A couple of weeks ago we wrote about the first stripper in Perth, who performed at His Majesty’s. However, we were slightly wrong when we said she was probably the first nude on the Western Australian stage.
In fact as early as 1939 some critics were saying that audiences were getting bored of turning up to His Majesty’s just for nudity and were now seeking higher quality plays. This was, of course, far too optimistic, and Perth’s grandest theatre was still trying to entice you with ‘beautiful nudes’ in the 1950s.
Naked women on stage were not illegal unless—and this is the bizarre bit—they moved. So for several decades, audiences at His Majesty’s were treated to a series of motionless ‘tableaux’, artistically arranged young women dressed only in their birthday suits.
In 1939, one of the stars who people paid good money to see was 20-year-old Barbara Clark, advertised as Australia’s No. 1 Glamour Girl. Strangely she claimed to have been doing her act for five years, which would mean she started performing nude at fifteen!
However, the critics may have been slightly right about how mere static nudity had become tiresome. By 1940, His Majesty’s was resorting to strippers to keep the crowd numbers up.
So, to the older generation who despair at the availability of pornography in the 21st century, ask yourself this: who was buying tickets for entry to His Majesty’s in the 1930s?