Caricatures (2), black & white, Mollie, by Walter Frank, 1970-2003
This collection of photographs is a visual record of entertainment that took place at licensed clubs in New South Wales from 1970 to the 2000s. Specifically, it documents the various types of acts that performed at Ryde-Eastwood Leagues Club. It includes some of the big names in Australian entertainment like Johnny Devlin, Lorrae Desmond and Brian Doyle. However much of the fascination of this archive lies in the photographs of less well-known entertainers, showing their efforts at promotion and presentation, and hinting at the varying quality of their acts.
The photographs document a form of cabaret entertainment that has declined in recent years, as the directors of registered clubs adopt a more user-pays approach. By 2007, Ryde-Eastwood Leagues Club had cut back its live entertainment to one night per week.
Licensed clubs have been a major social institution in New South Wales since the 1950s. Legal poker machines, although common today in hotels, were pioneered in the clubs of NSW. The first registered clubs were fairly modest establishments, with strong links to the community organisations they represented, which were often sporting organisations. The clubs were conceived as an alternative to hotels, welcoming to women, providing community facilities and subsidising sport and other social activities. Some expanded into vast 'super clubs' such as St George Leagues Club, which was known locally as the 'Taj Mahal'.
Financed by poker machine revenue, the clubs could offer subsidised entertainment. This was a boon not just to members but to entertainers as well, who found in the clubs a steady source of employment.
As Charles Pickett wrote in his exhibition publication 'Gambling in Australia: Thrills, Spills and Social Ills' (Powerhouse Publishing, 2004, p15): 'Club interiors were appropriate backgrounds for the entertainers who worked in NSW clubs during the 1960s and 1970s. These decades were the peak of the club variety circuit, starring among others, the 'lanky Yanky' Don Lane, Brian Doyle, Marcie Jones, Ted Hamilton and Lorrae Desmond. The club circuit also attracted international performers including Shirley Bassey, Sammy Davis Jr and Wayne Newton.'
The story of the Ryde-Eastwood Leagues Club typifies of the growth of many suburban clubs. In 1964 the Ryde-Eastwood District Rugby League Football Club secured the short-term use of a vacant factory in Ryedale Road, West Ryde. It was 1970 before the club was granted a liquor licence and the doors could be officially declared open. As the club expanded, many important Australian entertainers performed in the auditorium known as 'The Blue Room', including Johnny 0'Keefe, Johnny Farnham and Julie Anthony. In the 1990s the club continued to expand its facilities to meet the demands of the community. By 2007 there were over 41,000 members.
The photographs were taken by various photographers and produced by various agents. In some cases the photographer's name appears on the print.
The donor was well-known as the drummer with Col Joye's band the Joyboys from 1958 to 1969. After leaving the band, he became entertainment manager at Ryde-Eastwood Leagues Club, a position he held from 1970 to 2003. At the same time he worked as the drummer and bandleader at the club. During those years, agents and managers would supply Bogie with photographs and bios of the entertainers they represented, hoping to gain bookings. In this way, Bogie built up this unique photographic archive. He has estimated that 95% of the acts pictured in the archive performed at the club.