BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | Friends — some sporting sequined G-strings and twirling chest tassels — helped Avenue A egg-cream icon Ray Alvarez celebrate his 86th birthday on Mon., Jan 14.
Dancing — combined with disrobing — on the counter at Ray’s Candy Store has become his birthday tradition for more than 10 years running now. Each year there’s a different theme, and his hole-in-the-wall hot dog-and-fried-bananas store near E. Seventh St. is decorated accordingly.
Last year, for example, it was a funky “Retro ’80s” party. The year before that, Ray and friends were transported for an exotic “Night of Persian Delights.” That was in honor of the heritage of Ray — real name Asghar Ghahraman — who jumped ship, for good, from the Iranian navy to find his American dream.
Pulling off these creative annual productions are Matt Rosen and a crew of likeminded Ray fanatics.
This year’s theme was “Fallen Rock Stars.” The walls, the ATM machine, pretty much everywhere inside the beignet-and-fried-Oreos mecca was festooned with photos of famous rockers, such as Kurt Cobain, Joe Strummer, Janis Joplin and Lou Reed, to name a few.
Ray strutted out right on cue as, fittingly, Sammy Davis Jr.’s “The Candy Man” played. He was then followed by a parade of sizzling dancers who took turns heating up his worn-down formica countertop hotter than his hot-dog rollers.
Pearls Daily started things off with a bang, shimmying to The Archies’ “Sugar Sugar.” Lilin Lace then rocked it to Amy Winehouse’s “Valery.” She was followed in succession by Cheeky Lane (“Pretty Woman,” by Roy Orbison), Gal Friday (“Foxy Lady,” by Jimi Hendrix), Tansy (“Touch Me,” by The Doors) and finally Nasty Canasta, who got down — down to a G-string, that is — to David Bowie’s “The Jean Genie.”
As usual, Ray ate it up.
Though the soft-serve ice cream guru has had some lean years — even ones where his legions of fans have had to kick in some cash to help him meet his rent — he later said things are looking up. That’s mainly because he’s now using app delivery services Uber and Grubhub, which is giving him a new revenue stream.
“I have two, I’d like to have three,” he mused of the food-ordering apps.
You’re definitely missing out, though, on an essential part of the Ray’s experience if you don’t go there in person to get your cheese fries, lime rickey or genuine “Obama burger” from the man himself. But, whatever — in the oxymoronic smartphone-based reality — this is letting him pay the bills.
“It’s helping,” he said. “I now have a guy to cut the potatoes.”