The Bare Truth About Harrison Marks – Part 3

Titbits, 17 August 1968.

Below is an article from Titbits, 17 August 1968. As per usual, I’ve transcribed the text for ease of use below. It is the final instalment into the “Naked World of Harrison Marks” by Vernon Gibb. You wouldn’t get the impression from the article, but George Harrison Marks was, in fact, quite happy to supply the Continent with “untouched” photographs and films. Pamela, however, didn’t share George’s fondness for dabbling in such material. In addition, once again, Marks pushes the myth, he was married to Pamela. A titbit worth knowing is that Sonmar H’Arriks is an anagram of Harrison Marks.

The tiny difference that makes a picture obscene

HARRISON MARKS is Britain’s top glamour photographer. And he has won his way to the head of the pin-up camera parade by sheer skill. But life is dangerous at the top. Beautiful women lay tender traps in the path of a happy marriage. And unscrupulous racketeers tempt professional integrity with hard-cash offers for obscene pictures and films. In the final instalment of his eye-opening probe into the Naked World of Harrison Marks, VERNON GIBB reveals the dangers — amorous and criminal — that await a top cameraman.

JUST how far can a glamour picture go? When does a photograph of a naked girl cross the line into obscenity? These are questions that haunt George Harrison Marks, Britain’s top glamour photographer. “In my opinion, there are several people in the short film business who are heading for the high jump,” he said. This is because they are playing the extremely dangerous game of sending out “untouched” films— that is with models displaying pubic hair.

To me, there’s nothing more beautiful thin seeing a girl as nature intended. But the market in unretouched pictures is a dangerous one even so, some photographers are taking the risk.

George Harrison Marks

The demand for these is from the Continent, but they have a knack of finding their way back into Britain as “specials.” They are then sold by mail or under the counter at dubious bookshops as Continental films. This means that the filmmakers could face heavy penalties. “Personally, I will not send out un-retouched pictures anywhere,” said Marks. “But not long ago a big agency in Denmark approached me, asking for unretouched versions of my films and some more shots in more revealing circumstances. “They offered me £200 a time, but I turned it down. Though I personally cannot see how a little hair makes a picture obscene, the authorities have a different view.

“One of my models told me, not long after the Danish bit, that she had done a sitting for a rival studio for overseas only. She mentioned Denmark. “It was obvious what had happened, of course. The rival firm had accepted the offer. I just waited, knowing what would happen, and sure enough, somebody in the trade phoned me up a week or two later. “Blimey, you ought to see what old so-and-so has been doing, I’ll send a copy over to you…”

The film arrived next day and it was shocking, really obscene—positioning, accentuation, and unretouched. The film had been smuggled back into this country, you see, and I suppose they are on sale in Soho or somewhere. Sooner or later the police will pick them up—and bang! That’s it for somebody.” Authorities in Sweden and Denmark are not so strict with the limits to which glamour photographers and filmmakers can go and it is standard practice to issue pictures that have not been retouched to remove the pubic hair.

Harrison Marks declares that there is, to him at least, nothing more beautiful and natural if he is filming in the open air than to see a girl as nature intended… but, if the authorities draw a different line, then he is ready to toe it.

But it is a different matter when he meets what he feels to be unnecessary prudery. Like the row over the British Safety Council poster which featured a nude model. The aim was to get factory workers to wear protective goggles… and, in fact, the sole prop used was a pair of protective goggles. That was all Dawn Grayson, the beautiful model wore.

Marks took the pictures for the poster and Dawn—in private life Mrs. Kirkham, wife of a car worker at Luton, Beds—gave no thought at all to the fact that her picture would soon adorn factory walls all over the country.

The Safety Council were pleased with the result, the poster was printed, and sent out all over industrial Britain. Then, suddenly, the storm broke. A clergyman saw the poster and immediately complained to the council. The story made big headlines. The name Harrison Marks was again in the public eye.

Eventually, a meeting was arranged at the council’s offices in Paddington, London. The Press was invited. The vicar declared that he considered the human body should never be seen naked, in any circumstances. When Marks pointed out that in that case, he must disapprove of most of the world’s major works of art, including the Venus de Milo and certain works of Michelangelo on open display in St. Peter’s in the Vatican, the vicar had nothing to say.

When the clergyman was asked about sex, it was found that he disapproved of that too. But later he said: “I have three lovely daughters.”

At this Marks, a little bored with the whole thing, said: “How did you get them—by post?” On which note the meeting closed.

One question women always ask is: What is it like to be married to a man whose working day is spent among Britain’s most glamorous girls… all of them in the nude?

Vivienne, Marks’s third wife, has definite views on the subject. An ex-model herself, this beautiful 20-year-old is well qualified to see both sides of the picture. She is adamant about one thing. “The fact that George works with nudes means nothing to me,” she said. “After all, I modelled for him myself, that’s how we met. And I know he looks for deeper qualities in a girl than a good figure.

“Oh, I know there were a lot of stories about town once, people saying he was a Casanova and always living it up. Maybe he was once. But not now.” But for all his experience of models Marks is not easy to live with. “I can’t say he is comfortable to live with,” said Vivienne. “He is very moody, sensitive to criticism, liable to blow up if he has had a bad day.”

A man like Marks needs an understanding wife, preferably one who is familiar with the business. A wife unconnected with the profession would inevitably have suspicions, however without grounds they might be. It would be easy for such a wife to misconstrue a necessary evening out with a model, to question every late return. Marks himself knows this.

“Actually, what goes on in the studio is more acceptable to a wife than what goes on outside,” he said. “Of necessity, I know hundreds of beautiful girls, and obviously beautiful girls get asked out a lot. It is almost impossible to have an evening out without meeting one of them somewhere. It is extremely difficult not to become socially involved.

“All the girls in this line of business tend to be demonstrative in their greeting and what is completely innocent could all too easily be misunderstood by a wife unfamiliar with their ways.”

But familiarity with Marks’s world, even being a top model, is no guarantee of success for a wife… a working wife. His second marriage, to ex-Folies Bergere girl Pamela Green, lasted eight years. They were important years professionally for both of them, for Pamela became the first real “Harrison Marks Girl.” More in fact: the first three Harrison Marks Girls. For he perpetrated two magnificent hoaxes on the profession and the public at large, one of which was to bring him and Pamela worldwide publicity.

Pamela was a talented actress as well as a model, able to create “mood” for her sittings and films as few others have done. Her blonde tresses were known throughout the world, nearly as much a trademark as her fabulous figure. But once these were changed by wigs, her whole personality changed as well.

Said Marks: “It was almost uncanny how completely she could change. Once, we decided we wanted a new model name and nobody seemed to fill the bill, so Pamela went out and bought a red wig. Once she put that wig on, she was an entirely different girl—even to me.

“We launched her all over again under the name of Rita Landre, and she was a sensation. The magazines went mad over her pictures and not one of them twigged that it was really Pam.

“That gave us the idea for the Great Hoax. Not long after that Pam added a long black wig to the collection and we dreamed up a new mythical model —with a royal background.

“In short, Pam became Princess Sonmar Harricks of Morocco. Again the pictures were wildly popular. “When we released the real story we made headlines all over the world.”

Why then did the marriage fail? Marks found it difficult to put into words. “Of course, we were together 24 hours of the day,” he said. “And I suppose something had to give. Perhaps if Pam had given up her work and been contented to be just Mrs. Harrison Marks, things would have been different.

“But she was a great career girl, very ambitious. She was and is a wonderful person, full of life and very witty. But she could not leave the studios alone.

“She wanted to supervise everything —including sittings with other models. And, of course, that kind of thing does not work out. You get resentment and jealousy.” And in the discreetly-lit world of George Harrison Marks, there is no room for anything like that.

Were you hoaxed?
Pamela Green was the first Harrison Marks Girl, in fact, the first three. In a gigantic hoax that fooled the world, she posed as herself, as Rita Landre, and as Princess Sonmar H’Arriks.

The Bare Truth About Harrison Marks – Part 3

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