Coco Austin: “I think people always underestimate me”
Original Gangster Cop Killer Turned Law and Order: SVU detective Ice-T and glamour-model wife come reality-TV dame Nicole “Coco” Austin just recently reinvigorated their roles as tabloid topliners. For the generation of E! Channel enthusiasts that only knew of Ice-T’s gang affiliation decades after Rhyme Pays dropped (and were far too young to appreciate Coco’s early-naughties Playboy mansion stint) came the pair’s 2011 reality show Ice Loves Coco—an episodic weekly special that re-introduced Hollywood’s once (very) odd couple into the hearts of viewers by the million.
With the third series of Ice Loves Coco debuting nationally this summer, the show, which promises to “take viewers behind the hype and conjecture and into the daily lives of Ice-T and his wife Coco” differs from the usual programming combination of shenanigans and schadenfreude – don’t worry, there’s still all that – in that it capitalises on a pair now 12 years into “a very happy marriage”.
We were bestowed the auspicious honour of catching up with Coco herself, who, after her New York Fashion Week debut, her decadent Club Spartacus entrepreneurial venture and landing the lead role in Las Vegas’ famous Peepshow (a coveted spot held previously by the now-pregnant Holly Madison) was brimming with excitement over Ice Loves Coco’s success, her plans to start a family and how it feels when people constantly underestimate you.
What can people expect from Season 3?
Everything! It’s like the best season ever! I love it so much. Every time I watch an episode I get so excited. And there’s a lot of crying involved again this season. I don’t know how I do it – there’s tear-jerkers in there! Basically, I’ve had [these] dreams I wanted to fulfill when I was a young girl, and I do it in this season. I had my first fashion show for fashion week for my clothing line, I’ve always wanted to be a meteorologist – I gave that a shot – I shoot Spartacus and Maximus calendar [those are her and Ice's dogs, FYI]... You see Hurricane Sandy come through, and you see how we deal with that, not having electricity or hot water or anything for eight days. There’s this whole unravel[ling] of the Peepshow story – how I get that phone call, and how I accept the Vegas gig.
What’s been the most challenging thing about filming Ice Loves Coco?
Scheduling! It’s really difficult. Ice is filming Law and Order: SVU the same time we’re doing Ice Loves Coco, so Ice will be filming Law and Order Monday through Friday, and I’ll be shooting Ice Loves Coco Monday through Friday, and we shoot his stuff on the weekend. So you can’t do a lot more than just focus on that show. All my projects outside, they’re extremely hard.
Do you have a most embarrassing moment? Or do you feel like you have to be completely shameless when you sign up to do a reality TV show?
I’m a total goofball! In regular life, I just don’t care how people think of me, and I like to make people laugh, so I don’t care what comes out – it just happens naturally. T’s also a natural comedian, that’s another thing you’re gonna see in this season – I push him to be a stand-up comic. You’re really gonna find it interesting. You know, it’s the modern day version of I Love Lucy!
Yeah! So you’re gonna get a lot of laughs out of it, and like I said, cries... it’s just a wholesome show that anybody, of all ages, can watch.
Was there anything specifically off-limits when you signed up for the show?
No, we’ve been a complete open couple. The only place the cameras don’t go is the bathroom. But between Ice and I, we’re so open. We’re an open couple, we talk about anything, we don’t hold back. It’s not like I’m a shy girl! And that’s what people love about us. He has opinions, I have opinions. He’s a little bit hardcore, I’m a little bit more nice about things but somehow we make our relationship work.
So what do you think the secret is to a happy partnership?
Communication. It’s kind of a cheesy answer, because you would expect me to say something bigger than that. But at the end of the day, you need to constantly talk to your partner. If you don’t, you’re going to grow apart. No matter how close you are in the beginning, it’ll happen to anyone. You grow. People grow. Your souls grow, your body grows and if you don’t constantly keep in contact with each other, or communication with each other, you’ll eventually grow apart.
We’ve grown together, and sticking together, by talking a lot. We’ll literally be on one subject for four hours. We have a strong relationship, and people try to break that up, and I don’t care what’s out in the media.
For our readers that don’t know you guys as well as I do, can you tell them a bit about your and Ice’s story?
We met over 12 years ago, we were on a movie set. And one his producers slash friends was trying to cheer him up – he [Ice] was having one of those grump days – and [his friend] said let me introduce you to Ice-T, and I didn’t know who Ice-T was at the time. I was young, and I didn’t really follow rap, I didn’t know who rappers were, and I met him, he turned around, wearing a red snakeskin suit (which caught my eye!) and I was wearing a silver sequinned outfit, and we were kind of both flashy, and we shook each other’s hand, and I walked away.
He [later] came up to me and said “excuse me, have you ever considered dating a gangster rapper?” and me being this Valley white girl who doesn’t listen to rap, I was like that’s kind of a weird thing to ask, but I said “well if he’s nice...!” and he was like “you take the ‘n’ of ‘nice’ and you get Ice, baby”. It made me laugh because it was so cheesy, and then once he got my attention, he started doing magic tricks with quarters and I thought that was really sweet... Hey, whatever he did worked!
You touched on your fashion label, Licious, and a few of your other ventures before, but how do you feel when people don’t take your endeavors seriously? Do you often feel like people underestimate you?
Yeah, all the time. I’ve just kind of learnt to accept it. I think they see me as just a model, and yes I am, that’s basically who I am, but that’s half the purpose why I did Ice Loves Coco. I wanted to show different sides of me. My acting side, my family side, my compassionate side, my love for my husband. I think [people] always underestimate me, but now the show is poppin’ and its popular, that people do finally see who I am. I think there’s more lovers than haters now [and] everyone’s gonna talk down at me, no matter what they’re gonna try and find a story and try and find a way to break up Ice and I, but it’s not working. Everything that everybody’s trying out there, it’s not working. As a matter of fact it’s putting us closer together. [I wanted to show people that I’m] a family girl, a great wife to my husband, a mother to my dogs... all of that!
Do you have any baby plans? To start a family of your own?
I do want babies, too! At least one. At least! But I’m going to do that when the time is right. And that’s soon, I’m feeling it.
Ice Loves Coco: Season 3 airs Tuesdays on E! at 9:30pm.
(Images via Getty)