Vanilla Ice has been categorized as a rapper, rock star, competitive jet skier, motocross champion, renovator, but there is a new title to add to the list, member of the Amish community. This Sunday, DIY Network premieres its brand new series, Vanilla Ice Goes Amish, where Vanilla moves to the largest Amish settlement in the US to learn the lost art of handcraftsmanship.
We had the opportunity to sit down with Vanilla Ice and chat about his experience living without electricity, his new favourite mode of transport (a pimped-out buggy), and his surprisingly soft side that few viewers get the chance to see.
HGTV.ca: Hi Vanilla Ice, how are you today?
Vanilla Ice: I’m great. I love coming here, especially Toronto. It’s always my routine to eat the poutine. I want to open up a poutinery in New York city, I think it would be a huge success. Nobody even knows what poutine is there!
HGTV.ca: What can viewers expect from your brand new series, ‘Vanilla Ice Goes Amish’?
Vanilla Ice: It’s The Vanilla Ice Project meets the Amish. I pride myself with what we do back in Florida with building and craftsmanship and what we do with the homes and everything… I’ve been doing this 18 years so it isn’t new… It’s a cool thing to go out here and do it with the Amish because I got to learn their lifestyle, their ways, their values, everything about them, and I’m totally impressed. This series isn’t planned or staged, it’s real. It showcases real Amish. It was life changing for me and I hope it’s as entertaining to watch as it was living it. It’s an adventure to a place where you can’t buy a ticket to go in.
HGTV.ca: Where did this concept come from?
Vanilla Ice: It started off with speaking to the network, and they said what else would you like to do, and I was like, man you know what would be cool, if I went out with the Amish and learned some traits, and become an intern. Learn how they build craftsmanship and how they do it because everybody knows their reputation is building furniture, fireplaces and homes, so I wanted to go out there.
HGTV.ca: How did the community accept you?
Vanilla Ice: At first, the Amish community didn’t say much, I thought they were really introverted, but they were actually scoping me out, observing me. Then about two weeks in, they started loosening up, they saw that I was for real, that I really know what I’m doing with my construction, and I saw that about them as well. They saw me for who I am. They understood that I’m not going to take this footage and go back to New York and turn it into something that would tarnish their name. They understood after two weeks that we are here to showcase what they really pride yourselves on, building, craftsmanship, family, friends, heritage, and religion.
HGTV.ca: How challenging was it to do all these projects without electricity?
Vanilla Ice: I thought it was going to be extremely lengthy and difficult. The truth is they can use power tools, only if their bishop approves it and it’s for work purposes only. They have a generator, they use the power tools, and they know how to work all that, they have to because there is a demand for the Amish. They build non-Amish homes, they build Clarion hotels, furniture and chairs, and they have to meet the demand.
HGTV.ca: Was there a certain aspect of being cut off from technology that you enjoyed?
Vanilla Ice: After the first couple of weeks I started to really enjoy the company. That’s what the whole purpose of their heritage is, it’s to interact with each other… I didn’t miss my TV, out of sight out of mind, I didn’t care, I had so much fun, I was exhausted at the end of the day, I slept great.
HGTV.ca: How did you enjoy your new ride, the Amish buggy?
Vanilla Ice: I loved the buggy. I drove it every day to work and from work, even to a drive-through. Everywhere I had to go was all buggy. I bought one, I pimped it out, it’s on another episode. I made it like a ’70s disco van inside there. It’s doesn’t fit the Amish style, it fits Vanilla Ice style.
HGTV.ca: How has this experience changed how you work back home?
Vanilla Ice: We carried the work ethic back home to our guys… we now challenge each other to who can show up before the sun comes up, and you’re like, yes, I was the first man on site today, I showed up today at 5:30am!
HGTV.ca: Do you think you’ll go back to the settlement and visit?
Vanilla Ice: I talk to them all the time. I’ll definitely go visit. They said I am part of the Amish family forever.
HGTV.ca: You are always up to something including recording albums, touring, renovating, what do you do in your down time? Do you have any down time?
Vanilla Ice: I’ve been married 16 years, I have kids, I wear that hat, I love family. I get my family and we go on vacations. I’ve taken my kids all around the world. That’s what I do in my down time, it’s family time. I work a lot, so when I do get to get in there with the family, I do that, and it’s priceless.
HGTV.ca: What’s one thing viewers don’t know you that would surprise us?
Vanilla Ice: I’m a big softie. Don’t let the tattoos fool you. I’m a sucker for my kids, I can’t say no. I spoil them rotten. It’s what I live for, I love it. Happiness is a gift, and if you’re happy, you’re successful.
Be sure to catch the series premiere of ‘Vanilla Ice Goes Amish’, this Sunday at 10pm ET|PT on DIY network. Join the DIY conversation on Facebook!