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Lacey Schwimmer Dishes on Dancing with Jackass Star Steve-O

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Craig Sjodin/ABC

In 2008, dancer Lacey Schwimmer went from So You Think You Can Dance veteran to Dancing With the Stars newbie with a few fleet turns of the foot. And in a stellar showing, she took Lance Bass all the way to the finals before going on a nationwide tour with the show. Back for season 8, Lacey is partnered with comedian Steve-O and spoke with PEOPLE about why she was wrong about the Jackass star, whether they have any stunts planned and why she thinks they’ll do well in the competition. — Scott Huver

So let us have it – how’s Steve-O?Steve-O is a workhorse. He is here everyday, five hours. He says, “Is five hours enough, Lacey? Do you think I need more than that?” So he’s just such a hard worker and we’re in very intense rehearsals everyday.

Were you worried that because of his history he wouldn’t be the most disciplined partner?Absolutely, and that’s what I thought going into it, too. I was like, “Oh, man. He’s not going to want to practice and this, that and the other.” But I walked in and the first thing he said to me was, “I’m taking this very seriously. So you’re the boss. You tell me what to do. I’ll do whatever you want.” Ever since, he’s been such a great person to work with.

Were you surprised?It’s funny because he’s been eleven months sober from drugs and alcohol and so I think his mind is now thinking, “I really have to now achieve this goal. I have to do this.” His head is really clear. I look up to him in that sense because as hard as he’s working on so many things, I feel like I should be working harder. I wasn’t expecting how nice of a guy he turned out to be and how much of a gentleman and how adorable he is. He’s so sweet and so cute and everyone who meets him just falls in love with him.

Does he have any dance experience?He comes from a background of circus training. He graduated clown school, I believe, and he has these really interesting tricks that he can do that I’ve never seen anyone on the show do before. So we’re definitely going to try and incorporate what he already can do and I’m trying to develop things that he could potentially do.

How about incorporating elements of Jackass into your routines?Of course! He’s already told me things that he’s wanting to do on the set. I’m like, “You have to remember that this is live television and it’s ABC Family. I don’t know if me kicking you in a certain area would look good on TV.” He’s having fun and has great ideas and is a really creative guy. We’re both so silly and we love to laugh and have a good time. I get him. I get his humor and I understand what he’s thinking. We work really well together.

What do you think are your chances? I think he’s this little dark horse of the competition. People don’t really know what to expect from him … I keep getting these messages on Myspace or on Facebook and they’re like, ‘Oh, man, you and Steve-O. I’m so sorry.’ I look at them and think they have no idea about this guy. Craig Sjodin/ABC