Harrison Marks: Wikis

  
  

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George Harrison Marks
Born George Harrison Marks
August 6, 1926
Tottenham, London, England
Died 6pm June 27, 1997 (bone cancer)
London, England
Spouse(s) Diana Bugsgang (1951-19??)
“Vivienne Warren” (19??-19??)
Toni Burnett (19??-19??)

George Harrison Marks (6 August 1926 – 27 June 1997) was a British glamour photographer at the height of his productivity from the mid 1950s to the mid 1970s.

Contents

Kamera and Pamela Green

He founded the Kamera group of magazines with his then 'supposed' wife, the model and actress Pamela Green. They were never married, which put her at a disadvantage when they split, financially and regarding copyright and possession of photos, even of herself. Marks was also the photographic consultant for the film Peeping Tom, which also featured Green in a cameo role.

Although he advertised his studios with a Gerrard Street address, Harrison Marks worked out of a top floor studio above the Harringay Photographic Supplies shop at 435 Green Lanes, Harringay.

Films

In 1958, as an offshoot of his magazines, Marks began making short films for the 8mm market of his models undressing and posing topless, popularly known as “glamour home movies”. A recent episode of BBC’s Balderdash and Piffle programme attributed the earliest use of the word “glamour” as a euphemism for nude modeling/photography to Marks’ 1958 publicity materials[1]. One of Marks’ most popular 8mm glamour films was The Window Dresser (1961), starring Pamela Green as a catburglar who hides from the law by posing as a lingerie shop dummy. Marks does a character turn as the shop’s exaggeratedly gay owner, but the short’s obvious raison d’etre remained Pam’s show stopping shop window striptease. Clips from The Window Dresser were used in a 1964 piece on the glamour film scene in the Rediffusion programme “This Week”. These clips showed Pamela Green fully naked, footage possibly broadcast in error, and the ensuing controversy resulted in Green having to defend the 8mm film on Radio’s Woman’s Hour[2]. After a judge threw out an obscenity charge against The Window Dresser (according to legend remarking “I’ll buy a copy for my son, case dismissed”), Marks continued to make more 8mm glamour films throughout the 1960s. Marks’ background as a music hall performer is evident in the “little stories” he would devise for his 8mm glamour films, as well as the occasional bit parts he would write for himself and his onetime comedy partner Stuart Samuels (a.k.a. Sam Stuart).

Of the more notable 8mm glamour films, Witches Brew (1960) features Pamela Green as a Witch casting spells and a brief appearance by Marks as her hunchback assistant. Model Entry (1965) sees a cat burglar breaking into Marks’ studio, then stripping and leaving him her address. Danger Girl features a stripping secret agent who is put into bondage by a Russian spy, only for her to break free and throw him onto a circular saw in the grisly finale. In an even more macabre vein is Perchance to Scream (1967) in which a Marks model is transported to a medieval torture chamber where Stuart Samuels plays an evil inquisitor who sentences topless women to be whipped and beheaded by a masked executioner.

Marks feature films as a director were Naked as Nature Intended (1961), The Chimney Sweeps (his only non-sex film, 1963), The Naked World of Harrison Marks (1965), Pattern of Evil (1967), The Nine Ages of Nakedness (1969) and Come Play With Me (1977). Pattern of Evil a.k.a. Fornicon, a heavy S&M film which features scenes of murder and whipping in a torture chamber, was never shown in the UK. Marks implied in several interviews over the years that the film was financed by the criminal element[3][4]. After directing The Nine Ages of Nakedness, Marks endured a particularly turbulent time in the early seventies when he was made bankrupt (in 1970), was the subject of an obscenity trial at the Old Bailey (in 1971) and his drinking began to become more heavy. Ironically a segment of The Nine Ages of Nakedness had ended with Marks’ alter-ego ‘The Great Marko’ being brought up before a crooked Judge (Cardew Robinson) on obscenity charges. Marks made ends meet during this period by continuing to shoot short films for the 8mm market and releasing them via his Maximus Films company.

Based out of Marks’ Farringdon studio, Maximus was run on a ‘film club’ basis, meaning that punters would have to sign up for membership before purchasing the films, mirroring the way membership only sex cinemas were run at the time. While his earlier 8mm films largely consisted of nothing more explicit than the models posing topless, late sixties titles like Apartment 69 and The Amorous Masseur were generally soft core sex affairs. Marks had been eager to shoot soft porn material ever since the Window Dresser case, much to the disdain of Pamela Green, who dissolved their business partnership in 1967. “He was fond of good living and a drink or two, and he wanted to go onto soft porn” Green told Titbits magazine in 1995 “there was this one film where he was dressed as a dirty old man and he’s creeping round Piccadilly Circus, then you see him in bed with this girl”.[5] One Maximus short The Ecstasy of Oral Love, even adopts a pseudo-sex education front, showing a couple frantically licking each other, ending with some relatively graphic oral sex scenes which are inter-cut with supposedly socially redeeming title cards issuing advice to ‘young married couples’.

In the mid-seventies Marks had begun selling explicit photo sets to porn publisher David Sullivan’s top shelf magazines. Evidently Marks had also sold Sullivan the rights to some of his 8mm sex films as well, as adverts by Kelerfern (a Sullivan mail order company) carried Marks directed sex shorts like Hole in One, Nymphomania, King Muff and Doctor Sex for sale around this period[6].

While the Marks films offered in UK porn magazines throughout the 1970s appear to have been softcore, and their pornographic nature greatly exaggerated by the Ads (a familiar trait of David Sullivan’s), since the early 1970s onwards Marks had begun dabbling in more explicit material, the extent of which has rarely been acknowledged. He made short films for a British hardcore pornographer known only as “Charlie Brown”, and began making hardcore versions of his own Maximus short films which were released overseas on the Color Climax and Tabu labels. In later years Marks was reluctant to discuss these hardcore short films and claimed ‘not to remember’ their names. Arabian Knights (also filmed for Color Climax in 1979) was shot at the Hotel Julius Caesar in Queens Gardens in Bayswater and is notable for starring mainstream actor Milton Reid in a non-sex role[7]

Other works

A lover of animals, in particular felines, in the early stages of his career Marks had a sideline photographing cats, and provided the photographs for the book Cats’s Company (1960). “He was an excellent photographer of nudes,” Tony Tenser remarked to John Hamilton in a 1998 interview, “but he also excelled in photographs of cats, that were much more beautiful than some of his nudes”[8]. Marks cats remained a fixture of his studio and can be spotted scurrying about in several of the 8mm glamour films of the period, occasionally even appearing in prominent roles.

In the wake of the success of his early "glamour" films GHM also produced a series of slapstick comedies also sold via the photographic shops and magazines that were the outlet for his adult work. As well as directing these films he also appeared as one of the main actors. Titles like Uncle's Tea Party, Defective Detectives, High Diddle Fiddle, Dizzy Decorators and Musical Maniacs were founded in the music hall and classic silent comedy traditions. Needless to say they were less successful than his girlie films and the competition from the real thing i.e. the Chaplin Keaton Lloyd classics that he paid homage to and which provided most of the package film releases of the day.

In the late 1970s Marks was hired as a photographer for Janus, a fetish magazine specializing in spanking and caning imagery. He also began making short corporal punishment films for the 8mm market. In 1982 Marks left the Janus stable to set up his own fetish magazine Kane which also featured caning and spanking photos. Corporal punishment would now become Marks’ big theme for the final act of his career. According to his official website, Marks' corporal punishment material “kept him in booze and cigarettes and an acceptable degree of comfort for the rest of his life".

References

  1. ^ *OED -glamour
  2. ^ Doing Rude Things: The History of the British Sex Film 1957-1981 by David McGillivray (Sun Tavern Fields Books 1992)
  3. ^ The Late Show Issue 8 1992 The Naked World of Harrison Marks
  4. ^ Psychotronic Video Issue 15 1993 “Harrison Marks”
  5. ^ David Flint “Peeping at Pamela” Titbits magazine 1995.
  6. ^ Whitehouse magazine No.27 197?
  7. ^ Sheridan, Simon 2005.
  8. ^ John Hamilton “Tigon Tales of Terror” The Darkside issue 78, 1998
  • Simon Sheridan Keeping the British End Up: Four Decades of Saucy Cinema 2007 (third edition) (Reynolds & Hearn books)
  • Simon Sheridan Come Play with Me: The Life and Films of Mary Millington 1999 (FAB Press, Guildford)
  • George Harrison Marks The Naked Truth About Harrison Marks 1967 (Colonna Press)

See also

External links








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