He’s a light-skinned, 53-year-old former pimp turned gangsta-rap pioneer who sang about killing cops before playing one on the television series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

She’s a White, 32-year-old Valley girl turned swimsuit model with 39DD-26-4012 dimensions, a penchant for TwitPic’ing seminude photos of herself and a talent for balancing soda cans on her backside.

Together, they are Ice-T and Coco, happily married couple. And while some might see them as a sort of novelty, their union has survived the usual celebrity-couple jinx, putting their PDA on Front Street for a decade strong now.

What’s their secret?

“Partnership,” says Ice, who was born Tracy Marrow in Newark, New Jersey, and raised in Los Angeles. “Being around Coco is like being at the spa: stress free. Her agenda is to make my day better, which makes me want to make her day better in return. That’s how we make life better for each other.”

Coco (née Nicole Austin) agrees and stresses the importance of communication: “You have to open up and bring up whatever’s in your head.”

To further display how they’ve made it work, the couple premiered their E! reality show, Ice Loves Coco, in June—shortly after renewing their vows at the W Hotel in Hollywood. The show chronicles their day-to-day, as Ice continues his rap and acting career and Coco launches her clothing line, Licious. They recently spoke to XXL about their life together and being role models for happy hip-hop marriage.—Mariel Concepcion

XXL: Take us back to the beginning. How did you two meet?

Coco: We met about 10 years ago, in California, at a video shoot. I was leaving the bathroom, and his friend said, “You have to go meet someone right now.” In comes Ice, in a red snake suit and hat. He was introduced to me, I introduced myself, and sparks flew on his end. He had a grump day—he has those often. I didn’t know we were supposed to click. Afterwards, he regrouped and asked if I would consider dating a gangster rapper. I said, “Of course.” [He responded,] “Baby, take the N off nice and you get Ice.” I was smitten right there.

Ice-T: I was in a bad mood, and I was doing [the shoot] as a favor for a friend. Coco was a model on the set, and my friend figured, This will cheer Ice up. I turned around, and I was like, Damn! And when she walked away, I thought, Homegirl got booty, too!

You got married two months after meeting. How did you each know the other was the one you wanted to spend the rest of your life with?

Coco: He made me laugh like no other. He’s always making me laugh—crying on the floor. I also liked the fact that he’s hardcore but on the inside he’s not. Maybe to everyone else he is, but to me he doesn’t play that. He’s sensitive to my needs. He loves to cuddle and little things like that.

Ice-T: For me it was a no-brainer. Not only was Coco beautiful and a sweetheart, she gave me no stress. She’s not a nagger. She’s not a bitch. She doesn’t talk bad about people. She’s a hustler. It just seemed like what I wanted. You can’t be a couple and be independent. “I gotta be independent”—that’s what breaks couples up. We are a couple.

What was your wedding like?

Ice-T: We eloped. We didn’t have much time to do it. We were already both wearing rings; she was already my wife to the public. It was New Year’s Eve, we flew to Vegas, got the license, called downstairs, went to the chapel and knocked it out. An hour later, we took off our outfits and had an NYE party.

Coco: Best moment of my entire life, when you’re saying vows and looking into each other’s eyes. Ice started crying a bit, which made me cry.