To some, the Whiffenpoofs might represent some fantasy of Yale—quaffing ale in harmony at Mory’s, pining for the days when the college was all male and students wore tuxedos instead of denim.
Oh, they dress well and sing like angels. But The Whiffenpoofs are hipper than you think. When they sang on an episode of The West Wing, the punch line was that the White House staffers wanted to sleep with these adorable boys.
They were brave enough to compete on the TV a cappella competition The Sing-Off.
Their trademark song, “The Whiffenpoof Song,” became a mainstream hit thanks to Rudy Vallee in the 1920s, but also been made over by Louis Armstrong, Elvis Presley and Chicago jazz drummer Walter Perkins.
Oh, and check out some of the haircuts in the photo accompanying this article.
On Friday, Feb. 8, the Whiffenpoofs figure heavily in the presentation of Yale’s first-ever Artists for Equality Award. This honor, to be conferred annually, goes first to actress Cynthia Nixon, who appears to epitomize what Artists for Equality is praising: “Artists distinguished in their field who have demonstrated a strong commitment to the LGBT community.”
Nixon has been a forthright, out and open advocate of lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender awareness and civil rights. She’s also had the sort of diverse acting career which demands that she be given awards. Sex and the City, sure, but she also played Eleanor Roosevelt in the TV movie Warm Springs and has a slew of impressive Broadway credits, from Rabbit Hole to The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie to Wit. The roles she takes are invariably described as “empowering.”
Friday’s awards ceremony, which begins at 8:30 p.m., is largely a concert, a concert by “Yale’s choral community,” with The Whiffenpoofs figuring heavily. It’s at the vast Woolsey Hall, (500 College Street, New Haven). Tickets run from $10 to $50, and can be found now at www.yalegala.org/reunion.
The event’s presenter is the university’s alumni association Yale GALA, working with co-sponsors LGBT Coop, the Association of Yale Alumni and Yale’s LGBT Studies department.