June 13, 2013
Booze, drugs and bipolar disorder form a familiar triptych on the crowded stage of celebrity confessionals. And millions of bored and brain-numbed teenagers can be seen hitting each other in the nuts on YouTube. So if we were to evaluate STEVE-O (Stephen Glover, born 1974) based solely on the heaviness of his substance abuse or the heaviness of the objects with which he is prepared to be hit in the balls, the resulting critique would be a short verbal shrug. What sets him apart from the slew of self-destructive TMZ sad cases and lulzing Jackasses that fill our laptop screens is the ink on his skin. His left biceps depicts a man having sex with an ostrich; a penis labelled “U.S.A.” ejaculates onto his right. The knuckles of his left hand spell “SHIT”; the knuckles of his right tell us “FUCK”. On other body parts he bears the following legends: “Your Name” (ass), “Prison Love” (arm), and “I Have A Small Weiner (sic)” (shoulder). His back is covered with a larger-than-life picture of his own face, mouth imbecilically agape, and the explanatory caption: “Yeah dude, I rock!”. In a world where the neck of every other barista is adorned with an ironic pair of dice and the wrist of every other teenage raver is branded with a peace symbol, Steve-O blows a gleeful raspberry at the paradox of cookie-cutter individuality by graffiti-ing himself with dribbling dicks. He is the nonsensical nihilist who reduces the tattoo ad absurdum and makes us question all things inked. If you have some time to devote to Steve-O, don’t bother watching him get his face punched or his testicles snapped at by a crocodile. Instead, search for some high-resolution photographs of his naked body, study them closely, and then get lost in a labyrinthine meditation on what it means to be tattooed.
ALSO SEE: Tattooed Revivalists.
READ MORE about men and women born on the cusp between the Reconstructionist (1964–73) and Revivalist (1974-82) Generations.