The fixes on this new reality show, however, are strictly of the architectural variety. Why I might want caulking instructions from the long-gone 90's rapper is open to debate, but if I can learn all I need to know about biometric closet locks on "The Real Housewives of D.C.," I am certainly willing to give Vanilla Ice's show a shot.
It turns out that Vanilla Ice
, who now goes by his more sensible real name, Rob Van Winkle, has been renovating and flipping houses for the last 15 years. "I tried it once, and now I can't get enough," says the auteur of the 1990 hit "Ice Ice Baby."
"If there's a problem, yo, I'll solve it." Word. Naturally, the DIY Network jumped right on this bandwagon, and you can now witness the results on Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET.
Last night's season 1 opener
devoted itself to improving the landscaping of a 7,000-square-foot house in Palm Beach, Fla., which, like Vanilla Ice, is due for an extreme makeover. The episode, titled "Nice Nice" -- get it? -- "Landscaping" is all about curb appeal. And not a moment too soon. This old house is pretty much the shame of the neighborhood. His mission: To make it "look hot like the rest of the mansions in the hood."
"I still am Vanilla Ice," he assures us. "But when I'm not touring around the world I'm here in Palm Beach making money in real estate." Which is to say he's home a lot. Raised in Dallas and Miami, the 42-year-old spent his early teenage years break dancing. His black friends rechristened him Vanilla Ice, which he has said he never liked, but the nickname stuck. When he was 16 he wrote "Ice Ice Baby," about a drive-by shooting, and later won an American Music Award, in 1991, for favorite new pop-rock artist.
"Now you wonder why Vanilla Ice does all this stuff," he says, referring to himself in the third person. "Because I love it! This is great! It's fun!" OK, sure.
"We're gonna deck this thing out -- rock star style!" Van Winkle exclaims, yanking out dead shrubbery, putting in flowers ("I love flowers! They're great!"), planting trees ("Palms die after 30 years"), power cleaning the house's exterior ("A good alternative to painting") and installing concert-arena LED lighting. "Make sure it's not obnoxious," he advises. "You don't want to see the lights. All you want to see are the effects."
The Palm Beach house was a tax-lien property, which Van Winkle bought at auction for $400,000. It was completely trashed, gutted and neglected, inside and out. "It can sell for over a million, but for that to happen it has to look like a million dollars," he says. "Good landscaping brings buyers to the door."
"The Party Pool," at 9:30 last night, after "Nice Nice Landscaping," spotlights the overhauling of the property's swampy mosquito bed of a pool, boosting it structurally and cleaning out several years' worth of raccoon droppings and assorted other filth.
"It's important to have a pool in South Florida," Van Winkle says. "It adds beauty and it adds coolness."
And here it can add $50,000 to the house's sale.
Along with the sparkling pool, Van Winkle and crew install a "sweet patio" with "killer features" like tiki torches and a fire bowl.
Aside from a quick jet ski break, he and his construction crew -- Handsome Dan, Joey, Rodney and Wes -- work hard, pounding, hoisting, building. And if "The Vanilla Ice Project" takes off, and sticks around for, say, a season 2, why not add other faded 90's pop stars to the crew, hiring, perhaps, MC Hammer, whose name, if not his talent, is just right for the job? He could use the money.
Van Winkle, who has gained a few pounds and lost the severe Brigette Nielsen blond pompadour look of his early days, moves along to rehab the rest of the house this season. The show's affinity for clunky, jokey titles continues next Thursday, with "The Master Sweet," "The Tasty New Kitchen" and "Rock Star Garage," which, if it's anything like DIY's "Man Caves," you can count me in.
The promo tells us that Van Winkle is the only "home-improvement expert with street cred," but his enterprise is no "Pimp My Ride" for real estate. While clearly the Palm Beach house is not a "Design on a Dime" renovation, the improvements here are appealing and credible.
Which may be just what Van Winkle is going for. He had long been on a "path of self-destruction," he has said, the usual sex, drugs and rock'n'roll run amok, nearly to the point of suicide, but now he seems to be channeling his energies in a more spiritually profitable direction.
But never fear, die-hard 90's fans. Vanilla Ice is not quite ready to fade away. He's got a new record, "WTF," which only cynics would swear is the true title of "The Vanilla Ice Project." But, according to the master builder himself, it really stands for "Wisdom, Tenacity, Focus."
Now, if he could only makeover and live down "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze."