Ice-T & Coco

by Lauren Bull

If you get the opportunity to interview a couple in their home, take it. You’ll find out that they’re only calling it home for a little while longer, until the 4,400 square foot house they’re having constructed is completed. The Edgewater penthouse where they currently reside has purple carpets, red couches, a tanning bed in the wall, and electronic devices so impressive they warrant a tour. Surprisingly, one could still describe the place as understated.

Ice-T, the rapper/television star/film star/producer lives here with his wife Coco, the model/television star/author/fashion designer. They have a reality show. It’s called Ice Loves Coco, and it airs on E! They also have a marriage. A finish-each-other’s-sentences kind of marriage. When her shoe has an unexpected malfunction, he takes it to the kitchen counter to make the repair. He also plans on fixing the wall fountain when he has the time. She takes longer to get ready than he does, so he entertains the guests. They like each other. You can just tell. A camera can perform thousands of functions, but it can’t produce genuine affection where there isn’t any.

We discussed relationships and fame and what happens when the two collide. We talked about work ethic and the state of the entertainment business. We also talked about Law & Order, because it’s not every day you’re in a room with Fin.

Congratulations on your new home in Edgewater. What made you guys want to settle in this area?

Ice: I came out to the East Coast 12 years ago. I was living in LA, and Law & Order got me out here. First, I was living on 64th and West End Avenue, before they built all that Trump stuff. At the time, I was renting, and the rent was incredible inManhattan. I mean, I had come from LA where I had a big 10,000 square foot house with an indoor pool. My rent in New York was more than my mortgage in LA. I was immediately culture shocked … At some point we decided, let’s just invest into a condo. I’d been looking across thewater. I said, let’s go on that side. I bet the view’s much, much better. So we literally just came out of the Lincoln Tunnel and drove up River Road. And when we got here to this condo, it was pre-construction. We’re very much the types of people that have particular needs. We needed more living area than bedrooms, so when we walked in here we were like, we can make this cool … We got in early and were able to remove some walls, change some plumbing, so we could make it work for us. That’s one of the benefits of pre-construction. And we’ve been real happy here for the past six, seven years. We love the building. We love the area. We love the theater. We love the ability to go to real supermarkets.

Coco: And also, if we want to get to Manhattan, we’re literally ten minutes away. We’re right next to the Lincoln Tunnel. We can get in and out.

Ice-T: Ten minutes when she drives. It’s twenty minutes.

Coco: To get to the tunnel into Manhattan is ten minutes.

Ice-T: It takes ten minutes to get from here to the tunnel… That’s female time versus male time. Coco says ten minutes, I say, “Coco, it takes ten minutes to get from the house to the car.” Anyway, you get the point. It’s really quick.

Everyone I know who watches Ice Loves Coco says the same thing: “I really, really like them. I can tell they have a genuine relationship.” Do you think this show is helping to redefine reality TV as something that doesn’t necessarily need drama or a competition?

Coco: I definitely believe that, but I don’t think everyone can do it. Our relationship is pretty unique. We’ve been together for so long. He has his own thing going on. I have my own thing going on. It works. The only thing we don’t have is kids, but I consider our dogs our kids. I think what we were trying to prove before we started the show is that we could do something positive, and no one said we could do it. Now everybody’s thinking, “Oh, maybe we can do one.” I’m seeing a lot of positive shows come out, but we were the first.

Ice-T: I don’t think it was our agenda. Our agenda wasn’t to redefine reality television. Our agenda was that if we did reality television, we had to do it real. They came at us to do the show, and we said no. I said no for a long time. I said, I’ve already got a career—I do

n’t really see the benefit to this. And I’m not going to do anything I wouldn’t normally do for ratings. So we were under the impression that our life wasn’t controversial enough, dramatic enough, to keep people watching. I told them, we don’t throw drinks in each other’s faces. We don’t fight. That’s not what we do, so maybe people won’t watch it.

Coco talked me into it. It was the best move we ever made. We shot the pilot, and the guy goes, “You know you guys got a comedy.” And I said, “Yeah, we’re funny. This is not aggressive. This is fun.” Every week, the show comes on on Sunday. We see it on Wednesday. And if there’s something in the show that’s terrible, we could say, hey, hey, hey wait a minute. But for two years we haven’t touched one frame of film.

The trick with reality is you can’t fake. If you were an asshole and you tried to act cool, it would show. People can see through all that. So, I think me and Coco are very comfortable with how we are, our little banter. We’re cool with it. And we just let it go. Because we’re not bad people. I’m comfortable with myself, she’s comfortable with herself. And that’s what you’re seeing. We’re comfortable letting you see who we really are. Because it ain’t that bad.

You were both well known before the show. Did you each have the same reason for wanting to do it, or did you have different goals in signing up?

Coco: I was on Hip Hop Wives, now ten years ago, and I was one of four hip-hop wives. They saw a spike, an increase, when I came on the screen. The next day they said, “We want to give you a reality show.” And this was in the midst of reality not being big.

Ice-T: It was pre-Kardashian.

Coco: Yeah, it was before the Kardashians. They had asked me, and I couldn’t think of a good concept. I told them no.

Ice-T: Because at the time, we didn’t want to do this type of show. No way we’re going to
let you follow us around with cameras and ruin our relationship. At that point, everyone who had done reality shows had broken up…We had been together five years, but it just wasn’t enough.

Coco: They had come to me every single year saying, “Will you do it? Will you do it?” And I, in the end, wanted to do it. Because I was this model in people’s eyes for so long, and they’d seen me as a picture. They hadn’t seen the true me, and that really bothered me.

Ice-T: Shewas taking a lot of heat. People were talking a lot of shit.

Coco: I had so many haters out there. This show would really give them a chance to see me. So, it really wasn’t about Ice. It was about showing my personality, because they really have known him for 25, 30 years. Not really the true him, but still he’s been in the limelight.

Ice-T: But because we’re married, I had to be a part of this decision. Because they weren’t going to do a show without me. They wanted Coco, but I had to be involved. I was like, Coco, I’ve worked 25 years to get to this position. We can’t gamble it for a reality show that could potentially f*ck things up. So, I was the guy – you gotta sell me. You gotta sell me. I know my wife might want to be on TV, but I’m not doing it. I think that good cop-bad cop walking into the situation allowed them to understand that the only way we’re going to do this show is the way Ice wants to do it. And the way Ice wants to do it is really just be honest. It doesn’t always have to show us in a good light. Just no twists. No extra.

Coco: That’s why the show is called Ice Loves Coco. Because it’s really an I Love Lucy spin-off. It’s like the modern-day version.

Ice-T: She’s Lucy. She’s the crazy redhead with all the ideas. I’m Ricky. I’m not a Cuban singer, but I’m a black rapper. Close enough. She has her hair-brained ideas…

Coco: But they always seem to work!

It’s easy now to become famous for one song, one movie, or even one moment that goes viral. You both seem to have a tremendous work ethic, and you keep producing in different fields of entertainment. Where does that motivation come from? Does it have anything to do with where you grew up and how you were raised?

Ice-T: Mine comes from just knowing my options. I was in the streets hustling. All my boys are in prison. So, I have no options. When you come from a background with no opportunity, and then you get an opportunity, you better take it or stop bitchin’. If you give me a job, you’ll be the happiest person who ever hired me. I’m not going to be somebody who someone ever invested money in and then thought, “Wow, I wish I hadn’t done that.”You’re gonna be happy. You’re gonna wanna give me more money. When I got a chance to rap, I just busted my ass. When I got a chance to act, I just busted my ass. Anytime I get a chance. When I’m doing your interview, I’m busting my ass. I’m not wasting time. I won’t do it if I’m not doing it 110 percent.

This chick (points at Coco) is like my clone in female form. She just works, works, works, works. I don’t know where that comes from. She had it rough, too, coming up.

Coco: I think that’s what happens, when you are coming up with no money, basically with nothing. My mom is a single parent living with my sister. It was hard, it was rough. In my head, I want to live big. I want to do big. And the only way to do that is to work your little butt off.

Ice-T: Success helps us live better. There’s something about a win that feeds your brain in a positive way. We all need victories, little victories, whatever they are. I think Coco and I are just very aware that you’ve got to bust your ass. The thing about us is, we like fabulous shit. She likes shoes, I like cars, we like vacations. But where is it gonna come from? It’s not gonna drop out of the sky. Nobody’s gonna give it to us. Neither of us have rich parents. So, we gotta go get it. You’ve got to work hard if you wan to play hard. I like to play, but I know I gotta bust my ass.

The problem is, when people see your pictures, they only see you when you’re playing. They believe that’s all you do. That’s why it’s so exciting to see Tom Cruise: Oh, wow, I saw a celebrity. You know why you don’t see them? Because they’re always working. People have this illusion that there are some rich people sitting around on their asses. I’ve never met them. Even Donald Trump wakes up at 6 in
the morning.

I wanted to talk to you about Law & Order. That’s a show that keeps finding an audience, and there’s always an episode on. Ice, as a veteran of the show, why in your opinion is it so addictive? Because it covers some pretty dark subject matter.

Ice-T: It’s got a few things going for it. It’s got incredible writing. It only uses the best actors. I don’t know how I got on the show, but it only uses the best actors. We have people who have won Academy Awards coming on our show. Jeremy Irons and people like that.

One of the tricks is that the shows aren’t connected to each other. They’re stand-alone episodes. You could watch a Law & Order from five years ago right next to one from now and they just work. It repeats very well. And it’s dealing with serious topics: rape, child molestation, physical abuse. People care a little bit more about that than just some random person getting murdered. It strikes a real chord, especially in women. I think it’s the most hard, edgy and serious show on television, because of the topics we deal with. It has the formula for staying power.

If you each had to pick one thing off of the other’s resume that you’re most impressed with, what would it be?

Ice-T: I was really impressed with Coco being able to step up to the bar and do Law & Order. Because Law & Order’s a no-nonsense show. She hadn’t really been doing television acting up to that point. They threw it in her lap, and she knocked it out of the park. I was very impressed…She did that shit in how many takes?

Coco: We did four takes.

Ice-T: And that’s really good, and I was truthfully impressed. Because everybody says they can do shit, but it’s like, I can get you in the NBA, but you gotta make the shot. Coco has totally made me believe that anything she gets the chance to do, she can succeed.

Coco: The only thing with Law & Order is that they’re kind of my family, so I didn’t want to mess up in any kind of way. I’m not like the other stars where theyget on the plane the next day and they go back to L.A. I’ve got to see them. If I suck, I’m gonna hear about it. If I’m good, I’m still gonna hear about it.

Ice-T: Television acting is different. It’s one thing to act in a theater. It’s another thing for somebody to say, “roll camera,” and you see a hundred people looking at you with lights, people with clipboards and check books, standing there like, “Who casted her? This is Ice’s wife. Can she cut it?”… And you’ve got to know that in that bunch, there’s a hater saying, “Why did you do this? We should’ve cast an actress.” And Coco knockedit out of the park, and I was very proud that day.

And if you were to pick one for him?


Coco: He’s just got so many. It’s hard to pick. I think it was funny the moment I got to see him break dance on TV. I had been hearing about it for so long, but finally when I got to see it, I was like, “Oh, my God, hon, you can bend your body.” (laughs).

Ice-T: Now I can break dance in my head. I used to be able to do it, but my brain says I can’t, so I can do windmills and all that
shit — in my head. But to actually go down and do it — I tried it one night in the studio. The beat came on and I got up and started uprocking and stuff, butthen I went down and was like, “Hold it! Hold it now!”

Coco: If you watch Breakin’…when was that? ‘86? ‘82? [Ed. Note: 1984] Think about what you were doing in ‘82. I was three years old or something like that. I might have been three, but you were break dancing.

Ice-T: Yeah, I could break.

Coco: Another thing that he does that he says I could but there’s no way — he can talk amongst millions of people.

Ice-T: I do lectures.

Coco: He’s a really good audience speaker. He can joke, talk for two hours. That’s something I couldn’t do. I’m not a public speaker.

Ice-T: She thinks she can’t do it. She could do it. The trick to doing that is that you first have to start off with people who really want to hear you. I wouldn’t say speak to just random people, but she could start with a group of five or six or ten girls that really want to know. When people come to see me speak, all those people want to hear everything I’ve got to say. So, you have a captive audience. It’s not as scary as what she’s thinking. She’s thinking that it’s strangers. They’re not really strangers—they’re your fans. … If you’re stepping in front of a cold audience, it’s definitely a different thing. But even when you do concerts, the people at the concerts are your fans. It’s not like I’m gonna step out in front of Bruce Springsteen’s fans and try to talk. That could be hell. That could be terrifying.

What do you think makes for good entertainment right now? Is it about creating something that’s timeless or something that seizes the moment?

Ice-T: Right now? Something that seizes the moment. Right now, we’re in a very, very pop-based era, where whatever is the flavor of the month, is entertaining. Some of the stuff might last, but a lot of the stuff right now won’t last. I ask people about rap: what’s the last important rap album? Name a great MC. And they go back to Public Enemy. Right now, importance is kinda lacking. It’s just like, who’s the flavor of the month? What did Snooki just wear?

Coco: I read that the most popular magazine out of all magazines is Star. People like gossip. They want to know about gossip. They need that.

Ice-T: The most disturbing comment I heard was they asked kids, “What do you guys want to be?” The biggest response was “famous.” Not a baseball player, not an actor, not what it takes to be famous — just famous. That’s because people are actually becoming famous for nothing. Somebody like Coco — okay, she’s a model, but you want to put something behind it, you want to add something to it. You want to add some art, some talents to it. You don’t want to be famous for nothing.

About the Author/s

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Lauren is a neurotic writer living in Jersey City. She could watch Jacques Pépin slice an onion on an endless loop. She edits The Digest and The Digest Online. @ltbullington

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