From bluff to buff


She appears to be winning

The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there. But there is one thing that never changes. When young people find a new entertainment, older people will be outraged. Followed by the media demanding the government ban whatever it is young people are doing.

In the mid-1920s, the smart young set discovered Strip Poker, and their elders were livid. An American import (what evil doesn’t originate from those shores?), Strip Poker was judged indecent. Which it was. Which is what made it fun. Which is why the young folk liked to play it.

And so the game was taken up by the young society folk in West Perth homes. And one particularly drunken New Year’s Eve, on Cottesloe Beach in full view of passers-by.

Six to eight boys and girls would assemble at a home and “primed up with sundry cocktails”, they sat round a table and left the rest to chance. The rules were simple. Counters were issued and each article of clothing had a certain value on the counters. Somebody had to lose in every hand, and the unlucky would usually go on losing all night. Until they had lost all of their clothing.

What made it all the more outrageous was that the players were the offspring of respectable, high-class families. Yet they were baring their bodies like the disreputable castes who lived downtown. The morals of nice Perth girls were worth protecting, said the media. While you might expect this sort of thing in Sydney and Melbourne, it should not be happening in classy Western Australia.

Quite right too.