headed upstairs toward the paintings and away from the premiere.

The audience, too, seemed very eager to learn more about the art of Jackassery. “Where did all the poo come from?” one man wanted to know. Back in the day, they provided their own, Jonze explained. “We just put a Port-a-John in the back of the office for a couple of weeks and told our friends to come by the office instead of going home.” This time around, for a stunt in which Steve-O locks himself in a Porta Potty attached to two bungee cords, they couldn’t use human feces, for legal reasons. But, said Tremaine, “There’s actually a company that sells dog shit, so we bought a whole bunch of dog shit and had them bring it by the office.”

Post-Q&A, the crowd moved downtown to Le Bain at the Standard Hotel, where Tremaine and Knoxville hung out far away from the open hot tub on the other end of the room since, well, with this crowd, that was just asking for trouble. “People ask, ‘Why do you only make one [Jackass movie] every four years?’ It’s because it takes exactly four years to recover,” he said. “There’s way more emotional trauma than physical trauma. You get really paranoid that every time someone walks behind you you’re going to be pranked.” One must be hypervigilant, he explained. At a party just like this one, Knoxville sneaked up behind Tremaine, poured a shot of Bacardi 151 on his leg, and set it on fire. “So all of a sudden, my leg is this burning inferno,” he said. “But luckily Wee Man was standing right next to me and he just whipped out his wiener and peed the thing out. He saved my life.” At another party only five days ago, Tremaine made the mistake of going to the bathroom and leaving his Miller Light Vortex bottle alone. Of course Knoxville peed in it. “I drank a full chug of Knoxville’s urine,” he said, not unhappy at the memory, though he did puke upon realizing what had happened. “He got me. That’s just the way we show love to each other.”

Photo: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images