- What: Official Web site for Johnny Knoxville's "Jackass" franchise, featuring videos, blogs and pictures; some areas feature adult content and are regulated.
HOLLYWOOD - Johnny Knoxville doesn't exactly run a tight ship around the offices of jackassworld.com.
"Drinking isn't just allowed around the office," he says, "it's encouraged."
On any given day, employees may challenge the boss to a wrestling match. Calling in sick because of a hangover is allowed. On a recent Friday, a paintball war was waged.
A giant mural of two men wrestling dominates one office wall.
With a push of a button, a bookcase in Knoxville's office moves, revealing where most of the employees work in this crazy little enterprise.
On the surface, it would seem no one is taking themselves too seriously around here - and that starts from the top, where Knoxville sits, and works its way down. The 13 or so employees have a funny boss and an unusual place from which to draw a paycheck.
Beneath such an exterior, the work is taken as seriously as it needs to be. The site drew 400,000 unique visitors in October and had 1.5 million video streams.
Seth Casriel, the chief online producer, likes to crack jokes at the company's expense.
He'll tell you Lucille Ball used to shoot one of her sitcoms in their building. "If you listen closely at night, you can hear the ghost of quality television," he deadpans.
Today, the same space is being used to show giggling guys puking on each other, and streaming features about men wearing G-strings. Lucy might be flipping in her grave.
Taking "Jackass" to the Internet seemed to be a logical step in a medium that rallies around the weirdness of YouTube. However, Knoxville doesn't see jackassworld as being the end game for his franchise.
The Internet is "the most natural place" for something like "Jackass," but movies are where the franchise works best, he says.
"There's a lot of things you can do on the Internet, and you can do it every day, and get it out quick," says Knoxville.
"With movies, you can do something but not see it for eight months. With TV shows, you can only show so much." On the Web, "if something's naughty, you can always say you have to be 18 to see it."
For Knoxville, running a Web site - the mothership currently of the whole "Jackass" shebang - is his newest passion, his newest challenge and, sometimes, even his newest pastime. Knoxville is still an actor, primarily doing movies. His next role will be in the new John Waters flick, a Christmas-themed caper called "Fruitcake."
He's now extending his reach beyond just being an actor for other people's movies. He's staking his own claim through his joint production company Dickhouse Productions.
Not exactly the 9-to-5 type, Knoxville maintains an office of his own, decorated with comically erotic art work and memorabilia from his "Jackass" antics. A bike, a gift from BMX rider Mat Hoffman, leans near his desk.
The offices are like a grown-up boy's hideaway. One closet is even filled with props used in the two "Jackass" feature films - everything from a car battery charger to boxing gloves to costumes.
If ever a medium matched perfectly the warped mind of someone like Johnny Knoxville, it's the Internet and jackassworld.com, which launched in February. There, he gets to be as naughty as he wants to be and, this time, no one can stop him.
Feeding the beast
As one might suspect, jackassworld.com is more video-driven than anything else. The site is also a place where Knoxville can put his , er, unusual assortment of friends and characters on display.
For instance, he has old pal Eddie Barbanell doing a weather report, dressed in a business suit and standing in front of a map of the United States. "We have a large gust of wind coming out of Mianus," he reports, pointing to Connecticut.
Knoxville and Barbanell met when they worked together on the comedy "The Ringer," in which Knoxville played a man who faked mental retardation in order to perform in the Special Olympics. Barbanell played one of the Olympians.
Knoxville recruited his Bohemian buddy Loomis to a dare with a bug zapper. They took turns seeing who could stand touching the zapper the most times.
Contributor Lauren Graham has a regular feature called "The Art Review Show," in which she profiles eclectic artists.
A "show-and-tell" segment visits a sadomasochist shop done with Knoxville's tongue-in-cheek style. "My Awesome Crap" profiles strange knickknacks belonging to the "Jackass" crew and their colorful friends. Photographer Sean Cliver writes a blog and posts pictures of the "Jackass" guys in action.
For the "Jackass" purists, the site is loaded with the show's favorites. "The Preston Lacy Show" stars the rotund "Jackass" regular goofing off in his living room with buddies. Bits from seasons of MTV shows "Wildboyz" and "Jackass" the TV series are prominent around the site, too, as well as Knoxville's "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" talk show, in which Knoxville and guest drink and chat. Mainly, though, they drink.
Knoxville categorizes the site as "an additional step (so) we can stay in touch with everyone more closely.
"It's a beast that has to be fed every day."
Knoxville, whose pranks are legendary in his native South Knoxville, says he doesn't have the perspective on his own crazy behavior. Some folks in these parts still talk about what he did 20 years ago, when he helped in sending his high school football team fake letters from the health department.
None of the recollections, though, ever paint Knoxville, known around here by his given-name "P.J. Clapp," as being mean or malicious. Instead, he's fondly recalled as one very odd guy.
In some ways, "Jackass" is his record of his weirdness.
"If I had complete perspective on (my crazy behavior), I might not be doing 'Jackass,'" the 37-year-old actor says with a small laugh.
"For better or worse, you're stuck with the spirit you're born with. It's not a bad thing at all. You are who you are."
In recent months, Knoxville, still recuperating from a torn urethra after one stunt, is gently biding his time overseeing the Web site and producing projects for movies and television.
In Hollywood, producing and creating your own projects can certainly be more profitable and more creatively fulfilling than being a hired gun for someone else's work.
Knoxville sees "Jackass" as being where he can express his own particular "voice." Jackassworld keeps the voice active daily.
"Having all these things - these films and jackassworld - are all great and positive," he says. "It keeps me working and occupied. That's a good thing, too."
© 2008, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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