When the freak show came to Perth

Monkey BoySo you thought the Giants were good last weekend? Baby, you don’t even know what entertainment is.

Through the magic of history, let Dodgy Perth transport you back 120 years to show you a good time.

On Hay Street, right where the Kings Hotel now stands (lovely piece of architecture that it is) was once the site of Ye Olde Englishe Fayre. So on a hot December night in 1895, let’s find out what there was to see.

After passing through an elaborately decorated entrance, you would first see the standard fairground stuff: sideshows, refreshment stalls and a stage for a variety performance.

Persuasive attendants would tempt you to part with your money for swinging boats, shooting-galleries, and the inevitable Aunt Sally. Opportunities to lose money on games were everywhere.

But you want real entertainment, don’t you? Not the ordinary fairground paraphernalia.

Let’s pay (again) and enter the first tent. Here you’ll encounter waxworks, including those of Beach and Searle, renowned Australian scullers. Unfortunately, this wax wasn’t made for the Perth summer heat and is beginning to melt a little. Next!

Mummies. Four-thousand year old mummies. They will hold you for a bit.

And if mummies aren’t your cup of tea, how about the body of conjoined twins. That ought to make you stare. And at the two-legged pig right next to them. There were plenty of other freaks to guarantee value for your money.

But the big draw card of Ye Olde Englishe Fayre was Monkey Boy.

Either “a human monstrosity” or a “hideous freak of nature”, he was substantially under a metre tall, and a mere thirteen years old. He looked like a monkey, acted like a monkey, but (shockingly!) could talk to the crowd.

Everyone rushed forwards to touch and manhandle the weird child.

And the papers all agreed that “monkey-faced boy” was the best thing ever to appear in the colony.

Forget your Giants, Perth. They knew what real entertainment was 120 years ago.

Please note that this is an edited re-post of an earlier article. Dodgy Perth has many new followers lately, and the story is so good it’s worth rereading anyway.

Undressing in cars is asking for trouble

I appreciate that it has been some days since the last Dodgy update. I blame work. And I’m still fiddling with the Venn story to get it right. In the meantime, some sensible advice from the Mirror in 1938:

If some girls must undress in cars surely the more care less of them could make sure that they are not displaying themselves to the vulgar gaze. There is quite a lot of it going on—or coming off?—at ocean and river beaches. And even at places as crowded and as close handy as Como, girls may be seen undressing in the dubious shelter of a car with a towel or two up at the windows.

Possibly with some of them, it is a development from the days when their mothers delighted in completely undressing them on the beaches, to the embarrassment of sensitive young men occupying a nearby patch of sand. But even if the said young men might not be quite so sensitive in the more mature stage of the girls’ development, careless undressing in cars is not to be encouraged.

No one wants to be a spoil sport, or to restrict the personal liberty of the girls who want to use cars as a dressing—or UNDRESSING PAVILION—with or without reasonable privacy. Nor would the average man bother to interfere with those males who derive some form of spicy delight from wandering past such cars in the hope (quite often gratified) of catching a fleeting glimpse of a female in partial undress.

But what local girls want to remember is that there have been cases at some of the outer Sydney beaches where girls, undressing in cars have been attacked by prowlers and perverts.