As a world-famous DJ, Steve Aoki enjoys a rock-star lifestyle. It comes complete with a private jet, Kanye West hangouts, summers of yachting, a brief marriage to an Australian model and an unlikely musical collaboration (electro-tinged “Let It Be Me,” with the Backstreet Boys, dropped last weekend).
“It may sound like a weird mix,” Aoki told The Post of the partnership that was initiated on a flight from LA to Vegas and gained heat when Nick Carter joined Aoki onstage at Hakkasan. “But I have a run of working with boy bands, and the boy-band fever is strong right now.”
Impressive as all that may be, it’s tough for Steve — 41 and the fourth highest-earning DJ in the world, with $30 million over the last year — to match his late dad’s wild style.
Hiroaki “Rocky” Aoki founded the Benihana restaurant chain while maintaining a well-earned reputation for being a brazen womanizer and a daredevil sportsman. His two pursuits collided one day in 1979 after a boat-racing accident left him comatose. He awoke to encounter the two families he maintained — neither of whom knew that the other existed.
As related in Steve’s recently published book “Blue: The Color of Noise” (St. Martin’s Press), Rocky had two words for the surprise gathering of his wife, mistress and children from both: “Ooooh … S – – t.”
Though Steve was only 2 years old in 1979, the story has become so much a part of his family’s lore that he might as well have been old enough to remember it all.
“I don’t think of it as being a time to blame my dad [for],” he said. “When disastrous things happen in your life, it’s healthy to talk about them. My dad came out of a coma” — after surviving an accident that should have killed him — “and explained that he would rather be dead.”
In 2006, two years before Rocky actually would die, from pneumonia at 69, New York magazine reported that he was embroiled in a lawsuit with family members. After his death, some of his offspring tangled with Rocky’s third wife over the restaurateur’s multi-million dollar trust. By 2016, a New York State Court of Appeals judge ruled in favor of the offspring. Steve — who told The Post, “I stay away from a lot of the stuff … and have a great relationship with my siblings” — would rather not discuss it.
Perhaps in a tribute to his old man’s aquatic endeavors, Aoki’s high-energy performances are highlighted by him crowd surfing in a rubber raft — a stunt that went awry in 2012 when he allegedly dropped onto the vessel from more than 10 feet and stood accused of breaking the neck of an unlucky concertgoer (the incident was settled out of court). He also flings cake at his fans and sprays them with sparkling wine.
For all the flamboyance and success, Aoki points out that his career has been a slow boil that took him from playing in a hardcore punk band to launching a record label (and racking up $100,000 of credit card debt along the way) to putting out his first remix album in 2008. “I just grind,” said the svelte Aoki, who recently won a $15,000 bet that he could get his body-fat below 10 percent (he hit 8.9).
“There have been no big breaks for me. Lil Nas X blew up with one hit and that [will be] hard for him. He has the biggest record in history. Can [he] match it? I have to know that everything I do moves the needle very, very small.”
Such modesty is not evident in Aoki’s 16,000-square-foot home in Las Vegas. The place features a room dedicated to sculptures by KAWS, a skateboarding half-pipe in the backyard and a 16-foot-deep swimming pool with a caricature of Aoki’s face on the bottom. A rooftop terrace allows for dramatic drops — “There’ve been belly flops and side flops,” he admitted. “They sting” — but a foam pit, dug into the ground where a racquetball court had once been, stole the hearts of the Backstreet Boys. “They came to my house, hopped around in the pit and went crazy. Then I played them some music and it was the start of the new song.”
Though downtime is limited for Aoki, he’ll find an hour or two for dinner at the restaurant that his father launched. “I grew up eating at Benihana, and if I have the opportunity to go, I go,” he said. “Fish is my jam and I can’t help but get the fried rice. Since winning the fat-loss bet, I can go in on some rice again.”
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