Keeping it (Sur)real

Vanilla Ice talks about reality TV, his new record and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Illustration: Brett McAfee

Vanilla Ice is back with a brand new invention… and a kangaroo? The ‘90s icon is no stranger to performing in Las Vegas. Since the start of the year, he’s played Pure, Wet Republic and Rok Vegas, and for Labor Day weekend, the rapper (born Rob Van Winkle) is returning to the New York –New York nightspot to perform live alongside Naughty by Nature. This time he’s brought news about his upcoming album, his new reality television show and a possible cameo by his pet kangaroo.

Word to your mother.

Word to your mother.

How do you feel about having to play the songs like “Ice Ice Baby” that you know people will request?

I definitely understand [fans] want to hear that. It never gets old for me. It’s timeless. They always request “Play That Funky Music,” my follow-up song. Everyone loves that. Plus, from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, they love “Ninja Rap.” I do a remake of that that’s really cool. Plus, a lot my new stuff, as well.

You’re coming out with a new album early next year. What can you tell us about it?

I have a lot of collaborations. I’m doing a song with MC Hammer. I’ve got Sisqo on some of the choruses. There’s a verse by Wu Tang Clan, but it’s all very pop music. It’s kind of modern. I’ve never done this kind of music before. It’s hip-hop, but it’s more like techno music. … I have a Cowboy Troy song, kind of on a “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy” level. It’s club, jumping, Baja-style meets hip-hop line dancing or something. I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s going to be fun for the club.

The title of the album is “Yesterday is History, Tomorrow’s a Mystery.” Is that a suggestion that fans should forget about your ‘Ice Ice Baby’ days?

No. It’s a phrase I say to get through things. I give it to other people as advice. [The] truth is nobody knows what tomorrow is going to bring. Are we going to be bombed again like 9-1-1? Is the price of gas going to fly through the roof again? America is in a recession because people are holding back. [The title of the record] fits the times and with my own personal situation. I had demons that I had to fight through to get to where I am today. I didn’t like my old self for a long time. Now I accept it and embrace it. Tammy Faye told me, ‘You are who you are because of who you were,’ and that made a lot of sense to me. Now, I love the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I love the old hairdos, the baggy pants, the whole thing… I laugh along with it.

Can you do the hammer dance?

I could probably do the hammer dance, but I never have. That would be fun, though. I would do it in a heartbeat.

How about the dance from “Ninja Rap?”

Oh, I can do it. It’s like riding a bike. You never forget. I just can’t do it as long. It hurts more afterward.


Vanilla Ice
Sept. 4, 10 p.m.
Rok Vegas

What can people expect during your live show?

We bring the party. I have my DJ. We have all kinds of pyrotechnics, water flying around. It’s a lot of energy. I don’t have a set list. We call out the songs, or we let the fans call them out. I have so many songs I can do live. It makes it more exciting and fun that way. For me, since I play so many live shows, it would get boring playing the same songs.

Your new reality show, The Wild Adventures of Vanilla Ice, coming out in January of next year, involves your wife and children. Did that make you nervous?

Absolutely. I look at the disaster of reality television shows. The Barkers ended up in divorce. The Hogans, which we all know is a complete disaster. But I’ve been married 14 years. I have two kids. I’m solid. There’s no shame in my game. This show is not like Jon and Kate Plus 8 or any of those family reality television shows. It’s kind of like a PG Jackass. I have a kangaroo. I fight. I wrestle an alligator. I ride motocross. I jump over a big foot truck 120 feet in the air. My friend, Robbie Madison, he comes over in the first episode and sets his head on fire with a bunch of hairspray and jumps off the roof of my house into my pool. Then, it shows me in my regular life, hanging out with my kids, going grocery shopping and going to Home Depot. It’s from one extreme to the next.

Sounds like you’re not a big fan of reality television…

None of them are really reality. They’re all staged - Surreal Life, everything. I guess I shouldn’t be telling people that, but I think everyone knows by now. I mean, you really think all of those hot girls were after Flavor Flav? This is the new soap opera. I knew that going [into Surreal Life], but I just kind of kept quiet and let people enjoy it. You let them believe whatever they want to believe. It’s just television. It’s funny how people get so caught up in it.


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