When Bam Margera comes to Gainesville, he drinks PBR and brings his best friends.
Fresh off a plane from Los Angeles for one night only, Margera, best known for “Jackass” and his own show, “Viva la Bam,” made an appearance at High Dive Monday night for a crowd of about 30. A number of local and out-of-state bands performed.
Sitting at a table surrounded by an entourage of people, not unlike the usual crowd at High Dive, Margera signed whatever was requested, took cellphone pictures, undoubtedly bound for mobile upload albums, and gave his time to anyone who asked for it.
While some people were there to support friends in the night’s performing bands, others — a few die-hards — were there solely for a chance to meet Margera.
Stephanie Dowling, a 19-year-old graphic design major at Santa Fe College, said not only has she seen everything Margera is in, but, “I pretty much own it all too,” she said. As soon as she heard he was coming, she called her friend and headed downtown. Fortunately, it was far from sold out, as she had heard it might be.
Margera was flanked by best friend and fellow skateboarder Brandon Novak for most of the night, and, between the two, a bit of Jackass-style antics ensued.
After explaining to the audience that Novak had just stolen and crashed his S55 Mercedes into another car of nearly equal value, Margera delivered a fair and solid punch to his right-hand man. The crowd cheered and the two embraced. About $140,000 of damage had not created bad blood between them.
In an upstairs room of High Dive, the level of friendship they share became clear. When you understand Novak’s entire left arm, which is tattooed up and down with ink dedicated in its entirety to Margera, you start to get it.
He recounted the times Margera has saved his life in the way that only a best friend can — recognizing lies and being constantly present, even when it is undeserved.
At 12 years old, they met as arch nemeses in the skateboarding world, and by age 15, Margera was calling his bluffs. Novak sometimes said he was going to Baltimore for something odd, and Margera knew Novak sought drugs there.
“Once, he told me he was going to Baltimore to pick up a pair of jeans he left there,” Margera said. Novak chimed in, “This guy waited for me for hours. This kid saved my life I don’t know how many times.”
When asked why he came to Gainesville, he said when somebody offers you a chance to party somewhere with your friends, you take it. He further explained he is on a tour of publicity appearances, the first two of which he missed because of filming schedule conflicts for his upcoming show, which will air on TBS. He said they will both be rescheduled.
Though didn’t reveal the name of the show, he said it will be similar to “Jackass,” but he and others will serve on a panel, judging viewers’ videos of stunts and rating them.
He explained he has also been doing art recently. A blurry picture on his cracked cellphone was the only example he had to offer. The medium? Tempera paint, watercolor and egg yolk.