Roman Skamene

* 1954

  • "They had a gorilla there, he looked like Jonák. Such a mountain. He didn't have a neck at all. Just looking at him was supposed to threaten me. I said, I can't fight with him, I'd have to have a gun and shoot him. They were sitting there: 'Show him what can await him.' He grabbed me, I am seventy kilos, that was for him… He opened the window, grabbed my legs, held me there for a while. I didn't yell. I said to myself, I can't shout, I can't shit. I don't know where I got it from, but at worst moments I say to myself, don't fuck up, don't fuck up. I thought, he couldn't throw me down, I knew there were people, there were cars. But the threating was horrible. Hanging from the third floor... Then again there was the negotiations, well, negotiations… They gave orders, I promised. That was all."

  • "Every now and then [the debt colelctors] came there or they took money from the cashier, perhaps 10 or 15 thousand, he took it and came again in two days, so they were slowly destroying us. They didn't even count it. They took out the money, they ordered some meals. There was nothing I could do. They were drinking there. Or they brought whores there. This is how they were slowly hurting me and destroying me. That was every now and then, maybe every other day. When they wanted, they came to have a meal and collect some money.“

  • "We got into such problems that we did not have enough money to run a restaurant, to buy food. It was already in a terrible state, we didn't have money. One such a fake friend said to mi: I have a friend over there, he will lend you money. I didn't want to go to the moneylenders, but we were in a very bad situation, I thought we would pay for it in a few months. We saved ourselves, but then we couldn't pay to the bank and to the moneylenders. It didn't work somehow. We borrowed 200 000 CZK, it's not really much, nowadays, at that time it was more. And we couldn't pay it back. It went on and on. One of the moneylenders was suspicious to me from the beginning, they were two and they were such idiots. Twenty-two years old, jackets, jeans, they both drove a Bimer, they already had a mobile phone in their car. I said to myself, 'Jesus Christ, where did I get?' Apparently, they had some money, it could have been money changers. They sold Bimers. So, you can imagine selling Bavarians at the age of 22. And they both had long guns. I thought, 'Where did I get?', but a step back was not possible. I couldn't pay for it. The bank was urging me to pay. The loan was getting bigger, the percentages were rising. From 200 000 CZK it was suddenly 900 000 CZK and the end in half a year.

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    Praha, 07.12.2018

    duration: 01:36:23
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
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I became the mascot of the illegal money changers´ little world

Roman Skamene in the role of little Saša in the film Útěk z roku 1967
Roman Skamene in the role of little Saša in the film Útěk z roku 1967
photo: archive of the witness

The actor Roman Skamene was born on October 2, 1954 in Planá near Mariánské Lázně. He started working in films at the age of twelve, and thanks to his small stature, he was able to play children’s roles for a long time. In 1971, he became visible thanks to the fairy tale Princ a chuďas, but a major turning point in his career was Vít Olmer’s film Bony a Klid (1987), which drew attention to the existence of money changers and the gray economy in socialist Czechoslovakia. Thanks to the film, Roman Skamene himself was very popular among the money changers and came into contact with them even in the early 1990s, when he established a friendship with the controversial businessman Ivan Jonák. An attempt to make his own business and the collapse of his restaurant brought him into great debt, he was persecuted by moneylenders and got into an almost hopeless situation. His later acting career was marked by alcohol problems. He still struggles with the consequences of debt, but he already lives a peaceful life, appearing in smaller roles in television series.