It’s been 36 years since Ice-T’s film debut in the film “Breakin'” — but he briefly relived those poppin’ and lockin’ moments Sunday night on the premiere episode of Fox’s “The Masked Dancer.”
The “Law & Order” SVU” star and O.G. rapper was the first celebrity to be unmasked on the new “Masked Singer” spin-off (scroll down to watch), but he told Variety he was hesitant at first about doing the show.
“I told [my manager], ‘Yo, my dancing days are over,'” Ice-T said. “I used to breakdance but now I can [just] breakdance in my mind. My bones aren’t moving with the same speed… I used to do martial arts, so I could kick you in your head. Right now I throw that same kick and aim it at your head, it’s probably going to hit you somewhere in your pant pocket. The elevation just ain’t there no more.”
Nonetheless, Ice-T said his daughter is a big fan of “The Masked Singer,” and he figured that since Li’l Wayne and Busta Rhymes had done ‘Masked Singer,’ it would be OK. “Some of my peers have already been on the show. I respect that,” he said.
On “The Masked Dancer,” Ice-T danced in the Disco Ball costume to “Uptown Funk,” by Bruno Mars. Even though the clue package even showed Disco Ball pouring a glass of iced tea (and pointed to a shark fin — “Fin” is his “SVU” character’s name)… none of the panelists figured it out.
“Someone said Quincy Jones, and I was like, damn, Quincy Jones is like 86!” he said. “But other than that, they could tell I was Black, that was one thing. But it’s harder than the ‘Singer’ because you don’t get anything, you just get to look at somebody move. I don’t really know how they’re going to pick anybody. At least with the ‘Singer’ you get some kind of clue. But these shows to me are just fun and I think it’s like watching celebrities and known people just have fun, and I think that’s a good look.”
Ice-T said he immediately started learning choreography when he arrived at “The Masked Dancer” production. But then came the costume, which he said didn’t help his moves.
“It’s not that hard — until you put that 20 pound head on,” he said. “And it just breaks down to like, not busting your ass on television. You could really fall real easy with this big costume on. So I went from trying to really dance hard to just kind of walking it out and just trying not to fall. Because now when you fall on national television, you become a meme. You’ll be falling for the rest of your life! I kind of worked it out. At the end I did some freestyle moves. I just went out to have fun.”
Brian Austin Green thought it was LL Cool J, Ken Jeong named Smokey Robinson, Paula Abdul guessed Ving Rhames, and Ashley Tisdale thought it might be Lionel Richie.
Ice-T also hopes to surprise his daughter, who was set to watch Sunday’s premiere without knowing her father was on the show. “Mainly the reason I did it was to have my daughter watch the show and watch her bug out,” he said.
For “The Masked Dancer,” the show boasts a different theme song, as well as “Women in Black” (instead of “Singer’s” “Men in Black”) accompanying the contestants.
But the biggest differences come from the clues, which are amped up for “Dancer,” as well as “Word Up,” in which each contestant says a one-word clue to their identity, in their real voice.
Also, the panelists to each ask the voted-off celebrity a question before logging in their final guess.
This season’s costumes include Zebra, Tulip, Sloth, Exotic Bird, Cotton Candy, Cricket, Disco Ball, Moth, Ice Cube and Hammerhead.
The show touts a cast of 10 celebrities that have “amassed more than 38 million albums sold worldwide, 20 Emmy Award wins, 20 Grammy Award nominations, 10 World Dancing titles, five New York Times Best-Selling Author titles, four Olympic gold medals and three Broadway show appearances.”
“The Masked Dancer” moves to its regular Wednesday at 8 p.m. time slot on January 6.
“If Ice-T is a disco ball then you know anybody can be in the damn costume. Anybody,” Ice-T said. “They just showed you that ‘hey, we’re way over here, we can go anywhere. We had Ice as a starter so that lets you know, you’re gonna have a problem with picking the rest.'”
Here were the other contestants and their performances on night one:
Dance: “Everybody,” by Backstreet Boys
Word Up: “Dramatic”
Voice-over: “As a shark, I’ve always been killing it. I’m a workaholic. But things have never come easy to me. I made them happen. I became famous almost too quickly. That early fame, it felt great at the time, but then it started to feel like my best moments were behind me. I had departed from who I was and then shifted into who I thought everyone wanted me to be. I just realized I wasn’t happy. So now I’m visiting everything I missed out on. By swimming away from what comes easy and swimming toward everything that used to scare me. I pumped the brakes on where my life was headed. Now, moving backwards is how I move my life forward. Staying hungry for learning, for love and for life.”
Panel guesses: Carrot Top, Joe Jonas, Zac Efron
Dance: “Fergalicious,” by Fergie
Word Up: “Triple”
Voice-over: “Hey guys, I thought wouldn’t have anything to talk about in this video. But then I found this gem. I don’t want this to sound like one of those good guy, bad guy stories. But growing up, I was teased all the time. ‘I’m allergic to you.’ ‘You smell like dirt.’ ‘OK, bloomer.’ My confidence tumbled. But I tried my best not to get trolls in my head. I packed up my things and found a new sunnier place to call home. People were chill with the stranger things about me. For the first time, I felt I could really breathe and be myself. Tonight my dance is dedicated to anyone trying to find their place in the world. After all, we’re all in this together.”
Panel guesses: Charli D’Amelio, Ariana Grande, Heather Morris
Dance: “Jump (For My Love),” by the Pointer Sisters
Word Up: “Accomplished”
Voice-over: “Honestly, I never thought I would do a show like this. Me, Cricket, dancing? No way. But, I’ve always bet on myself. I had to give it a try. I’ve been pretty lucky in life. But when it came to love, I always felt like I was getting punked. I needed support, a foundation to stand on. But then, it was love at first sight. I hit the jackpot, and we became the ultimate power couple. She was my rock and I was her apprentice. She taught me the art of balance. Tonight, I’m ready to jump for my love.”
Panel guesses: Ryan Reynolds, Jim Carrey, Ian Ziering, Ashton Kutcher
Dance: “Con Calma,” by Daddy Yankee and Katy Perry feat. Snow
Word Up: “Scored”
Voice-over: “‘Deep within the secluded tropical terrain, we find a species of bird in their natural habitat, at the top of a race track.’ Hey, who said that? Get out of here. This is my story. I’m Exotic Bird, and here’s a few things about me. As you can probably tell, I’m a little competitive. I started as a teenager. I was luck enough to win big pretty quickly. But it definitely wasn’t easy after that. I felt attacked a lot, for losing, for my relationships, even just for being a big bird. But I’m not going to let those shamers control my life. Win or lose, I will keep flying.”
Panel guesses: Hope Solo, Jennifer Hudson, Venus Williams
And here is Ice-T’s unmasking: