Bill Nye the Science Guy has been a recreational dancer for years, a hobby he took to “Dancing with the Stars” in 2013. On Wednesday, he was back hoofin’ it on TV — this time, on Fox’s “The Masked Dancer,” where he was revealed as the celebrity under the Ice Cube costume.
“If I have a chance to dance, Bring it on!” Nye told Variety. “I jumped at it. I like being on television.”
As Ice Cube, Nye performed a swing dance to a cover of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” by Postmodern Jukebox. The clue package focused on climate change and the environment, causes that Nye is deeply involved in.
“The thing that was a little tricky, you couldn’t see your partner’s hand,” he said. “In swing dancing or ballroom dancing, there’s this whole business of the connection. You’re holding hands, and generally the lead’s left hand and the follow’s right hand, generally. You can’t see the gal’s hand it’s a little tricky. Also the mask, the Ice Cube had some shadows. When the pyro is going off [that’s difficult]. But that’s part of the charm of the show.”
Among panelists, Ken Jeong got it right with Nye, Brian Austin Green thought it was Bill Maher, Paula Abdul guessed Tim Gunn, and Ashley Tisdale thought it might be Al Gore.
“I’ve written about how you can tell who somebody is by the way he or she walks,” he said. “So there were some of that, I think if anybody in the swing dance community saw me and they would go, ‘it’s Bill Nye.'”
As for keeping the secret of his appearance on the show, Nye said it runs in the family: “My mom was one of the code girls. She was recruited by the Navy to work on the Enigma code the German military code. And she never talked about it. She just would not talk about it. My nephew tried to interview her and she just wouldn’t reveal much. And so, I claim that my family, a skill that we valued was keeping secrets.”
Asked to compare his experience on “The Masked Dancer” to “Dancing with the Stars,” Nye said there were some similarities and differences. “The difference is you don’t have as much control over it,” he said. “On ‘Dancing with the Stars’ you’re trying to win. At least I was trying to do well. But on this thing, you put on this crazy costume and just go through it and see what happens. The thing that was very similar was working with professional extraordinary dancers. They are educators, they’re just excellent teaching. And they’re artists, and that’s what really the two shows have a lot in common with. That was the coolest part, working with all those dancers.”
“The Masked Dancer” includes the feature “Word Up,” in which each contestant says a one-word clue to their identity. Nye’s “Word Up” was “90s Icon.”
This season’s costumes include Zebra, Tulip, Sloth, Exotic Bird, Cotton Candy, Cricket, Disco Ball, Moth, Ice Cube and Hammerhead. Previously unmasked was Ice-T as the Disco Ball.
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.”
Here were the other contestants and their performances on episode two, “Group B Premiere — New Year, New Mask! (Who Dis?)”:
Dance: “What I Like About You,” by the Romantics
Word Up: “Broadway”
Voice-over: “You think I’m slow like other sloths? Think again! I’m the muscles from the jungle. Just kidding. I worked hard to get where I am today. When I was a kid, I had a bad accident. People talked down and dirty to me. And said that I was just a Mickey Mouse operation. But I didn’t give up, and now I wake up each day stronger than yesterday. And when I’m doing what I do the most, I feel alive! I’m here to inspire a whole new generation to never stop chasing your dreams. But no need to call the Feds, OK? If you were never told you were not good enough, or that you should give up, than this dance is for you.”
Panel guesses: Matthew Morrison, Kevin Federline, Jason Derulo
Dance: “Magalehna,” by Sergio Mendes
Word Up: “Comeback”
Voice-over: “You haven’t seen me in a while. To be honest, I’ve kind of fallen out of the limelight. But I know a thing or two about running on a low gas tank. I grew up in a rough neighborhood where there was only one kind of love: Tough love. New kids moving on to my block only meant more street fights. Those teenage years left me aching in my heart. There was only one direction to go, up. It was time to earn my stripes and become larger than life. Fast forward all these years, and now the president knows my name. I’ll tell you, sometimes my life truly feels upside, inside out. But being on this show right now is so important to me. It’s a part of my second act, and shifting back to a higher gear. Once I get going again, I’ll never stop.”
Panel guesses: Ricky Martin, Kevin Richardson, Pitbull
Dance: “Glitter in the Air,” by Pink
Word Up: “Primetime”
Voice-over: “I’m definitely a perfectionist. But things in my life haven’t always been so sweet. Growing up, I was kind of an all-around whiz kid. I had big plans. But, in order to chase my dreams, I needed to move in with a new family. I was just a kid, and I got so homesick. I had trouble keeping up. But if I’ve learned anything in my life, when things get tough, I can’t just quit. I’m a fighter. A new plan gave me a safe haven to keep going. With their support, I’m feeling more glamorous than ever. And now, nothing can stop me from being at the top. Even what happened at my rehearsal yesterday.” [A fall from above the stage.]
Panel guesses: Jenna Dewan, Pink, Julianne Hough
Dance: “Boot Scootin Boogie,” by Brooks & Dunn
Word Up: “Inspired”
Voice-over: “You know, moths don’t seek out the spotlight. It draws us in, whether we want it or not. That’s the story of my life. One day, I was just a regular moth out of the view of the public. The next, I’m making headlines with the president. I had a traumatic experience that not many could have gone through. And in turn, my life changed forever. But I’m a survivor. So I decided if I couldn’t escape the spotlight, I’d use it to shine a light on things I care about the most. So I took control of my fame. And now, I thrive in the spotlight.”
Panel guesses: Megyn Kelly, Monica Lewinsky, Marla Maples