The last time many of us saw CKY legend Bam Margera was on VH1’s Family Therapy, where the pro skater-turned-Hollywood star was struggling to overcome his alcohol addiction. Fast forward a year, and Bam is sober, healthy and back on his board, one that he had to purchase himself no less. It’s not easy relearning those tricks we watched him nail so many years ago, but he’s having a whole lot of fun doing so. With skateboarding back in his life, New York’s Jenkem Magazine chatted it up with Bam, touching on why he left the sport in the first place, his relationship with Element, Tony Hawk’s selflessness, getting sober, and so much more.
You can read the awesome interview in its entirety here, with a few excerpts featured below.
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.
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.
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]
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 of 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.
- Thomas Winkle
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