What’s one thing that people have just totally wrong about the Amish?
That they don’t pay taxes. That they don’t pay social security because they take care of their own. Another misconception is that the biggest population is in Pennsylvania—it’s actually in Holmes County, Ohio. They wear the same shoes everyday, they’re not allowed to show any glamorous lifestyle; no electricity, no TVs, no cars, but they do own cars which is strange. They don’t have birth certificates so they don’t have driver’s licenses. They have cars that other people drive.
I’ll tell you the biggest misconception, people think that the Amish community is dwindling because of modern technology and all that, it’s exactly the opposite. Every 10 years the Amish community doubles in population. They’re growing and with the money they make, they buy more land. They’ve got land all over Pennsylvania and in Canada. Some are in Fort Myers, Florida. A lot of them ride bicycles and play sports and stuff like that. They only go to school until the 8th grade. After their education, they’re ready for work.
“It’s not a light switch. I don’t do it for financial reasons, I make music ’cause it’s my diary and I love poetry. I will always make music, I never left it. When you have a couple of passions that you really love, I don’t think you have to focus on just one.”
It’s interesting that they’re around a lot of electronics and all these things that they’re not allowed to use. How do they deal with that?
Well they have this thing called Rumspringa, where they turn 16 and can go out on their own and enjoy cell phones and do whatever they want. But believe it or not, they don’t miss it. Out of sight, out of mind. They’re so busy taking care of the farm, feeding the animals, plowing the fields, mowing the grass and making dinner that they don’t miss it at all. And if they do want to watch the World Series, each family is encouraged to have 10 or more children with the hopes that 1 or 2 of them come back to the Amish church. And the rest of them will go on usually to be Mennonites which is the same teachings religion-wise but they are allowed modern luxuries like phones, cars, and all that stuff. So they get into the horse, they drive over to their kids’ house and watch TV, the World Series, they get on Google and check everything out. They know what’s going on. They’re very hip. Just cause they don’t have these things doesn’t mean that they’re not connected to what’s going on in the world. I don’t think they’re really in tune with the latest dubstep mix from Knife party or something like that but they’re still in tune with the news. They read newspapers. They figure out how to do it and they’re comfortable.
How did you even get into designing and construction in the first place?
I got into construction because I found another passion. I love building and it’s been 18 years. I get contracted to build many homes. I have a lighting line. I make chandeliers and all kinds of different things, and just do it really well. I’m coming out with my second line next month.
So what would you say is next? Do you plan to continue to with construction or continuing in the acting field or music?
Well I just had a movie with Adam Sandler called That’s My Boy, it did well at the box office. I do plan to continue with my acting but I’m not focusing on that right now, I’m focusing on the Amish thing. After the Amish show airs we’re filming right now another season [of the Vanilla Ice Project]. I’m definitely going to continue with real estate. It’s fun, it’s a passion. It’s been bad news for real estate for about eight years and people are trying to get back into living the dream, which is owning your own home and decorating it the way you want. Many people’s dream has been ripped right out from in front of them because of foreclosures and tuition or something like that. This puts people in a different mindset. It’s motivating and inspirational and we come up with some great ideas.
Do you ever plan on returning to music?
I never really leave music. I love poetry, I’m always writing poems. One day I will [come back]. It’s not a light switch. I don’t do it for financial reasons, I make music ’cause it’s my diary and I love poetry. I will always make music, I never left it. Right now I’m into construction and real estate. The show is No. 1 on the network, and I’m really proud of it. We’re enjoying the experience. When you have a couple of passions that you really love, I don’t think you have to focus on just one.