Gillian Flynn
October 31, 2003 AT 05:00 AM EST

Steve-O’s butt cheeks are luminous. In the jungles of Costa Rica, they glow from beneath his swaddling. Beside him, Chris Pontius takes a last swig of beer and adjusts his crown of thorns. The stars of Wildboyz are having a pool party with lizards. They are dressed like Christ. Later, they will don enormous Styrofoam shoes and try to walk on water, just like the basilisks — a.k.a. Jesus lizards — they’ve sent skittering across the glassy surface. Right now, though, Pontius is wetting himself through his loincloth (getting his ”junk” tucked into that Jesus sheet was as hard as herding cats — you think he was going to unwrap it all?) and Steve-O is wondering if he can ”waggle” his ”wiener” on camera. Suddenly: Pow! A few miles off, the Arenal Volcano spurts lava. Mother Nature is angry. Or maybe amused.

If the situation — nudity, bizarre antics, a heaping tablespoon of the crass — sounds like Jackass Goes Native, that’s no coincidence. Wildboyz is MTV’s bid to keep one of its biggest franchises alive now that Johnny Knoxville has bolted for the big screen. The obvious heirs: Knoxville’s second-in-command, onetime circus clown Stephen ”Steve-O” Glover, 29 — a guy who made his bones with such gags as stapling his scrotum to his thigh — and Pontius, 29, best known for his strip-dancing ”Party Boy” alter ego. ”The thing that sells me on them as personalities is their constant inner exuberance,” says Brian Graden, president of entertainment for MTV and VH1. ”They always seem beyond gleeful around things as absurd as putting porcupine needles in their ass.”

The guys have filmed 10 episodes of Wildboyz, which joins Ashton Kutcher’s pranky Punk’d and skateboarder (and fellow Jackass) Bam Margera’s new reality show for a dude-friendly Sunday-night lineup beginning Oct. 26. The Wildboyz angle is simple: Steve-O and Pontius cart their brand of goofiness to such far-flung places as South Africa, Australia, Alaska, Belize, and now, in their final week of shooting, Costa Rica. But…why? ”We love nature shows and we thought nature programming needed a sense of humor,” explains Steve-O. ”Like porn.”

The boys do put a new spin on the phrase ”naughty by nature.” Right now, Steve-O is in a Costa Rican zoo cage with Pontius, encouraging the tiny monkey on his shoulder to pleasure itself. The delicate white capuchin wraps its wee hands around Steve-O’s ears and pumps and thrusts. But it seems to have trouble, shall we say, finishing the deal. Finally: ”Hey, he’s peeing on me!” Steve-O cries triumphantly. Other capuchins follow suit, and soon our TV stars, wet with monkey urine, call it a wrap.

Wildboyz is a study of the sophomore (and, okay, sophomoric) phase of two entertainers. ”I used to struggle with talking to the camera,” Steve-O says. ”Look at the early Jackass stuff. I was always jealous because Pontius never even had to hurt himself to be funny. I had to. And I’m not going to stop hurting myself — but I’m much more comfortable in front of the camera. Both of us are.”

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