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The Untold Truth Of Wildboyz

There aren't many shows that gracefully combine animals, stunts, and humor –– but for a brief time, "Wildboyz" did so in style. The series is part adventure, part reality, and 100 percent comedy. And it's also, of course, a spinoff of the show that started it all, "Jackass." Though the tales of "Jackass" alums Chris Pontius and Steve-O are well-documented (mostly thanks to their time in the limelight via the success of "Jackass"), "Wildboyz" is more of a diamond in the rough –– and we're here to pull back the layers.

The documentary adventure series is simple yet unusual as it features Pontius and Steve-O traveling to exotic locations to perform stunts with wild animals. Yet "Wildboyz" is a somewhat educational TV series as the guys try to take in the culture, learn from the natives (as well as the experts), and inevitably do wild things.

During its run from 2003 to 2006, there wasn't another show quite like Pontius and Steve-O's adventure series –– and here's the untold truth of "Wildboyz."

How the show got its name

After watching an episode of "Wildboyz," the origins of the name might sound obvious. Chris Pontius and Steve-O are, in fact, the wild boys as they perform outrageous stunts with the animals, out in the wild, on a seasonal basis. Yet audience members might be interested in the actual thought process that went into the decision to name the show "Wildboyz."

"For 'Wildboyz,' we were originally talking about names for the show and the stupid names," Pontius said in a 2014 Journey of a Frontman interview. "And Dimitri Elyashkevich was like, 'I got one!' He put on that Duran Duran song, 'The Wild Boys.' And we were in South Africa filming the pilot and we just burned down three cottages the first night, accidentally. We thought the show was gonna get shut down before we even named it and then we got stoked on Wild Boys. I thought we should use a Z instead of an S to make it even kookier and everyone agreed. I think that helped the title clear, anyway."

Though the name of this show might seem like a forgone conclusion given the content, a lot goes into the name of a series or movie — and a Duran Duran song helped christen the series we've all come to know and love as "Wildboyz." It's all in the process of coming up with a unique name, really.

The show wasn't shot in Africa

Though Steve-O and Chris Pontius try to be transparent with their fans when it comes to realistic stunts and especially where they're shooting, there's one stunt, in particular, that was a bit misleading.

"With 'Jackass' we were very, very honest, we had integrity, we never tried to deceive the audience," Steve-O said on his podcast "Steve-O's Wild Ride" (via Complex). "That was 'Jackass.' But with 'Wildboyz,' we took liberties to pretend that we were in Africa when actually we were filming in California," Steve-O said when asked about a stunt with a lion being grabbed by the tail. "And it wasn't because we wanted to lie to the audience. In fact, when we went to go film the pilot for 'Wildboyz' in South Africa, we brought that two-man zebra suit and we wanted to go on a safari and have a lion there. And we quickly found out that a lion in the wild on safari in Africa, you don't get in a... zebra suit and... try to play around with that thing."

Audiences might want their reality TV to be authentic, but, in the case of "Wildboyz," taking certain liberties shouldn't be questioned. Steve-O and company, after all, could have easily been attacked while performing a stunt with a wild lion. The fact of that matter is, the wild boys still played with a lion. Misleading or not, a lion is still a lion.

Some of the scenes were misleading

In addition to fudging the details of its location shoots, "Wildboyz" also glossed over the backstories of its animal co-stars, who actually came from a company called Hollywood Animals, which is located in California.

"So there are a lot of situations like that," Steve-O said on his podcast "Steve-O's Wild Ride" (via Complex) when talking about performing stunts with a lion. "And so every time that we filmed interacting with a lion, like every time, we were always pretending that we were in Africa, but in fact we were in California at a place called Hollywood Animals."

With that said, in his book "Professional Idiot: A Memoir," Steve-O wrote (via Google Books) that every time wild animal expert Manny Puig (another "wild boy," if you will, yet with more wildlife knowledge) was with them, they were in the United States, despite possibly claiming otherwise in the episode –– in an attempt to make a more entertaining show. Who could blame them? Despite how much training is done, wild lions are still ... wild lions. And safety issues aside, it's presumably not always easy to get a wild animal to play along.

Wildboyz was on the air longer than Jackass

This might come as a surprise for many audiences, but "Wildboyz" had a longer run than the "Jackass" TV series. The latter franchise, of course, made the jump to the big screen to the tune of four feature films. But before that, "Jackass" ran for three seasons and 25 episodes, while "Wildboyz" went on a four-season run that lasted 32 episodes. Despite going off the air sooner, "Jackass" is more popular than "Wildboyz," even though the shows feature some of the same actors. In fact, "Wildboyz" is a far more under-the-radar series, while "Jackass" entered the mainstream and has stayed there with every subsequent film — in fact, "Wildboyz" wasn't the only successful "Jackass" spinoff: "Viva La Bam," starring Bam Margera, aired for five seasons and 40 episodes.

"Wildboyz" features Steve-O and Chris Pontius, who are arguably two of the more popular "Jackass" alumni. And the show also featured other "Jackass" stars from time to time, including "Jackass" co-creator Johnny Knoxville and Wee-Man. Some of the show's style and animal stunts are also featured in "Jackass" projects (but more about that later).

Chris Pontius' most painful stunt ever

Chris Pontius was made for the camera. He's comically gifted, a natural storyteller, and he's not afraid of anything –– those are excellent qualities to have for any "Jackass" cast member. Pontius, to say the least, has performed some wild stunts over the years. Yet his most painful stunt was called "The Glove Of Ants" and it went down on "Wildboyz."

In a 2022 interview with Uproxx, Pontius recalled the experience. "It's a rite of passage for this tribe in the Amazon," he explained. "You put these ants, called bullet ants, they weave them into this glove, and when boys come of age, you put this glove on that has hundreds of ants that have the most painful sting of any insect."

Ants, gloves, "most painful sting of any insect" –– this is shaping up to be an epically painful story. "You wear this glove for the duration of the shaman singing this song, which is about eight minutes or so," Pontius continued. "You get stung hundreds of times, and that was by far the worst, most painful, dreadful thing I've ever done in my life combined. It's just like venom for 24 hours, and there's nothing you can do about it. So yeah, that was the worst thing. I would never do that again."

Reminder: Pontius has been in the ring (if you will) with Bengal tigers, lions, snapping turtles, and so on and so forth –– yet his most painful experience involved dealing with ants. That's saying something. (Kids, adults, and pets ... do not try this at home.)

Pontius' encounter with Leonardo DiCaprio

It's not uncommon for a famous person to rub shoulders with a fellow famous person. It is, however, uncommon for someone –– anyone –– to have a conversation with a random stranger and realize later on that you were speaking with Leonardo DiCaprio. But Chris Pontius isn't just anyone, and in addition to all of his other wild stories, he also happened to pull off this feat.

When asked what his weirdest encounter with a celebrity was during a 2022 interview with Uproxx, Pontius responded with this gem: "I didn't realize it, but we were at this event, and this guy came up to me and was really into 'Wildboyz' and 'Jackass,' particularly 'Wildboyz,' because it was animal-based. I talked to this guy for like an hour about animals, and all the crazy things we'd done, and swimming with sharks and crocodiles and alligators and all that. And then the next day, my friend's like, 'Oh, last night when you were talking to Leo...' And I was like, 'That was Leonardo DiCaprio'? I had no idea it was him."

The key takeaway: Chris Pontius is not one to be starstruck, and Leonardo DiCaprio is a fan of "Wildboyz." Further proof that it's a show with something for everyone.

Manny Puig created Ultimate Predator shortly after Wildboyz

Though "Ultimate Predator" isn't technically part of the "Jackass" universe, it was created by Manny Puig, who appeared on "Jackass," as well as going on trips during some of the "Wildboyz" excursions. The film features Puig interacting with wildlife, most notably sharks. It also brings the "Wildboyz" group back together as it features Steve-O and Chris Pontius. So it's sort of a "Wildboyz" spinoff, just more informational — although Puig still has encounters with dangerous animals.

That said, "Ultimate Predator" is distinctly different from "Wildboyz" as there can only be one "Wildboyz" — and Puig routinely educated the boys as opposed to performing absurd stunts. Nevertheless, if you ever want to see Puig interacting with the wildlife outside of a show as bizarre as "Wildboyz," and you also want to see Steve-O and Pontius join in on the party, then "Ultimate Predator" is an ideal follow-up.

Chris Pontius is not a fan of big cats

Chris Pontius and Steve-O are fearless. Look no further than their countless daredevil stunts, with or without animals involved. However, "Wildboyz" fans might be surprised to discover that Pontius isn't a fan of big cats like tigers and lions.

In an interview with IGN, Pontius detailed his distaste for the formidable felines when asked if there are any animals he's irrationally afraid of. "I don't like big cats really at all. I've done it a lot, I just don't like it," he said. "I don't know. Cats are weird and they kind of snap. I don't really like 'em. Even if you have a house cat. Or like the cat that bit Siegfried and Roy. They've worked with these animals like their entire life, and then all of a sudden, they just killed 'em."

Who could blame him? In a single paw strike, a lion could wreak some serious havoc. Despite Pontius testing his luck with wild animals over the years, it would appear he's able to push past his biggest fears. He doesn't fancy big cats, yet he's not afraid to get in the ring with them.

Tony Hawk's worst injury happened on the show

Legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk has endured some brutal injuries over the years –– it goes with the territory of being a professional daredevil. Yet his worst injury ever actually came during an appearance on "Wildboyz."

Appearing on "Steve-O's Wild Ride!," Hawk recalled the time he tested fate and attempted the loop for "Wildboyz." Hawk, needless to say, didn't make it and crashed hard. The damage? He broke his pelvis and thumb — and he also cracked his skull. Unfortunately for Hawk, this wasn't even supposed to be his stunt. Steve-O was supposed to perform it but had previously shattered his ankle while jumping off a Porta-Potty. (Very on brand.)

"I was doing a full 360 rollercoaster type of ramp and misjudged my speed — that was a bummer," Hawk said in an interview with The Guardian. "Breaking your pelvis is debilitating — you can't walk, you can't cough — you just have to sit and wait for it to heal."

Pontius' favorite stunt

Chris Pontius has performed a myriad of outlandish stunts over the years, yet his favorite stunt of all time is easy for him to pick — and it involved a snake. "I think my favorite thing I ever did period was on 'Wildboyz,'" Pontius said in a 2014 Journey of a Frontman interview. "The biggest 'overcoming your own fears' thing that I ever did was kissing a king cobra on the head."

Typically, people don't say their favorite thing they've ever done was kissing a snake, let alone something as deadly as the king cobra. But Pontius isn't your average stunt performer. "I wasn't planning on doing it," he added. "The night before, [director/executive producer Jeff Tremayne was] like, 'These guys have got this king cobra that we can film with if you think you can do anything with it.' We were in Indonesia. They're not de-venomized or anything like that."

He called this stunt "The Kiss Of Death." And suffice it to say, it energized him. "I touched him a few times and I started wanting to give it a kiss so I just went for it. I didn't tell anybody that I was gonna do it and they were really excited, too," he recalled. "I felt like a million bucks. I felt just happy to be alive, really."

It's pretty wild that they weren't even planning on doing a bit with a king cobra when the day started — one more example of the many ways "Wildboyz" had no issue pushing the limits, whether a scene was scripted or not. We're just happy that Pontius survived his "favorite" stunt.

The show ended because it became too much like Jackass

In his book "Professional Idiot: A Memoir," Steve-O wrote about the decision to end "Wildboyz." He recalled that the series probably could have gone more than four seasons, yet the show had "essentially evolved back into 'Jackass.'"

Going along with that sentiment, he told the Hollywood Reporter how "Wildboyz," in a way, spawned "Jackass Number Two." "Knoxville was determined to go out on top, and he declared that 'Jackass' was finished after the first movie. And then Chris and I got to work," Steve-O recalled of "Wildboyz." "Knoxville joined us for a while. We were on this trip in Russia at this counterterrorism training camp. Knoxville says, 'Have the dog bite me and shoot me with the 9mm gun while the dog's biting me.' And Tremaine says to Knoxville, 'Hey, whoa, let's not do this for MTV2. If you have that in you, let's make another movie.' And Knoxville had it in him. And that was Number Two."

Ultimately, the "Jackass" movies would go on to adopt the "Wildboyz" style –– at least for some of the scenes, that is. Plenty of animal stunts, after all, have been included in these movies. Fresh "Wildboyz" content might not be making its way to TV sets anytime soon, but similar stunts have lived on via "Jackass."

Another Wildboyz season is possible

Though "Wildboyz" left its mark on the "Jackass" franchise and nature shows for genres to come, all good things must come to an end. The show concluded after four seasons, and since its departure, a void has been left in the hearts of its fans. Luckily, similar "Wildboyz" stunts have been performed on ensuing "Jackass" movies –– so in a way, the wild boys never really left. And believe it or not, there's still a chance the show could return, although that should be taken with a grain of salt and a dash of caveat.

During an Ask Me Anything on Reddit to promote "Jackass Forever," Pontius and Knoxville were inevitably asked about doing a reboot of "Wildboyz." "I would love to do a 'Wildboyz' reboot, I don't think it would be called 'Wildboyz,' but I would love to do another nature/adventure show, "Pontius replied. "And I want Knoxville to be on it with me."

There's a chance that Pontius was trying to avoid dashing fans' hopes for a revival, especially since he and Knoxville were promoting their new movie. But if his words are any indication, audience members can still hold out hope for a "Wildboyz" return — even if it comes with a different title.