Ray Alvarez, the East Village hall-of-famer who has made generations of neighborhood kids and late-night revelers happy with his fried Snickers, chili dogs, and soft serve cones, turned 85 yesterday. As has become the tradition, Ray’s eponymous Candy Store on Avenue A was transformed by his friends and groupies into a burlesque house, as dozens of locals packed inside the tiny shop and a string of dancers got (tastefully) raunchy up on the old, sagging counter.
The theme of the night was the ’80s, mostly just because that’s how old Ray is, but also because it provided an easy backdrop for props and music. And so Cheeky Lane got wild to Bow Wow Wow’s “I Want Candy”; Pearls Daily took it off to the Madonna anthem “Material Girl”; Lil Miss Lixx did splits to Tiffany’s cover of “I Think We’re Alone Now”; Nasty Canasta got sexy as hell to Sheila E’s “The Glamorous Life”; and Gal Friday finished Ray off with the Altered Images version of “Happy Birthday.”
In addition to the stripping and grinding and general bonhomie, there were snacks of gummi worms and candy necklaces, and Robert Veneiro himself brought over the birthday cake from his famous bakery around the way. As for the birthday boy, Ray promised he was going to live to be 100, and he expected everyone to keep showing up every year until then.