Ask Ashley Guynes what she thinks of her husband Jared's attempts to throw an "Epic Party" for Dallas and she'll just sigh and smile at the big schlub who may be 29-years-old but is still clearly a giant kid fighting the inevitability of age, maturity and their effect on his constant quest for fun.
"His birthday is in February and he wanted the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to come to his birthday and he was like, 'What if I can get Vanilla Ice?'" Ashley said. "I'm like whatever. He's always brainstorming and trying to get the biggest, best whatever. Twenty-four hours later, we're at another show that he was doing and he goes, 'Vanilla Ice responded to my email. He's coming.' It doesn't even surprise me anymore."
Jared makes a good chunk of his living organizing parties and car shows and when his favorite fighting foursome made a surprise appearance to the pedestrians of Deep Ellum earlier this month, inspiration struck for a truly epic party idea. He would reunite the Ninja Turtles created by local builder Derick Winsett and Jacob King with rapper Vanilla Ice for the first time since the two appeared together in the film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze more than 22 years ago. The truly crazy part is thanks to a viral crowdfunding campaign, he just might pull it off Jared's Epic Party after all.
Guynes' love for the rambunctious reptiles started with the very popular, four-player arcade game that came out shortly after the cartoon series of the same name became a certified pop culture dynasty. Naturally, he has one of the few remaining cabinets in his makeshift arcade that he built using the game's original computer with a few extra touches such as light-up buttons and a subwoofer.
He joked that he spent about as much as a PlayStation 3 just so he could play one video game.
"It's probably the best four-player arcade game ever made in terms of sales," he says, standing amidst his impressive collection of arcade games and restored pinball machines which also includes a rare, mint condition model of Data East's TMNT pinball machine ("They're notoriously hard to find. I find one that was an original cabinet in San Marcos but it was just the wood.").
His obsession with the TMNT cartoon series and the movies didn't die with age. It led him to collect every toy Playmates ever made for the series including a couple of rarer pieces such as a cookie jar that would fetch as much as $300 on the collector's circuit.
"There's been times in my life when I've been a little less into it like in high school," Jared said. "I sort of suppressed it but that didn't work because as soon as I was back in college, I was just like I'm going to be who I am and I frickin' love Ninja Turtles."
Naturally, Vanilla Ice's cameo in the second TMNT movie and memorable "Ninja Rap" song further cemented his love for both but when he learned that the rapper also known as Robert Van Winkle was also a fan, it planted a seed in his brain for his "Epic Party."
He first met the rapper at the annual Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas at a VIP party. He couldn't resist complementing his performance with the Turtles and he was surprised to learn that he wasn't the only adult fan in the room.
"When it came my turn and I got to talk to him, the first thing I said was, 'You know, forget everything else, you in Ninja Turtles II was the coolest thing I've ever seen and I just want to thank you for one of my best childhood memories," Jared says. "He's like, 'Dude, you like Ninja Turtles? I'm a huge Ninja Turtles fan! I love the Ninja Turtles!' and he pulled up his pant leg and showed me this Ninja Turtles tattoo. He had this pretty famous Ninja Turtles mural from the Secret of the Ooze right there on his left leg and it was just huge. It took up his whole leg."
Winsett and King's costumes watered that planted seed from his Vanilla Ice meeting and it grew into a massive beanstalk that became the Jared's Epic Party project. The only problem, however, is that money doesn't grow on trees, not even in a metaphorical sense.
Vanilla Ice's fee alone would cost $15,000, half of which would have to be paid up front to secure the date, Jared said.
"Vanilla Ice is right in the middle of reinventing himself as a major reality TV personality," Jared said describing his conversation with Vanilla Ice's manager. "He's about to have a new show come out called Vanilla Ice Goes Amish and that's huge. That's his new schtick and he's doing fairly decent at it...Even now, we're working out the details of Vanilla Ice's rider, which is seven pages long."
He's also going to need a venue to hold his massive party and he said the South Side Ballroom is working with him to help keep the costs down but the space would cost around $5,000. He also plans to have a bunch of opening acts to keep the crowd entertained including a special live performance by Gangsta's Paradise rapper Coolio who thankfully doesn't charge near as much as Vanilla Ice for an appearance and is even willing to fly in coach. DJ Eye and 10-year-old DJ Babychino will also open for the main show. Jared also plans to include a bunch of other rich kid birthday party staples including a seasoned slight-of-hand magician, a classic video game arcade with at least 60 titles, sumo suits and even a replica of the Back to the Future Delorean.
He figures that altogether the bill would come to at least $35,000 and for 700 people to attend, tickets should cost $50 a piece. He's selling tickets and funding the party at the same time by holding a Crowdtilt fundraising campaign that will only charge customers if he can reach the $35,897.44 threshold. So far, he's raised over $18,500 in just over a week.
"I padded it a little high," Jared siad. "I've done several events in the past where I would try to do break-even events and every damn time, I would lose $1,000 or $500 or $800 or whatever the case was. I wanted to be in a position where we have a little extra where I can surprise everyone and say, 'Hey, I bought T-shirts for everybody' or 'I hired a professional photographer' or 'There's going to be an official DVD of the event and it's just be free.'
"I want everyone out there to understand that my intention is to put on the best party possible and just to not lose any money," Jared added, "to be fair to everybody."
His goal isn't even to turn a profit from this party for himself or turn the event into a kind of fundraiser of any kind. He said he just wants to hold a party for Vanilla Ice and the Ninja Turtles holy reunion.
"This is me," Jared said. "If you cracked my head open with a sledgehammer and an idea flew out, it would be Jared's Epic Party."
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