It doesn't take a leering queer-theory grad student to tell you that Jackass: The Movie has more than a little in common with gay porn. The crew of aging skate-rat guys spend much of the film in jockstraps egging one another on to do things like shove Hot Wheels cars up their butts. Plus, there aren't any girls. When Howard Stern pointed this out to Jackass star Johnny Knoxville, he replied, "As long as the cameras are rolling, it's not gay."
In spite of, or perhaps because of, this denial, the movie's a hit with real homos, too. Howard, an outdoorsy 33-year-old script supervisor, thought the MTV show was his own secret vice. He likes the way "everybody is naked all the time, even in stunts where you don't have to be. It's like, 'You don't need to be wearing some butt-floss G-string to be doing that.' " Then he found out that all of his gay friends were watching it. They saw the movie the day it came out, as a group, and ran into two other 'mos they knew. "It was like, 'A-ha!' " he says.
"It's one of my favorite shows on TV," says Ryan Shiraki, a 32-year-old screenwriter. "I would fuck almost all of them, and I'm sure they would fuck me if Johnny Knoxville told them to." For gays who grew up pining for the toned skater crowd, Jackass's boyishness-run-amok is compelling. "These guys are every guy I wanted to bone in high school but couldn't," says Alfredo Lopez, 26, an HIV educator.
Then there's all the S&M action. "It's so hot," says Elliott, a 27-year-old actor. "When they hit a pain threshold, they look like angels."
And it's such a relief after the Pottery Barnstorming vision of gay life on Will & Grace. Though Will might make a better boyfriend than Steve-O. "I would love to be an undercover gay and infiltrate their subculture, study their mores, and sniff their underwear," says Lopez. "But if I were to actually know them, I would probably be annoyed."