By Shelley Arnusch
Who: Vanilla Ice with the Rumours
Where: Tommy Africas
When: Friday, June 11 (tonight)
Tickets: $20 first 50, increasing afterwards (available only at the door)
"You cant pick your fans," he says with an audible shrug, "they pick you."
The thing that also follows him around is his epic 1990s No. 1 hit Ice Ice Baby.
That ditty and the corresponding album To The Extreme, (which, interestingly enough, predated the whole X-Games overuse of the term by several years) didnt just top the charts, they smothered them.
And they smothered Van Winkle. Cute, perky pop-rap by a guy that looked like a cross between your brothers friend and Patrick Dempsey during the part in Cant Buy Me Love when he was the cool guy. Middle class North America couldnt get enough.
So everyone was watching when he cracked under the spotlight. Booze, drugs, pills, what else ya got? Legend has it Death Row Records kingpin Suge Knight paid him a visit at one point and tried to extort royalties in the name of gangsta rap. Ice denies that Knight's goons held him by his ankles over the railing, but he will admit they stood on the balcony and talked.
In any case it was a crazy time.
But a decade later, here he is. Got some help and is still in therapy. Hell admit it. No problem.
Outside the carney kids, not too many people know about the albums he released in the late 1990s, but hes fine with that. Radio play is poison if youre the Ice Man.
Theres a new album on its way and hes even towing the mainstream line with it by letting VH1 feature its progress on the program called "Remaking the Artist."
But as much as hes pushed his past life aside, remade himself as a rap-metal rager, he hasnt done away with the one thing that holds him tightest to his former life. Hes not the artist formerly known as Vanilla Ice, or Rippin Rap-Metal Rob or anything of the sort.
Hes still Vanilla Ice.
"I respond to all kinds of names," he explains of the seeming desire to have his cake and eat it too.
"I prefer my real name Rob now, but everybody knows me as (Vanilla Ice)...Its not about a name, its not about an image, its not about a gimmick. Its just about me and thats just part of me. Im not trying to erase it or run from it or hide from it or anything. I accept it.
Some people call me Ice; some people call me Rob. I respond. Whatever."
Rob/Ice/Whatever will throw down a lot of new shit at Tommy Africas this Friday night and maybe even an old song or two. Maybe even Ice Ice Baby. Its not for sure. Chick rockers The Rumours open.
Tickets for the show are available only at the door, starting at $20 at 9 p.m. and increasing as the night goes on.
For more information go to www.tommyafricas.com.