At Madame Tussauds, Steve Aoki gives himself a frosty reception

Updated March 8, 2018 - 9:16 am

Of all the adjectives to describe Steve Aoki, stationary would be near the bottom. The electronic-dance-music superstar is a study in kinetic energy, bobbing, bouncing and gyrating to his ultra-sensory EDM productions.

But Tuesday, Aoki went face-to-face with his own motionless, but eerily lifelike, image. He is the latest celebrity to be replicated in wax at Madame Tussauds at The Venetian.

The headlining DJ and Las Vegas resident joins such contemporary luminaries as Justin Bieber, Bruno Mars, Will Smith, Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus in the attraction. Classic Vegas figures including Elvis, Frank Sinatra, Wayne Newton, Siegfried & Roy and even Oscar Goodman (during his mayoral term) have been cast in wax too.

Aoki took the stage for a 20-minute EDM set inside the Madame Tussauds display space. Notes from that effectively eye-popping, and ear-splitting, event:

Natural habitat: Aoki will be displayed behind a DJ booth, in a fixed position amid a storm of lights and sound. But simply allowing the carbon copy of himself to stand in a static pose — which smiles manically in customized jeans and points laser guns into the air — Aoki invoked some animation: He smashed himself in the face with cake.

“I’m a waiter, just sharing the food!” Aoki said after the confetti (and frosting) had been cleared. “It’s not necessarily on plates and it’s a little messy, but I’m serving the food.” The point: Aoki is known for “caking” crowds at major music festivals, and had cleared this particular cake delivery with Tussauds officials (who had never heard of this particular request) before Wednesday’s shows.

EDMom: In his 20-minute performance, Aoki invited his mother, Chizuru Aoki, to the stage, showing that grooving to high-pitched electronic melodies is a family trait. Chizuru clearly had a blast. This sort of maternal drop-in would certainly play well at Omnia at Caesars Palace or Hakkasan Nightclub at MGM Grand, where Aoki is signed through 2020.

A kid’s dream: The 40-year-old Aoki says, “When you’re a kid, you think about those iconic places like Madame Tussauds. When you think about celebrities and the biggest stars, you think of Madam Tussaud. They’re in every major city; New York, London. I can’t ever meet them. I can’t ever see Michael Jackson, but I can see him at Madam Tussauds.”

How it felt to meet yourself in wax: “This is ridiculously realistic,” said Aoki, who sat for more than 200 measurements last year in the painstaking development of his figure. “I don’t know if they’re getting better over time or what. This doesn’t feel like wax. It feels real. It’s so uncanny.”

His family owns Benihana in the U.S.: True. Aoki’s father opened a small Benihana cafe in New York, and the business caught fire (as it were). “My dad first was an ice cream man in Harlem, then he got a loan to open a small restaurant, Benihana, and wanted to market the idea of Japanese food to Americans so they would like it. They didn’t understand raw fish, so he decided he was going to entertain these Americans.”

The capacity to entertain has been handed down through generations: “It’s interesting. Netflix made a documentary that came out last year, and I didn’t realize how similar it was until I saw it all laid out and together,” Aoki said. “In the film, the director at one point shows the grill and how things are being cooked by the chef and how entertaining it is, then it cuts to me throwing cake at someone!”

His future knows no bounds: “The foundation of the music I make is electronic, and it can go anywhere or break into any genre,” Aoki said. “All I’m doing is using sampled drums and sampling and manipulating sound. I don’t need a 20-piece orchestra to make it sound like that. I can get all those sounds myself in my studio and make it sound literally almost identical. … Even Jim Morrison said it back in the ‘60s: The future is one guy doing all the music.”

A collaboration he’d love to pursue is with …Elon Musk, in any regard, tech or music,” Aoki said, referring to the visionary entrepreneur behind Tesla, SpaceX and other ventures. “I’m just finishing up my new album, and I’m dying for him to be on the album. I want to extract his creativity and put it on the album. I don’t need musical skill, I need the energy. I just need him in the room. If he’s sitting next to me, it’s gonna be a collaboration.”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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