Ridin Dirty

Ocean Beach Hotel, 1920s

Ocean Beach Hotel, 1920s

The young women of Perth have continuously been in one moral danger or another. In the 1920s the threat came from men who owned motor cars.

Some suburban hotels were known to be ‘joy-riders pubs’. Allow Dodgy Perth to explore the meaning of this odd phrase with you.

Apparently every generation of Perth girls has a particular ‘pleasure weakness’. Can you remember what yours was?

Around 1900, it was orgies of booze on the beach. But for the feather-headed flappers of the 1920s, their Achilles’ heel was motor cars.

And, boy, did the middle-aged men know how to work that particular vice. At the end of Barrack Street, down by the river, and you’d see a group a girls—aged between seventeen and twenty-one—looking for someone to take them for a ride.

The men, often married, were substantially older than the girls. And some were well-known people, including a politician and a few celebrities.

“It’s just a little spin for a few miles, my dear,” the rake would say to the flapper, although a few could turn into twenty, as he sought out his favourite joy-riders pub.

There, they stop for a little drink. It is an apparently quiet pub. Perhaps it will even have a private sitting room. But to the young woman, it all seems so romantic. She may be a factory girl, a shop girl, or an office employee, but in any case her salary doesn’t usually run to many evenings out.

The poor girl will then be offered—we shudder to say it—a drink. Naturally, being a good girl, she will at first decline.

The middle-aged cad will insist that she take a little wine to warm her up, and finally she will give in.  To the flapper, the drink adds to the romance, like a vamp scene in a play. But the average girl never realised the danger until it was too late.

This, dear reader, is the peril of ending up at a joy-riders pub.

The media demanded that something be done. Firstly, the girls should be incarcerated as neglected children. Next, the hotels should lose their licenses. And, most importantly, it should be made harder for men to get a driver’s license in the first place.

Without immediate action, Perth was in danger of having more and more of these evil pubs around the city, causing the downfall of many more foolish flappers.

Speaking of which. Can anyone recommend Dodgy Perth a good suburban hotel for meeting up with a young lady?

Are flappers always slappers?

Photographic Negative - AcetateToday Dodgy Perth covers one of the most controversial questions in history: Is every Perth girl a slapper, or only some of them?

The evidence for the prosecution comes from an anonymous Katanning lady, who had just returned home after a six week holiday in Perth in 1929.

She had had hated every minute of it. Only back in the countryside could she once again breathe freely, away from an atmosphere contaminated by hypocrisy and senseless frivolity.

You see, a typical Perth girl is an empty headed, pleasure-seeking and selfish young miss with no thought for the future. All she thinks about is herself, her clothes and how to get men to adore her.

For hobbies, the young city woman likes only to dance, drink cocktails and smoke. Her greatest pleasure is to see how many parties she can get to into one evening.

And—we shudder to say it—the Perth lasses are using paint, powder and lipstick to make themselves appear more attractive to the menfolk. No country girl finds it necessary to “do up” every five minutes. They have deeper thoughts than whether or not their noses are shining.

Worst of all, these brazen hussies are openly speaking about topics which should never be spoken about. In public.

Thank god that the average country girl remains unsullied by modern ideas. For they are the last of their sex who can uphold the honour and dignity of true Australian womanhood.

The case for the prosecution rests, M’Lord.

The fair maids of Perth, though, were not going to hear such slander in 1929 without a response. Oh no.

For a start, the gay dresses worn to the dances are usually made by the girls themselves. And most have to make their own underwear as well.

Our country lass forgets that Perth women have real jobs, mostly in offices, and it is only natural they would seek entertainment in the evening.

Yes, they use make up. But also go to the gym, and attend night classes in business studies, English, French, dressmaking, millinery, and cookery classes. Unbelievable, isn’t it, how versatile the city girl is compared to her country counterpart?

In any case, do you really think that Katanning is that dull? When Perth lasses visit the country they find the parties there very far from tame, even thrilling. It’s not necessary to leave a small town to find something to shock a rural prude.

The case for the defence rests.