On This Gay Day: Drag drama at theatre bar

Drag Drama

On this day in 1989, the cash box for the Westside Observer was stolen

The Westside Observer was for many years the source of news and information for Perth’s LGBTIQ+ communities. When it was launched in 1988 the A5 sized magazine cost $2 a copy, but the cover price was abandoned not long after.

Back in the late 1980s, when homosexuality was still officially illegal in Western Australia, you could only pick up queer press in queer venues like Connections, The Red Lion and a few adult shops. To pay for the magazine, readers were asked to put their $2 into a cash jar that sat alongside each stack of the latest issue.

On the 11th May 1989 there was an incident at Arpi’s Theatre Bar at the Perth Concert Hall, the bar was a popular haunt for the LGBTIQ+ community. Staff noticed the cash tin for the magazine had suddenly disappeared, suspicion turned to a woman and her male companion who had been sitting nearby.

Staff confronted the woman in the venue’s bathroom where she was found with the missing cash tin. She threatened them with a syringe claiming it was infected with HIV. Police arrived and arrested the pair, they later pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the offence. A week later the cash tin at Connections Nightclub was also stolen, but on this occasion the culprit got away.

In the pages of the June edition of the Westside Observer the incident was reported, in the article the author laments “This sort of conduct should be frowned on by the gay community, it’s not only stealing, but stealing from ‘family’.” The author also asserted that more needed to be done to stop reinforcing negative images of the community in the eyes of the police and the general public.

Shortly after these incidents the business model for LGBTIQ+ publishing changed, the magazine dropped its cover charge and became free for anyone who wanted a copy. A value that has continued to this day through the Westside Observer, shOUT, and now OUTinPerth – where there are still no paywalls.

You can always drop some money in our digital cash box though, by signing up to Patreon or giving to our GoFundMe.

Frank Thring

Australian actor Frank Thring was born on this day in 1926

Frank Thring was born in Melbourne in 1926, while he was known as Frank Thring Jr in his youth, he was actually Francis William Thring IV, his father, grandfather and great grandfather all having carried the same name.

His father was a film producer in the 1920s, notably producing the silent feature The Sentimental Bloke, and the younger Thring appeared in the film. Sadly Frank Thring III passed away in 1936, when his son was just 10 years old. The family operated Melbourne radio station 3XY, and as a fifteen year old young Frank began working at the station as a thespian and an announcer.

After serving in the airforce during World War II, in 1945 Frank began acting on stage, and within a decade he was staring in shows in London’s West End. He then made the move to Hollywood and some of his most memorable roles including playing Pontius Pilate in the 1959 film Ben Hur, and as Al Kadir, Emir of Valencia in El Cid. 

He acted in films, theatre and television over the next several decades including appearing in Against the Wind, Bodyline, Skippy the Bush Kangaroo and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

He was known for his flamboyant persona, and was a regular guest on chat shows, where he regaled audiences with his storytelling skills. He also wrote a regular column in TV Week. He almost always dressed in black, his collar upturned, and a large medallion around his neck.

He married actress Joan Cunliffe in the 1950s but it ended in divorce. She would go on to be the manager of both Rudolph Nureyev and Dame Margot Fonteyn. Frank Thring died from oesophagal cancer in 1994, he was 68 years old.

Take a look at Frank Thring proving to be a challenging guest for Craig McLaughlin, who was filling on for Steve Vizard, on an edition of Tonight Live in the early 1990’s. 

OIP Staff, This post was first published in 2021. 

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