It's a Monster of a Ball for Berry

Her trophy case may include an Oscar, but actress adds Pudding honors to her haul

Roasting the 2006 Woman of the Year Halle Berry proved to be quite a mouthful for the Hasty Pudding Theatricals, as its members got up close, personal, and more with the Academy Award-winning actress.

The afternoon began innocently enough with the Woman of the Year parade, which headed for the Agassiz Theatre this year because of ongoing renovations at the Pudding’s 12 Holyoke St. home.

The parade along Mass. Ave was not Berry’s usual red carpet crowd—her entourage included cows, llamas, Miss Massachusetts, the Harvard University Band, and the cast of the 158th production, “Some Like It Yacht.”

“I was walking out of the Barker Center and I saw some drag queens, some cows grazing, and I was struck, so I decided to explore further,” said Billy F. Gray ’06, who was waiting in front of Pennypacker for a glimpse of Berry.

Pudding members were dolled up in straw hats, wigs, fishnets, ruby-red heels, and sparkly dresses.

“He looks pretty,” a woman remarked when Vice President of the Cast Peter A. Dodd ’06, in a resplendent red gown, stepped out of Berry’s white limo.

Berry, dressed less flamboyantly in a long fur-lined brown coat and a simple white top-and-jeans ensemble, paraded with Dodd and Pudding President John P. Blickstead ’06 in an azure Bentley.

Berry, who bore a red headdress provided by the Pudding, set a lighthearted mood when she entered the theater by dancing to the band’s music.

Dodd and Blickstead roasted the actress. Parodying Berry’s “emotional, gracious, and extensive” Oscar acceptance speech, Blickstead presented Dodd with a plaque commemorating him as the first African American male to present a Woman of the Year award.

“This moment is so much bigger than me,” Dodd gushed, saying he would like to share the moment with Denzel Washington, O.J. Simpson, and “the black man from Desperate Housewives.”

In introducing their female guest, Blickstead and Dodd described Berry’s “frequent willingness to expose her vulnerability,” motioning toward his chest.

Keeping with the no-holds-barred mood of the event, the roasters continued to gibe at Berry’s “titillating” talent.

“Stunts weren’t the only things that were fake,” Blickstead said.

“These are real,” Berry declared emphatically, grabbing her breasts. “If I took my bra off, you’d see how real they are.”

With that dispute settled, the “Catwoman” star next engaged in a dance-off against the Pudding’s counterpart “Dogman” to establish whether she was an “action star” or a “dramatic superstar.”

Shaking her booty to “Dontcha” by the Pussycat Dolls and “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mixalot, the 39-year-old held her own to Dogman’s balletic jazz moves, eventually dancing up to him.

To assess Berry’s dramatic talent, Blickstead and Dodd asked that she re-enact the highway scene from Monster’s Ball, the film which brought her an Oscar for best actress.

Filling in for Billy Bob Thornton was Samuel Gale Rosen ’06, who co-wrote the script for this year’s production.

“I’m not just some hitchhiker,” Berry said to him.

And not just any Woman of the Year, as the audience and Rosen were soon to discover.

Wrapping her arms around him, Berry planted a raspberry on Rosen’s mouth, letting her right hand trail down his torso to grab his crotch—and held on, while the audience screamed.

Even as he was in a steamy liplock with Berry—a perennial favorite of People Magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People” list—Rosen said afterwards that his mind was still on the roast, asking himself “how can I play this to make it funny?”

Given a second task of seducing Rosen with just one line, “I want you to make me feel good,” the actress straddled him and thrust her hips. Rosen peeked around Berry’s shoulders at the audience—where his mom, dad, and girlfriend watched—and said, “Hi Mom.”

Asked about the experience that left him tongue-tied on stage, Rosen said Berry was a good kisser.

“I wasn’t because I was a little too startled to kiss back,” he said.

Rosen declined to comment on whether there was tongue involved.

“That was unprecedented,” Blickstead said throughout the roast.

As for other men she has smooched, Berry was quick to rank Pierce Brosnan or Warren Beatty on kissing prowess.

“Pierce Brosnan,” Berry answered.

When asked what she thought of University President Lawrence H. Summers, Berry said, “I think he’s wonderful.”

She was equally approving of the rest of Harvard.

“It’s way better than I thought it would be,” Berry said. “Their sense of humor was staggering.”

Upon accepting her Pudding Pot, Berry said “one of the things I love most is laughing at myself,” adding that the Pot will go next to another golden award—her Oscar.

—Staff writer Lulu Zhou can be reached at luluzhou@fas.harvard.edu.