Professional skateboarder, stuntman and star of MTV’s Jackass, Bam Margera has had a very busy year, and it’s not slowing down as he brings his trademarked brand of mischief and mayhem to Iceland in the form of a new music festival, to complement his marriage to long-time girlfriend Nikki Boyd on October 5.
Fresh off of touring Europe and the UK this summer with his band Fuckface Unstoppable (or FU, for short), Bam has spent the last month here in Reykjavík planning a fundraising concert in memory of his best friend and former Jackass co-star, Ryan Dunn a.k.a. ‘Random Hero,’ who sadly passed away in a motor vehicle accident in June 2011.
“After Ryan passed, I spent three years not really knowing what to do with myself. I started FU, and we’ve been touring loads, but I still think about that day like it was yesterday,” Bam tells me over a coffee at Prikið. “We were on tour in Europe last month, and only had Helsinki, Stockholm, and Oslo left to go, and I wanted to cancel the whole thing. Basically, I had a dream where I was slapped awake by Ryan, and he told me ‘Get off your fat fucking ass, and do something.’ It felt so real. When you’re constantly in front of thousands of people, or surrounded by your entourage, sometimes there isn’t a lot of time to think about where you’re going.”
After a moment, Bam recalls, “Then, it just hit me: I’m going to start a ‘Random Hero’ festival here in Iceland in Ryan’s honour, every October 5th, and make it bigger and bigger as the years go on. This year, we’ve got Yelawolf playing, and all the proceeds from the festival will go to building a skatepark here in Reykjavík, since there isn’t a proper outdoor park here and because it looks like they’re ploughing this one down over here,” Bam gestures out the window towards the small, grassroots, do-it-yourself skatepark on the now-off-limits property known as Hjartagarðurinn, or Heart Garden. Over the last year, artists, local musicians, and skateboarders have been locked in a perpetual battle with the City and Reginn, the largest private real estate firm in the country, in hopes of saving the square from destruction in order to make room for a new hotel. As of publishing, bulldozers and construction equipment have occupied the square, and have begun demolition.
“There’s so much amazing art and culture at Heart Garden, and you’ll never get that back. A lot of people don’t seem to realise that,” says Bam’s fiancé, Nikki Boyd, who has joined us at the table. “Yeah, there’s nothing more annoying than going to skate a ledge in front of a building, and getting in two tries before security comes out, then waiting for them to go back inside, just so you can get maybe one more try,” Bam adds. “Just give them a skatepark! One that will last.”
Bam is no stranger to skateboarding in Iceland. Downtown skate spots such as Ingólfstorg have appeared in several of his films and video parts over the years, namely ‘CKY2K’ and ‘Elementality.’ Reflecting his personal brand of skating, the skatepark he plans to build will be far from run-of-the mill. “I want a lot of weird-looking transitions, waves and bumps, and crazy art-sculpture obstacles. But I also want to keep it easy to skate,” he says. “I don’t want to go too overboard with the size. There’s nothing worse than having some gnarly 18-foot transitions, when the park, as a whole, would be way better if they were only 8-feet. That’s how it is at FDR Park in Philadelphia, my home park. Whenever people get cement to build things there, all the old-school hessians and gnardogs come out of the woodwork, wanting these insane 20-foot bowls. I don’t understand that—the most that’s ever gonna happen is that somebody’s going to fakie-rock it, and then they’re gonna call it a day!”
As we finish up, I ask if Icelanders can expect to see more of him and Nikki around town in the months to come. “Well,” he says, “I just bought a place here… AND a car! I figured it was cheaper, since I practically had to buy the last car we rented here. I got arrested at the airport, and Hertz charged me $7,000 dollars for damages because they thought I did it on purpose, when in reality, the car actually got sideswiped. No matter what I do, I’m doomed.”
The “Random Hero’ festival will take place on October 5. Admission is 6,500 ISK.