Virtual reality will undoubtedly shake up the entertainment industry, and "Jackass" star Steve-O is leading the revolution with "Headset Hotshots" creator Steve Macaroni, who compared his YouTube series to a VR version of "America's Funniest Home Videos" but dreams of it filling the late-night void in the interactive medium.
"You know when you're watching someone watch VR and they freak out and fall out of a chair -- I thought that's funny, so I wanted to do a show that highlights all those clips, like 'America's Funniest Home Videos,' because why not, in VR," Macaroni -- a leading pioneer in the developing medium -- told TooFab when he stopped by our studio with his leading man. "But I needed a host that was insane and fun to watch, so I came to him."
For Steve-O, though, it was just another opportunity to do what he does best: grab your attention by putting his 44-year-old body through hell for your viewing pleasure. "For me, I just love being on camera," he said.
"Headset Hotshots," directed by Macaroni and produced by mixed reality studio Thundership, premiered two episodes on Steve-O's YouTube channel about a week ago, which have racked up a combined 201,000 views since. At least two more episodes are on the way, with a new one premiering this Friday.
In the episodes available, Steve-O co-stars with "Wildboyz" pal Chris Pontius in a mix of real and virtual worlds. Together, they recreate VR fails, which are viral clips of real people experiencing VR at home and having embarrassing freakouts, like running into walls with headsets still on their faces.
Go ahead and search YouTube for "VR fails," and prepare to be led down a very entertaining rabbit hole of real people doing stupid stuff.
In "Headset Hotshots," Steve-O is in charge of the stunts, recreating some of the dumbest fails while immersed in the virtual world himself. The outrageous stunt master extraordinaire told TooFab he was initially weary of the premise for two reasons.
For starters, he was worried about the damage his prankster friends could do to his body -- particularly, to his nuts.
"The last thing I want to do is put on a headset and make myself vulnerable to all the jerks [watching me]," he joked.
Macaroni explained, "We got past that. There's a no-balls rule when we're watching VR now at his house." But all bets are off when the cameras are rolling. In fact, Macaroni couldn't resist a classic nut shot in the first episode of "Headset Hotshots," which you can enjoy above.
But on a more serious note, Steve-O was worried about how the premise would play to the massive fanbase he's built since breaking out on MTV's "Jackass" nearly two decades ago.
"I love cameras and everything, but my concern was my audience doesn't watch footage in headsets," he explained. "I wanted it to be something that could translate for everyone, whether they care about VR or not."
Ultimately, he's happy with the finished product. "Certainly, I think that as far as VR content goes, we've created the funniest stuff out there."
If the episodes generate enough interest to allow Macaroni to continue making more, he has his sights set on creating a new kind of interactive late-night show.
"I'd like to be 'The Tonight Show' of VR," Macaroni told TooFab, except his vision would involve rotating hosts.
"I think there's so many cool things we can exploit in VR," he explained. "You see new clips, you see what's out there. There's so many cool games in VR, but I don't know what to play because everything is so messed up right now. There's ten different platforms. So I want to be the place to go in a headset where you get to see things first before you buy them."
At least part of that vision is already unfolding. The next two episodes will be geared toward superhero content and hosted by YouTube star Aaron Schoenke, who is known for the series, "Super Power Beat Down."
When TooFab asked Macaroni for his prediction on how VR will change the industry, he said he doesn't expect the same type of impact that television had when ushering radio listeners into a new era of entertainment. And we all know how that played out. All you need to do is sing the chorus to The Buggles' 1979 hit single, "Video Killed the Radio Star," particularly famous for introducing American audiences to MTV on August 1, 1981, when the network launched with the music video for the song.
"There will be TV, there will be movies still, it's just something new and cool. Some people love it, some people won't," Macaroni said. "It's hard to stay in that thing for more than 10 minutes. You've got a brick on your face. It's cool for these awesome, cool little experience, but nothing's going to topple movies."
Macaroni has already been busy creating specialized VR content for major Hollywood studios, most recently creating a VR scene for a Lionsgate action franchise, but he's about to make an even bigger career leap: directing a feature-length comedy that goes into production this fall.
We'll be keeping an eye out for more details on that project. In the meantime, we'll be enjoying Macaroni subject Steve-O to more bodily harm on repeat.