DAY 332: Rooting ’round Razorhurst

30 Jul

TIlly Devine and her curious hat.

I’M no rubbernecker, but I’m not averse to snouting around a crime scene.

The next Underbelly series sees Sydney’s Darlinghurst tagged Razorhurst, as it was back in the 1920s and 1930s. The series will focus chiefly on vicious brothel madam Tilly Devine and Kate Leigh, who ran flophouses and gambling dens. The pair racked up multiple assaults and manslaughters between them

Tilly Devine’s main beat was Woolloomooloo, where I’m sloping down Cathedral Street – at which local gangster Guido Caletti, according to my Time Out guide to the burb, slashed someone to pieces.

Daily newspaper The Argus reported after Caletti’s death: “Some Sydney gangsters of his time dressed like Savile Row at Randwick racecourse and like lumberjacks in their night haunts. Guido was always well tailored, in the glitter of a night club or in the darkest gulch of East Sydney. He could be suave and polished in speech and he could plumb the lowest ooze of language for forcible idioms.”

Also, if you’re curious to know what ‘gingering’ involves, look here.

I have a mosey around Woolloomooloo and stop at the gloomy, gorgeous East Sydney Hotel, est. 1860, for some gruesome pâté on toast. The joint smells of Gluhwein, and favours those mournful, callous-thumbed sort of troubadours. It boasts “interesting mixed clientele” and, unusually for the area, no pokies.

The other end of Cathedral Street is Skid Row, with the interesting mixed clientele hovering their bums out of bushes and taking dumps. If I lived round here, my crim name would be Mad Ginny Bung-Eye.

You can do a more hardcore tour of Razorhurst here.

Keeper? Cross-referencing neighbourhoods with the history books is fun.

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