DAR­REN DEV­LYN

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Cover Story -

ICE-T, the fa­ther of gangsta rap and star of Law & Or­der: SVU, can be a prickly guy. Whether he’s talk­ing about his vi­o­lent past and brush with death, or how he treats peo­ple who dis­re­spect his wife — the am­plypro­por­tioned Coco — Ice-T makes it pretty clear he has a short fuse.

Coco, a for­mer swim­suit model, serves as an in­stant re­minder of some­thing once said by Jerry Se­in­feld. Look­ing at cleav­age, Se­in­feld warned, was like look­ing at the sun: ‘‘ You don’t stare at it be­cause it’s too risky. You get a sense of it, then you look away.’’

Damned good ad­vice when the sub­ject is the wife of a re­formed hus­tler who was raised on the pimp-in­fested streets of south cen­tral Los An­ge­les.

Ice-T, soon to ap­pear with Coco in the se­ries Ice Loves Coco, has this to say about men who lack man­ners in the pres­ence of his lady: ‘‘ It’s all about re­spect and how peo­ple treat her.

‘‘ I’m not su­per-jeal­ous, I like her to look hot when we go out, but ev­ery once in a while you run into some­one who doesn’t know the rules of re­spect.

‘‘ It’s usu­ally a col­lege kid or some­thing, be­cause thugs usu­ally know what the ram­i­fi­ca­tions of dis­re­spect are.’’ So what are they? ‘‘ It could be any­thing. It could be get­ting punched in the mouth,’’ he says.

Ice-T, who met Coco at a mu­sic video shoot in 2004, says it was ‘‘ lust at first sight’’.

When he then learned she loved play­ing Xbox, he knew he’d found the woman of his dreams.

Ice-T, who was born Tracy Mar­row and takes his show­biz name from in­fa­mous pimp-turned­writer Ice­berg Slim, is the hap­pily mar­ried fa­ther of daugh­ter Lete­sha and son Tracy Jr.

His own child­hood was dif­fi­cult, with both par­ents dy­ing of heart at­tacks.

By his teens, Ice-T was heav­ily in­volved in gangs. A near-fa­tal car ac­ci­dent in 1986 had a pro­found ef­fect on his life.

Asked where he thinks he’d be if not for that turn­ing point, Ice-T says: ‘‘ I’d be dead’’.

He has a deep pas­sion for acting and his role as De­tec­tive Odafin ‘‘ Fin’’ Tu­tuola in Law & Or­der: SVU.

He’s sad co-star Chris Meloni is leav­ing the show, but says it’s strong enough to sur­vive with­out him.

‘‘ We’re go­ing to miss Chris, but I am this week ne­go­ti­at­ing my con­tract to go back to work in July,’’ he says.

‘‘ We’ve got a very se­ri­ous show about rape and mo­lesta­tion and I be­lieve (the show) could go an­other 20 years.’’

He has such a busy life with acting and mu­sic that it can be a chal­lenge en­sur­ing ev­ery­thing stays happy on the home­front.

It’s crit­i­cal, Ice-T says, to main­tain ro­mance in a re­la­tion­ship.

‘‘ It’s such a beau­ti­ful thing if we’re in the car and I feel like a soda,’’ he says. ‘‘ We pull in at 7-Eleven, I run in and maybe come out with a nice bunch of flow­ers. Coco, she’s blown away by that.

‘‘ Hey, it’s the thought that counts.’’

Fox­tel’s E! chan­nel will on Tues­day screen the IceT spe­cial Ice Loves Coco: Baby Got Back­story. The Ice Loves Coco se­ries pre­mieres on E! on June 28. Un­usual pair: Ice-T and his volup­tuous wife, Coco.

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