No Pie at Beth Israel For Yippie Pieman: ‘I Have to Watch My Weight’

.Mary Reinholz

Aron Kay, the Yippie “Pieman” who in the 1970s became a counterculture hero for throwing pies in the faces of political enemies like William F. Buckley, Jr. and Phyllis Schlafly, was admitted to the emergency room at Beth Israel Medical Center earlier this week, complaining of what he called “cold flashes” and severe leg pain.

The Canadian-born Mr. Kay, 63, who now lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant, is currently in a ninth-floor hospital room undergoing treatment for cellulitis on his legs, a skin infection he admits is most likely related to the 366 pounds he is carrying on his 5′, 10″ frame.

“I’m a food freak. I like fried foods like French fries and hamburgers, different things,” he said during a disjointed conversation with The Local interrupted by a nurse, a physician, a chaplain and hospital staffer bringing him a modest lunch.

Wearing a voluminous hospital gown and sporting an elfin look thanks in part to a multi-colored knit cap, Mr. Kay acknowledged that shedding a hefty portion of his weight may well be the biggest battle of his life. “I’m here because I’m trying to survive,” he said of the hospital visit. “I don’t want to throw my life away. The trouble is when I try to stop, it acts up. I get frustrated because the pain doesn’t end.” That, he said, is when he resumes overeating.

.Mary Reinholz

Just today, Mr. Kay received telephone calls from Yippie comrades Dana Beal (the embattled marijuana proponent) and garbologist/Dylanologist A. J. Weberman, who had sent him a decidedly harsh tough-love message on Facebook telling him to shape up.

“Look Fatso,” Mr. Weberman wrote, “you are approaching the endgame where you will loose your life or your legs. You better just stop eating because you cannot exercise. You are in Beth Israel more and more. There are dangerous viruses in those places and you might contract one.”

Mr. Kay, who once shoved a joint in Ed Koch’s face and is still a presence at protests, has become the stuff of East Village lore. He says he’d like to return to the neighborhood, even though he stopped pie throwing years ago. “It’s like home,” he said. He believes the counterculture has prevailed over his decades as a left wing activist, “but there’s still stuff to fight.”