Whether you liked it or not, Bam Margera blew skateboarding up in the early 00s. Because of shows like Jackass and Viva La Bam, every kid in America wanted to get a heartagram tattoo on their dick and have an Element board in their hand. Skating hit the mainstream and if you could actually do tricks, you became the coolest kid at the school overnight (and maybe even got some makeouts a few times because of it).
Of course, Bam’s skateboarding understandably slowed down with all the TV obligations and fame. It was clear that Bam was always wild, but it wasn’t clear that he had an actual problem. It wasn’t until the promos for Family Therapy came out, until most people realized that their childhood icon was actually struggling.
Bam didn’t look like he was in any condition to skate. However, that’s when the Instagram posts started popping up and the rumors surfaced that yes, Bam was back on a skateboard. After several phone calls and some luck, we tracked him down deep in Spain to see what’s really going on.
Congrats Bam on the continued recovery and thank you for picking up a skateboard once again.
So Bam, you’re skating again?
Yeah! I was just skating Roberto Aleman’s mini ramp at his dad’s house. He’s got a bullfighting ring and a mini ramp with a big Consolidated logo in the middle of it, with all these old pictures of Tom Cruise, the fucking band Europe and Rob Lowe. It’s weird. [laughs]
Years ago you said you stopped skating because your feet were messed up. What happened?
Yeah, well, it was like bone spurs in my feet, I had like six of them. The reason why I took so long to get them fixed was because it didn’t hurt to walk or run, it just hurt to land tricks skating. So it was never really a rush to go get them fixed.
Then four or five years went by where I didn’t skate, and if I did skate it was simply cruising around FDR or at the park at my house, but nothing serious. Then winter came and I was in Estonia editing a movie about this guy Andy Mccoy. He plays in a band Hanoi Rocks with Iggy Pop. It was like October and it was already snowing and dark by 3:00pm. I was like, I’m gonna kill myself if I don’t get to Barcelona and skate. So I flew to Barcelona, bought my first skateboard in 20 years and met up with Winkle [filmer]. From there, we’ve kind of been taking a road trip all over Spain for about 2 months.
What board did you buy? When you walked in the store were people like, “holy shit it’s Bam!”
It was like a surf/snow/skate shop, so it wasn’t like a core skateboard shop. I don’t think they recognized me there. I bought a Madars Apse Element board. I was thinking like, I’m buying an Element board… the company would send me 20 of them for free every month [laughs] but there I was buying one. It was just easier to do that than waiting 10 days for a Element box to hopefully show up at an address that I didn’t know yet. I didn’t know where I was going.
Do you still have ties with Element or did that end a while ago?
No, not anymore. I get it though, MTV was first priority and so was Jackass. You know, my 5 hours of skating a day disappeared. When you’re filming TV stuff all day and there’s 40 people there getting paid to film you, my skating turned into 2 hours a day, then 1 hour a day, then for a while it was no hours a day.
Now that I’ve been out here skating, Element got in touch with me and said, “If you want to release another model or an old limited edition type thing, or just go on Element tours, you’re more than welcome. We want you back on board.” So, that sounds good to me, but I’m 37 though [laughs] so it pretty much hurts to do anything down more than 4 stairs. That’s why I like transition, it hurts less.
Spain is the perfect place for that. It’s like banks everywhere and by the time the session is done the kids recognize who I am, so I don’t get bothered until after I’m done skating. When I was home, it was really ridiculous. I would pull up to the skatepark and it was like the fuckin’ Hollywood red carpet. Everybody would have their cameras out, and I’m not gonna let anyone film me suck for 30 minutes, so I just wouldn’t skate.
At the peak of your skate fame, what was the craziest thing people asked you to do at a demo?
I did one signing where I ate somethin’ with a bunch of tomatoes in it right before. We did the signing and I was sipping on Coronas. I guess I drank too much and I threw up this mix of Corona and tomatoes. Right afterwards this fucking hot chick jumped out of the line and sucked it all up. It wasn’t a Jackass stunt, it was like, I want Bam’s throw up in my body! It was fucking weird. That was the gnarliest thing, and she was cute too and that was more mind boggling. She sucked up my throw up not as a dare, she just did it because she wanted it inside of her.
”She sucked up my throw up not as a dare, she just did it because she wanted it”
Is it true that your Element boards used to outsell Tony Hawk boards?
Yeah, like right when Jackass 2 came out and Viva La Bam just came out on MTV, I was selling like 12,000 boards a month. I think Tony Hawk’s sales were like 11,000 or 10,000 a month.
And you’re getting $2 or $4 or board at that point?
Yeah, and not to mention getting paid for riding for Element in general.
Your Adio shoe your sales must have been insane, no?
Yeah, when I was on the GumBall Rally with Ryan Dunn, I had a purple Lamborghini and some dip shit from the Dirty Sanchez (like the Jackass of the UK) took my car off the airplane and did like the gnarliest donut on it without me knowing and they ripped out the clutch, so my car wouldn’t go in reverse or 1st or 2nd gear. But when I got to LA, Adio gave me a check for $377,000. So I walked into the Lamborghini dealership and there was a Murcielago convertible for $377,000, I was like this is meant to be, I’ll take that one.
$377,000 was that Adio royalties for a month or quarter or what?
I can’t remember if it was like quarterly or yearly, all I know is I needed a new Lambo to finish that Gumball and the check he gave me was the exact amount of the car. It was perfect timing for that.
What about Tony Hawk’s Underground 2, did you get a piece of sales when you were basically the main character?
Yeah, I have to say Tony Hawk is the fucking man when it comes to hooking up skaters. I met him at Tampa Am or Pro a long time ago, like ’99 or 2000 and I just introduced myself and said, “I want to go on the Tony Hawk Tour so bad,” and he said “Alright you’re on!” Then I went on it and from there we became good friends, and he put me on the cover of his second video game, and because of that I bought a Ferrari Modena. So, thank you dude!
I know as a kid you wrote you wanted to be a pro skater, skate with Tony Hawk and have a red Ferrari. Crazy, you did it.
Yeah, but then I got so caught up with the fame and bullshit, it was just easier to drink for a long time. So, that’s what I did. I partied with rock stars and now I’m paying for it. I have to relearn all my tricks here in Spain, and not to mention I was 30 pounds heavier but now I’ve been losing it all because I’ve been skating every fucking day.
Do you get bummed when people leave comments like, “You look like fucking fatass Phil!”
Yeah it does get frustrating, and Phil is my dad so I should look like him, but I know what they mean. But sometimes drinking came in because it would help me forget about it. Now I’m just trying to get back in shape and keep skating and do what makes me happy.
What was the real catalyst to start skating again? Was it planned?
It wasn’t really planned. I knew that I wanted to skate again, but the frustration level was so high. It’s like Kerry Getz – he’s a skinny dude but if he gained 30 pounds, could he still kickflip the pyramid first try? It’s like him holding two 15 pound weights trying to do that, it’s fucking frustrating. You throw your board around all fucking day. So when I was in Estonia, I made it a point to do an hour of cardio, 300 pushups and 100 situps everyday for like two months.
That slimmed me down enough to where I knew I could go to Barcelona without looking like a fucking fat piece of shit [laughs]. And I just knew the spots in Spain are awesome and I wouldn’t get to bothered at the parks, like at home… Home is ridiculous. I don’t know about now, but four years ago I was like, I’m never going to a public park in America.
I mean, if I was ripping it would be a different story. Then I’d know I could show up and rip. But to relearn how to skate in front of these kids with their dumb fucking iPhones filming in every which direction, and me bailing on a blunt fakie on a 4 ft quarter pipe… like, I don’t want this be seen on Earth! [laughs]
So are you working on a skate part at all?
Winkle has been filming any time I skate. I’m just pretty much collecting footage, not for any particular reason, just to maybe to put on Youtube like “Bam goes to Spain” or something. Element just called and said they’re having a 25 year anniversary thing and they’re filming a video. It comes out in June, so if I have anything video worthy I’ll save it for that. They wrote me a real long email yesterday, and they want me to come and be a part of Element again. And that sounds good to me.
When you picked up the board again after 5 years of not skating did you have any tricks?
Just dropping in and doing a 50-50 on a miniramp is like easier than anything, and I couldn’t even do it. It took me like 5 tries to do a 50-50 on a 4ft mini ramp. I was like, oh my god dude I’m gonna get too frustrated to learn anything back. But I guess I picked it up fairly quickly. I still have trouble with flatground though. It would be easier for me to kickflip or tre flip a pyramid, because I’m going faster, and I have the little bump than having a game of skate flatground. I’m still really shitty on flatground right now.
”GX1000 gave me a Eastern Exposure vibe and got me really stoked to go out and skate.”
Is skating something that you think you’re going to go back to more seriously, or stay doing TV and movies?
I’m simply skating for the pleasure of having fun, not like going for it and trying to get fucking hammers on film. It’s just simply skating with the local rippers around here whether it’s mini ramps, parks, transitions or some spot they want to show me. Right now, I just wanted to make sure that I had no obligations at all towards TV or any fucking Hollywood commitments. I just wanted to know that I could go to Spain and skate for as long as I want and not have to deal with any bullshit.
Tim O’Connor mentioned that you might be announcing some skate contests with him, is that true?
Yeah, I was watching the Copenhagen contest and it just looked like so much fun, and I texted Tim and asked to do one of the Euro contests. He was actually sitting at a dinner table with all of the judges discussing that when I texted him, so it couldn’t have have been better timing. It looks like I’ll be judging in Europe this summer.
Have you been watching any of the new skate stuff to get psyched?
Yeah Winkle always plays me stuff like the GX1000 dudes, the Dime guys, and of course Evan Smith, Youness Amrani and all the people who skate in Barcelona, just keeping me updated on who’s killing it these days. GX1000 reminds me of the old Eastern Exposure videos, and for real, the VX1000 was a rad camera. Everything is changing these days, but that gave me an Eastern Exposure vibe and got me really stoked to go out and skate.
Like sometimes I watch skate videos of today, like the Plan B video, straight out of the gate Chris Joslin massive fucking tre flips something fucking huge. That’s fucking awesome and cheers to him, but it doesn’t necessarily make me want to skate, it makes me want to sit on a couch and admire his skating. The stuff that makes me want to skate is just somebody like Daewon and Chris Haslam skating a 4 ft mini and doing the most creative and weirdest tricks you can think of. Like back in the day, the old Powell Peralta videos and Hokus Pokus, those were tricks you can get hyped and go out and try on your own. But when it’s a back noseblunt down a fucking 20 stair handrail, I’ll sit on the couch and admire you, but I’m not gonna get stoked to try that anywhere.
On a side note, didn’t you guys get your friend Brandon Novak to try Jenkem like 10 years ago?
[Laughs] Yes! Yes he did. He did jenkem. Colin Provost shit in a bag, then we put it in a Gatorade bottle with a condom over it, then we put it in the microwave. Then Novak huffed it like 10 times! He said he got high but it wasn’t worth it because it was more of a headache than a high. So he recommends to not try jenkem. [Laughs] I don’t know if that video ever came out, but I witnessed it with my own eyes. Colin Provost shit in a bag and Novak was like, [Impersonating Novak] “Okay, fuck yeah, let’s get this new drug started!”
Is Novak he sober now? I interviewed him when he was in jail many years ago.
Yeah, he’s on point, he’s over two years completely sober. It took him 16 times in rehab to get it right, but he really proved himself, he’s going to like assemblies at school and talks about it. He’s taking it really seriously. He used to always go to rehab to prove to me or his mom that he’s “clean again,” so if he needed a place to crash or some money it wasn’t gonna get used on heroin. But now it’s not about that.
How did you get sober? I know you did the Family Therapy show, but I figured that was just entertainment?
No, that was real. I kind of went just because I didn’t realize I had that much of a drinking problem, but I saw the dollar signs they offered me. I was like, wait a minute, people pay a lot of money to get therapy and you’re paying me this amount to have therapy done? This is a double win, I’ll do it.
But once I went in, I realized musicians can party like rock stars because playing a guitar and being drunk go hand and hand, but if you want to skate and be drunk it doesn’t work. You’re gonna rack your nuts and slam your face, so once I realized that I haven’t skated because I’ve been sippin’ on too much alcohol, that’s when I got it.
I was sober for a while, then once I picked up a drink again, I was like, “Wow this is a real problem.” I would be a dick and give Novak shit for not being able to stop using heroin, but I couldn’t put this fucking bottle down. I never had any pill problems and I’ve never tried heroin in my life, but it’s been a real struggle for me to stay off the alcohol. But just as long you’re surrounded by good people and you have something to do, you’ll be good. Like in Barcelona I wake up and my mission is to skate all day. I know being in Spain is the best place for me right now to not drink.
I remember back in the day you said the three things that make you happy are skating, editing videos and music. What happened?
Yeah! I guess another thing that made me stop skating was the hometown hero thing. I’d be trying a blunt fakie on like a 10 ft quarter pipe and the hometown hero would come up and do a blunt kickflip, and then I’d just stop skating. They’re not doing it to show me up, they’re doing it to show Bam how good they are. But in my mind, I’m like, “You’re a dickhead that showed me up right to my face, why would I do this blunt anymore?”
One time, we were in London and Muska did a noseblunt down this rail, then Gonz came up right behind him and boardslid it. That’s the fucking raddest thing I’ve ever seen because Gonz doesn’t give a fuck who did what on the rail, he’s just doing it. I would’ve just sat down and thought – if all I have is boardslide, why would I do it if Muska just noseblunted it? Gonz is the man because Gonz doesn’t give a fuck and it’s rad when he’s part of the session. Shut up and skate. I wish that I would have. Now I’m making up for lost time.