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|George Harrison Marks|
|Born||George Harrison Marks
6 August 1926
Tottenham, London, England
|Died||27 June 1997 (aged 70)
Camden, London, England
|Spouse(s)||Diana Bugsgang (1951–2010)
"Vivienne Warren" (1963-19??)
Toni Burnett (1973-19??)
|Children||Josie Harrison Marks|
Kamera and Pamela Green
In 1958, as an offshoot of his magazines, Marks began making short films of his models undressing and posing topless, for the 8 mm film market. These were popularly known as "glamour home movies". An episode of the BBC's Balderdash and Piffle attributed the earliest use of the word "glamour" as a euphemism for nude modelling/photography to Marks' 1958 publicity materials. One Marks 8mm glamour film was The Window Dresser (1961), in which Pamela Green starred as a cat burglar who hides from the law by posing as a display mannequin in a lingerie shop. Marks appears in the film as the shop's owner; Green performs a striptease in the store's display window. 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 unclothed; the ensuing controversy resulted in Green having to defend the film on the BBC Light Programme's Woman's Hour. After a judge threw out an obscenity charge against The Window Dresser, Marks continued to make 8 mm glamour films throughout the 1960s.
One such film, Witches Brew (1960) features Pamela Green as a witch casting spells; Marks makes a brief appearance as her hunchback assistant. In another, Model Entry (1965), a cat burglar breaks into Marks' studio, strips and leaves him her address. In Danger Girl, a stripping secret agent is put into bondage by a Russian spy; the agent breaks free, ultimately throwing her captor onto a circular saw. Even more macabre is Marks' Perchance to Scream (1967) in which a Marks model is transported to a medieval torture chamber. In this film, Stuart Samuels plays an evil inquisitor who sentences topless women to be whipped and beheaded by a masked executioner.
His feature films as a director were Naked - As Nature Intended (1961), The Chimney Sweeps (his only non-sex feature, 1963), The Naked World of Harrison Marks (1967), Pattern of Evil (1967), The Nine Ages of Nakedness (1969) and Come Play With Me (1977), which featured Mary Millington. 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. 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 increased. 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 at 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 softcore 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 on to soft porn," Green told Tit-Bits magazine in 1995, adding "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". 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 adult magazine 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.
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), from the early 1970s onwards Marks had begun dabbling in more explicit material. 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 features mainstream actor Milton Reid in a non-sex role.
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 Compton Mackenzie's book Cats's Company (1960).
“He was an excellent photographer of nudes," producer 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". 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 Harrison Marks 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, and Harrold Lloyd classics that he paid homage to), which provided most of the package film releases of the day.
Janus and Kane
In the late 1970s Marks was hired as a photographer for Janus, a fetish magazine specialising in spanking and caning imagery. He also produced and directed short erotic corporal punishment films for Janus for the then-emerging home video market. One of these, Warden's End, starring glamour model and pornographic actress Linzi Drew, shows the exterior and interior of Janus's London storefront office at 40 Old Compton Street.
In 1982 Marks left the Janus stable to set up his own fetish magazine Kane which also featured caning and spanking photos. Kane touted itself as "The CP Journal of Fantasy, Fact and Fiction for Adults."
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". He created the Kane International Videos division and went on to direct (and sometimes also performed in) a number of full-length corporal punishment videos in the '80s and '90s. Some of his videos include: The Spanking Academy of Dr. Blunt, Stinging Tales, Naughty Schoolgirls Revenge, and Spanker's Paradise (parts 1 & 2) in 1992 in which he acted opposite English porn star Vida Garman.
- OED -glamour
- David McGillivray Doing Rude Things: The History of the British Sex Film 1957–1981, Sun Tavern Fields Books, 1992
- "The Naked World of Harrison Marks", The Late Show, Issue 8, 1992
- "Harrison Marks", Psychotronic Video, Issue 15 1993
- David Flint "Peeping at Pamela", Titbits, 1995
- Whitehouse magazine, No.27, 197?
- Sheridan, Simon 2005
- John Hamilton "Tigon Tales of Terror" The Darkside issue 78, 1998
- George Harrison Marks The Naked Truth About Harrison Marks 1967 (Colonna Press)