You’re looking at the origin story of Johnny Knoxville, who would later do stunts like this on the TV and film phenomenon Jackass.
Knoxville attempted to become an actor, but when that fell through and he found out his girlfriend – who would become his first wife – was pregnant, he had to scramble. He came up with pitching outsider article ideas to various publications.
Johnny Knoxville Shoots Himself
He came up with the idea to test self-defense weapons on himself: pepper spray, tasers and the like. He kicked it up a notch, coming upon the idea of having his friend shoot him with a .38 while he wore a cheap bullet proof vest – he didn’t have much money at the time, remember.
It was not an easy idea to get through editorial departments
“The only magazine that would support it – a lot of people wanted it, but the only people who would give me money for it was Big Brother magazine, which Jeff Tremaine was the editor of, who directed Bad Grandpa and all the Jackass movies,” explained Johnny Knoxville in a recent appearance on the WTF Podcast with Marc Maron.
Big Brother was a skateboard magazine, and they released several videos, and Tremaine suggested he film the antics so they could include it on their next release, Number Two.
He called up the company to make sure the vest was up to snuff, and their “It’s the best vest out there” sales pitch quickly changed to “We don’t recommend you do that” when told of his plans.
Knoxville’s friend couldn’t go through with shooting him in the end, so he had to do it himself, at pointblank range.
Thankfully, he survived, and Jackass was born.
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