Best Local Reality-TV Star 2011 | Mondo Guerra | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

Denver's avid fashion community followed Mondo Guerra's on-air story as it unraveled during Project Runway's eighth season last summer and fall. And each week, our beloved made the cut, wowing the judges with his style panache — and stunning the world with his on-air admission to being HIV-positive. Lovable Mondo finished strong, with three consecutive wins in the second half of the season, and an overwhelming number of fans insist he was robbed in the finale, where he lost to Gretchen, despite his being the favorite of both Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum. Politics. But the topper is how Mondo has carried his post-show fame with grace, sweetness and humility. First he trashed plans to move to Los Angeles and instead came back to Denver to set up shop in his home town. And since then, bless his heart, he's taken on the stance of an AIDS activist, designing limited-edition T-shirts to benefit AIDS research and using his newfound celebrity as a soapbox for the cause. You go, boy!

When Backbeat's own Tom Murphy and Dane Bernhardt set out to make a documentary about the Colorado music scene, they had a big task ahead of them: Hundreds of bands had come and gone, never seeing their own story told. But the duo took on the massive project with grace, and the resulting Denver Undiscovered is a glimpse into the music created by dozens of bands from Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins and every little space between. Framed by Murphy's own historical narrative of Denver's underground creative culture of the past few decades, the film's heart is a series of interviews and performances. This is an in-depth look at a scene that has often gone unnoticed by the rest of the country.

A couple years back, Andy Guerrero put his funk band Bop Skizzum on hiatus in order to focus full-time on the understandably pressing matters of being a member of Flobots. But now the Bop is back and — if you'll forgive the cliché — better than ever. The music is alive with energy, and the band is tackling its business with charm and aplomb. Case in point: The act saw an opportunity to personalize its song "I'm So Much Cooler" for Valentine's Day. Fans could request a personal message to someone stuck in a crappy relationship, and then the band would make a custom video confessing the sender's unrequited love. In a world where artists are looking for increasingly creative ways to spread their music, few are doing it better than Bop Skizzum.

We've gone hoarse yodeling the praises of Dana Cain, giving her a cover story and an honorary MasterMind award, but all for good reason: The local event promoter and patron of the arts is having the biggest year yet in her storied career of celebrating all things Denver with Barnum-esque hoopla and a modern quirkiness. Her roster of new and ongoing events just continues to roll out: Vintage Voltage! The Denver Style Expo! The Colorado Chocolate Festival! The Denver County Fair! The Denver Modernism Show! And more, more, more! Dana wants to put this city on the map, and she's giving us plenty of pins with which to do it. Step right up.

Long a feature of First Fridays along Santa Fe Drive, the Whomp Truck has been making moves since last year, and recently dubstepped up its game with new additions. These days, the Whomp Truck blares and bumps around an assortment of events, blasting deep bass and electronica from its humble, open box — and even hosting its own shows at secret underground spots. Want to party? The truck stops here.

The closing of the short-lived Neighborhood Flix Cinema & Cafe was a blow to the emerging culture magnet of the Lowenstein complex. But the Denver Film Society has given the space new life — and given its unique offerings a better venue than at the Tivoli, where patrons had to deal with decrepit theaters and compete for parking with mobs headed to events at the Pepsi Center. Although there are only three theaters in the new locale, they're booked every night with independent, ambitious films, and frequently feature special series and speakers. But no matter what night you stop in, you can count on great seats, a cafe and lounge for post-screening parsing of the indie and foreign fare, and the city's best music and book stores just a few steps away, prolonging your cultural immersion. In short, a trip to the DFC is a glorious wallow in artiness: Be sure to bring your beret.

Your basic ticket at the SouthGlenn Hollywood Theaters gets you high-back seats and more 3D screens than anywhere else — but a few extra bucks buys you entrance to the SkyboX, a balcony serving cocktails and food that's surprisingly diverse for theater chow, everything from pizza, sliders and bratwurst to a Cuban sandwich and lobster nachos. Alas, not every theater in the multiplex has a SkyboX, but those that do are a mighty improvement on the home-theater experience: a man cave where you don't have to fetch your own beer.

MCA Denver

Christo and his late wife, Jeanne-Claude, first achieved worldwide fame with "Valley Curtain," a project they carried out in Colorado in the 1970s. For that massive work, the pair suspended an enormous drapery across Rifle Gap in the western portion of the state. Thirty years later, they again looked to Colorado for what will surely be one of their last pieces, "Over the River." To explicate and promote this proposal, the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver presented a spectacular show of Christo's stunning presentation drawings. If the project comes to fruition (the final decision is due this spring), "Over the River" would comprise canopies of silvery fabric stretched across the Arkansas River in southern Colorado. And judging from the Over the River show, Colorado could be in for one of the best art events in its history, one that would rank right up there with "Valley Curtain."

As an engineering student at the prestigious School of Mines, Tim Weilert has no business being a successful blogger. It's hard to imagine how he finds the time to write about local music on Something Like Sound. At least for the first part of the blog's existence, he had help: Together with Spencer Nelson and Jake Rezac, he built a go-to destination for show reviews and an expertly picked selection of local releases. Something Like Sound even managed to release a pair of free compilations, both featuring all-star lineups. When Weilert graduates in May, it's unlikely that anyone will be able to replace him on this Mines blog. But he's drilled deep over the past two years, and exposed as rich a vein of music blogging as you're likely to find.

There have been innumerable visually stunning, cool-looking videos made in the history of the format, but rarely is an idea alone impressive. Cue up the Gamits' video for "This Shell" in your browser, though, and you won't be treated to a flashy video; instead, you'll find yourself trying to piece together a puzzle. If you complete the game quickly enough, you'll win a download of the track. The idea is simple, but absolutely brilliant from a technological and marketing standpoint — and as a bonus, this may very well be one of the only music videos in existence that's actually fun to watch.

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