Ex-Rapper Vanilla Ice Flips Houses in Florida

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Move over Tim Allen. Another '90s-vintage celebrity -- Robert Van Winkle, aka America's first white rapper, Vanilla Ice -- will star in his own home improvement show. "The Vanilla Ice Project," ten half-hour episodes beginning Oct. 14 on the DIY network, hopes to sell audiences on unscripted laughs from the drama and suspense that ensues when a former rapper rocks a tool belt and a nail gun. You might even learn how to renovate your existing home for profit.

This could be a good thing for both the ever-developing, home-makeover-loving America and the rehabbed, recovered, pop-culture icon. Nearly 20 years after he slid and pumped through his signature hit "Ice Ice Baby," you could say Van Winkle is reinvented. For this gig, the MC's traded in his microphone for a drill and proves that this married father of two can be rather helpful around the house.

But what does Ice know about maximizing home values in Palm Beach County, Fla.?
A lot, as it turns out. "The Vanilla Ice Project" is just his day job though. Vanilla Ice is still performing -- he'll be releasing his sixth studio album. Yet when he's not touring he'll be flipping homes in Palm Beach County -- something he's been doing for years. The series follows the tattooed, tool-toting rapper, 42, as he and his crew -- friends and home improvement professionals -- renovate a nine-bedroom 7,000-square-foot mansion in the Versailles community. The stripped-to-the-drywall project in real time took about 11 weeks to complete.

"Everything was missing, from the floor to the ceiling," Handyman Ice told the Palm Beach Post about the trashed pad. "They took everything – the crown molding, the flooring – yes, even the kitchen sink!" he says. "It was depressing to see a fairly new house be ravaged. But I love Palm Beach County. This is my area."

Vanilla and his family also live in Versailles. The house featured on the show that he and his hardworking entourage renovate was previously priced at $2.5 million. The recession and burst housing bubble worked in Vanilla's favor. He bought it for roughly $400,000 and dropped about $300,000 to renovate the place.

And the Ice Man isn't posing on this one. Vanilla won't be wearing MC Hammer pants as he tools around, climbing roofs and jumping fences. He is the real home-improvement deal with nearly 15 years experience. Van Winkle has been involved in the real estate business since he was a teenager, and long before he was a famous rapper. During his music career lull, and while recovering from drug abuse and depression, he dedicated his time to buying, developing and selling properties.

In fact, in some cul-de-sacs Vanilla Ice is something of a real estate hero. The Versailles community, a collection of once multimillion-dollar homes, was victim to mortgage fraud and an excessive-flipping scandal. Here's to Vanilla smoothing over the ice!

"I still am Vanilla Ice -- but when I'm not touring around the world, I'm here in Palm Beach, making money in real estate -- I flip houses," he says in a video teaser.)

With his street cred back in check -- in Palm Beach County, at least -- our guess is he isn't going to be cool with being called "the next Ty Pennington."


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