Sex and the city


Contemporary picture of a den of iniquity

Over the last couple of days, Facebook and Twitter have been full of mourning for long demolished blocks of flats in central Perth. Even councillors at the City of Perth having been bewailing the loss of such buildings as the Riviera Flats.

For our part, we are happy to let people wallow in nostalgia and believe that blocks of flats were a good thing.

No. Wait. This is Dodgy Perth.

In 1929, as flats became more common in Perth, it was becoming clear that nothing good was going to come of this new way of living.

The media had discovered that some of these apartments were being rented by young single men. To understand why this was controversial you need look at the alternatives.

If the young man lived at home, his parents would be there to stop any hanky-panky shenanigans happening in his bed.

The only other option, before flats, was to live in a boarding house. The communal nature of the building, and because they were ruled over by a middle-aged matron, definitely meant no sexy time in a boarding house.

But flats were different. They were your own space, and you (and others) could come and go as you pleased without being observed. No wonder they terrified both the older generation and the media.

The young man who rented a flat could invite his girlfriend over for a ‘quiet drink’, or throw a party. And these were not the kind of parties that would be sanctioned in their parents’ homes.

Inevitably, the newspapers went all “won’t somebody think of the girls?” No decent girl, they said, would be used to drinking. So as soon as she had a few in a private flat, she would instantly become the victim of her predatory host.

Well. Maybe. But probably not.

Why can’t the law stop young men renting flats? was the cry. Private flats for young men were only going to cause trouble.

So, to those who are unhappy that blocks of Art Deco flats were demolished, Dodgy Perth asks you this simple question: Won’t somebody think of the girls?