Over the years, Robert Van Winkle has tackled a variety of creative projects. In the early 90’s, Winkle was known to the world as Vanilla Ice. With a high top that would make Pauly D ( MTV’s The Jersey Shore) jealous and MC Hammer-inspired glitter pants, “Ice Ice Baby” sold over 16 million copies. Only in his mid teens, Ice’s single became the first in hip hop to top the Billboard charts (Wiki). However, just a few years after, the pop sensation changed his direction (after several downfalls) and entered a more rock-influenced genre.
We were so excited to hear that Van Winkle has a strong background in both real estate (invested much of his money at an early age) and carpentry! And soon, America will have the chance to see his skills up close in an all new reality show. Airing on the DIY Network, “The Vanilla Ice Project” will feature Van Winkle and a team of handymen renovating a six-bedroom home in Palm Beach, Florida.
CLICK HERE to see a video promo of “The Vanilla Ice Project”
If you love Jeff Lewis on Bravo’s Flipping Out, you should really enjoy this show. With a background in contracting, Robert will get down and dirty with his crew. The New York Times recently caught up with the rocker carpenter to discuss renovating, design, and flipping houses. Here is a peek.
NYT: Are people surprised by your new career?
RVW: It’s funny, because it’s not a new career direction. I’ve been doing this for over 13 years.
I was building homes in Florida, from $300,000 to $1.5 million. The bottom dropped out of the real estate market, but I learned how to go to these seminars and read these books — Robert Shemin is one of my favorite authors. He’s a guy that I learned a lot from, by reading his books, about how to adjust to the market as it evolves. One of the adjustments was, O.K., now you can buy a foreclosed, or tax-lien or short-sale home for a lot less than you can build a home.
NYT: Did you start building and renovating homes because you were interested in design?
RVW: Not at all. Basically, when I had a lot of money when I was younger, I said — like most rock stars who are young and dumb — let me go buy a bunch of houses. So I bought houses in L.A., in Laurel Canyon right next door to Michael J. Fox; on Star Island, next door to Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith; in Utah; and on Bleecker Street in New York City.
Three years went by. I never used any of them, and I thought it was the worst investment of my life. So I said, “Let’s sell everything, and I’ll have one primary house here in Miami.”
When I sold them, I made, on each one of them, $300,000 to $400,000. I stopped in my tracks and said, “It can’t be that easy.” But it was.
NYT: Do you have a different approach to design than other developers do?
RVW: You know, it’s not “pimp this house.” I don’t do it that way. I do it with professionalism, and what I’ve learned through Robert Shemin and these seminars and whatnot. Basically, you want it to appeal to the masses. You do your earth-toned colors. You want to keep it neutral, warm and welcoming. Sort of like the decorative sense, and the color advice, that a real designer would do for a model home for Toll Brothers.
“The Vanilla Ice Project” premieres on the DIY Network Thursday, October 14th at 9pm EST. There is no link or home page on their site that we found (come on DIY!) To read the New York Times article (“Vanilla Ice on His Reality TV Series”) in full, click here
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