Monday, February 05, 2007

Vanilla Ice (Robert Van Winkle)

Robert Van Winkle, better known throughout the world as "Vanilla Ice," was born on October 31, 1968 in Orlando, Florida. Van Winkle would later become the first rap artist to score a #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 when Ice Ice Baby topped the charts in 1990. Van Winkle was on top of the world and was the most popular thing in music from late 1990 through early 1991 at which point he unexpectedly flamed out as the public completely turned on him when it was discovered that he had faked his own biography in an ill-advised effort to gain street credibility (a.k.a. "street cred").

I. Rise to Stardom

Van Winkle grew up in Carrollton, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. He also spent some time in Miami, Florida and attended high schools are various times in Carrollton and Miami. In 1987 Van Winkle was "discovered" by Tommy Quon, owner of City Lights, a Dallas club. Quon saw Van Winkle's white Camaro IROC parked in front of his marquee. When Quon asked Van Winkle to move the car, the brash Van Winkle said he was coming inside to enter a talent contest and that he didn't want his car to be stolen. After Quon witnessed Van Winkle’s performance in the talent contest he signed Van Winkle that night. Quon saw that Van Winkle was a decent rapper was great charisma and excellent dance skills.

Quon later surrounded Van Winkle with black dancers and let Van Winkle open for City Lights headliners such as Tone Loc, Paula Abdul, and Public Enemy. Quon also dressed Van Winkle up in flashy clothes. Van Winkle recorded some demos and showed them to several record companies. Unfortunately, the record companies who heard the demos were not interested. Still convinced he had something special, Quon decided to release the recordings himself.

Van Winkle's recordings were released on a two-sided tape. The "A" side included "Play That Funky Music," a rap reworking of Wild Cherry's 1976 song of the same title. The "B" side included Ice Ice Baby, a song which incorporated a chant by the black college fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha and the bass line from Under Pressure, a song recorded by Queen and David Bowie in 1980.

A disc jockey in Georgia initially started playing the "A" side of Van Winkle’s tape. However, when he flipped the tape over and played Ice Ice Baby he was blown away and played it. The song soon topped the station's playlist. Shortly thereafter a station in Chattanooga, Tennessee, added it and then some Dallas stations gave Ice Ice Baby some airplay. Quon subsequently financed a video that quickly became the most requested video on Video Jukebox, a short-lived music video channel where viewers could play a fee to request that a particular music video be played.

Atlantic Records was close to signing Van Winkle to a contract when the founder of SBK records, Charles Koppelman, heard Ice Ice Baby and was so impressed that he signed Van Winkle the next day. Ice Ice Baby entered the Billboard Hot 100 on September 8, 1990 and peaked at #1 eight weeks later. Van Winkle was the first rap artist with a #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.* Ice Ice Baby stayed in the #1 position for one week but almost certainly would have remained at #1 for much longer if SBK hadn't deleted the single, forcing fans to purchase the entire album To The Extreme to acquire the Ice Ice Baby song.

Commentators often deride Van Winkle as a "one hit wonder." However, this is not true, as Van Winkle's second biggest hit, Play That Funky Music, reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1991.

II. Van Winkle's Downfall

In the late 1980s/early 1990s there was a school of thought that held that rap artists needed street cred to be popular. Van Winkle grew up in a middle class family and he and his manager believed he lacked the requisite street cred and decided to invent street cred. When Van Winkle's Ice Ice Baby first hit the airwaves he was known only as Vanilla Ice and a biography issued by Van Winkle and his manager contained many outright lies. First, the bio indicated that he attended an all-black high school in Miami and learned to rap from the black kids in his school when he was walking home. The bio also indicated that he attended school with 2 Live Crew's Luther Campbell even though Campbell is much older than Van Winkle.

Some black rap artists and many others in the black community hated Van Winkle for his unbelievable success as a rap artist. When some newspaper reporters did some digging and discovered Van Winkle’s true roots, they were unforgiving. The negative press was relentless and the public turned on him, deriding him as nothing more than a novelty act.

Van Winkle also caught a lot of grief for using the bass lien from Under Pressure in Ice Ice Baby. Van Winkle didn't help his own cause by going on MTV and denying that he copied the bass line. In reality he did use the bass line and eventually settled a lawsuit with Queen over this matter. He also settled copyright infringement allegations with Wild Cherry over his version of Play That Funky Music.

Van Winkle's next album with new songs was "Mind Blowin'," released in 1994. The album's sales were terrible. Van Winkle eventually remade himself as hard rock artist and still performs to this day at clubs across America while singing Ice Ice Baby in addition to his new hard rock songs.

III. Van Winkle's Movie Career

When he was a huge star Van Winkle would do practically anything for money. He starred in the movie Cool As Ice, made a cameo appearance in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze.

Cool As Ice was released in 1991 and was supposed to be a drama even though it is impossible to watch the movie without laughing numerous times. Cool As Ice was based loosely on Rebel Without A Cause. Van Winkle played Johnny Van Owen, a motorcycle-riding musician who travels from town to town performing in clubs with his band. One day while traveling on motorcycles to a new town a motorcycle driven by member in Johnny Van Owen's band breaks town so that entire band stops and stays in town while the bike is being repaired.

Johnny Van Owen eventually meets Kathy Winslow, the daughter of Gordon Winslow (played by Family Ties' Michael Gross) who is in the Witness Protection Program to hide from mobsters. I don't want to give away too much of the plot, but rest assured that Van Owen saves the Winslow family from the mobsters and beats up several people who get in his way.

There are many unintentionally hilarious aspects of the film. First, even though it is summer in California, Van Owen is wearing a heavy orange jacket. He also occasionally sports a leather jacket that lists his most popular expressions such as "Down By Law," "Yep Yep," Sex Me Up," and "Oh Yeah." The most talked-about scene in Cool As Ice is the scene where Van Owen interrupts an argument between Kathy and her boyfriend at the time and says the immortal line: "Words of wisdom: drop that zero and get with the hero!" That particular scene might represent the pinnacle of American cinema.

Here are links to two websites that have comprehensive (and funny) reviews of Cool As Ice:
X-Entertainment review
I-Mockery review

Van Winkle also appeared briefly in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze. I personally think that his scene was the best one in the entire movie. In his scene, a couple of the turtles were fighting some mutants and they all end up in an underground club where Van Winkle is singing. When Van Winkle sees the turtles he starts signing the Ninja Rap.

IV. Subsequent TV Appearances

Van Winkle has made several appearances on TV shows over the past few years. He has been on The Surreal Life, Celebrity Boxing, Remaking Vanilla Ice, and Hit Me, Baby, One More Time. One of his most talked-about performance was his appearance on The Surreal Life. In one of the shows he and some washed-up celebrities were supposed to work at a Mel's Diner in Hollywood. The producers decided to spice things up by inviting Gary Coleman on the show to be the manager of Mel's Diner for that episode. Van Winkle really wanted Coleman to say his catchphrase "Whatchoo talkin' bout" and was insulted when Coleman refused to say it. So Van Winkle picked up Coleman and threatened to throw Coleman in a deep fryer unless he said that catchphrase. Coleman was shocked by Van Winkle's actions and stormed out of the restaurant saying that he hated Van Winkle.

Van Winkle also appeared on an MTV special entitled "25 Lame" in 1999. The MTV special was hosted by Janeane Garofalo, Chris Kattan, Denis Leary, and Jon Stewart. The purpose of the MTV special was to discuss the 25 lamest videos ever shown on MTV and ban them forever. Van Winkle was invited to discuss his Ice Ice Baby video and destroy a tape of the video. The hosts gave Van Winkle a baseball bat to destroy the tape and Van Winkle went nuts, destroying the tape and then smashing several other props on the set in a rage.

Van Winkle appeared on Celebrity Boxing in 2002 on the FOX network and fought fellow washed-up celebrity Todd Bridges. Bridges pummelled Van Winkle in three rounds on the show.

V. Miscellaneous Interviews

Van Winkle is an interesting personality and is always available for a good quote. He sometimes exaggerates stories in a way that is not believable but is actually kind of funny. Several years ago Van Winkle said that the ex-con founder of Death Row Records, Suge Knight, held him upside down hanging over a hotel balcony and threatened to drop him unless Van Winkle gave him somewhere around $180 million. In recent years, however, Van Winkle has changed his story and now says that the media reported the story incorrectly and that Suge simply talked to him while they were standing on a hotel balcony. (Van Winkle is lying about the media's misreporting of the original story - I saw footage on a VH1 show years ago where he made his original claim.)

Van Winkle has also been rather candid in explaining why he used to dress up in the flashy clothes when he performed in 1990:

I'm enjoyin' myself now for the first time ever. It's hard to understand that, you sell 17 million records it sounds like it's great and gravy and shit, but I didn't enjoy it too much, man. Anyone who hates on Vanilla Ice would have done the same fucking thing, so they can't hate on me. They told me, we want you to wear these baggy pants because the young kids like it because the young kids like it and it's all glittery and polished and everything, and I said, "Fuck no, I'm not wearin' this gay-ass shit," and they said, "Well here's a million dollars, man, will you do it?" And I said, "Fuck yes." And anybody would have done the same thing if they were given the same chance. I'd lick my mother's asshole for a million dollars.

VI. Conclusion

Unlike many of the washed-up celebrities I have profiled on this blog, I think Van Winkle got a raw deal. I personally couldn't have cared less about Van Winkle's false "thug" life story. I thought that his music was fun. He was truly the first rap artist to enjoy wide success throughout mainstream America.

He caught a lot of flak for using the bass line from Under Pressure. So what? Ice Ice Baby was much, much more successful and sold far more albums than Under Presure. Moreover, practically every rap artist does the same thing, yet they still give Van Winkle crap for it to this day 16 years after Ice Ice Baby hit #1. In 1997 Puff Daddy completely ripped off The Police's Every Breath You Take and changed maybe 10 words and released it as I'll Be Missing You; the hypocrites in the music community actually gave Puff Daddy great press for that song.

Despite the fact that Van Winkle was smart with his money and didn't throw it all away like MC Hammer and others, there's no denying the fact that he is one washed-up celebrity!

[UPDATE - 2/11/07 - I originally had youtube links to video clips from the Cool As Ice, Ice Ice Baby, and the MTV 25 Lame special. Unfortunately, youtube deleted those videos today for violating youtube's Terms of Service.]

* Many commentators have written that Ice Ice Baby was the first rap song to hit #1. This is incorrect. Although Vanilla Ice was the first rap artist with a #1 hit, Ice Ice Baby was the second rap song to hit #1. The first rap song to peak at #1 was Rapture by the pop group Blondie, which peaked at #1 on March 28, 1981.

*** Update - April 12, 2008 ***
Vanilla Ice was arrested on April 10, 2008 by Palm Beach County Sherriff's deputies on a charge of domestic battery. His wife called the police after he allegedly pushed her during an argument. His mug shot is shown below:


Anonymous said...

Don't forget his recent affiliation to rap-rock retards Insane Clown Posse. Check out deez fly-ass rhymz!!!!

"the world most playa hated rapper
and the most hated group together like woooo!" Genius.

Anonymous said...

This guy is an arrogant douche-pile who is in dire need of a nice thick erect cock up his ass, no questions asked!

Anonymous said...

I heard that "havin' a Roni" is Miami queer slang for popping a virgin twink's butt-hymen.

Anonymous said...

I'd still totally do him though - I bet he's a real dirty old Ice in the sack

Anonymous said...

yall rep'sent he might not be black but i gone heard he's hung like a brotha, holla atcha boy make sure u be hittin up dis hoe witchur numba, sexy thang! i wanna see if u still as hard as ice if u know wht i be implayin, word to yo motha!

Anonymous said...

i luved him in THE NEW GUY!

Anonymous said...

He STILL very VERY do-able! Madonna got some of that back in the day, and I'd still like to have a taste of Vanilla myself!Mmmmm.

saturn96 said...

word to your mother baby bubba

Anonymous said...

I love me some Vanilla Ice! I think he's great. I live in PB County and he does alot of things to help out the community here.
The fact that you guys say he's "washed up" is stupid.
He still performs to sold out shows and the crowd goes CRAZY when he plays Ice Ice Baby.
Get a life losers.

Movie Fan said...

Anonymous (12:16 PM), how can you dispute that Vanilla Ice is washed up? I was a big fan of his in 1990 and still listen to some of his old tunes from time to time. However, the guy is definitely washed up now - the music he now sings is unlistenable, in my opinion. He does have a following for his hard core rock (or whatever you call what he sings now), but his current following is a mere fraction of what it once was. I actually saw a Vanilla Ice concert at a bar a few years ago - the admission price was only $5 above the normal cover price to get into the bar.

He was good with his money and I give him credit for that. At least he didn't piss all of his money away like MC Hammer did.

Anonymous said...

for one, he is far from washed up. the fact that he still makes music, is signed to a good label and is still alive and helping his community shows he is FAR from washed up. if you knew the meaning of what "washed up" meant you would know this. second, just because he isnt doing the same kiddie rap he did 20 years ago, doesnt make him any less talented. THIRD he is no where even close to an "arrogant douche-pile." and for saying that, you need to check yourself. he made it farther than you ever will in life and still to this day and for years to come, will continue to have a devoted fan base and respect for them. hes better than that white trash eminem. always has been and always will be. at least what rob says has meaning. eminem is just a pissed off white boy that shoulda done himself in with his ambilical cord when he was born. rob van winkle was and always will be a loved member of the music community. so all of you who dislike him because of what he is today, need to kill yourself.

Anonymous said...

he he he... fo all da fans out der

Anonymous said...

hey rob, whoop whoop ninja!!!
showin you some mcl

Anonymous said...

hey if your reading this, hopfully u can hit me up at get at ur family whoop whoop!!!

Marth Beck said...

He looks like if you gave him a bath he'd be nice looking

Anonymous said...

Yo Vanilla! What haters fail to realize is Rob is an entertainer. His career might have started out as Vanilla Ice, but he has evolved and is still out there doing what he wants to do. The bottom line is Vanilla earned his rights to hit No.1 and the wealth that came with it. All stars rise and fall. He will forever be a part of our music culture and history and he has every reason to be proud.

JewveBeenFramed said...

Vanilla Ice has just done a song with Queercore Irish duo Jedward. He looks totally homoriffic in the video. I hope that Ice and the twins took part in some hardcore assplonking between takes of the video because it is seriously some of the most hardcore homo-eroticism I have seen, and I've seen queerdom that breeder minds just couldn't fathom!

Anonymous said...

Vanilla Ice sucks. I hate rap music and I hated when he tried to talk like a black guy from the Ghetto when he did interviews back in the 1990's(Like Eminem does now) but when you listen to him on "The Surreal Life" the fake black ghetto voice is gone replaced by a white southerner voice. What a poser wigger!

Devin said...

And now he's lighting cars on fire and jumping them into a lake.

Anonymous said...

"Together like woop!" Get yer shit straight before you start talikng. ICP and V.Ice have more talent and money thanm you do. So, shut your face douche.

Anonymous said...

Whether you like him or hate him, he has money!!!! he seems to be doing well since doing the diy keepin busy with proj

Anonymous said...

There's a very high possibility that Van Winkle Drive, Carrolltno, TX was named after him.

Anonymous said...

"that zero and get with the hero!"

My, oh my, that was one awful line. I'm glad that Van Winkle saved his money, because I can't imagine him making any kind of comeback. He's an egotistical, overbearing jerk and it sounds like he hasn't grown up.

Anonymous said...

Would you still consider them washed up if they're still worth millions? Sure, they can't get any decent roles or gigs but if they're still millionaires, they f'ed up and still ended up better than most of us financially.

Anonymous said...

He was a tool back in 1990/1991, but most 18 y/o guys or girls would be willing to act a fool for millions of dollars being thrown at them by promoters.

He didn't burn up all of his money and end up broke like MC Hammer or many of the '80s hair metal groups.

I still laugh when watching Ice Ice Baby, but Van Winkle still is living off of his residual celebity/notority status and earning interest from the millions he invested and earned in the 80's/90's.

Anonymous said...

Is a hard life when everything goes spirilling down.Mmmmm...he is not totally wash up he is still alive and kickiiiiinnnnn.

ExpatMichael said...

You should have mentioned that he posed for the Madonna Sex book. That book was a huge success. But I always thought he seemed real out of place in it.

ExpatMichael said...

I like your site. It doesn't matter that you are not the best writer. Your posts are interesting and in some cases you provide information about where these people have ended up that we would not otherwise get to know.

I hope you continue doing this in the future cause there is always someone new to add to the washed up pile.

And as for people disputing what washed up means. I think that since it's your site you can determine it. You just need to always back up your claim and explain it in the post and then you're good to go.

dknight said...

I would love to have some of Ice Ice in fact he is one of the sexiest white guys I know I am an African American man and Robert Van Winkle is sexy as hell you go boy

Jenna said...

Yes, he is indeed sexy, and I gather that 'that' came with age. I've looked at some of the videos on you tube in his earlier days and I doubt I would even think of him as being sexy. But now, I would CLIMB HIM LIKE A TREE! He can be the BANNANA IN MY SPLIT, ANYTIME! My view of him being washed up, doesnt seem to fit his current situation. He has manage to get back on that horse and face the world again ... where most would admit defeat. I've always loved someone who tries hard. If the world was facing an alien attack and set for global war, Robert Matthew Van Winkle will definately be someone to have on my Team. It is good to see a person strive to achieve, and to me, he has done that and succeeded. Gossip and the people who facillitates it really do need a 'bullet', or at the very least get a FUCKEN decent job! Trust me, the world would be a better place. :D

Anonymous said...

Some black rap artists and many others in the black community hated Van Winkle for his unbelievable success as a rap artist.

No. We hated him because he was a liar, fake and over-hyped garbage rapper.

You never saw no hate over here for the Beastie Boys or Eminem or any other white rapper that wasn't faking and could actually rap.

Anonymous said...

whites have always been into black culture and all we have to do is "borrow" their music, style of clothing, slang ect and put a white face on it and voila-instant success! vanilla ice was a prime example of that and he was really no different from elvis presley, emenim ect emenim himself even says this in his song "white america". (and btw, i'm a white female

Anonymous said...

Comment above.

Very true.

It wasn't because he was white, It was because he was a liar and faked "the funk."

Like you said we have Em, and the beastie boys rap etc, rap from the street's I don't give a damn what color the dude/lady's skin is.

Just be real don't be a poser and liar.

You think I'm going to diss a man or woamn that grew up in a hood? Fuck no, regardless of color and we there are all sorts of "colors" in the hood.

V-ice you should have just been honest about your background.

Why lie man?

Anonymous said...

And yeah, again, what about the beastie boys?

Their shit is dope. It wasn't because Vanilla Ice was a white dude. bah.

It wasn't a race thing, it was his whole poser thing that killed him.

I don't give a damn what color the people who make music are, black like me, white, yellow, green... I don't care.

Just don't lie and fake shit you've never experienced.

AGAIN : That's what killed "V-Ice" his fronting. It never was about his color.

Anonymous said...

one of the meanest web activities there is, dude you want to know what washed up is, look in the mirror, you'll see a has been that never was ! you can write a blog about people we've all known is anybody writing one about you ????

Anonymous said...

This is not a really serious website...some comments are very crude...I guess there is no one filtering this....sad

BOTR said...

I saw him on the Today show this morning; he's in the new Adam Sandler movie That's My Boy credited under his real name.

Anonymous said...

He has a net worth between $18-20 million dollars. Washed up?

Movie Fan said...

^^^ Hey, I like Vanilla Ice and am glad that he was smart enough to save and invest his money wisely. However, he misses the limelight and is definitely washed up.

Anonymous said...

Vanilla Ice is a hilarious character. It seems like he might be a pathological. I saw that interview as also, where he claims(in his own words on tape) that he was hung over a balcony by his ankles by one of Suge Knights body guards.

One thing left out of the article is his dating(fucking) Maddonna and his apperance in her "Sex" book. He has claimed in some past interviews that she is the one that gave him Herpes.

Anonymous said...

"Canada Sings", check it out, he's a judge on it

Anonymous said...

He even says in interviews that you ride the wave, it can take you anywhere and it will eventually crash into the shore. So yeah he's washed up and he knows it. I recently saw his live show. It was a party. He did a great job. He's a pro.

Anonymous said...

The chick that claims that white boys borrow african americans music must b a fat ugly pig that only those ugly monkies can satisfy, so disgusting, u must have a huge loose twat, complete white

Anonymous said...

Whoever posted this long arse article about Boy Rob; was obviously a big fan back in the day. There is a reason why Eminem was a bigger success story (not a fan of his trashy music) and it's due to the fact he's not an act like Boy Rob who likes to trash sets just to prove he's still Moron #1.

I have to quote a school buddy of mine from 8th grade "he never was in style" by Austin Leslie; now that I look at that years later. Vanilla Fudge was just the flavor of the month.

Anonymous said...

Vanilla Ice just didn't borrow his "hook" from Bowie's Under Pressure, he claimed he invented it. The non douche bag thing to do is at least give credit to the original artist in your album's liner notes. So OK, maybe he just overlooked that detail. After all, he was busy riding in his Mustang 5.0, with his top down, so his hair could blow.

So when the media asked why he gave no credit to Bowie, he vehemently asserted that Ice, Ice Baby was totally different from Under Pressure & he composed it solely on his own. That's almost as bad as Screech Powers lies about the size of his tiny manhood & luck with the ladies in his book Beyond the Bell.

Oh & Mr. Vanilla claims it was his record company that was responsible for his early 1990s image. We are to believe they forced him to dress from the Liberace section of MC Hammer's closet. Then forced him to get his Brigitte Neilson/Parker Lewis Can't Lose haircut & pressured him to act like self absorbed thug clown. This begs the question, just who forced him to cover his body in prison tattoos & whore himself on reality TV? Sure couldn't be the record company's fault... he is so washed up the record execs wouldn't even piss on him if he were on fire.

Anonymous said...

The guy is my neighbor in Palm-beach he is a regular guy. When I met Rob 7 years ago I told him I liked his song from back in the day! He made big bucks dated Madona as a young guy..flash in the pan maybe? Re invented him self on DYI and still has presence..all the haters spewing filth and making jealous comments get a life. In terms of him trying to get street cred and ripping of Bowie BFD. Everyone does what they have to do in life to get a leg up..old saying Those in glass houses should not cast stones.Who cares leave the guy alone the working class neighborhoods in NY were very happy to listen to ICE ICE BABY IN THE SUMMER OF 90 I WAS ROLLING IN MY 5.0 Thanks for the song ICE!

Vanilla's Homey said...

Yeah I'm Vanilla ice's neighbor from Tampa too. We are like the bestest hommies. When he is scratching off his instant lotto tickets, we have the best conversations. He tells me how he checks sites like this all the time. Sometimes people say such mean things it makes him cry. He told me how he gets back at them though... see, he writes a comments where he pretends to be somebody else & talks about how the whole world was his oyster back in 1991.

I mean god, how could 20+ year old made up story about being dangled by your toes from a balcony by a big mean black record producer not give you street cred? Well if that don't impress em, maybe the Madonna story might. We all know Vanilla Ice's penchant for honesty. Who wouldn't be in awe of somebody who might have gotten Sean Penn's & Dennis Rodman's sloppy seconds one night two decades ago. I'm sure Madonna returns all his calls now, right after his record producers.

You better not mess with Vanilla Ice or all his "neighbors" will remind you just how totally cool he used to be.

bettyboop said...

Did anyone catch this blokes new reality show about him working with the Amish community? You can see it at 3 in the morning on the crap infomercial channels. Obviously the only channels that will show it. I think it's a comedy. Well, I bloody laughed at it. Vanilla tries too hard to be 'MISTER NICE' and his shallowness shows right through.

Anonymous said...

I can only get a boner by thinking about vanilla ice, not that I'm gay or anything.

Terry McGee said...

Mr.Ice was arrested last week for theft! I guess Vanilla finally has street cred!

Anonymous said...

The person writing this appears to have a huge hard on for Vanilla Ice.

Anonymous said...

He was on one of those celebrity cooking shows, where another contestant was Florence Henderson. Vanilla was a vegan and could only cook vegan food. He didn't win.