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The real reason we don't hear from Bam Margera anymore

MTV's Jackass series and its three hugely successful spinoff movies made stars out of its cast of skateboarders turned amateur stuntmen willing to do any crazy thing to entertain themselves and each other. But just because you are a star doesn't mean you'll stay one — as countless celebrities have learned over the years, fame can be fleeting, especially when it's based on a person's ability to do something that takes a major physical toll. That's definitely been the case for the Jackass crew. While co-creator and star Johnny Knoxville has parlayed his success into a steady acting career, his fellow cast member Bam Margera lingered on cable, starring in Viva La Bam — in which he relentlessly pranked and attacked his father and uncle — and Bam's Unholy Union. But the Margera era at MTV is long over. Here's a look at what he's been up to lately. (In short? He's had a tough time.)

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His music career has fizzled out

Bam started a band called Gnarkill with his brother, Jess Margera of cKy (or Camp Kill Yourself, which soundtracked Bam's pre-Jackass stunt video series) and Brandon DiCamillo of Jackass. Something of a joke band, which Margera essentially created as an outlet for "getting drunk and recording songs on my tape recorder," Gnarkill released two albums before splitting up. That gave way to another facetious band with the unprintable name of F—face Unstoppable. Members included Margera, his girlfriend at the time, his brother, and (briefly) cKy guitarist Chad Ginsburg, who quit the band after just a few months. The reason? He had a hard time watching Bam's already hard-drinking lifestyle grow progressively worse following the 2011 car crash that killed Bam's best friend and Jackass co-star Ryan Dunn. In 2014, a F—face Unstoppable tour was canceled after just three dates. More recently, he made music with another group, the Evesdroppers.

Margera found greater success on the airwaves at Sirius Satellite Radio, where he hosted a long-running weekly show titled Radio Bam — but after nearly a decade on the dial, the show quietly disappeared from the service's lineup in early 2013.

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His movies haven't exactly been blockbusters

In 2003, Bam Margera directed, co-wrote, and co-starred in Haggard: The Movie, a comedy starring Ryan Dunn, Brandon DiCamillo, and other members of the Jackass collective. A low-budget, independently produced and released relationship comedy, it's loosely based on a real-life relationship Dunn had that ended due to serial cheating. In 2008, Margera starred in and directed the sequel, Minghags, which concerns characters from the first movie taking revenge on a guy who stole their idea for an invention. Both movies had extremely low budgets (combined, they cost just over $1 million) and were released by small, independent distributors directly to DVD. Also straight to home video in 2008: Margera's holiday comedy, Bam Margera Presents: Where the #$&% Is Santa? 

If acting and filmmaking seem unlikely to ever develop into lucrative pursuits for Margera, he does still seem to be keeping sporadically busy on that front. For years, he's been involved with Where Is My Needle?! The Brandon Novak Story, a documentary devoted to the addiction struggles faced by titular skateboarder and friend of Margera's; in 2016, the production team released a trailer, but the film seems to be waiting for a distributor. According to Margera's IMDb page, he's also playing a police detective in an upcoming thriller titled Kidnapped. 

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He spent a lot of time at the club he opened in suburban Pennsylvania

Running a bar, restaurant, or concert venue isn't easy—a great deal of paperwork, licensure, community relations, and headaches go along with it. Nevertheless, in 2006 Bam Margera approached businessman Don Moore with the idea of opening a bar/restaurant/venue in Margera's hometown of West Chester, Pennsylvania. The Note opened two years later, with much of the time in between spent fighting community objections to the club. Due in part to Margera's reputation, the bar had to agree to many concessions just to open — the Note wasn't allowed to do what other bars in the area could do, such as offer take-out beer or even happy hour specials. They were also forced to hire extra security personnel. While Margera remained a partner and often hung out there with his friends, day-to-day ultimately operations fell to Moore, who in 2014 closed it down because he'd tired of the long hours.

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He was attacked outside his club

Bam Margera really started spending less and less time at the Note in 2010 — because he suffered a horrible injury in a fight there. A woman named Elizabeth Ray, who lives on the same street where the Note was located, went down to the club one night to complain about the noise. She claims Margera was not only dismissive of her complaints, but hostile — he admitted that he called Ray things like "idiot" and "crazy b****." Ray, a 59-year-old African-American woman, also says that during the encounter, Margera called her the n-word. So that's when Ray went home, grabbed a baseball bat, found Margera at the Note once more, and allegedly struck him in the head with it. Margera was treated overnight in a local hospital's intensive care unit for head injuries. Ray was arrested on assault and reckless endangerment charges, but posted bail and was released. "I'm innocent," she told the Philadelphia Daily News, "just like his movies."

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He got engaged, broke up, engaged again, married, split up…

On Viva La Bam, Margera was often seen with his fiancée, Jenn Rivell. But they never got married — they split up in 2005, and a year later Margera filed a restraining order against her after she allegedly broke into his house. But Bam learned to love again, and in 2006 he started dating and proposed to a childhood friend named Missy Rothstein. The events leading up to their wedding became the subject of yet another Margera reality show called Bam's Unholy Union. The couple did get married, but unfortunately it didn't last. In 2009, Margera wound up in the hospital following a four-day drinking binge, around the time the couple entered marriage counseling. The divorce was finalized in 2012. And Bam moved on — in 2013 he married again, this time to an artist named Nicole Boyd. In December 2017, the couple welcomed their first child, a boy they named Phoenix Wolf.

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He isn't a born author...or game show host

Bam Margera made the leap to authoring books, of a sort, with 2009's Serious as Dog Dirt, which was essentially a collection of his drawings, personal photos, and random thoughts. Fans weren't impressed; as one disgruntled customer wrote, "Bam should be embarassed to have put his name on this, but someone handed him a pile of money to hand over his notebook. DONT BUY! I promise you will be disappointed."

In 2014, he returned to television to host a TBS series called Bam's Bad Ass Game Show. Co-created by Margera, the show invited contestants to complete stunts similar to the ones on Jackass (although significantly softened and toned down) for the chance to win as much as $100,000. It was sort of like Double Dare for adults who had no sense of self-preservation, with loosely scripted reality show-style bookend segments of Margera and his friends hanging out in between. Bam's Bad Ass Game Show was cancelled after just six episodes, a victim of really bad ratings. It had the misfortune of running against some of the most popular programming on cable, and whose audience overlapped with Margera's fanbase: WWE shows and the NBA playoffs.

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His uncle got into some serious legal trouble

Margera's uncle, Vincent Margera or "Don Vito," was a beloved member of the Viva La Bam family. Okay, maybe not beloved, because the younger Margera only ever stopped slapping the old guy long enough to tell him how fat and dumb he was. And yet, the show was so popular that Vito was famous in his own right and would appear at public events — like the 2006 meet-and-greet held in a Colorado skate park that ended with him getting into some really nasty legal trouble. Vito was charged with child sexual assault for groping two girls, ages 14 and 12, but Bam brushed off his uncle's crimes, saying it was a frivolous lawsuit and declaring the entire trial just a way for lawyers to bilk his uncle out of thousands of dollars in legal fees and "get their name in the paper." Vito was ultimately found guilty and sentenced to 10 years of probation. (He died in 2015 at age 59.)

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He was knocked out cold in Iceland

In June 2015, one of Margera's bands was booked to play the Secret Solstice Festival in Reykjavik, Iceland. The gig went off fine, but afterward, Margera allegedly got drunk and tried to force his way into the control room. Two female security guards tried to block him from getting in, triggering a skirmish in which a hostile Margera was accused of yelling some nasty things at them. Unfortunately for Bam, the Icelandic rap group Glacier Mafia was nearby and noticed the scuffle; the rappers intervened and gave Margera such a beatdown that he was knocked out.

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He got the therapy he needed

In 2015, Bam Margera and his mother April appeared on VH1's Family Therapy with Dr. Jenn. Bam had partied hard for years, and his mother felt it grew problematic after the death of Ryan Dunn. After the incident in Iceland, April Margera realized something had to be done and she contacted the producers of Family Therapy to stage what amounted to an intervention — she was honestly afraid Bam was going to die. A far cry from the gonzo-silly-loving relationship between mother and son depicted on Jackass and Viva La Bam, this is a show in which a professional psychologist counsels a man deeply in pain with serious addiction issues. Fortunately, for a time, Bam did sober up, reportedly giving up booze cold turkey.

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A DUI arrest led to rehab

In late 2017, it looked like Bam Margera had earned a measure of hard-fought stability and gotten his life truly on track. But shortly after Margera and his wife announced the arrival of their son Phoenix Wolf in December 2017, he received a (literally) sobering reminder that the battle against addiction is a lifelong fight — and one that can quickly take a potentially life-altering turn.

On Jan. 8, 2018, it was reported that Margera had been arrested for driving under the influence after police — who were ironically in the area for an unrelated reason — noticed him using his cellphone behind the wheel. After speaking with him, they "noticed signs of possible intoxication"; a field sobriety test followed, after which he was arrested and released on $15,000 bail.

Days later, Margera announced that he'd checked into rehab for alcohol addiction, later posting a shot of his bathroom from the facility and quipping that in addition to getting to use his phone for an hour a day, the layout of the lavatory made it possible for him to "piss and floss simultaneously." Margera was clearly staying in good spirits despite his latest ordeal, but his old Jackass buddy Steve-O warned that the road ahead remained long and steep.

"Rehab is like a gym," Steve told TMZ. "Just because you've got a gym membership doesn't mean you're going to get really fit. It just depends on what you do when you get there."

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Third time's the charm?

As his friend Steve-O warned when Bam Margera entered rehab in early 2018, there's no magic fix for addiction — what you get out of any attempt to get clean depends on what you put in. To his credit, Margera seems to have developed a sense for when he's in danger of hitting rock bottom again, and in January 2019, he went public with his return to rehab. Sharing the news in the caption of an Instagram photo of himself holding his son, Margera noted it was his third visit to a facility, adding, "I am hoping the term 3rd time is a charm is true."

While it's long been hard not to worry about Margera's long-term health, he helped soothe fans' fears for his well-being with follow-up posts to his Instagram feed, including a shot in which he thanked his support system (including Steve-O and Brandon Novak). As always, only time will tell whether Margera stays sober, but if he sticks with his program, it looks like he's got a solid team in place.

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In and out

Bam Margera's early 2019 return to rehab didn't last long — but as he assured fans with a series of handwritten notes posted to Instagram, he remained committed to staying sober.

According to Margera, he tends to drink when he's bored — but in rehab, where he's "bored 50 percent of the time" without access to alcohol, he's forced to channel that energy into healthier pursuits like brainstorming creative ideas and exercising. Sounds like a pretty good reason to stick it out for the duration, but Margera checked out of his rehab facility after a mere ten days. As he told fans, part of his reason for leaving had to do with rules preventing him from supervising personal projects.

"I found out they would not let me handle business calls," wrote Margera. "Such as ten people living at my house getting paid to build ramps that I have to look at to say build or don't build and I'm not allowed." As a result, he claimed he had a crew being paid "to sit around for days at a time," helping lead to his decision to cut his visit short.

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A close call

When Bam Margera announced he was leaving rehab after a ten-day stint in January of 2019, he also revealed the reason he'd relapsed in the first place: according to one of the handwritten notes he posted to Instagram, he was traveling alone in Colombia during the summer of 2018 when he found himself being robbed at gunpoint. "I was shook up, far from home, scared with anxiety," he wrote. "I saw a minibar at my hotel."

That relapse led to a period of time when, according to Margera, he managed his drinking responsibly, limiting himself to a pair of vodka and club sodas "every other two days or three." But even though this "method seemed to work," Margera found himself dissatisfied after looking around at friends he'd viewed as "lifers" who managed to get sober. "Even though I made a conscious effort to limit my drinking," he added, "I still wanted to get help." Here's hoping he manages to hang onto that feeling over the long haul.

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He's still working on a documentary

In 2015, Margera announced that he was transitioning from reality TV to its brainier cousin, documentary filmmaking. He released a trailer for a film he claimed to have been working on for three years called I Need Time to Stay Useless, about his journey from "growing up to broke" to "Jackass fame" and how he dealt with Dunn's death. Margera also planned to include dreamlike scripted sequences about Dunn, to be portrayed by Mastodon guitarist Brent Hinds. As of early 2019, the movie, retitled Earth Rocker, has yet to be released outside of a handful of test screenings.

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Bam forever

Margera has obviously had a rough time since the end of Jackass and Viva La Bam. The trials he's faced would be enough to make anyone want to drop out and lay low for a while, but he's still out there, still trying to be creative and make stuff, and all in his own unique style. He's obviously a talented, likable guy, and he's brought joy to millions. Although he's struggled, he seems invested in getting his life back together — in fact, before heading in for his second stint in rehab in early 2018, he was even back on the skateboard again, starting a low-key comeback that began with a trip to Barcelona. Whatever happens next for Bam, we only wish him the best — and here's hoping he won't stay out of the limelight for long.