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I recently sat down with my friends Aaron Bondaroff and Semen Sperms, the creative geniuses behind aNYthing, Off Bowery and serious contributors to New York’s current cultural state of affairs. I convened with the fellas at my house to hear ’bout their recent return to aNYthing, and what’s going in general with my boys Aaron and Sperms as they get ready to unleash there healthy form of positive dysfunction upon the unknowing public via there return to the brand aNYthing. Read em and weep.
Text: Dante Ross
Photography: Stephen Wordie
Interview with Aaron Bondaroff and Semen Sperms
Dante Ross (DR): Aaron, Semen what’s going on with you?
Aaron Bondaroff (AB): Basically I believe in never not working it out and I’ve reconciled with aNYthing. Semen and me are bringing back the team, meaning the community and reinvigorating the downtown scene. Things have become diluted of late and we want to bring back the energy we started with the brand. It feels good to be back involved with our baby aNYthing.
DR: You two guys are some of the most creative people I know. What’s the program for bringing the brand back and re-involving yourself in the brand?
Semen Sperms (SS): I will be bringing back the glob on the site as well as continuing to come up with ideas/concepts to make things interesting. I went back to the cocoon in Jers and stored up a bunch of ideas/concepts that I’m ready to expose to the world. I’m like an ill moth full of energy and I’m ready to unleash my moth dust of creativity on the unsuspecting public. It’s going to be fun.
DR: Will you continue your other online pursuits like the Blarg or NYCraze?
SS: Yeah I will try I just gotta sort it all out, the glob and the brand are my focus right now. I feel re-energized.
AB: When Simon went to jail for a joke gone wrong a few years ago he called me everyday at the same time collect and we would brainstorm for hours at a time he was so filled with amazing ideas. Simon was so focused when he went away being sober and all he could articulate all the brilliant ideas he hadn’t been able to before for various reasons. The brand was initially built on a lot of these ideas and concepts. This is why there is real substance to the brand, it’s built on something authentic.
SS: I remember when I first came back from jail Aaron had garbage bags full of t-shirts and like the day I came home I started boxing stuff up for shipping and we were ready to go. I came home with a job and a way to express my crazy ideas in a tangible way. For that I’m always psyched and now we get to finish what we started with the brand. I’m looking forward to getting busy again.
DR: You guys are some of the leaders of downtown culture you guys make things fun, exciting, dysfunctional and interesting. Where does the culture of downtown NYC stand right now?
AB: Things change and continue to do so. The majority of kids downtown these days going to art school living down here coming from out of town with money and are still attached to the umbilical cord. The kids nowadays are a little bratty, their internet babies.
SS: Yeah kids today can jump online and study the culture as opposed to being involved in the culture. There’s some good too it but a lot of bad.
AB: When it comes down to it though we need wackness to make the dope stuff look great so I thank these kids for helping us shine that much more! Downtown used to be a laboratory to me, everyone was experimenting now we’re a science project of sorts. We’re dealing with a recession right now and I feel like there’s a cultural recession special about to go down. I’m like anti-cultural recession spray or something.
DR: How does art play a role in your life and your business?
AB: I ruined myself over art. The art I do isn’t so tangible; I sell air in a sense. I’m inspired by my friend’s art and hopefully inspire some of their art. That being said, successful is an art, surviving is an art form as is longevity. A lot of kids who went to art school don’t get it. The way I create dysfunction is art in a sense. I love mixing up scenes and freaking people out. It’s fun to see gays, weirdoes, thugs, and skateboarders, art bug outs and socialites all together interacting and watching the culture clash unfold.
SS: It’s always the funniest when we get everybody together from thugged out kids to rich kids, art weirdoes and bug outs all together under one roof supporting the same stuff. That’s what makes NY interesting. It’s what aNYthing is really all about.
DR: Are you going to change the game again?
AB: I don’t want to throw my arm out patting myself on the back but this is an opportunity to make some things interesting again. Things got diluted a bit like we said and this is a chance to re-energize things. I just feel great to have my baby aNYthing back, it’s a great vehicle for my madness.
SS: I feel like we got injured and now we rehabbed ourselves and were ready to comeback and make the all-star team again. Like I got kicked off the team for getting caught in the girls locker room at halftime, got suspended for a few and now I’m reinstated and ready to be a All-American weirdo again and aNYthing is the vehicle to do that with. It’s going to be good!
DR: How important is humor in your world?
AB: I’m from New York and snapping is part of our everyday runnings. If your skins thin and you can’t snap, you might not want to hang with us.
DR: Don’t I know it, you may have had the best snaps on me of all time. So tell me what’s up with the official aNYthing relaunch?
AB: I will be at Magic doing the Slate show for the first time ever this month. I’m bringing Weirdo Dave and he’s going to be doing a book signing for his Fuck This Life book at the booth, Semen’s going to be DJing on the floor and me, I’ll be giving out free advice at a small price mostly telling people how to get your brand back! It’s gonna be a circus of sorts so get ready.
SS: This will be our official re-launch off sorts. It should be fun, I’m gonna make Vegas into a weirdo city.
DR: What is your definition of streetwear?
AB: Streetwear or Streetwhere? I been on the NY streets forever wearing the sidewalk damn near so I guess that’s what streetwear or streetwhere is? I worked at Union then Supreme since I was 17/18 years old, I saw this thing unfold in to the business it has become and I feel like for better or worse I am a member of the streetwhere community.
DR: Aaron you like to use the term Arketing can you elaborate on what this is?
AB: Arketing is the art of marketing in my own specific manner. My life is art though you can’t sell me. My art is turning people on to art, culture and life. Everyday wake up and go outside and say “it’s Showtime!” In a sense my lifestyle is my job and living my life is arketing if that makes any sense.
DR: What’s up with Off-Bowery?
AB: I have put Off-Bowery on hold for a second. I might become involved with it again at some point but for now I’m going to let it lay. In the future I think Off-Bowery is gonna become akin to a rare 12 inch white label someone like you would have done that only the super collectors will know about and covet as a tangible piece of time.
SS: When we had our Off-Bowery office I crashed the entire computer system on the floor due to obsessive downloading. One day I just crashed the whole system and after that I trucked back to my cocoon and decided I was over it. I been in the cocoon for bit so know I’m full of ideas and energy.
DR: Aaron, tell me the story of the name aNYthing?
AB: I traded the name aNYthing for the name Undefeated. I had the name Undefeated and Eddie Cruz had the name aNYthing but wasn’t really doing anything with it. He called me up one day and we worked out the swap. This is another example of Arketing.
DR: What’s up with your TV show Aaron?
AB: It’s called Off-Bowery and it comes out March. It’s on the Playboy Channel and it’s about downtown and the process of an artist creating. It’s me and my artist friends Dan Colen, Dash Snow, Ryan McGinley, Earsnot, Agot Snow, Aaron Young and Sperms. MTV wasn’t in to it cause we’re not cute enough for 14 year old girls in the Midwest so Playboy Channel is about the only place where they could show this show.
DR: Any last words?
AB: The murder squads back! I got my boy Sperms by my side, the community’s ready and the game needs me to throw some healthy dysfunction back in the mix. We’re happy to be back working on this project, it’s going to be fun. aNYthing is my baby and I’m glad to have my baby back! Beyond that I have started a book publishing company O.H.W.O.W with my partner Al Moran. We’re supporting the arts creating a neighborhood called west of windward. We have out Fuck This Life with Weirdo Dave, The Back Door book, Jack Walls book and a recent one with Aurel Schmidt. We messing up the game you know, top of the food chain bottom of the barrel!
DR: And you Semen Sperms any departing words?
SS: We’re going to be able to execute some of the crazy projects we never got to complete when we left. I’m going to bring back NYCraze under the aNYthing umbrella, get the Glob rocking again and just raise the bar and give some meaning to this thing called streetwhere cause right now it needs it.