In the 2000s, Bam Margera was a global household name. The Jackass and Viva La Bam star, who began as a pro-skateboarding prodigy, became rich and famous through filming gross-out double-dares and tasteless stunts as well as incredible skating. Some videos left you queasy, some sent you into fits of laughter, but mostly, his charismatic persona and wild antics kept you coming back for more. From having Slayer play a backyard party at Castle Bam — the massive compound built for the Viva La Bam series — to setting a giant alligator loose in his mom's kitchen, Margera has lived by anything but the usual rules.
The renegade lifestyle has not been all fun and games, however. After his rise to glory, Margera slipped down a dark path of heavy drinking and excessive partying. Subsequent to the passing of his best friend and Jackass costar Ryan Dunn, he completely left skateboarding, and pretty much everything else, behind.
The outlook seemed bleak for Margera until he discovered his new, purpose-filled life with his wife Nikki and newborn son, Phoenix Wolf. He ditched the booze and made a triumphant return to skateboarding.
Revolver met up with Margera in downtown Los Angeles, where he openly discussed the series of events that led to his DUI arrest and his subsequent rehabilitation and sobriety. But it wouldn't be Bam if it were all serious talk: He also shared a few unhinged tales of misadventure and impropriety worthy of Jackass.
BAM! WHAT'S GOING ON IN YOUR LIFE TODAY?
BAM MARGERA I was just at a treatment center in Venice, California. I did the family therapy thing with my mom ... Last fall, I attended a surprise Jackass reunion at the Rainbow Bar and Grill in Hollywood where, as you can imagine, the beers flowed all night. Long story short, as I drove away from the party, not knowing where I was headed, I pulled over to try and figure it out. That's when I noticed the police lights behind me. I was like, 'Fuck, I'm pulled over.' As it turned out, the police had actually pulled someone else over right behind me, and then came to my car to see why I was just sitting there. I had nothing to do with it, but I stayed there until I had something to do with it. So yeah, I had the pleasure of getting a DUI that night that led to my being in a treatment center for a month.
SINCE YOU DON'T DRINK NOW, HAVE YOU DIPPED INTO ANY OF THE LEGAL CALIFORNIA WEED?
I don't do well with weed ever since I smoked some with Snoop Dogg. [Laughs] I was in Petaluma with my wife and saw that Snoop Lion was playing one night. So I hit up Lil Wayne to see if I could get in and he got me on the tour bus with Snoop, who took about 11 puffs off this huge joint and then passed it to me. You can't pass up a chance to smoke with Snoop Dogg. That's like passing up Willie Nelson. So of course, I took one puff and was instantly transformed into a zombie, just staring at nothing. Snoop asked if I was OK and I said, "Nah. Ah, what was that?" He said, "That was Purple Bin Laden weed," and I was like, "Note to self — no more Purple Bin Laden weed." I ended up climbing into a fucking bush outside the tour bus, missed the entire show, and just laid there, staring at the moon all night. So yeah, no more weed for me.
HAVE YOU ALWAYS DONE SHIT YOUR OWN WAY BY YOUR OWN RULES?
Well, my mom found a note that I wrote in fifth grade that read, "When I grow up, I'm gonna be best friends with Tony Hawk and drive a red Ferrari." And it's just funny that Tony Hawk and I became great friends and he basically bought me the red Ferrari. He put me on the cover of Tony Hawk's [Underground 2] and with the money I made from that video game, I bought my first Ferrari. The game was so successful that a lot of people would come up to me, and say, "Oh my God, you're a real person." They thought I was just a character in the video game, because they played me all the time.
THAT'S INSANE. YOU WERE HEADED IN THAT DIRECTION AT AN EARLY AGE — YOU WERE OUT SKATING, FILMING AND EDITING IN HIGH SCHOOL.
Yeah, that's why I quit school the first day of 10th grade, because I knew exactly what I wanted to do and I felt like I was just wasting time in school. I had saved up enough money, around 20 grand, to get a Media 100 editing system and just started. I made a movie called CKY, which was a video filled with stupid stunts mixed with pro-skating tricks. Through word of mouth, it sold a million copies — not even one ad was printed. It was just people saying, "You gotta see this video!"
Then CKY2K came out and that's when Jeff Tremaine and Spike Jones and Johnny Knoxville called me up and said, "Can we use these clips for a pilot called Jackass that we wanna put out on MTV?" I was like, "Hell yeah, go ahead." And then like a light switch, we instantly became a phenomena. I didn't even have to film for the first season because they just used clips from CKY.
MAKES SENSE TO LEAVE SCHOOL THEN.
Well, there was also another reason. I had dared Chris Rabb to take a shit in a locker. He did and got expelled from school. So I felt bad, like, "All right, he got expelled, so I quit 'cause I'm the one who dared him to do it."
YOU TRAVELED TO ESTONIA AND SPAIN TO GET AWAY FROM ALL THE PARTYING, REGROUP AND FOCUS ON YOUR SKATING CAREER. HOW DID THAT ALL COME ABOUT?
I think the catalyst was when I stepped on a scale after a fucking drinking bender and it read — and I can't believe I'm telling you this — but I was 230 pounds. So I flew myself to Estonia, to the middle of the fucking woods in a log cabin for six months. I was on a full-blown Rocky Balboa mission to hike and bike and get myself in shape just to be able to skate. I dropped about 30 pounds and that's when I flew to Spain for another six months to start skating again.
SO YOU RECOMMEND ESTONIA FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO SOBER UP AND GET IN SHAPE?
It's crazy, I didn't realize that people in Estonia would be like, "Holy fuck, Bam! What the fuck are you doing here?" I guess in Scandinavia, all the Jackass shit is big, and I had done a lot of music videos over there. I actually made it on the cover of their version of People magazine.
OH YEAH, FOR YOUR INSPIRING COMEBACK STORY?
No, not at all. It wasn't all about sobriety when I first got there. One day, I was piss drunk and picked up a bum with an AC/DC shirt on in Finland and then I picked up Andy McCoy from Hanoi Rocks and when we arrived at a bar, all these beers came spilling out of the car and their paparazzi caught me pissing all over this tree in a park. So yeah, the cover said something in Finnish that basically translated to "Bam Pigs Out Again." [Laughs] So yeah, after that I was like, "No more drinking for me." I actually went the longest time without drinking until I went to Los Angeles for the surprise Jackass reunion party.
Estonia was great, though. I actually learned a little bit of Estonian. I can say "Cheers," which actually just sounds like "Terror Sex" [terviseks], and then "Bring me a beer" sounds like "I lick cocks." At least, that's what they told me. [Editor's note: We're pretty sure that the local Estonians tricked Margera into saying "I lick cocks" any time he wanted a beer.]
AT THE HEIGHT OF THE JACKASS MOVIES, VIVA LA BAM SERIES AND YOUR SKATEBOARDING CAREER, YOU WERE SELLING MORE BOARDS THAN THE REST OF THE ENTIRE SKATEBOARDING INDUSTRY.
Yeah, I was selling more boards than Tony Hawk, I guess, than everyone. For about four straight years, it was 40,000 skateboards a month. But I gotta say thanks to MTV for everything, all the fame and money, but no thanks at all regarding my skateboarding because when you're filming 52 episodes of Viva La Bam, my five hours of skating each day eventually turned into none. So towards the end of the fifth season of Viva La Bam, I wasn't skating at all. And whenever I would have maybe 30 minutes or an hour to kill, I would go skate. But I slowly realized that it wasn't worth breaking a sweat. So I replaced skating with sipping on beers, which slowly led to my becoming a full blown alcoholic. [Laughs]
THERE HAS BEEN A REINTRODUCTION OF SOME OF YOUR CLASSIC SKATEBOARDS. ARE YOU ALSO INTRODUCING NEW DECKS WITH NEW ARTWORK?
With the anniversary of Element Skateboards and me getting more focused on my skating, they dropped about 10 of my most memorable skateboard graphics. For the new decks, I get to pick, you know, a couple of my favorite artists to do some new Bam graphics. Kat Von D did a collection of three of my pro-model decks, where you could put them all together and it's one graphic. And now, Alissa White-Gluz, the singer of Arch Enemy — she's a friend and really good artist, as well. She's working on a graphic of mine, too.
HAVE YOU DONE ANY GRAPHICS WITH YOUR TATTOOS? YOU AND BRANDON NOVAK HAVE A PRETTY CRAZY COLLECTION OF TATTOOS FROM ALL OF YOUR WILD DAYS.
Well, first of all, we've had a competition of who can have the shittiest tattoos and I think he's got me beat. But I counted the dick tattoos on my legs — I almost have a baker's dozen of dicks on my legs. [Laughs]
Brandon has one tattoo — and this was really hard for me to do. I lost a bet and I had to jerk off and cum on his arm and they traced the outline and tattooed it on him. So the first time I tried to do it, Brandon was staring me in the eyes and I was like, "I can't do it." So I blindfolded him and then got a laptop with some straight porn. [Laughs] It ended up working out, but now he goes around telling people, "I'll give you $100,000 if you can guess what this is." Most people think it's a map of the Bahamas or something, but nope. [Laughs]
DO YOU STILL HAVE CASTLE BAM?
I do. Basically, it's 14 acres and when I think about it, everything has been done there. When I first moved in, I didn't know that I was moving in next door to the township supervisor. She's this old lady who, the first day I moved in, threw a housewarming party for me with cake and stuff. But I never showed up. Instead, I had Slayer play the loudest concert they've ever heard the first day I moved in.
OF COURSE, YOU DID. THAT'S HILARIOUS. AND CASTLE BAM WAS INCREDIBLE. YOU BUILT A MASSIVE TREE HOUSE THERE, TOO. IS THAT STILL THERE?
So there's this chick known [locally] as "The Florida Stalker" who moved to West Chester, Pennsylvania, who thinks that she and I are meant to be together, although I never had the pleasure of meeting her. From what I had heard, from people around town, "The bitch is crazy and she came here to marry you." As it turns out, she was living in my tree fort for four months and I didn't even know it. She had been carving messages into the wood — you could tell that she'd been there for a long fucking time.
One night, I woke up around midnight and somebody was kissing my neck. I thought it was my wife Nikki. I was like, "Babe, we'll get to that in the morning," you know? Then I realized that my wife was sleeping facing the other way. I looked up to see the silhouette of this naked chick and I'm like, "Who are you?" And she said, "The owl sent me from Jupiter." I'm like, "Right," and turned on the fucking lights. This chick was on the ground fingering herself on the floor. So I called 911 and was yelling at them, "You need to get this girl out of here!" She was sitting there saying, "My parents invented goats and trailers," you know, like, just all this weird shit. And finally when the police showed up, cop cars coming in with the sirens on, she goes, "Oh shit!" and did a naked cartwheel and bolted into the woods.
The police searched for hours and hours to the point where I said, "Dude, fuck this. I'm going to the bar. You guys can keep searching. I'm over it." They looked into the tree fort three different times and then finally, on the fourth time, she was hiding beneath all these blankets. So they got her and she's now, like, banned from coming to the state of Pennsylvania.