The Kings Cross Whisper was a Kings Cross newspaper famed for its naughty nudes (pretty tame by today's standards) and its hilarious, boisterous, tongue-in-cheek satire on the issues and the important people of the day.
The Whisper was started up as a bit of a fun by two local Kings Cross journos (journalists) in 1964 . It was first sold to New Year's revellers in Kings Cross and then over the years sold on the streets of Kings Cross for just 20 cents an issue. Surprisingly it survived into the 1970s and made a bit of money for its writers.
In the mid-60s, it was still a fairly conservative time in Australia (even though the Swinging Sixies were happening Britain and America). It was a time when page 3 girls were banned in regular Australian newspapers. The Kings Cross Whisper aimed to shock the wowsers and other respectable citizens -- and it certainly succeeded in doing that. It was forever at war with the authorities and the NSW government and police (not to mention the governments of Queensland and Victoria) were constantly trying to ban it.
Terry Blake co-founded the paper and Max Cullen was one of the journalists.
In a 1991 interview, Terry Blake said: "I think it was our sheer cheek that took them by suprise. How dare we? I was wild and wonderful. For a brief and glorious moment we actually made a quid making people laugh."
In 2003, Max Cullen recalled his time with the newspaper: "The Kings Cross Whisper started up then - it was a gags, tits and bums rag sold on street corners. It used to cost two bob. Just about every top journo wrote for them under stupid names like Argus Tuft. I called myself Marc Thyme. Sounds pretty flashy, eh?"
Apart from their humour, browsing through the issues of Kings Cross Whisper gives us a glimpse of the 60s/70s rebellion against the conservative values of Australian society and against the conservative Liberal/National governments of the day (including Australian Prime Ministers Menzies, Holt, McEwen, Gorton and MacMahon, NSW Premier Sir Robert Askin and Victorian Premier Sir Henry Bolte).
Now the newspaper is even attracting academic attention. Recently the Australian National Dictionary Centre (run by the Australian National University and Oxford University Press) has published an article on Australian colloquial words which appeared for the first time in print in the Kings Cross Whisper.
And Flinders University Library has added a rare collection of Whisper issues to its special studies collection.
Some Great Headlines from the King Cross Whisper
Issues of the Kings Cross Whisper are extremely difficult to find, but here for your delectation are some of the memorable headlines from the newspaper over the years:
Issue dated March 1965
-- Everything in Australia banned
-- April Fools of 1965
-- Ming on slow boat to China
-- Rylah to ban mystery word in Victoria
-- Milk and corn flakes cure all
Issue dated March 1965
-- Opera House to be a hamburger joint
-- Marijuana crop down - Drought hits Hunter River
-- Motels for moon - Plan by Yanks - 51st state
-- School karate courses - Plan by R.S.L.
Issue dated June 1965
-- Government acts on can openers
-- Ming III ready for launching [re: first Australian spaceship]
-- Time pips disappear - Police called in
-- Mystery crying disease sweeps country
-- Big contract for Aussies [for repairing and duplicating the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Vietnam]
Issue dated October 1965
-- New plan! Mascot runway to Vic.
-- Gardening book 'obscene' [re: Queensland censorship]
-- Nude hols for N.Z.
-- Ming king of wharfies: Pea-shoot salute from scouts [re: Sir Robert Menzies]
Issue dated November 1965
-- Swy school for Prince Charles - To learn use of kip, laying odds
-- Moves to ban summer
-- How to win a bird in a pub (safely)
Issue dated December 1965
-- Santaa Claus to marry
-- World tiger shortage - Australain petrol company to blame
-- Exam answers cut teachers' income
-- TV declared illegal - Compere gets gear off
-- Query by union leaders - "12 million Japs can't be right"
-- Wowsers storm Adelaide - Late closing rumour
Issue dated January 1966
-- Move to cancel 1966! - '65 too beaut
-- Sandra just pips Ming [Sandra Nelson, striptease artist, beats Sir Robert Menzies, Australian Prime Minister, in New Year's Honours List]
-- Flying cocktail bars for R.A.A.F.
-- Xmas too religious - Stores up in arms
-- Slingshots for Vietnam [new weapons for Australian Army in Vietnam War]
Issue dated February 1966
-- Holt to retire - 'I am tired'
-- Poker machines in shops soon?
Issue dated April 1966
-- No more voting! [Voting age raised to 80]
-- What next? All female review for Cross
-- Poker machines ban people
Issue dated May 1966
-- Spies sabotage dig's day - Many sober people seen
-- Qld. ban on custard pies
-- Livening up - Cross takes over city
-- Civil war soon [Sydney vs Melbourne]
-- Good mate of gallery director -- unknown S.A. artist's $11/2 m painting
-- Indonesia captures Darwin - Natzi Goering Spears
-- Thrown at P.M. - Life for a kiss
Issue dated June 1966
-- Prince Charles' head shrunk - Plenty trouble belonga New Guinea tour
-- Utzon's latest wonder of the world - Handing Gardens of Bondi!
-- State aid promised to two-up schools
-- Perth picked as atom test site
Issue No. 21 (published in 1966)
-- Cunning move to meet forgers - Decimal currency to be withdrawn
-- Digs all cheer - Good sorts going off to Vietnam
Issue No. 22 (published in 1966)
-- Parachutes, parties on new airline - Press call button for girl
-- Publicity coup for Libs - Holt swims in Lake Burley Griffin
-- War is to continue - Peace rumours are "vicious"
-- Originally bought in New Guinea - Perth CIB head goes to Victoria
-- GMH makes toss-away car - No repairs are needed
-- Bill bans ill [re: illness banned in Victoria]
Issue No. 23 (published in 1966)
-- No-hoper mob will be hit in new movie [re: follow-up to movie They're a Weird Mob}
-- Red Guards to control trains
-- ALP election plea: 'Don't shoot your bolt with Harold Holt'
-- Adelaide police plan Commem Day: Getting own back at students
Issue No. 24 (published in 1966)
-- Australia 'not there' NO SIGN OF US FROM SPACE
-- Milkshakes in pubs
-- Expulsion threat to Liberal M. P. - Won't leave Flat Earth Society
-- Sunday two-up to have trial
Issue No. 25 (published in 1966)
-- L.B.J. meets Sandra [referring to Sandra Nelson, famous Australian striptease artist]
-- Kiwis won't cop us at all
-- Shock in Melbourne - Water found in Yarra
-- Crime wave solved - Bank robberies, safe-blowings, and TAB stick-ups will be legalised
-- Guitars replace guns - 'Mod' look for army
Issue No. 26 (published in 1966)
-- TAB to take bets on rat races
-- Novel plan to cut road toll: All roads to be one-way
-- Tigers in their banks
-- Water rifles for Diggers
-- Ugly incident mars Test match: Cricketer accused of ear bashing
Issue No. 27 (published in 1966)
-- 'Waltzing Matilda' on broadcasting blacklist
-- Students too brutal - Police
-- Centre of road drive plan approved
-- Aussies shot trying to enter U.K.
Issue No. 28 (published in 1966)
-- Santa Claus to lead A.L.P. - Bitter fight with Rudoph the Red
-- Alarm over report - Sex, booizing on decline in Adelaide
-- Opera House sails for Vietnam
-- Southern Aurora - Express train missing
Issue No. 29 (published in 1967)
-- New Year's Eve plan - Piranha fish in fountain [re El Alamein fountain]
-- Back to 'good old days' - Victoria to hang rabbit poachers
-- U-boat wins yacht race
-- Queensland bans round gramophone records
Issue No. 30 (published in 1967)
-- Comics for 'adults only': Batman banned
-- New state move by Kings Cross
-- NZ sex to be nationalised
-- Marshall Ky's visit slays 'em
Issue No. 31 (published in 1967)
-- Ch2 shows same film 217 times - Australian TV station sets world record
-- TAB will stamp out winning
-- Strip show to open at fire station
-- Whisper charm test - How do you rate as a bludger?
-- Posed in bikini - Nurse to be burned at stake
-- Criticised U.K. industry - Phillip exiled to Australia
-- Leading jockey to fight Cassius Clay
Issue No. 32 (published in 1967)
-- Airdrop of women: Drought ends for bachelors
-- P.M.G. on ball: More mail mangles promised
-- Dig this crazy railway: Moles used to cut tunnelling cost [Re: Eastern Suburbs Railway]
-- Sir Frantic heads home three sheets to the wind [re: Sir Frank Packer and yachting]
-- Queen's Message: 'I'm bloody well fed up'
Issue No. 34 (published in 1967)
-- Star's protest: Don Lane to strip at the Cross
-- P.M. inspires anthem
-- Man wins Opera House
Issue No. 37 (published in 1967)
-- Exposed on TV - Big two fall out in public
-- All-weather test for boozers - Are you a pisspot?
Issue No. 41
-- Sex checks for male models - 'Hard to tell by looking'
-- How to look, dress and feel like a SLOB
Issue No. 45 (published in 1968)
-- Victoria plans new body to plan new plan
-- First time ever! Heart put into bank manager
-- Bandicoot Creek wants second main airport
-- Maharishi opens bowling for India: Yogi's test rout
Issue No. 48 (published in c. 1968, according to references in the articles)
-- Whisper's Federal Cabinet [new Canberra appointments include: Prime Minister & King: The RIght Hon. Reggie Ansett; Trade & Industry: The Hon. Mr. Whippy; External Affairs: The Right Hon. Peter Finch; National Development: The Hon. Miss Sandra Nelson; Health: W. D. & H. O. Wills; Attorney-General: The Hon. Darcy Dugan]
-- New Zealand may sell up and move
-- Paradise for ear bashers [lengthy replies to questions in NSW Parliament]
Issue No. 52
-- Chansett-Anyway to sack pilots: "Crash" flying course
-- Limp fallers v Pregnant fallers
-- Loose cops get tight
Issue No. 74
-- The State Aid song [re state aid to private schools]
-- Aussies call for holy war - Arab burns down Kings Cross Rex
-- Too much waffling - Parliament left short-handed by Hansard strike
-- Education section - Great Aussie statesmen
Issue No. 80
-- Company's plan after it ruins Great Barrier Reef - Ampol to boil down koalas, 'roos for oil
-- Vast dung deposits - Poseidung leaps to new high of 4c
-- Secret weapon brought home - Wormy returns [Normie Rowe returns from Vietnam War]
-- All sport cancelled - Booze, birds and brawling in '70
Issue No. 96
-- Cops nab Santa - 'Master criminal'
-- Stripper stripped and stropped by strapper
-- Thommo's wanted visit by Pope
Issue No. 97
-- Biggs Mouth [re Great Train Robber, Ronald Biggs]
-- God worried about His own country
-- Easy terms now available tor a glass of beer - H.P. firms cash in on whopping booze price rise
-- End of world fears as sun shines in Melbourne
Issue No. 104
-- "Mr Brown" strikes again - Threat to blow up Bong Bong dunney cart
-- Apex Club's racket - Smugglers bring in hot pyramids [re: pyramid selling]
-- Dob-a-job for scouts - Nixon Youth formed
-- Major step backwards - Grapeshot, cannon to quell demos
Issue No. 106
-- BHP Steel rise lifts beer to $100 a can
-- Monkey takes a powder [re search for Qantas hoaxer, Mr Brown]\
Issue No. 107
-- Queensland emergency - Does sex exist? Grim times for Banana benders - Sex in state of emergency [re Queensland government investigation on whether to introduce sex education in state schools]
-- Red Sea parts for Hawke
-- H.M.A.S. Melbourne hits train in desert
Issue No. 108
-- Riot in House - PM throws eyebrow pencil
-- Masterly master plan - Jumbos to land in George St.
-- Is he as dim as he sims?
Issue No. 111
-- Harry M. Harry promotes second coming - Harry M. Harry strikes again! - Promoters plan for second coming [re Harry M. Miller]
-- Boomerang boost F111 firepower
-- Life a giggle behind those happy walls - Bathurst Jail a 'Paradise for convicts'
-- Sex a lot better than Bex
Issue No. 116
-- Cyclones fighten tourists - Queensland bans crook weather
-- Vulgar Bulagr for the mulga
-- No front seat - Foldens made safer
Issue No. 117
-- It's their action front - Women's Lib shocks troops
-- Federal fuzz hunt for missing yo-yo
-- Boobs go metric
Issue No. 118
-- Buy yes, fly no [re Australia's purchase the troubled F-111 jet fighters]
-- Poor bloody Yanks!
Issue No. 119
-- Dread outbreak of St Nicholas dance - Shakes sweep nation
-- Drug squad in pot plant
-- Creep crept into bare bird's bed
Issue No. 120
-- Queens sink in harbor - Les Girls go down with ship
-- Billy has Noddy stamp album [re PM Billy McMahon being duped by U.S. with a faked request for aid from Cambodia]
-- Go-go atom bomb [re French atomic tests in the Pacific]
Issue No. 121
-- PM discovers Australia
-- They're at it again - Mail sorters chopped up by meal machine
-- Troubled by termites in testibles - Gizonkas go bonkers
-- U.S., China to swap bombs
Issue No. 122
-- Sir Henry's drive for more dirt
-- Earls Court Aussies dig in for war
Issue No. 123
-- Grogon says goodbye to Go-Go- Grotto [re resignation of PM Gorton's secretary, Ainslie Gotto]
-- Chairman Miaow bans pussy - Triumph for President Dixon Street
-- Land rights problem solved - South Africa welcomes departing Abos [attack on government for forcing Aborigines off their land]
Issue No. 126
-- Vice Squad raids fish & chips shops -Seafood exposed as sex stimulant
-- Ban on brief belt baffles boffin
Issue No. 189
-- New ASIO scandal - Idiots replaced in sex, jelly bean robbery
-- Detective the dope in drug drama - Cop in drag drugged, buggered, burrowed, hijacked, honored
Issue No. 190
-- Knot your own two storey home - Government's answer to housing problem
-- Only 17 killed in Vic. soccer
-- Peterout releases political prisoners in peanut republic
Terry Blake, The Way It Was: An Uproarious Peep Back to the Swinging Sixties (Kings Cross Whisper, 1988)
Emma Scott, Terry Blake and the Kings Cross Whisper 'The Way It Was' issue (Kings Cross Newsletter, No. 24, September/October 1991)
Sydney Morning Herald (16 October 2003) interview with Max Cullen.
"Sydney Whispers" article in OzWords (Australian National Dictionary Centre)
How the Whisper's "Aussie Dictionary" is a rich source of Australian colloquial English.
Australian sex newspapers in Flinders University Library
A private collection of erotic newspapers and magazines (including issues of the Whisper), donated to Flinders, is now used by sociologists and other researchers.
What was Go-Set?
The fringe newspaper scene (including the Whisper) in Australia in the 60s and 70s.
Sandra Nelson, Sex, the Sixties
The story of Sandra Nelson, Australian striptease artiste and top Whisper model.
Funny Quotations from Kings Cross Whisper Articles
Kings Cross, NSW