In anticipation of the upcoming Best of Miami issue hitting newsstands June 17, here is a sneak peek at one category and its winner.
Aaron "the Downtown Don" Bondaroff
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At age 33, Aaron "the Downtown Don" Bondaroff can't be called a hip kid anymore. He's just a little too old for that tag. These days, Bondaroff is more a man about town. Two towns, actually. A half-Jewish, half-Puerto Rican high school dropout, Bondaroff initially made his mark during New York City's mid-'90s Alleged Gallery boom. But unlike other scene stars such as Harmony Korine and Ryan McGinley, the Don didn't actually make art. He was just the most downtown dude around -- a last-minute party promoter, a self-taught curator of the coolest shit, a BFF to everyone who mattered. And Bondaroff eventually turned this niche celeb status into a career with his store-slash-gallery-slash-hipster-clubhouse aNYthing. Now, after a decade-plus hyping, repping, and shaping the Lower East Side scene, the Don (with help from local business partner Al Moran) brought his brand of NYC raditude to Miami -- first via killer west-of-Wynwood art space O.H.W.O.W. and then through Bar, a sort of resurrected PS14 with superpowers. Over the past year and a half, the Don's imported famous friends have included Korine, NeckFace, the Ed Banger crew, Todd Jones, and David Lynch, while he still has tons of Miami buds such as Freegums, Psychic Youth Inc., and Roofless Rex. You know, a downtown dude can never have enough BFFs.