Lending Tree


This Harvard Tradition Is No Drag

Men's Theatrical Group Takes Its Gender-Bending Show on the Road

Drag Queen

The Hasty Pudding Theatrical group is a 160-year-old tradition at Harvard University. (

March 26, 2005 — Back in the 1800s, legend has it Harvard had a couple of rules. No student was allowed act onstage, and no student — they were all men then — could wear women's clothing.

So much for rules. Since 1844, the men of Harvard's Hasty Pudding have been wearing their wigs, kicking their heels, and shaking their … well, you get the idea.

Every year, the Hasty Pudding Theatricals — named after a desert they used to eat at their meetings — comes up with a new student-written show. It's always just men, always in drag and always pushing the limits.

Gender a Hot Topic

Gender has been a hot topic at Harvard this year, with University President Larry Summers questioning women's aptitude in math and science.

Pudding member Sam Gale Rosenat says of Summers: "I think he would be hilarious playing a woman."

This year's show is a Western, called "Terms of Frontierment." John Blickstead plays a buffalo — a female buffalo.

"I think I am a sexy buffalo, yeah," said Blickstead.

The Hasty Pudding makes a big splash with its awards for Woman and Man of the Year. This year the group honored actors Catherine Zeta-Jones and Tim Robbins.

Robbins, wearing a blond wig and a striped dress to accept the award, admitted, "I wanted bigger breasts."

Suffering for Their Art

Doing drag isn't easy.

There are eyebrows to shape and wigs to brush, and perhaps most challenging, there are the heels.

Karen Pisani has been teaching Pudding men to dance, or try to, for 22 years.

"The first thing is the heels," said Pisani. "They are great coming forward to the audience, but as soon as they turn around, it's football players stomping."

But eventually they get it, joining a long line of Pudding men that has included former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, actor Jack Lemmon, and at least one journalist — ABC News correspondent John Berman.

Hasty Pudding, which is bringing its show on the road, including a performance in New York City this weekend, is a tradition that's anything but a drag.

ABC News' John Berman orginally reported this story for "Good Morning America" Weekend edition.