The first thing I had to do when I got to Bam Margera’s house party on Thursday was leave. Margera, the skater and former star of the MTV reality show Viva La Bam, had been telling fans via Instagram all week that admission to the impromptu event was just $20, but the charge at the gate was $40. Cash only.
But, hey, this is Castle Bam, Margera’s mansion in Pocopson Township, Chester County. Forty dollars is a small price to pay for a day of hanging out with pro skateboarders, seeing one of the most famous MTV sets ever, and taking in general mayhem. So, after a trip to a gas station ATM — the same one where most fans went when they found out they didn’t have enough cash — I was in.
And at first glance, it was everything Margera had promised. Castle Bam looked almost exactly as it did, on the outside anyway, in the MTV days.
Pros Andy Roy and Danny Way coached fellow skaters off a ramp in Margera’s driveway, and encouraged them to try different tricks. Bam’s parents, Phil and April, who were Viva La Bam regulars, suffered the fans well, snapping photos with anyone who asked. Cars filled the yard, and about 1,000 fans milled about on the property, giving Castle Bam the appearance of a small music festival. By 2:30 p.m., the land was filled to capacity.
“I’m in an episode of Viva La Bam,” Dalton Degeneffe, 21, of New Jersey, said. “It’s surreal.”
However, while Thursday’s visit to Castle Bam was new for most fans, to Margera it’s old hat. He made a name for himself off these types of surreal get-togethers on Viva La Bam, which first ran on MTV from 2003 to 2005. Like the time metal behemoths Slayer paid Chester County a visit, or when he constructed a Tree Top Casino in his backyard.
On Thursday, that included charging party-goers $3 per slice of pizza and $5 for beer, and offering original paintings for $500, all on top of the entry fee. It did not include the planned scavenger hunt in which Margera said he would throw $20,000 into the woods on his property on Hickory Hill Road for revelers to scoop up. But that didn’t stop many from wandering out for a quick check.
In exchange for entry and concessions, fans got performances from rapper Mike Nappi, rock band People’s Blues of Richmond, metal act Valiant Thor, and Philly emcees Freeway and Beanie Sigel, though not in the time slots Margera discussed online. Also for sale were psychedelic mushrooms, thanks to one party-goer who was hawking an eighth of an ounce for $40, though that appeared to be his own side hustle.
The money would go toward constructing a skateboarding bowl designed by Way in Margera’s “skate barn,” where he invited fans to tear down old ramps following a skate session. After several hours of skating, the teardown began in front of a packed house, complete with some skaters jumping over burning pieces of the ramps as bands performed.
Margera himself, meanwhile, was a rare sight. The skater only popped out intermittently to check on the party, sign memorabilia, and take photos. He did emerge from his house early in the day, carried by three people and appearing to be intoxicated, only to look around at nearby fans and throw up the sign of the horns. Later, he left the skate barn on his own, and found fans sitting in his $250,000 purple Lamborghini Gallardo.
Ultimately, though, that type of disrespect was rare. Throughout the day, most fans obeyed the minimal rules of Castle Bam and kept things relaxed. A good thing, considering what some had to do to get there. Heather Anderson, 31, and Michael Boyd, 30, had to walk a mile to Castle Bam after police closed off surrounding roads — and Anderson had even left her job as a nurse to check it out.
“We got a text saying Bam was having a get-together. I was expecting a little thing, and when we got here, I was like, ‘What the hell?’ " Anderson said.
“It’s definitely not a little thing,” Boyd replied.
Currently, the house is being renovated for use as an Airbnb, with Margera’s party coming following several months of rehabbing at the direction of his mother.
“It was almost like he was living on a show set, and the whole show left, and he was left behind,” April Margera told the Inquirer and Daily News this year. “I told Bam it might be a bad idea to sell it right now. He’s got a little son, and he might want to see it one day. As long as you can kind of rent it out, it will help pay taxes, and that’s about it.”