Volume 80, Number 45 | April 7 - 13, 2011
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Photo by Scoopy
It’s good to be the king
Our first thought was: “What tha…? What’s the Burger King doing in McDonald’s?” There he sat in the Mickey D’s near Shakespeare & Co. on Broadway at Washington Place. He sported a regal purple robe and a crown, with shoulder-length white hair, plus a bejeweled beard — just like we’d imagine all kings must have. Actually, he said, while he is, in fact, a monarch, it’s neither of Whoppers nor Big Macs. He’s the King of New York. “I make people happy,” he explained. He plays an accordion, and has since he was 5, though his transformation to his kingly calling happened gradually only over the past four years. He mainly plays waltzes and rhumbas. “They don’t like the songs I play, but they like the speed,” he said. “No rock and roll — real music from the ’40’s and 30’s.” Not to blow the king’s cover, but his real name is Barry Hamadyk, he lives in Brooklyn, and he used to play organ for roller-skating rinks, like Dreamland in Newark and Twin Cities skating rink, “the biggest skating rink in the country,” he noted. “They don’t do that no more — they play records,” he said of the current state of the roller rinks. In his get-up, he of course gets plenty of “Merlin!” and “wizard!” comments, but he gets a lot of money, too, without much effort, he said. You can find him in the McDonald’s five days a week. He said he’s in the neighborhood a lot because he loves to buy Jewish rye bread on Avenue A.