When Leyla Safai cruises down the street in her baby-pink ice-cream truck, the Hearts Challenger, she gets smiles for miles. Still, the situation isn’t always so sunny.

“Sometimes people honk and yell, ‘Get the fuck outta the way!’ ’cause I’m going so slow. But for the most part it’s high-fives, thumbs up and peace signs.”

A native Angeleno, and mom of a 7-year-old daughter, the pretty 28-year-old might look right at home behind the wheel of her heart-and-unicorn-covered girlie mobile, serving up a colorful array of treats at clubs like Check Yo Ponytail (Tuesdays at Safari Sam’s), but she’s out to do more than sell sweets to scenesters.

(Photo by Kevin Scanlon)“It’s about a lifestyle and creating an environment with music and art and networking,” she says.

Indeed, Safai is one smart cookie, and she thinks big. She’s getting ready to launch her second truck, which will tour New York starting this month, and she’s using the truck to help promote artists and bands (including her own, Hearts Revolution, an “ice-cream-truck-music-gone-electro” project with her beau, Benjamin), in addition to making money doing corporate parties and children’s events. T-shirts, button packs and zines are sold right alongside candy and ice cream — and all of it with an international flavor.

“It’s so great to be able to expose people to stuff they’ve never seen before,” she says, “whether Armenian ice cream or a street artist from Japan.” Look for the Challenger to be parked outside trendy shopping hubs through May with its new route: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, Safai heads east (Vermont Avenue, Hillhurst Avenue and Sunset Junction), and Saturdays and Sundays, she goes west (Melrose Avenue and Robertson Boulevard). See www.myspace.com/heartschallenger for route updates.

LA Weekly