Temptations Run Time period: The 1890’s
Entertainment of the time
As was mentioned previously, the population of gold fields and many gold towns was disproportionately male.
There wasn’t much to do back in town. The main pastimes were usually:
A. Hard drinking
C. Shouting a lot
D. Chasing women around a bit
Cards were also popular. In summary, life in gold towns resembled a drunken brawl.
The arrival of conjurers, medicine men and travelling troupes was treated with widespread excitement and anticipation. Unfortunately the quality of these groups was usually quite abysmal and few lived up to the hype. Performers such as ‘Skinny Moo and his amazing dancing goats’ and ‘ Jethro the cowboy yodler ‘ did little to inspire confidence amongst local populations.
Meanwhile back East in New York, excited audiences flocked to the latest trend in entertainment- moving picture houses. How the gold prospectors would have dreamed of a seat in one of these palatial theatres. Especially when they were stuck in a seedy saloon with only the likes of the extraordinary Max ‘the trousers’Pomperelli- ventriloquist, impersonator and one man band as the night’s only entertainment.
Celebrities of the Time
Presidents Cleveland and later William McKinlay, HG Wells, Freud, Kipling, Mark Twain, Dvorak, Bismarck, Thomas Hardy, Florence Nightingale, Brahms, Henry James, Queen Victoria.
People who were certainly not celebrities at the time
Jethro the cowboy yodler
Max ‘the trousers’ Pomperelli
Music in the city
Dvorak’s New World symphony is a big hit – he says it is inspired by black spirituals such as that old chestnut “Swing Low Sweet Chariot.”
Controversy erupted at the premiere as certain members of the audience were thrown out for doing the beloved ‘coming forward to carry me home’ hand movements, so integral to the original version.
Buildings of the world
Paris’ Eiffel Tower had gone up as a supposedly ‘temporary’exhibition in 1889.
Uncharacteristically blunt locals questioned the tower’s aesthetic value and contemplated using their baguettes as weapons to ambush unappreciated designer Gustave Eiffel. “Sacre bleau” they were heard to exclaim. “It is but a gigantic black factory chimney.”
Medicines of the time
Vaccines are discovered by Pasteur and Jenner. Victorian doctors have a really hard time explaining to patients that these things actually do work. “Look it’s quite alright Mrs Jones. All I’m planning to do is to inject you with a potentially fatal micro-organism. For God’s sake, stop snivelling woman. It’s for your own good.”
Loss of genius in the 1890’s
Van Gough, Tchaikovsky, Walt Whitman, Rimbaud, Tennyson.
In London, popular English playwright Oscar Wilde gets two years hard labour for being gay. His name is removed from all theatres, posters and bills. “It is perfectly monstrous the way people go about nowadays saying things against one, behind one’s back, that are absolutely and entirely true.”