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THE MASKED DANCER
Credit: Michael Becker/FOX

Warning: This article contains spoilers about Sunday's episode of The Masked Dancer.

And we're off!

The very first episode of Masked Singer spin-off The Masked Dancer is in the bag, and with it the reveal of the show's first unmasked contestant. Ultimately, it was the mustachioed Disco Ball who went home first, and the groovy dancer was none other than actor and Grammy-winning rapper Ice-T. The Law & Order: SVU star spoke to EW about his stint on the show — including the surprising way things played out behind the scenes — and why he thinks The Masked Dancer is harder than its sister show.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: As a Grammy-winning rapper, why do The Masked Dancer and not The Masked Singer?
ICE-T: Well, I was at Law & Order, and I was on the makeup chair and I get a call from my manager. He said they want me to do The Masked Dancer. I corrected him. I said, "No, it's The Masked Singer." He says, "No, it's The Masked Dancer, they got a new one coming out." And I used to be in the breakdance movies [Breakin' and Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo] — I was a b-boy. I used to dance. Those are days long gone, you know, my body don't move like it used to. So I'm like, "Well, I can't dance like that." And he's like, "Nah, you're gonna have a helmet on. And it's more of just a guessing game." Now, my daughter watches The Masked Singer because she likes the costumes, but when the heads come off, she doesn't know any of the people. She's only five years old. So I said to myself, how about if I do this, and she watches The Masked Dancer, and when the head comes off it's me? That'll blow her mind. So I said, "Yeah, let's go." And at this point in my career, you got to have fun with it. So I went for it.

So your daughter still has no idea?
That's the biggest secret in our household. I'm glad we only got to hold it till Sunday. We'll have her sit down, and we'll try to videotape her reaction.

Ice T
Credit: Virginia Sherwood/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

I know on the show you said something along the lines of, "I can't wait for her to see me unless she thinks I'm terrible."
Yeah. Well, you know what, when I was dancing, I was like, you know, if I am terrible it doesn't matter, because no one knows who I am. And by the time they know who I am, I don't have to dance no more. [Laughs.]

Your costume was so fun. Did you have any input on it?
Once I said I'll do the show, they sent me a little outline of who they wanted me to be. I guess if I'd hated it they would have come with something different. But I didn't have anything against disco balls. I couldn't tell them a disco ball robbed me before and I don't want to be a disco ball. And honestly this kind of show, you don't come in to change things, you just go for the ride, and I didn't mind being a disco ball. I was able to hit a couple of disco, John Travolta moves. I was easy.

So how did this all work? Did they let you pick the song or choreography?
This is how it happened with me. You get off the plane, and you go to the hotel. When you come out of the hotel, they picked us up in the underground area in the hotel, and I jumped in a van that was blacked out. They take you [to set]. Before you get out of the van, they bring a hoodie and this face shield and gloves. And the shirt says, "Don't talk to me." And from there, you're just moved around. You don't talk to anybody. No one on the set knows who you are. There's only certain people that know, and then they put you in the costume. And then you go in this little area where there's their choreographer, and they're trying to teach you this choreography. You got about two hours to learn the choreography.

Oh wow.
Yeah, it's fast. And, you know, early when I was doing the choreography, I was kind of being concerned about hitting all the moves. Once you put that 20-pound head on — it's a big head and it's connected to like a biker's helmet inside of it. You're just concerned with not falling. Like at that point, I threw all the choreography out the window. I said I just don't want to bust my ass on national television like that. That would be the nightmare, you know? So I said, I'm just gonna try to keep my balance in this outfit. The head is heavy, it's top heavy. So I just went out there and kind of winged it, threw a little flavor in there, because to me, it's not even so much a dancing show as a guessing show. It's harder than The Masked Singer because they don't get to hear your voice really. So I'm interested on if they ever guess anybody right.

So did they let you pick the song you danced to?
Nope. Don't get to pick anything. Don't pick the outfit. You don't pick the song. You don't pick the choreography.

Speaking of the judges' guesses, what did you think of their picks?
Well, I didn't really expect them to guess me. I guess the way I was moving they knew I was a brother. How about that? I guess Black people move different, ya dig? At least they could figure out I was Black. Their only guesses came out as Black people. So I guess the hips don't lie. [Laughs.]

How did you balance doing this show with filming SVU?
It happened just on a weekend. I left Friday. Got there Saturday. Filmed on Saturday, and was back Sunday. And SVU, we just broke for Christmas break, but we're not done. We're still filming season 22. I think so far, we filmed seven episodes, and a season is 23. So we'll be filming all the way till the end of May.

Do you think your costars will be watching you on The Masked Dancer?
Well see, the thing of it is, I couldn't tell them I'm on the show, right? Maybe everybody's gonna be watching it, we'll just be watching it naturally, unless I were to call one of them. Maybe the night of it I'll say, hey, turn on the show — you might see something funny.

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The Masked Dancer (TV Show)

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