Green’s Dictionary of Slang

short and curlies n.

also curlies, curly fellas, curly hairs, short hair(s)
[late 19C+]

1. the pubic hair.

2. fig. use of sense 1; usu. in phr. have someone/something by the short and curlies

In phrases

have someone/something by the short and curlies (v.) (also have someone/something by the big brown ones, …by the curlies, by the short hair(s), ....by the shorts, ...by the wool, ...where the hair is crisp, …where the hair is short, ...where the wool is tight/worn off the top of his head) [the image of grasping the victim’s pubic hair]

1. [late 19C+] to have someone at an extreme disadvantage, to control completely.

2. [1920s+] (Aus.) to know a subject extremely well.

3. [1930s+] (US) to annoy.