In August 1968, the weekly magazine Titbits ran a three-part interview with Britain’s top glamour photographer, Harrison Marks called “The Bare Truth”. Below is part one (dated 3 August 1968). I’ve transcribed the text to make it easier to read. It is worth pointing out Harrison Marks did eventually make x-rated movies. After the Kamera companies were liquidated in 1969, Harrison Marks formed a new film company called Maximus. He continued making movies for both the home and continental markets, and by the mid-seventies, he had moved into making hardcore films, and his name no longer appeared on all his productions. See my earlier post about Kamera Cine Films.
He lives in a world thousands of red-blooded men would give anything to invade. A world of soft lights… and nudity. He is Harrison Marks, Britain’s top glamour photographer. His is a world which provokes intriguing and sometimes disquieting questions.
- What kind of girls take off their clothes and pose naked at the drop of a camera shutter?
- Can a normal, healthy man resist temptation when boxed up all day with Britain’s loveliest and barest models?
- What is it like to be married to a man like Harrison Marks… knowing these dangers exist every second of his working day?
- How does Marks deal with the peddlers of pornography who offer him huge sums to provide spicy material ‘on the side’?
- And just when does a glamour picture step over the line into obscenity?
This week, we start an eye-opening series by VERNON GIBB, who answers all these questions — and more. For this is the bare truth about Harrison Marks and his naked world.
I Am Offered a Fortune to Make Blue Films
The girl was naked, her beautiful body gleaming copper against the blue of the seashore backdrop. The light was hard and golden to simulate sunshine, and shadows played flattering tricks with her contours. Her pose was relaxed, the mood languid, sultry. Surrounded by simple props that seemed to emphasise her nudity, this blonde model was one of the most beautifully built girls in the world. But not to the perfectionist behind the camera. For he was Harrison Marks, the glamour photographer whose unique talent has established him as the best in Britain.
“Move forward a little, darling,” he ordered. All the girls are “darling” to George Harrison Marks, whether they have worked for him for years or are beginners on their first assignment. The blonde swiftly changed her position and snapped into a series of poses. “She’s a good model,” said Marks. His tone implied that there is a vast difference between mere beauty and modelling skill. And he is a man who should know. For he has photographed thousands of girls and rejected thousands more who do not come up to his standards.
Marks doesn’t have to search for models who are willing to pose naked. These days, because of the distinction his name lends a girl, the models approach him. “I use an average of three new girls a week and see a lot more,” he said. “Really unsuitable ones are dealt with downstairs at reception. I haven’t time to see all the girls who call—and I hate turning them down.”
Every man who has seen a Harrison Marks picture wonders how he manages to suppress his masculinity when faced with these naked lovelies. “It becomes pretty impersonal once they are in front of the camera,” he admitted. Because he has managed to capture the dream-girl image of almost every man in the world, the rewards for Marks are large. Royalties come flooding in from all parts of the world. He has a luxurious flat in London’s smart St. John’s Wood, drives a red Rolls-Royce and is fond of yachting holidays on the Mediterranean.
Vivienne, his beautiful third wife, is learning to drive their other car. Marks has risen from being a film studio tea boy to Britain’s foremost glamour photographer. Today, at 39, he is a shortish, neatly compact man with a slick Clark Gable moustache. The Harrison Marks Studios are in Saffron Hill, a grim and grotty mews that lies behind Farringdon Road, near King’s Cross station, London. They form an oasis- of glamour in a desert of warehouses and factories with dismal sooty windows.
Through the narrow streets pass the lovelies that make up the Marks harem. And it is here, behind the white facade of his new headquarters — once a Territorial Army hall and offices — that he works with them and presides over them with a Sultan-like nonchalance and charm. He has 200 girls on call for work, and thousands more would like to be on that list. It is a far cry from when he opened his first studio in Gerrard Street, Soho. Those were the tough days.
How does he see the girls who pose for him?
“Most of them are not shy, all are grand kids,” he said. “You have to be something of an egotist to’ pose in the nude.” The girls who want the Harrison Marks label are keen. “I have had them get cold feet at the last moment and not turn up,” he said. “But these days it is pretty unusual.”
Once in the Marks world, a girl is engaged in a constant struggle for his attention. “Competition is strong in any line of show business,” he said. “The girls are easy enough to handle if you are working with one at a time. She has no need to compete. With two or three at a session, it remains fairly easy, but there is a certain amount of jealousy. You have to be careful to give each girl her ration of camera and attention! “But when you have 16 prancing about in one scene, then things can get difficult. It is the nature of women to compete in front of a man, and this is doubly true when they are wholly on display in front of a camera.”
Though he has a keen and discerning eye for promising beauties, Marks is not infallible. Some years ago, he was shown a batch of photos by an agent and picked out a couple of girls who seemed to come up to his standards.
Sabrina (Norma Sykes) isn’t Big Enough to Keep me Waiting
One was a busty blonde, not very experienced. He arranged a photographic session with her for 10.30 the following morning. The appointed time came and went —with no sign of the girl. By 11.30 the day’s schedule was ruined, an hour behind, and the girl had still not arrived. Then, at 11.40, she turned up, tousled and unready. Punctuality is one of Marks’s sternest rules. So he told his secretary to give the girl her fee and tell her her services were no longer required. Her name in the appointment book was Norma Sykes. But the world now knows her as Sabrina. Harrison Marks’s world is an expensive one.
He has gone into moving pictures, and his latest film cost him £30,000. But he could make much more money—if he was prepared to go “blue.” He has had fantastic offers to produce pornographic films for people who run a worldwide distribution network of this filth. “It’s amazing the offers you get,” he said. “Not so long ago, two men approached me. I know they own a chain of West End bookshops—all, I imagine, with a back-room store of filth of all types.
“They wanted me to turn out short ‘blue’ films of a high standard. The stuff they were able to get was pretty ropey apparently, most of it reproduced too many times from one original negative. They actually wanted me to make a series for them in colour. “They offered me £500 a negative, one film a week for a year. That’s a lot of money, but I wouldn’t touch stuff like that for anything.”
There are also scores of people who mistakenly think that Marks supplies “kinky” and deviationist material. He receives a dozen letters a week from would-be clients who want something “special.” “Many ask for their requirements right out,” he said. “Usually for `kinky’ clothes or flagellation scenes, sometimes for even weirder pictures. I just ignore these letters, but it doesn’t stop them arriving… I think a lot of these sick people get pleasure from merely putting their requests on paper.” Though he is violently opposed to pornography, Marks has strong views about censorship in Britain. “In Denmark, and in France till recently,” he said, “you can get a definite ruling on a picture or film before you publish it. “That’s what we need here—a set standard to adhere to. It is essential for all concerned—the public, the publisher and the police.”