Bluebeard's Bloody Chamber, 1901
Bluebeard’s Bloody Chamber, 1901

We at Dodgy Perth know how to have a good night out. And we know that a good night out requires a man in drag and dismembered heads.

Sceptical? Read on.

The last time we met George Leake—lawyer and State Premier—some rotters were (and still are) hoping to knock down his widow’s house on Bellevue Terrace. Anyway, it turns out George had another talent. He made a very good drag queen.

In 1888 there was a special charity event at St George’s Hall on Hay Street. A building, we sadly note, now reduced to a parody of heritage conservation. Thank you District Court of WA.

After a few songs, the main act were waxworks borrowed from Jarley’s for the evening. The future Premier dressed up as ‘Mrs Jarley’, and he was surprisingly good at it.

The various waxworks were wheeled out while George—sorry, Mrs Jarley—cracked jokes and kept the crowd amused. There was Chang the giant, the Giant Killer, Jack Sprat and his wife, and Queen Elizabeth.

For those who believe product placement is a recent invention, the next tableaux was Mrs. Pears’ Soap and the Dirty Boy. Quickly followed by waxworks representing Winslow’s Soothing Syrup and Mrs Allen’s Hair Restorer. (Just don’t ask.)

The evening closed with Bluebeard’s chamber. Bluebeard himself was represented in the act of threatening his last wife’s existence with an uplifted scimitar. The heads of his previous victims were hung by their hair, all bleeding copiously, around the walls.

So: drag, rampant commercialism, and over-the-top gore. Sounds like Dodgy Perth’s ideal Saturday evening.