That pleasure only powder can provide

The gateway to a fun evening

The gateway to a fun evening

Contraception. We at the Dodgy Perth office understand it’s all the rage among the young folk. So we’re here to help out with alternative suggestions.

The above advert ran in Perth’s newspapers in the mid-1930s. Most of it is fairly easy to decode (the word ‘contraception’ doesn’t appear at all).

Rubber goods were condoms, of course, available in a range of styles. Except most women didn’t like condoms. They were mostly used for preventing disease rather than as a means of birth control, and so were more associated with the brothel than the bedroom. As a consequence, caps were more popular with married women.

Cains Vitality Pills were the 1930s Viagra. Whenever you see a reference to ‘building up the system’, ‘vitality’ and ‘youthfulness’ in an old advertisement, they are referring to erections. And nothing else.

But ‘Pleasure Powder outfits’ had the Dodgy Perth team stumped for a while. It took a bit of research into the history of contraception to find out what these were.

It consisted of two parts: a rubber bulb containing the powder attached to a hollow cylinder with a mark on it. The cylinder was inserted into the vagina up to the mark, then the bulb was pumped once or twice in order to catapult the necessary amount of powder against the opening of the uterus.

A Pleasure Powder outfit (c.1900)

A Pleasure Powder outfit (c.1900)

The powder consisted of boric acid, citric acid, tannic acid, gum arabic, and ‘powder’. Right up inside you. Must have been a wonderful experience.

Having been prepared in this way you had 30 minutes to get the deed over and done with, or the procedure had to be repeated.

So, condoms, caps, Viagra, and Pleasure Powder made from a variety of acids. Go for it kids, you have our permission.

Speaking bluntly

Tomato leaf, we presume

Tomato leaf, we presume

The Dodgy Perth offices have been uncomfortable this week. The boss has given up smoking as of Monday morning and he is behaving like a bear with a migraine. So, just for him an advertisement from 1867 in a Perth newspaper.

Do you suffer from asthma? Or perhaps you have another complaint of the ‘respiratory organs’ (we think they’re called lungs normally).

The solution, as it turns out, is to smoke a pre-prepared Indian cigarette impregnated with essential oil of Cannabis indica. Seriously. That’s how you treated asthma in 1867.

Perth Gazette, 21 June 1867

Perth Gazette, 21 June 1867

Naturally, you could only smoke your joint—sorry, ‘medical preparation’—strictly following the instructions given to you by your pharmacist. Yeah, right.

Perhaps one of these remedies might make the boss feel better. It might do the rest of us a lot of good, anyway.

Horses, dentists and dealers

Percy's haul

Percy’s haul

From conversations we have, some people seem to think drugs weren’t a problem in Perth in the past. Boy, do we have news for them.

Prior to the 1920s, white citizens liked to see all Chinese residents as the only users in Perth. In this case opium was often the drug of choice. They were just as wrong as people who believe addiction is a relatively new phenomenon.

Dentists were suppliers and occasional users of cocaine, which was one of the new anaesthetics available to them. While stats for Perth are hard to come by, dozens of Melbourne dentists were struck off in the 1920s for being coke addicts.

The other source of cocaine was the racing industry which (illegally) used both it and heroin to give horses an advantage. In fact, the dose for one horse was enough to keep six people stoned for a night. It was said that the majority of Perth users got their drugs from trainers, not from drug gangs on the street.

In 1929, one unfortunate addict came to light after breaking into a Nedlands’ chemist and stealing bottles of cocaine, morphine, strychnine, heroin, and hydrogen peroxide. The thief, Percy Preston, was later found lying unconscious at Claremont with a hypodermic by his side.

While one user does not imply an epidemic of drug use, if a user has the money to pay for drugs from a dentist or trainer they won’t come to the attention of authorities. Percy was just unlucky enough to have run out of cash in a moment of need.

And Percy’s case also shows there was sufficient ‘dope’ around to become an addict. So drugs are not a new thing in Perth, and we are neither winning nor losing the ‘war’, simply managing it generation by generation.

When electric disco sticks were all the rage

Just feel the power

Just feel the power

In the late 19th century, strange adverts started appearing in Perth newspapers. ‘Electro-galvanic suspensory belts’ were on sale, guaranteed to cure all ‘nervous weaknesses’.

To understand this oddity in the history of quack medicine, it is first necessary to know what causes nervous weaknesses in men. And by nervous weaknesses is meant a whole range of symptoms, but especially impotence.

The cause, you may be surprised to hear, was spermatorrhea, an excessive discharge of semen. Usually brought about through too much playing with yourself when a teenager.

In the 1800s, this imaginary disease caused such a panic that there were reported cases of suicide among men who suffered from it. Spermatorrhea could also damage your internal organs in a variety of horrible ways.

Fortunately, the solution was to wear a patented electric belt. This went round the patient’s waist, and a series of metal pieces would miraculously provide a continuous current of electricity, infusing ‘manly vigour’ into the generative organs.

This makes our eyes water just thinking about it

This makes our eyes water just thinking about it

Seriously. People bought shed loads of these things. And if the belt wasn’t for you, there were plenty of other products advertised to restore the vital forces of manhood.

Naturally, some doctors sneered at the sheer quackery of it all, but men were convinced that applying electricity to their manhood was the only possible solution to their problems.

Now, where can the Dodgy Perth team get one of these wonders?

Up yours!

Definitely a parental advisory image

Definitely a parental advisory image

Are you suffering from nervous tension or constipation? Then you need to visit Perth Zoo. A choice of remedies were on offer, including a chance to bathe in radioactive water.

But if that hasn’t cured you, fear not. A nice lady attendant will happily offer you an enema. Or if you want something stronger, how about a complete intestinal cleansing?

In Perth Zoo. In 1950.

Dodgy Perth wonders what the animals made of all this.