art by Joey Feldman
by Saira Viola
Meet Aron Kay champion pie thrower, grassroots activist, professional agitator and ‘unrepentant hippie Yippie Jewish world warrior.’ Saira Viola talks pies, politics, nuns on the run, and good old-fashioned ‘pot’ with the original Pie Man, a beloved and mischievous figure from the American counter-culture era of the ’60s and ’70s, who continues to exert his unflinching exuberance, influence, and passion for the evolving activist movements today .
Saira Viola: Who or what inspired you to become chief pie thrower ?
Aron Kay: I happen to be a Vietnam war child and a child of the holocausts my mother was a graduate of Auschwitz and Bergin Belsen, my father hid from the Nazis in a polish forest for three years so I was very aware of political situations. I grew up watching Abbot & Costello, and Marx brothers movies, you know The Three Stooges and my heritage, my Jewish sense of humour is part of my survival. It’s in me, that kind of warped sense of fun. I actually witnessed Tom Forcade pie a member of the President’s Commission of Obscenity and Pornography in 1970 and that was the moment, and it all just followed on from that .
Senator Moynihan catches a pie
SV: Have you always been involved with the underground movement and counter-culture politics?
AK: Yes, I explained my background, you know where I’m from and my parents, and back in the 60s I was living in LA and I was part of the Griffin Park Love-Ins we gave away free food to the community. I was always a rebel. Even when I was a kid I used to drive my parents crazy, like the time I got back from a Grateful Dead concert tripping on acid and snuck, a young lady into my room. Later on I became very focused on radical politics and believe you have to protest, you have to challenge what’s unjust with society. I protested the Vietnam war, went to all the black panther rallies and witnessed the protest at the courthouse in favour of [former Black Panther] Bobby Seal, campaigned for the legalization of marijuana with other activists, and was part of a wave of underground radicals that really made a difference.
And I’m not done yet, as a cancer survivor, I have a fresh cause to fight for. I believe that health care is an inalienable human right for everybody, and there should be a constitutional amendment on it. Quality healthcare is a right everyone should be entitled to. As someone who has suffered on the frontline with cancer enduring endless rounds of chemo, having my beard and hair fall out, we need a mass amnesty on marijuana. I was lucky I had pot edibles to get me through my cancer treatment, but others aren’t so lucky. We need to de-schedule it so everyone can benefit from treatment and not give in to corporatocracy.
SV: Turning back to pie days –who was the very first person you pied ?
AK: I popped my pie cherry by attempting to pie Rennie Davis, who was a defendant in the case of the Chicago 8. Rennie had sold out to the fifteen year old “perfect master” guru maharaja. The pie was thrown during his rally at the Anderson Theater in NYC.
SV: You’ve said and most people would agree that everybody knows somebody who needs to be pied , you’ve successfully pied all kinds of people including William Buckley Jr., Phyllis Schlafly, Senator Dan Moynihan, former New York mayor Abraham Beame, E.Howard Hunt,and G. Gordon Liddy, Quentin Kopp, Steve Rubella from Studio 54, Jerry Brown, McGeorge Bundy, Edward Teller, Randall Terry, and Andy Warhol. Most of these targets were political, ultra right-wing, well-known authority figures. Why did you pie Andy Warhol ?
AK: I believe Warhol had dinner with the Shah of Iran who was a bloodthirsty dictator. It pissed me off.
SV: What do you think the pie achieves that other protests lack ?
AK: Well it brings a sense of humour into the political debate and as a political statement it creates immediate impact, deflates the victim’s ego and humanizes them in a way. Some people take it really badly and are offended, others just laugh it off, but it creates an impact .
1978 Smoke-in at Central Park — with Stephen DeAngelo, AJ Weberman, Dana Beal (photo Wayne Angel)
SV: Why do you think pie throwing is becoming an increasingly rare form of political protest?
AK: The short answer to that is people are too candy-assed to take a risk. It creates legal problems for people and people nowadays don’t want to take that risk. You could end up behind bars. In some places it’s deemed assault and you could get a stiff fine or jail time .
SV: Tell me about the time you attempted to pie Billy Carter brother of President Jimmy Carter?
AK: Billy Carter was testifying before a grand jury due to various arms deals with Libya. I decided to throw a meringue pie at Billy. The courthouse area was full of reporters. I thought I was going to be able to score a bonanza. Finally I see him in a taxicab. I decided I would approach it. I was surprised by the fact two or three US Marshalls jumped me. I was taken to a jail cell in the courthouse. I was released after 45 minutes
SV: Jake and Elwood Blues Brothers were on a mission from God when they got the band together. Is it true you tossed a pie at a nun?
AK: Two girls found out about my “pie for hire” service. They asked me to pie the principal of their school who happened to be a nun. I arrived as school was letting out for the day. The nun was watching all the kids go home. Meanwhile I was able to outrun the nun. I let her have it with lemon meringue and I lost them after a block. The girls and I arranged to meet at my apartment for a wild party
SV: The recent pelting of Rupert Murdoch by Johnnie Marbles seems to have started a renaissance in the pie activism. What are your feelings about the new generation of pie throwers, Biotic Baking Brigade and Al Pieda? Biotic Baking Brigade were responsible for pieing Bill Gates and Ann Coulter.
AK: Everyone knows someone who deserves a pie!!! let a thousand pies fly!!!
SV: At the Occupy New York Protest, you targeted Geraldo Rivera and he was pied how did he take it?
AK: I sprinkled some powdered strawberries….Geraldo handled it rather well. He interviewed me.
SV: Who would you most like to pie now ?
AK: The Queen, she needs a drastic pieing irish pudding flavour. David Duke needs a knuckle kosher fist pie, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Bill O Reilly. And of course paedophiles, Nazis, extreme right-wingers–they all need pieing.
SV: What about the Donald ?
AK: Trump ? He needs a female to pie him. He’d feel castrated then.
SV: Is there anyone you wouldn’t pie ?
AK: There is a pieman etiquette I adhere to. I would never pie anyone disabled or in a wheelchair, anyone hurt or blind. There’s ethics involved.
SV: And finally, as someone who’s taken the ride, been there and bought back the t-shirt, do you think the alternative culture of the underground has been successful ?
AK: I’m positive we made changes, but there’s still so much more we have to do and can do. Fifty years have passed since the era of the Summer of Love began …it ain’t over till it’s over !!!