Brent Birnbaum is an artist who celebrates the weirdness of pop culture: his works, like Manifest Destiny’s Child, use found materials like beer cans and George Bush bobblehead dolls to make massive, intricate collages and sculptures. He also happens to be the foremost collector of Vanilla Ice memorabilia in the world.
For years Birnbuam has been accumulating souvenirs and novelties in his Greenpoint apartment related to what he has dubbed “The Hairy Trinity of the Big D”: Vanilla Ice, Dennis Rodman, and Brian Bosworth, who all hail from Birnbaum’s hometown of Dallas. The collection mostly lives in Birnbaum’s basement, but one day he plans to have it in a museum, and he brings it out for special occasions, such as his show at a faux-record store “Never Records” in which he signed autographs as Ice Ice Maybe.
Birnbaum was kind enough to allow us to see the Ice paraphernalia that he has collected over the years, everything from pillowcases to laser discs and fan-made jewelry.
Click through below for our mini-tour of the collection.
A Vanilla Ice sweater — surprisingly, not handmade — that Birnbaum found while scouring eBay. Though he’s never encountered another Vanilla Ice collector, he occasionally gets outbid on rare items. Could it be the Ice himself?
This jacket is an exact replica of one that Ice wore on stage — Birnbaum donned it when he did his Ice impersonation.
A selection of Birnbaum’s Vanilla Ice magazines. He has five boxes devoted to Ice alone.
Some Vanilla Ice backpacks.
Part of the Dennis Rodman collection: a tiny Russian doll painted as Rodman in a wedding dress. It opens up to reveal different Rodman hairstyles.
A Vanilla Ice Ken doll. There were several, all in different lamé jackets.
No collection would be complete without that object of cultural fascination and embarrassment: the fanny pack.
One of the crowning points of Birnbaum’s collection is this fan’s sleeping bag.
Birnbaum’s custom-airbrushed pants correspond to Ice’s performing jeans.
A seashell Dennis Rodman fan tribute, complete with piercing.