Just a twenty-minute walk east from the centre of Sydney, passing along Hyde Park and the traffic sewer of William Street, you will reach what is arguably the most infamous precinct in all of Australia. Kings Cross, or more informally “The Cross,” is not a suburb in the traditional sense of the word; rather, it’s an informal neighbourhood of Sydney, located at the junction of the inner-city suburbs of Potts Point, Darlinghurst and Elizabeth Bay. Its geographical center sits around Darlinghurst Road, where the enormous Coca-Cola sign at the intersection has been beckoning revellers and tourists since 1974. Finding the right words to describe the true depravity that this area once represented is difficult, but to borrow a phrase—at Kings Cross, you would never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.
It’s easy to forget now that the Cross was ground zero in Australia for the promotion of sin and the commercial exploitation of sexual vice. As Australia’s red-light and nightclub district, this was once the congregation point for all the revolutionary fervor of the 1960s and the most morally bankrupt people in the country, but little of this is evident today. Walking along Darlinghurst Road, the collection of supermarkets, fast-food outlets, fitness studios and ordinary shops make the area look nearly identical to other commercial strips in the city. Gone are the large flashing neon signs of the strip clubs and the parading prostitutes; drugs and criminal gangs have been largely cleared out; and the gays and transvestites have now become seemingly accepted parts of Western society who no longer feel the need to huddle in safety in disreputable locales. Only the more conspicuous-than-usual massage parlors, sex shops and the occasional nightclub still hanging on in the face of gentrification give away its lurid past.
While untangling the history of this place, this writer was reminded of a story often told by a family friend, an incident of culture shock that occurred to her on the first day she arrived in Sydney in the mid-1960s. Onboard the cruise ship that slowly made its way to Circular Quay via the Suez Canal, she and her friends had heard from other foreign passengers about somewhere in Sydney called Kings Cross; apparently it was the place to be for nightlife and partying and well worth a visit. Upon arrival, they were determined to find this place, and whilst walking through the city, they struck up a conversation with a middle-aged woman going about her business and asked her for directions. Instead of responding, the woman recoiled in shock at the thought that these smartly-dressed young women would actively seek out such a depraved place and briskly walked off without answering. Such was the reputation of Kings Cross for the respectable and morally upstanding Sydneysider of the time. As the history of the West in the twentieth century will tell you, where sin and vice of the sexual variety prosper, especially where there is profit to be made from this, you can be almost certain to find Jews prominently involved. Kings Cross had been home to Australia’s bohemians since the early 1900s, and turned into a magnet for Jewish migrants and refugees during both ends of World War II, attracted to its cosmopolitan nature compared to the rest of Australia.The joke in the Cross at the time was: ‘Tell Hitler he can have Danzig, if he’ll give us back Kings Cross’ – L. Nowra 2013, Kings Cross: A Biography, NewSouth Publishing, Australia, p.222. This influx bore fruit during the 1950s, as Jews stand out above anyone else in the transformation of Kings Cross from a bohemian district with a criminal edge, into the sex capital of Australia. Furthermore, with the notable exception of Elvis, just about every big music act of the 1950s and 1960s came to Australia via Jewish promoters, most brimming with sexually (and racially) subversive music styles, and the hotels and nightclubs of Kings Cross were always the first port of call.
Vice has obviously always existed in Australia, and even before Kings Cross truly came onto the scene, Australia’s live entertainment industry was steadily getting more risqué under the leadership of David Nathaniel Martin. Martin, born to a Jewish family in Perth, took over ownership of the Tivoli vaudeville entertainment circuit in 1944 with a mind to modernize the circuit and counter the growth of Hollywood films (and later television) that were draining audience numbers.Infamous acts imported by Martin include the French revue Folies Bergère in 1952. Much to the consternation of church leaders, the performances featured a number of “artistic nudes” (topless girls) on the stage. These sorts of nudes reappeared on the Tivoli stage a number of times during the 1950s, though they were little more than scenery in portions of the performance, sitting to the back of the stage, and laws at the time required them to stand stock-still, lest they arouse any passions. – F. Van Straten 2003, Tivoli, Lothian Books, Melbourne, p. 191-192. However, the degree of vice and sexual perversion that took root at Kings Cross during the 1960s, which soon discharged into the Australian psyche, escalated to new and unparalleled heights of depravity. Sitting at the heart of this nexus were the Jews responsible for much of this depravity, the trailblazers in bringing sex, Blacks, and Rock & Roll music to Australia. Their subversive story is told here.
The King of the Cross
The name Abe Saffron can always be found in close proximity to any mention of Kings Cross. Many monikers have been applied to this man over the years, from “Mr Sin” or “King of the Cross,” to “The Boss,” “Gentle Satan,” and “Gomorrah,” but his influence over Australian politics and culture goes far beyond the confines of Darlinghurst Road. Above board, he was a venue operator, landlord and property developer who practically owned Kings Cross and had no moral compunctions about the immoral and illicit ongoings on his properties. Behind the scenes, Saffron was a towering figure in the Australian underworld, with deep connections to criminal networks, the police, business figures and even those in the highest ranks of government, who more often than not were blackmailed or accepted bribes to turn a blind eye to his activities. Saffron’s property empire grew to become Sydney’s largest vice operator and he practically invented adult entertainment in the country, establishing Australia’s first strip clubs in Kings Cross. Before his downfall and imprisonment for tax evasion in 1988, he was taking a cut in seemingly every form of vice inflicted on Australia.
Abraham Gilbert Saffron was born in Sydney in 1919 to a moderately observant Jewish family, the fourth child of Samuel Saffron, a draper who arrived from Poland in the early 1900s, and Annie née Gilbert (Gilovitz). Saffron appeared drawn to seedy business conduct from even his earliest adult years, holdings jobs as a runner for gambling bookkeepers and fencing stolen car radios. After the war, Saffron took up investments in a number of pubs, where he took part in the flouting of liquor laws by illegally selling liquor after-hours. At the time, temperance laws passed in 1916 restricted alcohol service to the daylight hours, and the 6 pm bar close invariably led to a crush of patrons, the “six o’clock swill,” just before sales ceased. The illegal alcohol trade (“sly grog”) flourished in pubs around Australia, and Sydney underworld figures like Latvian-born Phillip “The Jew” Jeffs bribed police and furnished liquor to cosmopolitan patrons at his Sydney clubs, 50-50 in Kings Cross and the 400 Club in the city, providing the example to Abe Saffron.
Saffron’s big break came in 1947 when he purchased the Roosevelt club and restaurant at 42 Orwell Street in Kings Cross. Originally opened under a different name in 1939 by Jewish rag trader Bernie Roth, The Roosevelt was a popular haunt for American GI’s stationed in Australia who came in search of “recreation” and local women. The venue was promptly sold to Sammy Lee, who operated it throughout the war years,D. McNab 2005, The Usual Suspect: The Life of Abe Saffron, Pan Macmillan, Australia, p.36. and by the time it came under Saffron’s control, The Roosevelt had become the place-to-be for Sydney socialites and cosmopolitans, while also earning a reputation as a center for sly grog. Saffron hired American talent co-ordinators to magnify the glamor of the venue, becoming one of a new breed of Las Vegas- or Hollywood-style clubs, replete with showgirls, burlesque dancers and all the latest music and dance crazes imported from America. The Roosevelt began to decline following the end of temperance restrictions in 1954 and Saffron cast his eye to other more provocative ventures. Saffron was, as identified by his son Alan, “always on the cutting edge of adult entertainment,”Alan Saffron 2008, Gentle Satan: My Father, Penguin Group, Australia, p.130. and in 1959 he opened the first strip club in the country, Staccato, down the road from The Roosevelt, at 6–8 Orwell Street.
Saffron took advantage of ambiguities in the law as it related to performance art—the law was not equipped to differentiate between types of stages and performances. The risqué theatrical productions that got a pass on the grand Tivoli stage were a world apart from the new strip acts performed on the small, intimate and demurely lit stage at a seedy venue like Staccato, where strippers undressed to almost total nudity right up against patrons. Early performances were supervised to remain within the law, and the performers got away with the bare minimum of tasselled pasties and g-strings to cover their modesty, but by the late 1960s, other Saffron venues at Kings Cross had reduced it to full nudity. As pornography seeped into society, the teasing strip shows were soon no longer titillating enough for patrons, and it degenerated further into live sex shows and other sexual acts. Even performances of bestiality were not out of the question at the Cross.Nowra, Op. Cit., p.377.
The 1960s were Saffron’s golden years, where he rapidly grew his local property portfolio in Kings Cross and made further nightclub and hotel investments throughout Sydney and around Australia. Staccato was followed by more pioneering strip venues like The Pink Pussy Cat, The Pink Panther, Crazy Horse and ShowGirls, many within properties Saffron purchased along what later became known as the “dirty half-mile” of Darlinghurst Road. At his height, Saffron had six strip clubs in his Kings Cross portfolio alone of a total holding of around 50 nightclubs, including other famous Kings Cross venues like the Persian Room and the Venus Room — a glorified brothel during the 1970s, which used child prostitutes.T. Reeves 2007, Mr Sin: The Abe Saffron Dossier, Allen & Unwin, Australia, p.75-77. He also had interests in countless brothels throughout Sydney, which traded in the young women Saffron’s underlings had procured through contacts with the white slave tradeIbid., p.104-106
(T. Reeves 2007, Mr Sin: The Abe Saffron Dossier, Allen & Unwin, Australia, p.75-77.), and was a silent partner in Dennis Wong’s Chequers, another prominent restaurant and nightclub of the era.
Sex and liquor were always Saffron’s main game, and he was ever the promoter and financial beneficiary of the latest forms of sexual vice. Sex shops soon became fashionable at the Cross, most of them owned by Saffron. Sex shops of course need sex products, and Saffron again had the goods. According to Reeves, he had been mass-importing pornographic magazines to Australia and distributing them since at least 1958:
Saffron took delivery (my source told me) of four tons (more than 4000 kilograms) of pornographic books, paying just 2s [shillings]…per book, for a total of more than 35,000 books! He later sold them all at £2 apiece, turning a cool profit estimated to be more than £66,500.Ibid., p.67.
(T. Reeves 2007, Mr Sin: The Abe Saffron Dossier, Allen & Unwin, Australia, p.75-77.)
There are also strong connections between Saffron and the Jews that began importing and distributing X-rated VHS films in Australia during the 1980s — events and personalities to be exposed in Part IV of this series.
Of the other types of vice that were flourishing in Kings Cross, drugs were apparently not part of Saffron’s repertoire,According to Alan Saffron, his father left the drug trade to others. Though this didn’t stop drugs from being, produced, sold and consumed at his venues. but when it came to gambling, Saffron took a cut in some illegal casino operations; however, he had a gentleman’s agreement with the gentile crime bosses that he wouldn’t intrude onto their turf if they stayed out of the liquor trade and the sex business.Saffron, Op. Cit., p.139. Saffron’s regular supply of cash from these ventures also turned him into sought-after lender for people wanting discreet sources of funds. The extent of his clients will never be truly known, but they included many of the prominent Jewish property developers explored in a previous essay.
Kings Cross was Saffron’s largest investment area, accounting for 40 percent of his property portfolioMcNab 2005, Op. Cit., p.169., and his holdings expanded over to Oxford Street, which was to become the heartland of Sydney’s gay scene. Once again Saffron had a hand in this, providing the floorspace and taking the rent for many of the venues established by gay icons Dawn O’Donnell and Roger Teyssedre. Their prominent homosexual nightclub Patches operated on the second storey of a Saffron-owned building at 33 Oxford Street. At the same time, the ground floor tenancy of the building was a rented to a children’s amusement parlour, Fonzies Fantasyland, a business founded and operated by Alan Saffron.
What made Saffron practically untouchable was his use of sexual blackmail, a tactic shared with the Jewish mob in America, notoriously utilized by Roy Cohn and Meyer Lansky. Saffron recorded the private orgies that he arranged at his properties and secretly plied Sydney’s rich and powerful with prostitutes (their age and sex depending on the sexual proclivities of the target), then photographed them in the ensuing act via a two-way mirror in a Saffron-owned hotel room.Reeves, Op. Cit., p.59. Notable victims included Attorney General Lionel Murphy,Ibid., p.166.
(Reeves, Op. Cit., p.59.) but the tactic was used on anyone who was causing Saffron grief or those he felt he could extract favors from.
On a personal level, Saffron was as deeply depraved as his business dealings, utterly captive of his vices. He had a rapacious and masochistic sexual appetite and cheated on his wife throughout his life with the array of shiksas he had at his disposal. Women may have held his attention, but Saffron’s one true love was money. This was the verdict not of anti-Semites, but of both his wife and his son.Saffron 2008, Op. Cit., p.176 & 180. By Alan Saffron’s estimate, Abe was sitting on a fortune of \$40 million AUD by the time of his death in 2006.Ibid., p.298
(Saffron 2008, Op. Cit., p.176 & 180.) Direct confirmation of much of the extent of Saffron’s illegal dealings came after his death from Alan, who worked in the business as his obvious heir before cutting off direct ties and involvement in 1979. Alan ends his book with a crass exposé of how Saffron divvied up his fortune in his will to largely exclude his son. Alan’s lament that he never received his “fair share” of an inheritance earned from the proceeds of crime, tax evasion and the exploitation of the worst kinds of sexual vice is Jewish chutzpah and avarice at its finest.
SAMMY LEE AND LES GIRLS
Sammy Lee (born Samuel Levi in Canada in 1912) was the other half of the subversive nightclub and sex business that gained prominence at Kings Cross during the early 1960s. Lee came to Australia in 1937 as part of a touring jazz band, and had prior experience with clubs in Canada. He began with The Roosevelt and Sammy Lee’s Theatre Restaurant, both on Oxford Street, where the illegal liquor sales and late bar hours saw him (as well as Saffron) dragged in front of the Liquor Royal Commission in 1954. Lee’s nightclub and restaurant portfolio grew to operate other popular venues during the era, such as the Latin Quarter (a favourite haunt of Sydney gangsters), Club Flamingo and the strip club Pigalle, but undoubtably his most enduring venue was the Carousel Club and its celebrated revue Les Girls, located in the heart of Kings Cross at 32 Darlinghurst Road.
The Carousel Club was originally opened in 1963, jointly by Lee Gordon, Reg Boom and Sammy Lee, Gordon’s last major venture before his death. The venue began exhibiting drag queens under the title Jewel Box Revue, a name Gordon likely took from a Miami-based drag revue that operated in Florida during the 1950s.[B1]Founded by “Danny Brown” and “Doc Benner.” Their background is unclear, but their slightly ethnic appearance and all too generic stage-like names hint at a Jewish heritage. Gordon had exhibited the French transsexual performer “Coccinelle” at one of his Kings Cross venues in 1959, and sneaking men into the line-up had become an in-joke at strip clubs, but this was the first proper drag queen venue in Australia, specifically dedicated to openly cultivating this form of homosexual gender-bending “art.” Operating in a building owned as you would expect by Saffron, Lee took over sole management of the venue in 1964, remaining until his death in 1975. The drag queen revue changed its name to a performance name which ended up being more identifiable than the name of the club itself. This troupe included the performer “Carlotta” (Richard Byron), who became Australia’s most famous drag performer and transsexual media personality while at the venue, and led the revue for nearly 20 years. Lee brought Les Girls to Melbourne in 1971, premiering at the Ritz Hotel in St Kilda, allegedly the first (official) drag performance to take place in the city, which included a performance of Hava Nagila by drag queen “Cinnamon Brown.”[B2]H. Jay 1971, ‘BOY THESE LES GIRLS!’. Australian Jewish News, Friday 13 July, p.8.
LEE GORDON TAKES ON WHITE AUSTRALIA
Up until the 1950s, the music industry in Australia was a quaint affair and most historians use the word “parochial” as a description of the scene at the time. Live entertainment and music promotion were still dominated by variety-entertainment companies Tivoli and J.C Williamson, and foreign musicians rarely made it to Australia, as promoters had to contend with the “tyranny of distance” that marked the country for its first 160 years.[B3]The phrase was popularised by historian Geoffrey Blainey in his book The Tyranny of Distance (1966), which argued that remoteness had shaped the development of Australia as a country. The sheer remoteness of Australia made bringing out foreign acts an expensive and time-consuming affair, in particular for the most popular performers, who balked at the 22-day boat trip. As such, the country managed to keep the worst excesses of the jazz age and the ensuing eroticism far from its shores. To listen to famous jazz musicians, Australians had to settle for imported gramophone records produced by the Jews at Tin Pan Alley. In the aftermath of a disastrous first Australian tour by a Black jazz troupe in 1928, Australia even established a de-facto color ban on Black jazz performers entering the country.
The tour, promoted as “Sonny Clay’s Colored Idea” by J. C. Williamson,[B4]Organiser Harry Muller of J.C. Williamsons even had to lie on their visa applications to get the band into the country – D. O’Connell 2021, Harlem Nights: The Secret History of Australia’s Jazz Age, Melbourne University Press, Australia, p.65. was marred by scandal after members of the band had their Melbourne apartment raided by police, who found five Australian women amongst a group of revellers. The band had successfully toured Sydney (residing in apartments in Kings Cross[B5]Ibid., p.84.
(Organiser Harry Muller of J.C. Williamsons even had to lie on their visa applications to get the band into the country – D. O’Connell 2021, Harlem Nights: The Secret History of Australia’s Jazz Age, Melbourne University Press, Australia, p.65.)) but came under intense scrutiny by the Commonwealth Investigation Branch[B6]The Australian equivalent of the American FBI at the time. and local police. There was no law against women simply drinking while being in the presence of a man, colored or not, so the women were let off by a judge due to a lack of evidence that anything untoward occurred. O’Connell alleges that two of the women were in fact police informants, working as part of an entrapment plot designed to get the Sonny Clay troupe deported.[B7]O’Connell, Op. Cit., p.184. Nevertheless, the incident was turned into a major miscegenation scandal in the press and the government acted swiftly to deport the band, while introducing new criteria on entrance applications for negro performers. Alongside being “of general good character,” they also had to demonstrate an ability to “raise the local standard”—a control designed to exclude jazz music, which degraded the local character.[B8]Ibid., p.243.
(O’Connell, Op. Cit., p.184.) How exactly these criteria came to be abandoned by 1954 is unclear; in all likelihood, the evolution of jazz music diminished the overtly racial nature of genre, and the criteria had fallen by the wayside. But what is clear is that a Jew saw an opening and soon made it his own. Enter Lee Gordon.
Brought on by the jet age and the ever-increasing dominance of American music, Lee Gordon was the first to demonstrate that the tyranny of distance was broken, and he became the pioneer in bringing leading American performers to Australia. Born Leon Lazar Gevorshner in 1923, Gordon was a former sales merchant and bookings manager at the Tropicana nightclub in Cuba. He moved to Australia in 1953 to pursue concert promotion at the suggestion of friend and fellow concert promoter Arthur Schurgin, who remained Gordon’s business partner and American contact.[B9]F. Van Straten 2007, ‘Lee Gordon – Hall of Fame’, Live Performance Australia, retrieved from: https://liveperformance.com.au/hof-profile/lee-gordo...1963/. Once settled, Gordon set up an office at the periphery of Kings Cross (on Bayswater Road), close to the stadium where he would soon be exhibiting the Sydney leg of his tours.
Under the name Big Show tours, these star-studded performances combined multiple artists as a package event, which at the time was more economical than running individual tours for each artist. The list of names Gordon brought to Australia is a who’s-who of the most prominent performers at the time, covering every popular genre, but Jazz and Rock & Roll were the main fare. Gordon didn’t just bring his shows for a whirlwind Sydney/Melbourne trip, he ran lengthy country-wide tours that brought performers to even the smaller cities like Newcastle and Hobart. With his Big Show tours, Gordon had also broken the de-facto ban on bringing Black jazz musicians to Australia that had held since the Sonny Clay incident. His first tour in July 1954, six months after the Saperstein brothers brought the all-Black basketball troupe the Harlem Globetrotters to Australia, featured Black singer Ella Fitzgerald in a racially integrated jazz line-up alongside Jewish artists Buddy Rich and Artie Shaw (Arshawsky), all paid on a percentage basis and not a fixed fee.[B10]The Sun-Herald 1954, ‘Sydney Filmgoers to See STARS In The Flesh’, Sunday 11 July, p.44.
Black performers imported by Gordon (as well as Martin and Brodziak) just kept on coming during the 1950s—names like Louis Armstrong, Sammy Davis Jr, Eartha Kitt, Nat King Cole, Winifred Atwell and Harry Belafonte—and it has not subsided ever since. The impact of these racially integrated tours on racial sensibilities, through mass exposure to the racial “other” that had so perturbed earlier generations,[B11]The desire to avoid the emergence of a “colored problem” like that in America was a crucial impetus to the creation of the White Australia Policy. cannot be underestimated. With every new successful Black musician brought into the country by Jews, the White Australia Policy was looking more and more out of date. Fitzgerald’s arrival in Australia was even accompanied by teary headlines that she had been racially discriminated against by Pan-Am Airlines. Perhaps, people were starting to think, we Australians were being too harsh in our racial policy and there is no real harm in letting some in; did Australia really need protection from people like Ella Fitzgerald?
Gordon shifted into the nightclub scene in the early 1960s and his spendthrift ways and financial woes eventually led him to collaborate with cash-rich Abe Saffron. In need of a successful tour, Gordon invited Saffron along on a trip to Las Vegas in 1959 to secure another Frank Sinatra tour,[B12]Saffron, Op. Cit., p.104. where it is likely Saffron made (or strengthened) his connection to the Jewish mob. Among Gordon’s last endeavours was the notorious Sydney tour of Jewish comedian Lenny Bruce (Leonard Schneider) in 1962. Bruce spent much of his fortnight in Sydney lurking around Kings Cross and searching for heroin, but Gordon made the mistake of booking Bruce at a genteel venue, the Aaron’s Exchange Hotel in the city, instead of a seedier Kings Cross location, as would have more suited his “sick comedy” style. Bruce became agitated by hecklers and headlines the next day carried the outrage of the performance:
SICK JOKE MADE AUDIENCE ILL; SICK COMIC’S SEX JOKES, WOMEN DISGUSTED; DISGUSTED BY ‘SICK’ JOKES, 4 WOMEN WALK OUT.[B13]D. Kringas 2012, ‘Lenny Bruce’s Visit to Sydney 1961’, Dictionary of Sydney, retrieved from https://dictionaryofsydney.org/entry/lenny_bruces_vi...y_1962
Bruce’s further performances were all cancelled, another disaster for Gordon who had yet again pegged much of his financial stability on a successful tour. Gordon fled to London in 1963 after being arrested for drug possession and he was found dead in a hotel room shortly thereafter. Observing the Lenny Bruce scandal from afar—and brimming with scorn at how he had been treated—were three university students, Messrs. Neville, Walsh and Sharp, the future founders of the far-left OZ magazine which I discussed previously.
BRODZIAK Vs. MILLER
There are any number of events that can be pointed to as the definitive arrival of the sexual revolution in Australia. Some would say the approval of the birth control pill Anovlar in 1961, others the founding of Saffron’s strip clubs. Another contender would surely be the arrival of the Beatles on a wet and windy Sydney morning in July 1964, a catalytic event of the sexual revolution that flared the passions of Australian youth like no other before it. This was the cultural event of the decade, with wall-to-wall media coverage, and people lined up around the country to catch even a glimpse of the Beatles in a passing car or on a hotel balcony in Kings Cross. Sensible society just didn’t know what to make of the young women screaming their heads off in ecstasy at Beatles concerts, something that had not been encountered before in the country on this scale. Those who attempted to warn Australia about the Beatles, their sexual lyrics, and the impact their style had on the young and on notions of parental authority, were exposed by the massive crowds and media frenzy as out of touch moral busybodies who no longer had a monopoly over moral discourse.
The man responsible for the tour was music promoter Kenneth Leo Brodziak, who had fortuitously (and cheaply) booked an Australian tour of the Beatles with manager Brian Epstein through his London agent (Cyril Berlin), as part of a talent scouting trip in July 1963. This was well before their explosion in popularity in the UK and their subsequent appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in the US . Born in Sydney in 1913 to an established Jewish family, Brodziak, alongside Harry M. Miller, followed in the wake of Lee Gordon’s ground-breaking tours as the next generation of Jewish promoters importing the biggest foreign entertainment acts to Australia.
Brozdiak founded Aztec Productions in 1946 which became a successful theater company, often working with David Martin at the Tivoli. His early productions skirted the line of what was acceptable under obscenity law at the time, often all-male performances which indulged his homosexual tendencies, and his first self-written play, Desire Brings Welcome, was banned in 1937 by the NSW government.[B14]Sydney Morning Herald 1937, Ban on Play, Thursday 11 February, p.10. Other Aztec theatrical productions such as Rusty Bugles and The Square Ring (first performed in 1948 and 1953 respectively) came under scrutiny for obscenity, and the company held the Australian performance rights to the works of controversial playwright Lillian Hellman. By the late 1950s, Aztec was bringing in musical acts from Britain and America as well, including many Black artists, taking over from Gordon’s headlining tours which had fallen out of success.
At the time, Brodziak’s main commercial rival was the young Harry Maurice Miller, the founder of Pan-Pacific Promotions.[B15]Co-founded by Dennis Wong of Chequers nightclub. Their rivalry during the mid-1960s intensified into a tit-for-tat music promotion battle, each attempting to outdo the other. In 1964, Miller toured a group of Liverpool artists as the “Liverpool Sound” to take the wind out Brodziak’s Beatles tour. Brodziak responded with an exclusive stadium partnership deal that locked out Miller from the biggest Australian concert venues, and Miller countered with a tour of the Rolling Stones, held at a refurbished pavilion in the Sydney Showgrounds.[B16]D. Kimball, ‘Kenn Brodziak’, Milesago: Australasian Music and Popular Culture 1964-1975, retrieved from http://www.milesago.com/industry/brodziak.htm Miller was born in Auckland, New Zealand in 1943 to a Jewish rag-trader who migrated from London in the 1920s.[B17]The name ‘Miller’ is likely an anglicized version of an eastern European Jewish name. Miller himself doesn’t give it away in his autobiography, or perhaps he simply doesn’t know either: H. M. Miller & P. Holder 2018, Harry M Miller- Confessions of a not-so-secret agent, 2nd edition, Hachette, Australia. Miller made Sydney, specifically Kings Cross, his base of operations from 1964 and used his prior New Zealand connections to also arrange for many New Zealand tours of his contracted acts.
Brodziak and Miller soon put their differences aside and were collaborating on theater and music promotions. The pair, now in a partnership, were behind the Australian premieres of all the largest obscene and blasphemous theatrical productions and musicals (many written and first directed by Jews) that were coming to Australia at the time. Such is their reputation now as theatrical trailblazers of the cultural and sexual revolution, that even people who have never stepped foot in a theatre in their life would recognise some of the names: Hair, The Boys in the Band, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Godspell, and A Chorus Line.
Their joint production of The Boys in the Band in 1968 precipitated another major obscenity trial in Australia in the lead up to the Portnoy’s Complaint victory. During the Melbourne performance leg, three of the actors were successfully charged with obscenity, much to the outcry of the press. It was a sign of the times that the police could no longer ban a production even with blatant homosexual themes, and had to resort to targeting utterances of the word “f*ck” to record any sort of conviction.[B18]P. Mullins 2019, The Trials of Portnoy, Scribe Publications, Australia, p.124.
For the first Australian production of Hair in 1969, Miller and Brodziak set up the Minerva Theatre in Kings Cross for a two-year performance stint. The challenge was, how to get the scene of full nudity (which became the first in a theatrical production in the country) past the government censors in the form of Sir Eric Willis. Miller’s solution was to reduce the length of the scene and adjust the lighting of the stage to be as dim as possible[B19]Miller & Holder, Op. Cit., p.82., and he deliberately invited Willis to the afterparty of the preview, where he was bombarded with people praising him for allowing the performance. In the end, Miller got the result he wanted and Willis backed down:
I told them it was not my kind of show. That it denigrated all of the basic standards of life that we had been reared to believe were correct … the nude scene in my opinion was completely unnecessary … but it was so brief that, you know, I just thought it was harmless.[B20]D. Kimball, ‘Hair’, Milesago: Australasian Music and Popular Culture 1964-1975, retrieved from http://www.milesago.com/Stage/hair.htm
Both Miller and Brodziak continued their careers into the 1990s, by then eclipsed by the next generation of Jewish promoters in Australia—Michael Gudinski and Michael Coppel.
DEATH ON THE CROSS
The progression to violence, anarchy and death, unleashed by sexual passions, is the seemingly inevitable result of sexual liberation, one that has played out throughout history. The sexual license of the French Revolution, spurred on by pornographic pamphlets and the Marquis de Sade, gave way to the Terror, Jewish perversion in Weimar Germany stoked the inferno of communist and fascist violence in the 1930s, and the ’68 generation mutated into terrorist groups like the Weather Underground and the Baader-Meinhof Gang. The sexual liberation that Saffron and other Jews had help unleash at Kings Cross was no different. By the latter half of the 1980s, the Cross had devolved into a drug-infested horror show, beset by violence and gang warfare, and the homosexuals that had made the Cross their spiritual home were dying by the dozens of AIDS—a far cry from the once glitzy and glamourous Cross. By 1989, the situation had degenerated to such an extent, that some members of the NSW government even privately invited Abe Saffron, about to be released from prison, to re-take his throne as “King of the Cross” from the Lebanese criminals that had taken over and help the police clean up the mess that it had become.[B21]Saffron, Op. Cit., p.242. That it was Jews like Saffron who had caused this mess in the first place was apparently not understood.
In Parts I and II of this series, this writer explored the important Jewish role in the downfall of obscenity laws in Australia in 1972, through the vehicle of Portnoy’s Complaint. At the time, Justice Ewen Ross upheld the ban on the book in Victoria, but in his judgement, he couldn’t help but admit that there was a ”new frankness” in the community when it came to matters of sex that made his decision a more controversial one.[B22]Mullins, Op. Cit., p.147. This essay has outlined strong contenders for the origins of this new frankness amongst Australians—ones that can be strongly attributed to Jews. Centred around Kings Cross, it was the venues of Saffron and Lee, the Jazz and Beat music imported by Gordon and Brodziak, and the performances staged by Miller, that had done more than their fair share in grooming wider Australian culture prior to 1972 for the downfall of obscenity and the arrival of sexual modernity.
The death of Kings Cross finally came in February 2014, when the state government, tired of the amount of money and energy they were forced to invest into the precinct to stop the constant alcohol abuse and deaths from drunken brawls, implemented new “lockout laws” under the Liquor Act. These regulations, which applied selectively to Sydney’s nightlife precincts, barred patrons from entering venues after 1:30 am and from purchasing alcohol after 3 am. Opponents were quick to blame the laws for the shuttered strip clubs and the for-lease signs cropping up all along Darlinghurst Road; however, gentrification had already begun to take hold prior to this. Despite evidence that the laws had successfully reduced alcohol-fuelled deaths, the people of Sydney spent the next six years listening to wailing from progressives about the return of temperance and the death of their icon.
True to form as useless conservatives who fail to conserve anything—let alone even try to uphold basic moral standards, the NSW Liberal government gave in to public pressure and rescinded the laws in 2021. Hopes are high that the Cross can return as Australia’s premier “space for transgression,” but it almost doesn’t matter, Australia doesn’t need places like Kings Cross anymore:
The cruel reality is that Kings Cross has served its purpose. For decades it was the vanguard of modernism, sexual mores, design and nightlife and an escape from a parochial and puritan Australia. But now all that has changed.[B23]Nowra, Op. Cit., p.454.
In an era where internet pornography is in every household, where “pride week” is celebrated at places of employment, and where drag queens read to children at local libraries, it no longer has any currency in shocking the country and there is little left for Jews to transgress. In a way, every suburb in Australia has now become Kings Cross.
 The joke in the Cross at the time was: ‘Tell Hitler he can have Danzig, if he’ll give us back Kings Cross’ – L. Nowra 2013, Kings Cross: A Biography, NewSouth Publishing, Australia, p.222.
 Infamous acts imported by Martin include the French revue Folies Bergère in 1952. Much to the consternation of church leaders, the performances featured a number of “artistic nudes” (topless girls) on the stage. These sorts of nudes reappeared on the Tivoli stage a number of times during the 1950s, though they were little more than scenery in portions of the performance, sitting to the back of the stage, and laws at the time required them to stand stock-still, lest they arouse any passions. – F. Van Straten 2003, Tivoli, Lothian Books, Melbourne, p. 191-192.
 D. McNab 2005, The Usual Suspect: The Life of Abe Saffron, Pan Macmillan, Australia, p.36.
 Alan Saffron 2008, Gentle Satan: My Father, Penguin Group, Australia, p.130.
 Nowra, Op. Cit., p.377.
 T. Reeves 2007, Mr Sin: The Abe Saffron Dossier, Allen & Unwin, Australia, p.75-77.
 Ibid., p.104-106
 Ibid., p.67.
 According to Alan Saffron, his father left the drug trade to others. Though this didn’t stop drugs from being, produced, sold and consumed at his venues.
 Saffron, Op. Cit., p.139.
 McNab 2005, Op. Cit., p.169.
 Reeves, Op. Cit., p.59.
 Ibid., p.166.
 Saffron 2008, Op. Cit., p.176 & 180.
 Ibid., p.298
[B1] Founded by “Danny Brown” and “Doc Benner.” Their background is unclear, but their slightly ethnic appearance and all too generic stage-like names hint at a Jewish heritage.
[B2] H. Jay 1971, ‘BOY THESE LES GIRLS!’. Australian Jewish News, Friday 13 July, p.8.
[B3] The phrase was popularised by historian Geoffrey Blainey in his book The Tyranny of Distance (1966), which argued that remoteness had shaped the development of Australia as a country.
[B4] Organiser Harry Muller of J.C. Williamsons even had to lie on their visa applications to get the band into the country – D. O’Connell 2021, Harlem Nights: The Secret History of Australia’s Jazz Age, Melbourne University Press, Australia, p.65.
[B5] Ibid., p.84.
[B6] The Australian equivalent of the American FBI at the time.
[B7] O’Connell, Op. Cit., p.184.
[B8] Ibid., p.243.
[B9] F. Van Straten 2007, ‘Lee Gordon – Hall of Fame’, Live Performance Australia, retrieved from: https://liveperformance.com.au/hof-profile/lee-gordon-1923-1963/.
[B10] The Sun-Herald 1954, ‘Sydney Filmgoers to See STARS In The Flesh’, Sunday 11 July, p.44.
[B11] The desire to avoid the emergence of a “colored problem” like that in America was a crucial impetus to the creation of the White Australia Policy.
[B12] Saffron, Op. Cit., p.104.
[B13] D. Kringas 2012, ‘Lenny Bruce’s Visit to Sydney 1961’, Dictionary of Sydney, retrieved from https://dictionaryofsydney.org/entry/lenny_bruces_visit_to_sydney_1962
[B14] Sydney Morning Herald 1937, Ban on Play, Thursday 11 February, p.10.
[B15] Co-founded by Dennis Wong of Chequers nightclub.
[B17] The name ‘Miller’ is likely an anglicized version of an eastern European Jewish name. Miller himself doesn’t give it away in his autobiography, or perhaps he simply doesn’t know either: H. M. Miller & P. Holder 2018, Harry M Miller- Confessions of a not-so-secret agent, 2nd edition, Hachette, Australia.
[B18] P. Mullins 2019, The Trials of Portnoy, Scribe Publications, Australia, p.124.
[B19] Miller & Holder, Op. Cit., p.82.
[B21] Saffron, Op. Cit., p.242.
[B22] Mullins, Op. Cit., p.147.
[B23] Nowra, Op. Cit., p.454.
[B24] Drag Queen Story Hour is now a thing in Australia as well.