Yippie Pieman Aron Kay is famous again. Back in 1977, he pied Phyllis Schlafly, the conservative leader of the anti-ERA movement. That incident is currently re-enacted in Mrs. America, a series starring Cate Blancett on Hulu.
It took place at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York at Women's National Republican Club luncheon.
“I walked up to Phyllis and placed it on her face,” Kay says now. “I said, ‘That’s for the ERA!’ and walked right out.”
In Mrs. America (the "Bella" episode), a waiter hits Schlafly with a cream pie. In reality, it was a an apple pie. “I was being too nice with apple pie," Kay recalls. "I wish it was a cherry, raspberry or blueberry pie to add some color to it."
Kay's other targets included New York Mayor Abe Beame, Senator Patrick Moynihan, California Governor Jerry Brown, Andy Warhol, William Buckley, Steve Rubell, William Colby, McGeorge Bundy, G. Gordon Liddy, Howard Hunt, Randall Terry, Edward Teller and Anthony Ulasewicz.
Kay usually bolted, running through the crowd and out an exit before he could be caught, as seen in the video below after he pied Moynihan at a 1976 campaign appearance on New York's Lower East Side.
Kay says he was busted after pieing Colby, the CIA director under Richard Nixon who, Kay tells CelebStoner, was "responsible for Operation Phoenix in Vietnam and the 1973 military coup in Chile which overthrew Allende. He got two pies. I got him with a chocolate Bavarian pie and Alice Torbush got him with a blueberry cream cheee pie. We were fined."
He describes the other "hits" as "clean getaways."
One hit was costly: Kay pied Joe Nellis at the NORML Conference in 1977 in Washington, DC. Nellis was legislative counsel to a House committee on drug policy and notoriously anti-drug. It was NORML founder Keith Stroup's idea. "He put me up to it," says Kay. Stroup reeceved written rebuke from the White House over the incident.
"My only defense is that I enjoy some acts of civil disobedience, and throwing cream pies at people always seemed to me like a rather harmless way to make a political point, even if not one that I would generally recommend in the nation’s capitol," Stroup recently wrote.
A 2016 article in AMNY includes this recounting of the Beame hit in 1977:
"I pied Beame at a debate at Cooper Union." On the stage with then-Mayor Beame were his rivals, Koch — who would win the race — Bella Abzug, Mario Cuomo, Percy Sutton, Barry Farber and Joe Harnett. Kay snuck into the Great Hall using a fake press pass “from a reliable source.” “The cops hated Beame. He had cut back on the cops,” Kay recalled, adding, “Cop discipline was a lot looser. A couple of them knew I had a pie in my bag.” Kay’s pie of choice for Beame was an apple crumb, the message being: “He’s just a big crumb in the Big Apple.” At the decisive moment, Kay rushed toward the raised stage and heaved the pie up toward Beame, grazing his shoulder with it. Abzug, sitting next to Beame, was laughing, Kay said. “Cuomo tried to jump me, but he didn’t get me,” the “Pie Man” said. “He was really pissed, and wrenched his back.” Police ushered out Kay and took him to the Ninth Precinct. At least one officer seemed impressed by his running throw. “One cop asked me, ‘Did you ever play stickball?’ One shook my hand,” he recalled. Beame didn’t press charges and Kay was released after an hour. He went back to Yippie Headquarters at 9 Bleecker St. to celebrate with [Dana] Beal and his friends who had been watching the debate on Channel 13.
Kay was inspired by High Times founder Tom Forcade, who pied a member of the President’s Commission on Obscenity and Pornography in 1970. "That was the moment and it all just followed on from that," he told International Times.
Co-founded by Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Paul Krassner, Anita Hoffman, Stew Albert, Bob Fass, Phil Ochs, Ed Sanders, Keith Lampe and Nancy Kurshan in 1967, the Yippies were noted for pranks such as levitating the Pentagon and running a pig (Pigasus) for president in 1968. Kay joined the Yippies when he moved to New York from Los Angeles in 1972. Forcade led a Yippie spinoff called the Zippies before launching HIgh Times in 1974.
"It brings a sense of humor into the political debate and as a political statement it creates immediate impact, deflates the victim’s ego and humanizes them in a way," Kay continued about the art of pieing. "Some people take it really badly and are offended, others just laugh it off, but it creates an impact."
This article was posted on May 4. It has been updated.