Ice Ice Maybe

A decade after Vanilla Ice melted down, he's back with the man who made him

Earlier that day, during a rare quiet moment, the two of us sat in silence, watching ESPN on mute.

"Yo, what's your favorite movie?" he asks. I tell him Sunset Boulevard. He says he's never heard of it, asks who made it, who's in it, what's it about.

"It's about an aging silent-movie star named Norma Desmond who's been shut out of the industry," I tell him. "She's written a movie she wants to star in, but it's too extravagant, too long, too bad. She's awaiting the comeback that will never come, and it drives her mad." If he notices any parallels to his own story, he doesn't let on. He probably doesn't. Like he says, he isn't trying to make a comeback. Still, I feel lousy for even bringing it up.

Call him Vanilla Ice, call him Robert Van Winkle, just make sure you call him.
Leanna Bates
Call him Vanilla Ice, call him Robert Van Winkle, just make sure you call him.
"You watch," Ice said after this photo was taken. "That's the picture they're gonna use."
Leanna Bates
"You watch," Ice said after this photo was taken. "That's the picture they're gonna use."

Byron Mino likes to say that his boy has a graduate degree from the school of hard knocks, and it's hard to argue, just as it's hard to blame Ice--or Quon--for anything they did 12 years ago. So they lied about a past the kid never had. It wasn't the first time; it won't be the last. When he blamed and bad-mouthed Quon, he was covering his own ass; humility might be his companion, but shame never got a seat on his bus. And it's all behind them now, as the two men travel from town to town, from club to club, looking for a fresh start no one's likely to give them.

"When I got into the music industry, it was better than winning the lottery," Ice says. "A lottery pays you money. Music pays you fame, money and everything that everybody wants in life. It's the ultimate. But it depends on whose shoes you're walking in, man. Suicide was the only way to escape the agony and the pain I was going through. I tried to use the drugs as an escape route, but the consequences that I was paying during that time were just..." He pauses, then begins again.

"People who hate Vanilla Ice are only showing what idiots they are. It's stupid, man, because they would've done the same thing. I would've licked my mother's asshole for a million dollars, and I'm telling you, at 16 years old, anybody in the fucking music industry would've done the same thing, man. So, you can't hate on it, man. You do that, it's sacrilege. Am I trying to reinvent myself? No way. Does it look that way to a lot of people? Sure. All I'm doing is being myself, man."

A little while later, a giant grin spreads across his still-handsome face. "You know what I'm known for?" he asks. It's a question with a bunch of answers, but he lets it hang in the air, like smoke from that joint he's holding.

He answers it. "I'm known for, 'Drop that zero, get with the hero' and 'word to your mother.'"

He laughs.

"I ain't running from nuthin'."

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