Leery Sue Goes to the Show: Popular Performance, Sexuality and the Disorderly Girl

  • Melissa Bellanta
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Childhood book series (PSHC)


On a Saturday night in 1887, 13-year-old Mary Ann M., a resident of the inner-industrial Sydney district of Waterloo, paid a visit to Paddy’s Market. After winding past the sideshows and colourful stalls, the sound of bands and the calls of vendors, she ended up talking with a group of ‘larrikin’ youths in the streets outside. ‘Larrikin’ was a colloquialism used throughout colonial Australasia in this period, most often in Sydney and Melbourne. It described participants in an urban youth subculture based around loose-knit street gangs known as ‘larrikin pushes’ or ‘mobs’. Composed of young people of both sexes aged between their early teens and early 20s, the larrikin subculture was characterized by a hectic enjoyment of popular entertainments, street-smart dress, burlesque humour, a love of pugilism and clashes with police. It was also characterized by sexual activity, including group acts of male sexual violence towards women.1


Young Woman Popular Culture Gang Member Moral Panic Street Gang 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Melissa Bellanta 2016

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  • Melissa Bellanta

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