Today while wandering through Soho I happened upon my favorite New York street performer/salesperson, Peeler Man. I call this a performance because his impassioned schtick is a notch or two beyond your average QVC spokesman. I mean, not just anybody can sell vegetable peelers to busy New Yorkers passing by on the street.
An older, well-dressed gentleman with white hair, Ades can usually be seen on some busy sidewalk, crouched over plastic bins holding potatoes and carrots, bellowing in a British accent, a wad of bills clenched between latex-gloved, orange-stained fingertips. You think what you usually think when you see someone doing something unusual in the city: this guy’s a nut. But then you stop and watch him do his thing and eventually, appreciate the entertainment value.
“NOW! I’LL SHOW YOU HOW IT WORKS! FIRST! YOU PEEL THE CARROT!” he shouts to a tentative-but-intrigued flock of tourists and shoppers standing only a few feet away. Peels pile up like magic beneath his fingers. “THEN! YOU SLICE THE CARROT!” he folds the paper-thin slices between his fingers, cuts some more, and easy as that, even, identical carrot shavings shoot from the peeler. He sells the Star peelers for $5 a pop, and says they’re made in Switzerland, and only available exclusively from him on the sidewalks of New York.
Apparently he was recently featured in Vanity Fair, and as it turns out, lives comfortably with his wife on the Upper West Side.
Joe Ades and the Star Vegetable Peeler, Soho, Union Square, Sixth Avenue near Rockefeller Center, and other random New York sidewalks