Abe Saffron

Abe Saffron

Underworld or heaven, Mr Sin's gone, by D.D. McNicoll - 16th September 2006
(Credit: The Australian)

ABE Saffron, the man tagged for decades as Sydney's Mr Sin, has died at the age of 86 after a lifetime of running nightclubs, strip joints and pubs.

Saffron ran almost every successful shady enterprise in Sydney's Kings Cross in the 1960s and 1970s and continually pushed to have the city's drinking laws, which prohibited the sale of alcohol in such establishments, overhauled.

His best known club was Les Girls, the famous Kings Cross landmark which featured a floor show of transvestites and female impersonators.

It was the favourite haunt for groups of men and women from suburban Sydney who were seeking a ``wicked'' big night out in sinful Kings Cross.

His various premises were raided by police on a regular basis -- but not before a call was made to ensure that Saffron could clear out any politicians or well-known businessmen who might be enjoying a night out.

While it was clear that many of Sydney's leading detectives and senior police were on Saffron's payroll, he was never charged with corruption.

Saffron's first successful venture into the world of adult entertainment came when he opened the Roosevelt nightclub in Kings Cross in the 1950s.

A publicity photograph of him seen through the fishnet stockinged leg of one of his dancers became famous.

Patrons at the Roosevelt were served whisky or gin in teapots, cups and saucers.

In 1956, during a raid on the club, police found an unlicensed pistol and Saffron was arrested and photographed with a mug-shot board around his neck. The charge was later dropped.

He was dubbed Mr Sin after he hosted what was described as a ``youth-corrupting pyjama party'' with near-naked strippers at Kings Cross in the late 1950s.

Saffron's reputation suffered further damage when he was charged in 1956 with committing an unnatural act with a woman and of scandalous conduct at a house in Palm Beach. Why Jean, a robustly built country girl, pressed charges is not clear. The case failed, but details of Saffron's fur-covered whip and the six banned books found in his apartment (including Marquis de Sade's 120 Days of Sodom) provided juicy tabloid headlines. The prosecutor described Saffron as completely depraved.

But when Saffron appeared at a coronial inquiry into four suspicious fires at eastern suburbs brothels, a radio 2JJJ reporter described him as ``a short pudgy bloke ... [with] a thick gold bangle on his right hand and a nice little gold ring on his left pinky''.


The Underworld

Kings Cross