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September 10, 2017

Chester County skate star Bam Margera reveals former battle with bulimia

Skateboarding Eating Disorders
091017_BamMargera Matt Rogers/Creative Commons

Bam Margera.

Regardless of how you feel about the deranged shenanigans of MTV's old "Jackass" crew, there's no questioning that Bam Margera helped catapult the popularity of skateboarding worldwide with his blend of skits and sessions in the cult classic videos, "CKY" and "CKY2K."

A native of Pocopson Township in Chester County, Bam's prowess as a pro skater helped him achieve international stardom. He leveraged his sponsorships with Toy Machine and Element to expand the skate video genre, creating an obvious precursor to the everyman social media churn we now take for granted.

But Bam has been pretty quiet since the mid-2000's days of "Viva La Bam" and a few B-movies he produced for kicks. It's no surprise that the fame he achieved in his early twenties caught up to him. At 37 years old, he's now searching for a way to dig deep and reinvent himself (apart from helping rescue a deer from an East Bradford pond).

That's the subject of Viceland's latest episode of "Epicly Later'D," a skateboarding profile series led by Philly-based photographer Patrick O'Dell.

Among the many details revealed through interviews with Bam, his family and his friends, one of the most jarring discoveries is Bam's former struggle with bulimia, shared by his mother, April (transcript from PageSix).

“When you’re on camera a lot, people have a lot to say. He always wanted to have this very slim, slim look and a lot of it kind of happened when he became good friends with Ville Valo. [Ville] is the loveliest man ever, but he never ate, he just drank. I think Bam started sipping on a beer or sipping on a something because he like the way he looked.” ...

“We would go out to dinner and then he would immediately excuse himself and go to the bathroom. I said, ‘Are you throwing up?’ He says, ‘Yeah, yeah, sometimes I throw up and that way I’m not gonna get fat.’”

“It really hurts me when people make comments like, ‘You look like you gained some weight there. Hey, wow, Bam… you’re looking like your dad.’ I don’t respond, but I feel like saying, ‘He was drinking alcohol and he was bulimic and that’s why he was thin.’”

The full episode, posted below, paints a sympathetic portrait of a local kid whose bravado and reckless showmanship brought him fame and heaps of cash. It also brought him more trouble than he could eventually handle, especially after his best friend and "Jackass" co-star Ryan Dunn died in a gruesome car crash in 2011. Even if Bam's celebrity often felt like a cruel joke, his attempt to get back on his board to film a new skate part is touching.