It is perhaps the only place in the world where one can wager that Theodore Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Erich Segal, Alastair Cooke, Jack Lemmon, David Rockefeller and George Plimpton have stood before their peers in women’s clothing. President John Adams was a member of the club that lived there; actor Harrison Ford received a man-of-the-year award there in 1995 and had to perform for the group in a dress.
But when Harvard University officials close the large green doors of their ivy-covered brick building at 12 Holyoke Street in Cambridge, Mass. this spring for a $21 million renovation, members of the Hasty Pudding Institute of 1770 believe that it will be curtains for the group.
Things probably looked good for the famed Harvard social club and off-beat theater troupe when they paraded last year’s woman of the year, New Yorker Sarah Jessica Parker, around the streets of Cambridge in a ragtag procession headed up by six llamas. But internally, the group has been suffering for years.
Until 1996, the Hasty Pudding was an independent organization with its own building-and a storied past. The club was formed in 1795 as a secret eating society; its founders mandated that “the members in alphabetical order shall provide a pot of Hasty Pudding for every meeting.” With this ritual, the Hasty Pudding club found its namesake until, 25 years later, it merged with the Speakers Club of 1770, the owners of 12 Holyoke. Its founders sought “to cultivate the social affections and cherish the feelings of friendship and patriotism, being at once the first duties, and sublimest of enjoyments.” By the mid-1880′s, those enjoyments extended to theatrical productions where men did double duty in male and female roles.
More than 100 years later, the group found itself heavily in debt and turned to the university for help. Harvard bought the building at 12 Holyoke from the group in 1996 and has been leasing it back to them ever since-and imposing its own restrictions on the group.
The Hasty Pudding Social Club found itself applying to the Harvard administration for student-group status in 2001, so it could continue to make its home in the old building. This meant opening up their “punch” process-what a fraternity would call a “rush”-to all incoming students instead of hand-picking big names and familiar faces. (The theatrical group had applied and won student-group status already.)
To add insult to injury, in the spring of 2001 Harvard dissolved the social club’s restaurant, also housed in the building-Upstairs at the Pudding. It was a meeting place for club members and a favorite local boîte for Cambridge resident Julia Child; its loss left members to choose among downtown Cambridge’s selection of “student-friendly” restaurants-a far cry from the hallowed halls of the Holyoke Street building Theodore Roosevelt used to derisively call “The Shed.”
The administration has not been the club’s only enemy. In September, two former student leaders of Hasty Pudding Theatricals pled guilty before a Middlesex Superior Court judge to charges of embezzling $91,000 from the club. Randy Gomes admitted to stealing $68,000 to pay off drug dealers and to buy DVD’s and high-tech entertainment equipment; Suzanne Pomey pled to charges that she spent $23,000 on shopping and trips to a spa. Both were to graduate from Harvard College last spring, but the school withheld their degrees pending the outcome of the case.
But the total loss of the building may be a nastier blow: The Hasty Pudding Theatricals will have to fight with Harvard’s other student theater groups for performance space; and the social club will have to hold its parties in the same pedestrian dorm rooms, restaurants and campus spaces where every other group in the university goes.
Robert Mitchell, the director of communications for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, said it wasn’t such a tragedy.
“The Hasty Pudding will be temporarily displaced,” Mr. Mitchell told The Transom. “Once it’s completed, it will have a state-of-the-art, 300-seat auditorium theater that will still be available to the group.”
But he confirmed that Pudding shows will compete with other Harvard productions for use of the space-so that the exclusivity which was once the soul of the Ivy League social club will surely be snuffed.
“They haven’t made it clear to anybody what they were going to do with it afterward,” said one member of the Hasty Pudding Social Club-who speculated that the upstairs rooms of the building could as likely be used to alleviate Harvard’s office-space crunch as its lack of theater or club space.
“Harvard has started to eat itself,” said one recent graduate. “Harvard will probably say that they can still use their theater space, but then they’ll recondition it, saying they’ll have to let women [perform in the shows].”
In fact, though, the greatest hue and cry is coming from women-who are allowed as members of the social club and can work as stagehands and in other behind-the-scenes roles in the theatrical productions.
“By attempting to close the doors of the Hasty Pudding club, Harvard is not only denying a part of its history,” Hasty Pudding Social Club president Andrea Nadosy told The Transom, “but also suppressing the type of co-ed social opportunities that [the university] claims to promote.”
According to many women members of the club, Hasty Pudding was the only real social club on campus that both had its own space and allowed women; most campus social clubs with their own space are men’s “final clubs”-social clubs that had recently allowed women at events, but have since stopped the practice to avoid potential liability at club events.
“What makes the Pudding so special is not only is it a co-ed organization, but it also has space,” said Pudding secretary Chondita Chatterjee. “That’s something that only male final clubs have. If you’re a girl and you’re not 21, there are very limited social options.”
This fall, all eight of Harvard’s male final clubs have closed their doors to guests and women for liability reasons-and while a few female final clubs have cropped up, none have official space. “A lot of women would say they’re dependent upon these men’s clubs-really old-boys’ clubs-for social opportunities,” said Emily Anderson, a writer for The Harvard Crimson, who did an article for the campus daily about women’s dissatisfaction with the Harvard social scene.
Beccah Watson, a member of the Radcliffe Union of Students, a campus women’s group, has started a poster campaign: “Social spaces run by men: eight. Social spaces run by women: zero,” the poster reads.
It’s a point Harvard concedes.
“The final clubs are not owned and operated by the university,” said Mr. Mitchell. “Their membership [is composed of] Harvard students, but they are not under Harvard’s purview.”
And that may be just the point. Now, Pudding officials are working with the alumni of the group who make up their “grad board” to find a new space in Cambridge for the social club and theater group, according to Hasty Pudding Social Club secretary Brendan Fail.
“We’re hopeful that before long, we’ll have a temporary-if not a permanent-new home.”
Note to Yalies: Play it cool when the celebrities show up.
Despite such past on-campus celebrity presences as Jodie Foster, Claire Danes, Sarah Gilbert and Kellie Martin, Yale students practically wet themselves last week when they discovered an actual New York Yankee in their midst.
On Wednesday, Oct. 23, 22-year-old Yale senior and The Fast and the Furious star Jordana Brewster brought her steady boyfriend, Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, out to party with the undergrads at the Yale bar Toad’s Place.
Within an hour, the nightspot was packed with co-ed gawkers who, according to senior Derek Goeriz, were on their cells in the bathroom, telling their friends to get their asses over there. Mr. Jeter, 28, who was drafted at 17 and never went to college himself, appeared to be at ease with the students, happily posing for pictures and schmoozing with the Yale baseball team.
Witnesses said that the couple spent most of the night at a corner table, where excited students bought them drinks. Sophomore Caroline Stevenson agreed to deliver one for her cowed male friends. She told The Transom, “I walked over to his table, slammed down the shot and said, “This is a shot from the Yale men’s lacrosse team.’ He looked confused, as I was a girl, but then I continued drunkenly, ‘They think you’re better than [Boston Red Sox shortstop] Nomar [Garciaparra], but I don’t.’”
The good-natured Yankee just laughed and tossed it back.
Sources said that Mr. Jeter looked less comfortable on the dance floor, where one sophomore reported, “He just kind of stood there bobbing up and down.” Friends of sophomore ballplayer Zach Bradley bet him $20 that he didn’t have the balls to dance with Jordana while her man was at her side. He did. Mr. Jeter didn’t mind, and the bold young man got a Jackson out of the deal.
Brian Phelps, who owns Toad’s Place, said he did his best to make the couple feel welcome, asking the D.J. to play the very subtly chosen “New York, New York” at the end of the night. Shortly thereafter, the New Haven Police Department repaid Mr. Jeter for his congeniality by escorting the couple to Ms. Brewster’s off-campus apartment.
There was a minor crisis on the seventh floor of Bergdorf Goodman’s last week. A customer peed on a sofa.
“It’s not my fault!” bawled Lori Thomas of West Orange, N.J., who began dabbing the yellow spot with Pellegrino. Sitting in the puddle was her puppy, a three-year-old Yorkshire terrier breed named Petite Chérie.
The pup’s bottom might have been a bit moist, but her tail was wagging: Her new $155 green macintosh (with matching rain hat), from socialite CeCe Cord’s new line of dog attire and accessories, hadn’t been stained.
The tall, bony Ms. Cord, wearing large pearl earrings and a sleeveless black dress that exposed a hint of a tan brassiere strap, stood nearby holding her four-year-old Yorkie, Tiger (née Tiger Lilly), by its armpits and patting the pooch’s convex stomach.
“Tiggy’s tummy is a little full,” said the statuesque blonde through pouted lips, which were moving in for a lick. She’s been known to feed the diminutive canine mozzarella omelets from Il Cantinori in the West Village.
Ex-wife of fashion designer Barry Cord, and mother of young socialite and sometime-model Elisabeth Kieselstein-Cord, Ms. Cord is now having her turn in the world of fashion. The line of dog apparel, called “Travels With Tiger by CeCe Cord,” has been sold exclusively at Bergdorf’s since September. The collection includes $28 small burlap bags filled with doggie biscuits hand-baked in Ms. Cord’s own oven, $4,500 crocodile doggie tote bags, $600 dog bowls, and dog bathrobes that are a steal at $90. Life-sized stuffed versions of Tiger are also for sale in the $75 range, depending on how they’re dressed.
The tag attached to all of these items is a tiny, green-tinted replica of a passport page stamped from Gatwick. On it is written the following poem, which Ms. Cord composed herself:
“I’ve barked at wapati / dozed in Tahiti, / visited pyramids in Gaza, / roamed the spice shops of Taza, / Crown princes adore me, / maitre d’s bring treats for me. / And mile after mile, / I only travel in style. / Bon voyage! Tiger”
“Tiger is very devoted to my mother,” said Ms. Kieselstein-Cord.
Ms. Cord explained to The Transom that she’s been working on the line seven days a week for two years, most days until 2 in the morning-except, of course, when in Gaza or Taza. Ms. Kieselstein-Cord was blown away by her mother’s tenacity. “She did everything from finding the fabrics to literally driving stuff around in a U-haul,” said Ms. Kieselstein-Cord. She added that her toy Pekinese, Mr. Ookie, resides in sunny Los Angeles and has yet to be swathed in her mother’s creations. However, she added, she’d like to use some of the dog carriers as pocketbooks.
At the Oct. 29 cocktail reception honoring the collection, several dozen dogs and their people perused the goods.
Barbara Klang, a distinguished-looking woman with puffy blond hair and a Chanel suit, sat on a sofa with her puffy brown poodle, Simon, who wore a dogtag from Tiffany.
Ms. Klang said that her pet usually wears Burberry outfits and coats purchased in Paris, but he’s recently added some Cord attire to his wardrobe. “Simon loves Bergdorf’s!” said Ms. Klang. “But he hates Bloomingdale’s,” she added in a whisper.
Nearby, Ronald Farsch, Bergdorf Goodman’s chairman, looked on as a plump shopper fed her black pug a sun-dried-tomato tea sandwich and wiped a crumb from the dog’s $205 CeCe Cord black and orange sweater.
“This is the most fun we’ve ever had here!” Mr. Farsch said. Of course, catering to the new clientele has posed a few problems. Like last month, when a customer asked to have one of Ms. Cord’s dog coats specially tailored for her Yorkie. “We didn’t know what to charge her,” he said.
-Anna Jane Grossman
This month, Comedy Central is debuting a new cartoon series called The Groovenians, which was created by pop artist and former Basquiat and Keith Haring chum Kenny Scharf. The show is about two punchy space teens, Jet and Glindy, who escape a dull world called Jeepers. We asked Mr. Scharf’s 14-year-old daughter to elaborate.
“It’s like a lot of fun!” said the young, lip-gloss-loving brunette. A Beverly Hills resident, she was snapping gum outside Lucky Cheng’s on First Avenue, where her father’s show was being fêted on the evening of Nov. 4. “It’s about, like, a boyfriend and a girlfriend who live on this boring planet, and they want to get out of there because they’re like not boring and they want to have fun, so they go to Groovenia and, like, pretty much that’s it.” Got it?
Also in attendance were a bevy of adolescents bearing monikers that sounded like the results of a Bonnie Fuller-J.R.R. Tolkien collaboration: Liam McMullan, Taline Arsalanian, Lino Meoli, Olympia Sonnier, Pietro Clemente ….
Alessandra Balazs, daughter of hotelier/restaurateur Andre Balazs and Ford Model head honchette Katie Ford, spent the evening sipping juice and gawking at drag-queen waiters with fellow 13-year-old Zoe Kravitz. She is Ms. Scharf’s best friend, and the daughter of actress Lisa Bonet and her former husband, singer Lenny Kravitz.
The two girls felt they couldn’t quite relate to teens fleeing boring families in search of excitement. If anything, they dream of fleeing their jet-set lives to go to more humdrum homes.
“My dad is very open and crazy-he’ll be a little too rock-starry sometimes. Sometimes people annoy me about him, and I just want him to be a banker or something,” said Ms. Kravitz, who has cappuccino skin and almond-shaped eyes. “Sometimes he just dresses really special and I don’t like it, and he’ll, like, walk up to my friends and I’ll be like, ‘Omigod!’”
Ms. Balazs, who lives in Manhattan and has modeled for Guess and the Gap, jumped in with her own tales of adolescent woe.
“My mom, likes to randomly break out into song!” said the pretty, plump-lipped teen. “Like, she’ll just randomly be like, ‘R-E-S-P-E-C-T!’-and she’ll be completely off-tune.”
Ms. Kravitz, who is currently rehearsing the part of Sally Bowles for a revue at her Miami school, nodded in sympathy.
“My mom?” she said in a perfect band-camp lilt. “We’ll be in, like, the grocery-store parking lot? And she’ll be like, ‘The hills are alive!’ And I’ll be like, ‘Omigod!’”