You may remember Rob Van Winkle as Vanilla Ice, the rap artist whose 1990's hit song "Ice Ice Baby" is still a party favorite. Now Van Winkle joins eight other celebrities for the ultimate adventure -- learning to ride a 1,800-pound bull in CMT's Ty Murray's Celebrity Bull Riding Challenge.
Van Winkle's fellow celebrities are actor Stephen Baldwin, actor-musician Leif Garrett, actor Dan "Nitro" Clark, actor Francesco
Quinn, former football star "Rocket" Ismail, Ultimate Fighter Josh Haynes, X-Games motorcycle legend "Cowboy" Kenny Bartram
and Survivor reality star Jon "Jonny Fairplay" Dalton. In accepting the challenge, they find themselves under the instruction
and care of Murray, the only seven-time All-Around Rodeo Champion.
Van Winkle talks about his first bull ride, hanging out on Murray's ranch in Texas, country music and his new tattoo.
Why did you want to do this show?
I'm an adrenaline junkie. I raced motocross and did all kinds of extreme sports --parachute, hang gliding, scuba dive with
sharks and all kinds of crazy things. I enjoy the adrenaline rush of it. Once you taste that adrenaline, you want more. I
got the phone call about bull riding, and it was another thing I could put on the resume. You know, you've heard the [Tim
McGraw] song ... "I went skydiving." This is one of those things. So I'm thinking, "This is an opportunity that I'll probably
never get again -- to ride a bull." So let's give it a shot.
What was it like to work with the other celebrities?
You have different walks of life. You have a bunch of tough guys -- or a bunch of guys who think they're tough, at least.
To come this far and accept it, you've gotta think that you're a little bit tough to handle it and survive the bull. It was
a great group of guys. We didn't butt heads. We didn't have any problems. In fact, I made some good friends. We had undivided
attention from Ty Murray because of the whole danger level involved. It turned out be a hell of an adventure and by far the
best reality show I've ever done.
Who did you click with the most?
Not anybody more than the next. I think we all kind of bonded. And we were all kind of equally friends. It was kind of weird
because you would think that you would bond with one or two people, but ... we all got along super well. I actually still
talk to the guys. ... I personally was looking at Rocket and trying to follow his lead because I know he's been coached by
a lot of people in the NFL, and he knows how to be coached. And he's a super athlete, fastest man in the NFL. Whatever Rocket
does, I'm just going to follow his lead, and it paid off. He was kind of the team captain. When everybody was feeling down
because Stephen got hurt, Leif bailed out and Francisco really got hurt, we were nervous. Ty was a great coach, and he kept
telling us how dangerous this is, and then we see it firsthand. And we see an actor go down .... and go to the hospital, so
Rocket came in and basically uplifted us. ... He saw that everybody's face was dragging because we were scared and nervous.
Every day, somebody's going to the hospital, and we were thinking, "Who's next?" Rocket came in, gave us a bunch of energy,
and it worked. It translated over to riding the bulls. It unified us. It bonded us, and even Ty mentioned about Rocket's ability
to do that.
With most reality shows, you're working against each other. What is the difference with Celebrity Bull Riding?
We're a team. This is not a competition. This is a challenge. It's enough challenge just to try and stay on the bull. That
is the hardest thing to do is that eight seconds. It's an eternity. You'll get like 15 bucks in eight seconds. If you can
get past two, three, four bucks, you're beating most of the people out there, even the professionals.
Are you riding the same bulls that the professionals use?
No, we rode bulls that Ty and [professional bull and saddle bronc rider] Cody Lambert selected for us. We started off on basically
an easy bull that wouldn't even jump over a beer can -- just to get a feel for the skin and how it moves around. They're flabby.
It's not like riding a mechanical bull where it's all hard. You can be the best mechanical bull rider in the world and get
on a real bull and not last a second. We had to learn all the techniques involved. That's where I got a whole new found respect
for Ty and what they do, because I thought it was just a bunch of drunk cowboys at first. And now I realize ... Ty is like
the Michael Jordan of bull riding. And they had Justin McBride, a world champion, come out there. And they are super athletes,
super talented. There's a lot of technique involved. This is an athletic sport. It's a real sport. It's not just some nutty
guy trying to hang on to a bull. Until I experienced it, I didn't know that. I have a whole new found respect for these guys,
and I love watching PBR.
Describe what it was like to ride a bull for the first time.
My first experience was so extreme that I'll never forget it. I was so nervous, the sweat was pouring off my forehead. I get
up on the bull, they strapped my hand in so tight my hand becomes numb, then the bull starts farting and shitting all over
the chute. I smell all this aroma, and then they open the chute up, and he comes out. He starts bucking, and I'm hanging on.
And the snot comes out of his freakin' nose, flies in the air, lands on my face. Then I fly off the bull in about five seconds
or so, and land in a big turd. I get up, and then I run over to the fence and go, "Yeah! Hell, yeah! Wow!" And I'm ready to
do it again. And all I did was survive getting killed by a bull. If you can translate through all that and see that there
is an adrenaline rush underneath all that, you'll understand the thrill of it.
You're known as one of the first white rappers. What was it about rap music that appealed to you?
I was influenced growing up by groups that are mostly different than the white generation I grew up to. I didn't know it at
the time, but I grew up to Parliament, Funkadelic, Zapp, Roger Troutman, Rick James, James Brown. And then this thing came
out, Egyptian Lover, this guy who was like break dancing, and that whole movement with the movies with Turbo and Ozone with
the Breakin' movies. Beat Street was another movie. And I was highly influenced by that whole movement of break
dancing, so I'd get my little break dancing team, and we'd go to the mall at 14 years old, spin on our heads and have a little
jam box there and make 40 bucks a day -- which, at 14 years old, was great money. We'd hang out at the mall, chase the girls
around, eat some pizza, see a movie and still have some change left over. So it was great. We didn't get much of an allowance.
We didn't grow up with a lot of money, so I didn't get an allowance like the rich kids across town got. So this was something
that taught me how to hustle at a young age. And I enjoyed doing it, and so one thing let to another. And we started doing
this "battling." I started battling kids at these underage drinking parties, keg parties. We didn't do this in clubs because
I wasn't old enough to go into clubs at that point. We would get out in parking lots with our cars and have the bass sound
system going, and we would challenge each other, and the crowd would decide the winner. It was all bragging rights. You didn't
really get anything. You didn't win anything. You weren't on a stage. You didn't have a sound system or real mike or nothing.
You were just in a crowd with a bunch of beer.
You grew up in Dallas. Did you have any country music influences?
Not really, not ever. My grandmother and my aunt, they're from Paris, Texas, so that's pretty country ... and I go out there
every year for Thanksgiving and eat the greatest meal ever. Turkey and ham and everything, and so that's a pretty good country
setting, but I never rode a horse in my life and still haven't. I grew up in Dallas. The city of Dallas. When people think
of Dallas, the only thing they know is [Dallas TV character] J.R. and stuff like that. And that's really not Dallas.
Dallas is concrete. There's 7 million people in Dallas. It's a huge city. It's quite a bit different than people would expect.
But you know people in country music now, like Hank Jr. and Kid Rock.
Yeah, great people. It's funny you say Kid Rock in country because he was a rapper coming up when I was coming up. He had
nothing to do with country, and he's from Detroit -- which is less country than Dallas. He became friends with Hank Jr., and
that pretty much made him country.
Do you listen to any country artists?
I like the music now, and I listen to a lot of it. I like Kenny Chesney and Johnny Cash. Hank Jr. is my favorite of all time.
I love it now. It's different than when I was a kid. I kind of discriminated against it when I was a kid because I was into
so much rap music. Country was too slow and boring for me at that point. But, now, heck I listen to it all the time. I love
it. It's changed. It's gotten cool.
I heard you got a Ty Murray tattoo on your left leg.
Yeah, right here. ... I became friends with Ty on the show. I really got to know who he was and hung out with him and met
all his friends -- Cody Lambert and all his longtime friends. You can really tell a lot about people by their friends. We
sat on the front porch and talked, and I realized this guy's the real deal. He's genuine. He's got good friends around him.
He's got good family. I talked with his mom, his dad. Everybody's there. The whole family all live on his property, and I
didn't even know that great of an environment still existed. It's like everybody's dream to sit on the front porch and drink
lemonade when you get old. That's what they're doing. They're living it. They're living the best life ever. I don't look up
to too many people these days. There's a lot of artificial people out there, and I don't have many heroes. I finally met me
a new hero. And I really look up to him. He's just a great guy in general, and so I said, why not? I like this guy a lot.
"So sign my leg, Ty, and I'll get it tattooed there." And he's like, "Really? You're really going to do that?" And I said,
"Hell, yeah, man." So I did it, and I'm proud of it. I liked his wording. It says "Never Weaken -- Ty Murray." And the reason
I had it put right here on my calf is because I had a huge bruise there. This was black. And it hurt like hell. I mean, the
bruise hurt worse than the tattoo when he was tattooing me. It was a lot of pain, but I'll remember it forever because of