Saturday, 22 November 2008

Review: Naughty (1971, Stanley A. Long)


Naughty along with companion piece On the Game (1973), were two of Stanley Long's productions made in the wake of the huge success of his film The Wife Swappers (1969), and with a “dramatised documentary” look at wife swapping proving to be box office gold, what better subjects could there be to go under the Stanley Long magnifying glass next than the history of prostitution in On the Game, and the history of pornography with Naughty. In the British sex film game from its 8mm glamour home movie beginnings to its late 1970s demise, Long’s career pretty much touched on all the varying trends and attitudes of the genre from coy little nudist films of the early Sixties to tut-tutting pseudo documentaries like the aforementioned Wife Swappers at the decade’s end to out and out comedies with his mid-to-late 70s “Adventures of” series. A mixture of present day documentary, faked segments and historical re-enactments, Naughty and On the Game might still be indebted to the serious pseudo-documentary approach of The Wife Swappers but also contain touches of the sort of saucy humour that would become the British sex film norm as the 1970s wore on.

Subtitled “a chronicle of prostitution” On the Game opens with a male gorilla offering a female gorilla some fresh eggs in return for sex, Long’s possible suggestion as to the origins of prostitution as well as a complete piss take on the famous opening of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Not unentertaining On the Game also offers up the novelty of seeing glamour girls like the late June Palmer and the ubiquitous Nicola Austin cast as infamous trollops through the ages. Krays associated nude model Maureen Flanagan even does a character piece playing a modern day prostitute telling a councilor about her con tricks, run ins with the law and dealing with a nutty pickup who just wants to pray at the end of her bed. The jolly, striptease heavy tone is occasionally broken up by jolts of nastiness like a Witchfinder General type torture segment and a slideshow showcasing venereal diseases.

Naughty, or rather 'Naughty- A Report on Pornography and Erotica Through The Ages', to give the film its full title and M.O. holds more documentary worth, its part 360 degree snapshot of the early 70's British sex industry and part re-enactments of the goings on of their Victorian predecessors while the first twenty minutes or so is a report on the world's first pornographic film festival which had been held in Amsterdam at the end of 1970. Organized through the underground newspaper Suck, The Wet Dream Festival, which showcased four days worth of pornographic films from around the globe, was the brainchild of one Jim Haynes, a leading figure in the British underground scene of the 1960s, who viewed the production and exhibition of pornography as a revolutionary act to challenge the status quo. “I’m just interested in freedom, extreme libertarianism, the right for anyone to see, eat and do whatever they want” claims Jim, who comes across as a likeable mixture of intellectual and old fashion mischief maker. Long's camera was there to capture it all, from tame clips from the films themselves, interviews with audience members (“I‘ve never seen so many genital organs and vaginas in all my life” claims one) brief glimpses of guests like Germaine Greer and Al Goldstein plus the priceless sight of Jim’s hippy entourage taking over the town's local cinema which had been playing Hell in the Pacific, but where for one night only Lee Marvin and Toshiro Mifune have to step aside for films featuring as one of Jim’s entourage puts it "people fucking, being sucked, women with dogs, flagellation, the juxtaposition of this will freak people out".

In contrast back in London, things are anything but swinging, as dirty mac brigade member Horace (C. Lethbridge Baker) described as "Mr. Average" wanders around Piccadilly Circus on his way to Soho. Sad DeWolfe instrumental music plays as Horace peeks in on dirty bookshops, porn cinemas and strip clubs. All the while you hear the voice of Horace's terrible wife ringing in his head “have you locked the back door, and let out the cat”. Horace starts getting the jitters, the narrator notes that material Horace once had to look hard for is now right there staring back at him from shop windows. "If it were all that bad they wouldn't allow it" Horace reassures himself. Horace's Soho shuffle comes to an abrupt end when a burly man ushers him into a seedy basement cinema. Horace secretly hopes he's finally going to see something harder, but instead as the film’s narrator points out its “the same old stuff, he’s not going to see anything new, its not legal here”. Horace sits there miserably in the dark, imagining some far away sexual Utopia, possibly Sweden, where "I bet girls throw themselves at you".

A look back at Ancient Greece seems to serve as little more than an excuse for nude extras to cavort in and out of togas and for some camp actors to argue about bi-sexually, before Naughty transports us to not so merry old Victorian England, where the 'do as I say don't do as I do' attitude and hypocrisy of the times are typified by Papa (Lee Donald), a terrifying, Bible-bashing Victorian father who sports huge sideburns and looks like he has escaped from one of Andy Milligan’s period pieces. A man leading a double life, Papa reads pornographic literature under a copy of The Times, gives ridiculous speeches to his son about how self-abuse can lead to lunacy before popping out to a whorehouse and has a mistress (Jane Cardew). The other villain of Naughty’s peek into the Victorian era is the family Aunt (Lois Penson) an old prude, no doubt meant to remind the audience of Long’s nemesis Mary Whitehouse, and whom the film delights in torturing by placing her in embarrassing situations. Most memorably an innocuous visit to a Zoo where she is greeted by the site of masturbating monkeys.

Naughty gets much comic mileage at the expense of the Victorians, Papa even insists covering the legs of tables less anyone consider his furniture indecent, but then throws it back in the enlightened 1970s audiences faces by suggesting things may not have changed that much. Is the Victorian street hawker who stuffs porn up his jacket when a policeman comes along a million miles from the (quite scary) sex shop owner who greets the Naughty crew with a hostile, hand over the camera “fuck off outta it, go on piss off” but then later calms down and shows them how he keeps soft material at the front of the shop and some of the 'hard stuff' in a back room? Or hardworking 19th century nude photographer Henry Hayler, who due to the clandestine nature of his business had to set up the camera, strip off and jump on top of a nude model all before the camera flashes, to the similarly one man band operation of blue movie maker John Lindsay? Up till this point true porn had only existed in the shadows in Britain, so filming Lindsay at work was a real scoop that Naughty proudly triumphs as the first “genuine, un-staged account of a modern blue movie”. Lindsay director of the Mary Millington classic Miss Bohrloch (which coincidentally had just won Lindsay the “Golden Phallus award” at the aforementioned Wet Dream Film Festival) and countless blue films that cast porn performers as schoolgirls, is seen filming his ten minute opus Sex After School. Quite unforgettable in his appearance, what with his Austin Powers-esque mop of blond hair, pink shirt, buck teeth and NHS glasses, Lindsay also provides Long with more than his fair share of controversial and memorable quotes suggesting that action men dolls should sport penises rather than guns and that “I would like to stress that the girls I use in my films are nice girls. Because they screw and have it up here and up there and in their mouths and that, this doesn’t mean to say that they’re not nice girls”. In contrast his Sex After School cast can’t help looking a less than animated bunch, and its left to Lindsay to rally the troops, directing them with character motivation like "Peter will start to get fresh, he's randy, he's not gonna stop". During filming its Lindsay who has to stop to mop his brow like a surgeon, though his actors still manage to go through the pornographic motions, amazing considering the pressure of not only having Lindsay filming them with his huge, noisy Arriflex camera, but also a professional film crew filming him filming them. In his interview Lindsay goes into his background, explaining he'd began as a legit fashion photographer then one day his model girlfriend suggested he take nude pictures of her and the money started rolling in, nude photography soon begat soft core, and soft core quickly begat hardcore. Like many of Naughty’s participants Sylvia Bayo (aka Lucienne Camille), Lindsay’s black lead in Sex After School, gives off a sweet, naive vibe with statements along the lines of “the body is a beautiful thing”, her two co-stars on the other hand seem to be from a much tougher school of drifting, careerless people who've ended up in vice. The girl playing opposite Sylvia in Sex After School cites money as her sole motivation, she's been in this game three years and remembers having to get drunk to cope with getting through her first blue film. She describes herself as "not happy, but I'm not sad, just indifferent". Goodness knows what became of her.

The rest of Naughty is a return to the themes of the Wife Swappers with both real and dramatized peeks at jaded, swingin' suburbia from a masochist girl who is casually interviewed whilst being whipped by a girlfriend to the (faked) exploits of a cockney call girl, who is driven to stag film parties cum orgies by her pimp. Angela Jones* (pseudonym), a non-actress stripper who starred in the latter segment remembers "My bit was filmed I believe in Hampstead, in a room in an affluent house. I had a blonde wig on, was obviously depressed and lost. I believe there were full frontal shots, I remember another woman with a French accent, also being pseudo-documentary we were filmed walking down steps and talking in the back of some car. I had interesting connections all over London as I was a circuit topless dancer, mainly pubs and clubs but also with Hawkwind and The Pink Fairies, handy as we were all based in Ladbroke Grove".

Looking like Sally Thomsett’s evil twin, Angela’s character also sports an outrageously over the top Cockney voiceover, heard during an orgy scene moaning about the men she has to have sex with “gawd, think about being married to this lot, what a bleeding nightmare” and wondering how she’ll pay that month’s rent. "The comedy voice over was not mine, I have a bland Surrey accent. I found it interesting how my look was interpreted in perceived thought, all the more interesting for it though. A lot of my contempories in the topless dancing circuit were in a film called The Love Pill, I am not sure whether I am in in or not, as I was semi conscious most of the time. We all used to dance in a club in Dean Street, London, which they did some of the filming in, I believe". After seeing herself in a DVD of Naughty thirty or so years later Angela remarked "I look a mess!, as expected".

Most memorable of Long's subjects is Jim, a weasely swinger who makes dirty movies of his wife Pat and speaks with a voice reminiscent of Dudley Moore in Derek and Clive mode. Its hilarious to hear such a droning, monotone voice waxing lyrically about lesbians, S&M and wanting to spank his wife. Pat and Jim remain creepily funny in the sense that were it not for their kinks they'd easily pass as the kind of dull auntie and uncle you'd occasionally be dragged to spend a boring Sunday afternoon with. Where you'd expect to see pictures of them smiling from a seaside town on the fireplace there are framed shots of a semi-nude Pat in poorly composed, un-erotic pictures. A cut and paste montage of interviews with Naughty's participants explaining what pornography means to them closes the film. The narrator points out that what all these people have in common, from the intellectuals to the more common or garden perverts, is that along the way they seem to have lost any sense of fun or humour about erotica, something that is very alien to the Stanley Alfred Long school of smut.

Just as Horace notes the changes in the openness in Soho compared to few years earlier, so there is a considerable jump in attitude from Long’s The Wife Swappers to Naughty. While The Wife Swappers bends over backwards to morally justify its existence (and as a result is now rich in unintentional comedy), Naughty is a much less hysterical piece of work, one that manages to name check or depict just about every kink worth mentioning in 1971, and wanking monkeys as well, without resorting to finger waving moralizing. While it may not be as radical as the some of the outlaw characters on display like Lindsay or Haynes, in Long's typically humourous way Naughty does at least quietly question why 1970s Britain shouldn't be allowed the same freedoms as Europe, whilst poking fun at moral guardians past and present and closes by pondering if future generations won't view the 1970s as farcical as Long then viewed the Victorian age. He may have a point. The film's pre-credit claims of being a neutral take on the subject at hand being only slightly called into question by its own press book which actively encouraged cinema owners to tip off their local version of Longford and Whitehouse about when and where the film was playing "their predictable reactions through the local media can only boost its business potential even more".

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Robin Askwith and Helli Louise

Robin Askwith and Helli Louise in Confessions of a Pop Performer from September 1975’s issue of Photoplay.







Monday, 13 October 2008

Pat Astley 1977 publicity picture

Blackpool’s finest in a 1977
“Come
Play With Me” publicity pic

Friday, 10 October 2008

Mary Millington 1979 Book Extracts


Mary’s biography “The Amazing Mary Millington”, co-written by Mary and her former probation officer David Weldon was published in 1979 (and reprinted as an A4 size magazine in the 1980s by David Sullivan). Mary’s life in her own words sounds an enticing prospect, but approaching the book today comes with the knowledge that it contains more than its fair share of tall tales and fabrications about her life. As the book also had its eye on the titillation market there are also lots of (made up sounding) sex anecdotes, reminiscent of Mary’s many ghost written articles in David Sullivan’s magazines, that are presumably the work of co-author Weldon whose later novelisation of The Playbirds was penned in a similar style. Mary doesn’t hold back her views against censorship and for the legalization of pornography, in fact its one of the book’s main themes, and something she comes back to constantly in the text, over and over. To the degree that later chapters of her book feel like impassioned plea for freedom of expression and a more liberal attitude to sex and pornography first and an autobiography second. She even re-writes her life story at one point, claiming the John Lindsay hardcore loops she made were shot after she became famous, and as a political protest at the strict UK censorship laws. The obscenity laws, the police and the hypocritical nature of those in power, are clearly subjects that plagued her while she wrote the book, while in earlier chapters she displays polite distain for the likes of Mary Whitehouse (“I respect her right to say what she likes… but what I didn’t like was the way she tried to ram her opinions down everyone else’s throats”) by the books end things take a more angry turn, with Mary militantly signing off the book with “demand the right! demand the right to choose for yourself” and including a lengthy report by the national campaign for the reform of the obscene publications act as an appendix. While its often hard to shift through what is fact and what is fiction at times, included here are several passages where Mary speaks about her career and subjects close to her heart, and where the text seems at its most honest and believable.

Childhood
“In many ways my childhood was both very sad and very happy. I didn’t want for love and affection but a great many other things were missing. Most children can find some sort of escape at school. I couldn’t. I hated it, and they hated me. I tried to hide myself at the back of the class, and day dreamed about being a princess and that someone would arrive at any moment to rescue me from this hell. Mum often tried to console me with the fact that I had the same birthday as Winston Churchill and that he was a bit of a dunce, one day I might become as famous as him, and every time I was beaten, or told what a useless individual I was, or what an illiterate idiot I was, I would think about Winston Churchill and vow that I would become famous one day, that would show them.”

Meeting John Lindsay
“we were having coffee (and) he suggested that I pose for him in his studio. At first I thought he was just shooting me a line but he showed me his press card and seemed to be very genuine about his proposal. I asked him what sort of pose he had in mind, and he replied, as if you couldn’t guess- ‘in the nude’. I was a little doubtful about it, not for any moral or prudish reasons, but at 4‘11 I thought I was too small to be a model. He said he thought my personality would more than make up for my lack of inches.
I was a little nervous but he was very reassuring and soon I was able to relax and become my natural self. I found that I enjoyed being the centre of attraction and loved the fact that the camera was pointed at me. Like all good serious photographers he was in love with his camera and only his camera, to him I think I was just a lump of meat. In some ways the camera seemed to fulfill my craving for affection and I came to realize I was treating the camera as my lover and the fact that more and more people wanted to point one at me, made me feel very wanted”

Miss Bohrloch
“I’m not saying the film was good but the last I heard it had sold over 300,000 copies, which is some sort of world record where blue films are concerned. If you ever get the chance to see it, then do, you won’t be disappointed. Charlie (Brown- the owner of the Tabu company that released many of John Lindsay’s films in Germany) also paid me a very nice compliment. He said that if there was such a thing as an Oscar for blue films then I should get it for my performance in that film. I could just imagine it. The Oscar ceremony in Hollywood, Steve McQueen or Paul Newman standing on the stage. The lights flashing, the spotlights blasting down, and the crowds cheering. Steve introducing a clip from my film then presenting me with the Oscar for the years best oral sex performances”.

Homosexuality
“It may be going against convention to enjoy making love to a member of your own sex; I personally get turned on by a couple of good looking gay guys. I know straight men are repulsed but as long as the partners concerned are agreeable, so long as they do no harm to anyone, then I see nothing odd in it.
It is true even in this day of so-called permissiveness that homosexuals may not freely consort, meet or form new associations with each other without…. threat hanging over them. It is quite common in 1979 to see notices in male public toilets forbidding importuning. In effect the Wolfenden Report and the law following it is followed, officially at least, to the letter- you can do it if you’re old enough. But, it must be behind closed doors. I despair at the laws in this country.”


Come Play With Me
“There were some really beautiful girls in it. I enjoy working in films, the people in the business are fascinating but oh, those hours. I’m nocturnal and to be on a set at 6am is like the middle of the night for me. When the reviews appeared I was shocked when I found that not one single critic had liked the film, one of them said it was the worse British sex comedy that he had ever seen.
Even now when I’m supposed to be a personality or infamous, depending on your point of view. I still make a great deal of personal appearances. I meet as many fans as possible, and most days I visit a sex shop which I help run in Tooting, South London, and talk to the customers and find out what they like, or dislike, about my work. I really do like people and reckon I’m the most “approachable” model and film star in the business. If it wasn’t for the man on the street I wouldn’t be where I am now and I’ll never forget that fact. I feel a great obligation to them, and I feel very privileged when they travel for miles just to see me in the shop.”

The Playbirds
“David Sullivan sent me a film script. He had commissioned it with me in mind, he asked me to read it as quickly as possible as he wanted to start shooting right away. The part was that of a policewoman, and I just loved the irony in the casting, although I’ve never seen a 4‘11 policewoman.
There are black magic scenes, sex scenes, party scenes, a very good ‘chase’ scene, in fact everything that goes to make up a first class modern day thriller.”


Sex, Censorship and Pornography
“It is time the whole obscene publications act was rewritten so that everyone knows where they stand. Publishers do not wish to break the law any more than anyone else, but until that particular law is redefined then publishers have to stagger on from day to day not knowing if what they have published is obscene or not in the eyes of the law, we entered the common market but censorship which is virtually abolished there did not come along with the butter subsidy.
Surely this clamp down on girlie magazines goes against the whole basic freedom of speech and choice that we hold so dear in this country. Democracy had to be fought for in this country over the years, and it was not an easy fight. Demand that you be treated like an adult. Perhaps we can make porn legal and then, a few years afterwards, the novelty will have worn off, the sales of porn will go down, and we can get on with more important things.
I’ve always thought that the paranoia in this country about sex is a class thing, just as much as public schools and comprehensives are. The old story of those in authority saying they know what is best for the rest of us while doing the opposite themselves, and using the excuse that the “working classes” aren’t educated enough to be able to chose for themselves. I think this is a grave insult to the man in the street. At election times we are supposed to be able to pick our way through complicated political issues before casting our vote; but when it comes to reading matter we are treated like children.
I treat sex as something to be enjoyed, something to be savored, something to cling to, something to be indulged in whenever possible. The old slogan of ‘Make Love Not War’ was a very good one. This love of sex may be a throwback to my childhood days when I craved for love and affection, I just don’t know. But even if it is, so what? Self-analysis won’t change anything now.”
 

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Helli Louise Vs Valerie Leon

In the battle for the “most cleavage on display in a film publicity picture” award, these both from the March 1974 issue of Film Review.













Update: Harrison Marks 8mm price guide

Three more updates to the Harrison Marks 8mm price guide.
http://gavcrimson.blogspot.com/2008/08/harrison-marks-8mm-films-price-guide.html
All three were sold on e-bay yesterday, lets hope they went to a good home!!!

Ticket to Ride £18.01
Wrong Habit £18.00
Touch Tongue £12.18



Friday, 12 September 2008

The Fabulous Suzy Mandel




Jacqueline Ann Elaine Jefcoate, better known as Suzy Mandel is an ex-actress and model best known for her roles in 1970’s British sex comedies like Confessions of a Driving Instructor (1976), Come Play with Me (1977), The Playbirds (1978) and for her appearances on The Benny Hill Show.

Born March 6th 1953 in London, Suzy grew up on the Isle of Sheppey and latter in Epping Essex and then Woodford Essex and Buckhurst Hill Essex. After graduating from The London Modeling Academy in 1968, she began her career as a coat model then worked in modeling lingerie winning such prestigious awards as Miss Teenage London, Miss Benson and Hedges and Miss TV Times (broadcast on UK television on 14/06/1974 and presented by Hughie Green). Her modeling career also included appearances as a Page 3 girl in The Sun, as well as one of the earliest “Mirror Girls” in the Daily Mirror, at a time when The Mirror still carried glamour pictures on Page 3. Her acting career in British sex comedies began in 1976, with her first film Intimate Games, which was seen by Benny Hill who then cast her in his The Benny Hill Show. She appears in multiple roles in two episodes of the 1977 series (broadcast in the UK 26/01/1977 and 23/03/1977).



















the many faces of suzy: from the benny hill show

Of Hill and Jackie Wright’s famous ‘head slapping’ routine, Suzy recently told Gram Pontante’s website "Jackie Wright was a chain smoker and he would often hide his cigarette in his mouth or behind his back during scenes. In fact, you could often see a little plume of smoke rising behind him if you looked close enough. Benny would slap his head to fan the smoke away." Aside from the Hill shows, Suzy also featured in numerous television productions of this period, as well as comedy sketches in shows by Dick Emery, Marty Feldman, Eric Idle and Basil Brush.


In films Suzy quickly became a firm favorite of both British sex film directors and audiences alike and was soon receiving equal billing to Mary Millington, the UK’s biggest sex symbol of the 1970s. As well as appearing with Mary Millington in two films, Suzy was also present when the infamous topless picture of Mary was taken at 10 Downing Street. In which Mary while posing for a picture with a policeman outside Number Ten, unzipped her top, exposing her breasts, much to the surprise of Suzy, the photographer George Richardson (who took the picture anyway) and the policeman in question (who tried to confiscate the reel of film). According to Simon Sheridan’s biography of Millington “For this stunt Mary was conditionally discharged and bound over to keep the peace” . Mary and Suzy’s film Come Play With Me still stands as the longest-running film in British movie history, and ran continuously at the Moulin Cinema in London's West End from 1977 to 1981. In a publicity stunt for the second year anniversary of the film’s opening, both Suzy and Mary posed in lingerie on the Moulin cinema’s marquee. Sadly only a few months later Millington committed suicide aged just 33, Suzy remarked to me that Mary’s death was “extraordinarily sad”.



During her career in British sex comedies Suzy also had her own cartoon strip “The Adventures of Suzy Mandel” that appeared in the pages of Whitehouse magazine, modeled for the UK poster of the film Pussy Talk (despite the fact that she doesn’t actually appear in the film itself), and had a racehorse named after her.

In Los Angeles in 1981 she married wealthy British film financer Stanley Margolis, who had ties with Tigon British Film Productions the company that released some of Suzy’s best known films, and would later co-produce the 1993 film True Romance. Suzy had already been living in Los Angeles for some time, in 1979 she attended the world famous Lee Strasberg Institute in LA for one year studying acting and voice, as well as studying with the well known voice and dialect coach Robert Easton. Suzy also continued working appearing in films like The Private Eyes (1981), Mistress of the Apes, as well as a walk-on in TV’s The Love Boat. She also appeared in the hardcore film Blonde Ambition (a.k.a. Can I Come Again) which was shot in NY in 1977, but only released in 1980. Scripted under the title “White Tie and Tails” Blonde Ambition saw Suzy cast as Sugar Cane, who makes up one half of a talent-less British vaudevillian duo who have somehow found their way to performing at a rundown saloon in Coyote Fang, Wyoming. Candy Kane (Dory Devon) has the brain cells, while Sugar Kane has the squeaky voice and one-liners, together they are…. spectacularly bad. Their awful stage act consisting of bumping into each other level choreography, and tuneless wailing of a song that ends with them proclaiming "up yours" to a clap free response. Seeking the big time the Kanes hop foot it to NYC, where among other things they become implicated in the disappearance of a priceless brooch, and embark on a film career culminating in them appearing in a porn remake of Gone With the Wind.



Directed by the eccentric Amero Brothers, the role entailed Suzy to strip while ice-skating, impersonate a drag queen, play the tuba and perform in hardcore scenes- however it should be noted that she used a body double for the latter. While Blonde Ambition took several years to emerge, the film has gone on to be something of a cult classic, Time Out praised Suzy’s performance as a “pyrogenic half-pint”, claiming “Mandel has all the dumb-puckering ingenuousness of early Monroe”. Blonde Ambition was not Suzy’s first encounter with hardcore, previously in 1975 she had made a fleeting non-sex appearance in Health Farm, a hardcore short directed by John Lindsay.

Suzy’s stateside career continued into the 1980s with national TV commercials for Kawasaki, Toyota and Nissan. Suzy performed her own stunts for the Toyota commercial as well as in a commercial for Red Mountain Coffee which was filmed in Sedona, Arizona by a British crew, most of whom had previously worked on the film Chariots of Fire. Suzy also appeared in several American TV pilots, including “All Nonsense Network News” starring Garry Owens, “We're Making It” starring Peter Lawford and Larry Storch and "Sunset Strip" starring The Unknown Comic. However Suzy eventually moved behind the scenes, working on the horror comedy Dead Men Don't Die (1991) starring Elliot Gould and co-producing Love Bites, starring Adam Ant, in 1993. She and Margolis divorced the following year.

In 1996 Suzy revealed in the British Newspaper The People (in an article entitled “Ex-Hill’s Angel Suzy is a real Angel of Mercy”), that she had quit showbiz to work as a Nurse caring for people dying from AIDS after several of her friends had died due to the disease. “The stunning blonde, who often dressed as a saucy nurse, is now wearing a real nurse's uniform to care for dying patients” claimed the article. Suzy was awarded a full scholarship to become a LVN and to study at the world famous Cedars-Sinai Hospital in LA. In 2006 she returned to producing, working with Adult Video director Jennifer James on a series entitled ‘Inside Erotica’ and was subsequently spotted at several adult industry socials. However the pilot was never picked up and the two no longer have any association.

A delightful woman, who is happy to reminisce about her career. Suzy was recently interviewed by the Benny Hill fansite "Benny’s Place" http://runstop.de/mandel.html and by writer and film historian Simon Sheridan for the liner notes of the upcoming UK DVD release of Intimate Games (1976) due out on September the 22nd 2008. She currently resides in Arizona, USA.


“Big Hugs”, to the lovely Miss Mandel herself, for her help with this article.

Acting Roles

* The Lotus Eaters (TV show, BBC 1973)
* Miss TV Times (TV show, LWT 1974) ... Herself/Contestant
* Dial M for Murder (TV show, BBC 1974)
* Monty Python (1974) uncredited as German girl in episode “Michael Ellis”
*Churchill’s People (TV show, BBC 1970s)
* The Girls of Slender Means (TV show, BBC 1975)
* Play of the Month: King Lear (TV show, BBC 1975)
* The Fight Against Slavery (TV show, BBC 1975)
* Health Farm (hardcore short 1975) ... 2nd Girl
* Within These Walls (TV show, LWT, extra in three episodes “Getting Out”, “Prison Cat” and “The Good Life”, 1975)
* Rutland Weekend Television (TV show, BBC 1975 episode “Rutland Weekend Whistle Test” in sketch “A Penny for your Warts”)

with Neil Innes and Henry Woolf in Rutland Weeked Television




* The Best of Marty (TV show 1970s)
* The Generation Game (TV show, BBC 1970s)
* The Basil Brush Show (TV show, BBC 1970s)
* Intimate Games (1976) ... Erica
* Confessions of a Driving Instructor (1976) ... Mrs Hargreaves














* Rentaghost (TV show, BBC 1970s)
* What’s on Next (TV show, Thames, 1976)
* Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? (TV show, BBC 1970s)
* The Benny Hill Show (TV show, Thames 1977) ... Various Roles



















* The Dick Emery Show (TV show, BBC 1977) ... Dawn, the biker chick
* Z-Cars (TV show, BBC 1970s)
* Van der Valk (TV show, 1970s)
* Target (TV show, BBC 1970s)
* Jackanory Playhouse (TV show, 1970s)
* George Sands (TV show, 1970s)
* Nice Day Tomorrow (TV show, 1970s)
* The Liver Birds (TV show, BBC 1970s)
* The Sweeney (TV show, Thames 1970s)
* Rock Follies (TV show, Thames 1970s)
* The Barry Humphries Show (TV show, BBC 1977)
* The World of Pam Ayres (TV show, LWT 1977)
* The XYY Man (TV show, Granada 1970s)
* The Other One (TV show, BBC 1970s)
* Play of the Month: The Country Wife (TV show, BBC 1977)
* Mr. Big (TV show, BBC 1977)
* Play of the Month: The Ambassadors (TV show, BBC 1977)
* Get Some In! (TV show, BBC 1977) ... Non-responsive W.A.A.F
* Come Play with Me (1977) ... Rena
* Over Exposed (1977) (unreleased)
* The Playbirds (1978) ... Lena
* Adventures of a Plumber’s Mate (1978) ... First Tennis Girl

 Pennies from Heaven (TV show, BBC, 1978)
* You’re Driving Me Crazy (1979) ... Anthea
* Mistress of the Apes (1979) ... Secretary
* The Love Boat (TV show, ABC 1980) ... Trina
* Blonde Ambition (hardcore 1980, filmed 1977) ... Sugar Cane
* The Private Eyes (1981) ... Hilda
* The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982)
* Things Are Tough All Over (1982)
* Kawasaki (TV Commercial, 1980s)
* Toyota (TV Commercial, 1980s)
* Nissan (TV Commercial, 1980s)
* Red Mountain Coffee (TV Commercial, 1980s)
* We're Making It (TV show, series regular, 1980s)
* Sunset Strip (TV show, series regular, 1980s)
* All Nonsense Network News (TV show, series regular/opera reporter, 1980s)
* Love Bites (1993)





















Thursday, 4 September 2008

The Amazing Mary Millington


Mary Millington (born Mary Ruth Quilter, November 30, 1945 – died August 19, 1979) was one of Britain's most successful porn stars of the 1970s.

Destined to be known as Britain's version of Linda Lovelace, she began her career anonymously, in the 8mm hardcore loops of John Lindsay, the first- and most famous- being Miss Bohrloch which won the “Golden Phallus Award” at the Wet Dream Festival held in November 1970 in Amsterdam. A classic of under the counter British film-making, Miss Bohrloch (its title written on a door) sees Mary playing the title character, a prostitute. She gets a call from two potential customers, one nervously pacing about while his friend negotiates an afternoon romp from a call-box. At the end of the conversation Miss B gives her address as '6 Pop Street', mention of which comes with the unusual visual accompaniment of her firing a Ping Pong ball out of her privates. A party piece that Lindsay seemed especially enamored with, since he employs a reverse film effect to show that ball popping out and back in her several times. Aside from the sex, this was the loop's big talking point. As is the nature of blue movies, the storyline is a minimal in the extreme build-up to a sexual situation, that is not to say these brief scenes aren't without the odd memorable detail, like Miss B's huge phone or the men's feeble mode of transport, a tiny scooter seemingly designed to suit a three year old rather than two grown men. Players they are not. At her apartment in which everything appears bathed in brothel reds, Miss B temporarily leaves the men alone to observe her sex for sale menu. Lindsay's hand-held camera makes everything feel all very fly-on-the-wall as the men frantically type numbers into their pocket calculator, making a bumbling attempt at estimating what the money in their pockets will get them. Intentionally or not everyone seems quite in character, Mary comes across as a completely relaxed hardcore performer, you'd never guess this was her first blue movie gig. She handles with ease the situation of being in a foreign land (the film was shot in Germany away from the eyes of the UK authorities) and being banged away at by two hippy ragamuffins, one a Bill Oddie look-a-like. In contrast the men are slightly edgy, occasionally looking off-camera for direction especially during the sex.


Mary doesn't so much sexually dominate the men, as wipe the floor with them, giving an eye openingly energetic sexual performance that makes you feel exhausted just watching it. The men respond accordingly. It has to be said there are an awful lot of cum shots in the film, to the degree that some have suggested the film was shot over a number of days, personally I’d just like to think Mary had that effect on people. For all of the hundreds or thousands of pieces of pornography John Lindsay shot, arguably he never topped Miss Bohrloch in terms of eroticism or raw sexuality captured on film.

“Blue movies are great” Mary later remarked “educational and great tension-relievers. We all need horny thrills right?”.

Mary starred in around a dozen or so short hardcore films for Lindsay, although tantalizingly only five (Bohrloch, Oral Connection, Betrayed, Oh Nurse and Special Assignment) have so far resurfaced. These were followed by soft core shorts by Russell Gay (Response,1974), Mountain Films (Love Games, 197?) and Harrison Marks (Sex is My Business, circa 1974), plus small roles in British sex comedy films and top shelf magazine modeling. The latter represents the most difficult to document aspect of Mary’s story, with her working for various magazines under a slew of fake names (Nancy Astley, Susan David, Sally Stevens, Janet Green, Samantha Jones, June Taylor, Karen Young, Gillian Cowell) plus occasionally parts of her real name “Mary” and “Ruth”. If any significant discoveries are yet to emerge from her career, it will be from this period.

Mary was also prolific on the amateur photography scene, having been one of many young models on the books of Strobe Studios, a company run by former glamour model June Palmer. Strobe’s business evolved around amateur photographers, like the late Fred Grierson, hiring studio space and one of June’s models in order to try their hand at taking glamour shots at Strobe. A successful set up that June had been running since the early 1960s. Mary also advertised her services as a “sexciting young professional model” in the pages of sex magazine Vibrations (Issue no.10, vol 3), offering punters the chance to take photos of her at her own home “anything goes as long as its legal”. The ad also mentions she’d be willing to make house calls or meet up at hotels for prearranged glamour shoots. Evidentially Vibrations publishers took note of the ad as well, and hired Mary for shoots themselves, eventually installing her as Vibrations’ nominal letters editor under her “Sally Stevens” moniker.

Response (a.k.a. Go Down My Lovely), is an unusual film from Russell Gay, the owner of Knave magazine and a glamour photographer and filmmaker (for the 8mm market) since the late 50’s. Most of Gay’s 1970s sex loops are frankly dreadful, with workmanlike direction and not quite hardcore sex. With Response however Gay creates a dreamy, sexy little film that benefits greatly from Mary’s bi-sexuality. Mary plays a bored office clerk dreaming about sex with female co-worker Zoe. Zoe in turn is dreaming about making love to Mary, as a diversionary thought whilst her boyfriend bangs away at her in bed. It soon becomes blurred as to who is meant to be fantasying about who, or whether Mary and Zoe’s lovemaking is fantasy at all. The lesbian centerpiece to the film, though, is tender and romantic with relaxed performances from Mary and the actress playing Zoe, a far cry from the embarrassing spectacle lesbian sex can sometimes be in films made by men. The depiction of lesbianism as preferable to the animalistic, one sided affair the film portrays straight sex as (in the scene between Zoe and her boyfriend) is also a sly touch for a film aimed at a male audience, and an interesting counterpoint to the semen drenched, heterosexually focused Miss Bohrloch.



According to porn actor “Short Jack Gold”, Harrison Marks’ Sex is My Business was shot late on a Saturday night at a sex shop, located on London’s Coventry Street. The storyline here concerns a powerful aphrodisiac being dropped by a customer, whose potency renders the shops’ staff and customers sex crazy. Mary, dressed in a short see-through dress, is the films main focus of attention, playing a member of staff who drags a customer into the back room for some multi-position sex, thoughtfully turning on the shops CCTV camera so others can watch. After being sold on 8mm in the mid-seventies, Sex is My Business seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth and was considered something of a ‘lost’ film until a Super 8mm print of the film was located and privately transferred to DVD in 2008, probably the most significant discovery, Millington wise, of the last few years. The film subsequently made its internet debut on the 26th of July 2008 at the (now defunct) site ZDD Visual Explosion.

Mary became well-known thanks to her appearances in millionaire David Sullivan's porn magazines and films, having been introduced to him by her Sex is My Business co-star Maureen O’Malley in February 1975. Obscure no more, her rise to fame was astronomical, she gained further notoriety for her starring role in Sullivan's 1977 sex comedy Come Play with Me. This was followed by roles in The Playbirds (1978), in which the obscene publications squad hating Mary was ironically cast as a policewoman (“I hate policemen. Their truncheons are always bigger than their cocks” she once remarked) , as well as Confessions from the David Galaxy Affair (1979) and Queen of the Blues (1979). According to the Daily Express she’d been set to appear in a stage farce called “Love’s a Luxury” shortly before her death. Millington's final film appearance was in ‘The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle’, Malcolm McLaren’s “Carry on Punk” version of the Sex Pistols story, which was released theatrically in March 1980. However, neither she nor her punk rock co-star Sid Vicious lived to see the completion of the movie.

In 1978 she had been attached to appear in a hardcore porn film called 'Love is Beautiful', to have been directed by Gerard Damiano. Yet, despite Millington and Damiano being pictured together at that year's Cannes Film Festival, the movie (meant to have been produced by David Grant’s Oppidan Films) never materialized.

Potential co-stars may have included Harry Reems, and fellow British sex stars Lisa Taylor and lisping lovely Gloria Brittain. All that remains of the film is the Cannes photo with Damiano surrounded by his would be female stars. A poorly composed picture with the diminutive Millington positioned at the back and barely visible.

A film Mary did shoot scenes for, but were never used in the released version, was Erotic Fantasies (1978) an Italian/UK co-production officially directed by Derek Ford and Luigi Batzella (as Paul Selway), although Mary’s never to be seen scenes as a circus ringmaster were actually shot by Ray Selfe. Peter Mason, a friend of Selfe, remembers Selfe shot the footage in “multi camera TV style on video, in those days it would have been mastered onto 2inch tape which is (now) an obsolete format. He said it was a one day job that he got because the original Director couldn't handle a studio and the finished product was destined for "the German market." I think it would have been soft core. Ray had a coffee with MM at a nearby cafe but said he didn't really know who she was until after her death”.

In the late seventies Mary also had a lesser known career sideline working as a make-up artist on 8mm hardcore loops for the Tabu company. A cast member of Tabu’s loop “Kamera Club”, remembered being surprised at how odd it was to see someone as well known as Mary working as part of the Tabu crew and making up the cast members. Given that Mary was already rich and famous by this point, we can only speculate that either she was there as a favour to someone at the Tabu company or that she saw a possible future for herself as a make-up artist after leaving the limelight. The Kamera Club cast member remembers that Mary was very aware that due to her age the curtain was slowly coming down on her time as a porn model.

Not that Mary was done with courting controversy. Undoubtedly one of Mary’s most scandalous moments, and there were many, was being photographed topless outside of 10 Downing Street. In which Mary, while posing for an innocuous picture with a policeman outside Number Ten, decided to unzip her top, exposing her breasts for the photograph, much to the surprise of Whitehouse photographer George Richardson (who took the picture anyway) and the policeman in question (who tried to confiscate the reel of film). Also along for the same photo shoot was fellow Come Play With Me actress Suzy Mandel, while Suzy was round the corner when the incident took place, she still remembers stumbling upon the aftermath. According to Simon Sheridan’s biography of Millington “For this stunt Mary was conditionally discharged and bound over to keep the peace”. Mary’s film Come Play With Me still stands as one of the longest-running films in British movie history, and ran continuously at the Moulin Cinema in London's West End from 1977 to 1981, perhaps the ultimate testimony to her popularity. In a publicity stunt for the second year anniversary of the film’s opening, both Suzy Mandel and Mary posed in lingerie on the Moulin cinema’s marquee.

Death

Mary Millington committed suicide at the age of 33, at her home in Walton-on-the-Hill, Surrey, using a deliberate overdose of paracetamol, anafranil and alcohol. A sleep cure. Her life had begun a downward spiral into drug use, kleptomania and depression following continual police raids on her sex shops. She left several suicide notes which were found near her body.

She was buried at the St Mary Magdalene Church, Betchetts Green Road, South Holmwood, Surrey. Her tombstone is situated at the rear of the churchyard and bears the surname "Maxted" – her married name. She is buried in the same grave as her mother, Joan Quilter, who died in 1976. “She was beautiful” Suzy Mandel recalled on the phone to me recently “and it was extraordinarily sad what happened to her”

Legacy

A posthumous exploitation film about her life was released in London in October 1980, called ''Mary Millington's True Blue Confessions''. In 1996 Channel Four television screened a tribute to her entitled ''Sex and Fame: The Mary Millington Story''. Twenty years after her death, the writer and film historian Simon Sheridan put Mary's life into context in his critically acclaimed biography ''Come Play with Me: The Life and Films of Mary Millington''. Further information about her career can be found in Sheridan's follow-up book ''Keeping the British End Up: Four Decades of Saucy Cinema'', the third edition of which was published in April 2007.

In 2004 Millington’s historic importance was recognized by her inclusion into the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, edited by Colin Matthew and Brian Harrison. Her entry was written by Richard Davenport-Hines. 2008 saw a London exhibition of the work of the late glamour photographer Fred Grierson, which included several little-seen pictures of Mary taken by Grierson at June Palmers’ Strobe Studios in the early 1970s. (For more on the Grierson archive and Mary see their site http://www.thegriersonarchive.com/Mary_Millington.html, and here http://i292.photobucket.com/albums/m...archive097.jpg for one of their early photos of her.)


Mary in her own words



Mary’s biography “The Amazing Mary Millington”, co-written by Mary and her former probation officer David Weldon was published in 1979 (and reprinted as an A4 size magazine in the 1980s by David Sullivan). Mary’s life in her own words sounds an enticing prospect, but approaching the book today comes with the knowledge that it contains more than its fair share of tall tales and fabrications about her life. As the book also had its eye on the titillation market there are also lots of (made up sounding) sex anecdotes, reminiscent of Mary’s many ghost written articles in David Sullivan’s magazines, that are presumably the work of co-author Weldon whose later novelisation of The Playbirds was penned in a similar style. Mary doesn’t hold back her views against censorship and for the legalization of pornography, in fact its one of the book’s main themes, and something she comes back to constantly in the text, over and over. To the degree that later chapters of her book feel like impassioned plea for freedom of expression and a more liberal attitude to sex and pornography first and an autobiography second. She even re-writes her life story at one point, claiming the John Lindsay hardcore loops she made were shot after she became famous, and as a political protest at the strict UK censorship laws. The obscenity laws, the police and the hypocritical nature of those in power, are clearly subjects that plagued her while she wrote the book, while in earlier chapters she displays polite distain for the likes of Mary Whitehouse (“I respect her right to say what she likes… but what I didn’t like was the way she tried to ram her opinions down everyone else’s throats”) by the books end things take a more angry turn, with Mary militantly signing off the book with “demand the right! demand the right to choose for yourself” and including a lengthy report by the national campaign for the reform of the obscene publications act as an appendix. While its often hard to shift through what is fact and what is fiction at times, included here are several passages where Mary speaks about her career and subjects close to her heart, and where the text seems at its most honest and believable.

Childhood

“In many ways my childhood was both very sad and very happy. I didn’t want for love and affection but a great many other things were missing. Most children can find some sort of escape at school. I couldn’t. I hated it, and they hated me. I tried to hide myself at the back of the class, and day dreamed about being a princess and that someone would arrive at any moment to rescue me from this hell. Mum often tried to console me with the fact that I had the same birthday as Winston Churchill and that he was a bit of a dunce, one day I might become as famous as him, and every time I was beaten, or told what a useless individual I was, or what an illiterate idiot I was, I would think about Winston Churchill and vow that I would become famous one day, that would show them.”

Meeting John Lindsay

“we were having coffee (and) he suggested that I pose for him in his studio. At first I thought he was just shooting me a line but he showed me his press card and seemed to be very genuine about his proposal. I asked him what sort of pose he had in mind, and he replied, as if you couldn’t guess- ‘in the nude’. I was a little doubtful about it, not for any moral or prudish reasons, but at 4‘11 I thought I was too small to be a model. He said he thought my personality would more than make up for my lack of inches.
I was a little nervous but he was very reassuring and soon I was able to relax and become my natural self. I found that I enjoyed being the centre of attraction and loved the fact that the camera was pointed at me. Like all good serious photographers he was in love with his camera and only his camera, to him I think I was just a lump of meat. In some ways the camera seemed to fulfill my craving for affection and I came to realize I was treating the camera as my lover and the fact that more and more people wanted to point one at me, made me feel very wanted”

Miss Bohrloch

“I’m not saying the film was good but the last I heard it had sold over 300,000 copies, which is some sort of world record where blue films are concerned. If you ever get the chance to see it, then do, you won’t be disappointed. Charlie (Brown- the owner of the Tabu company that released many of John Lindsay’s films in Germany) also paid me a very nice compliment. He said that if there was such a thing as an Oscar for blue films then I should get it for my performance in that film. I could just imagine it. The Oscar ceremony in Hollywood, Steve McQueen or Paul Newman standing on the stage. The lights flashing, the spotlights blasting down, and the crowds cheering. Steve introducing a clip from my film then presenting me with the Oscar for the years best oral sex performances”.

Homosexuality

“It may be going against convention to enjoy making love to a member of your own sex; I personally get turned on by a couple of good looking gay guys. I know straight men are repulsed but as long as the partners concerned are agreeable, so long as they do no harm to anyone, then I see nothing odd in it.
It is true even in this day of so-called permissiveness that homosexuals may not freely consort, meet or form new associations with each other without…. threat hanging over them. It is quite common in 1979 to see notices in male public toilets forbidding importuning. In effect the Wolfenden Report and the law following it is followed, officially at least, to the letter- you can do it if you’re old enough. But, it must be behind closed doors. I despair at the laws in this country.”


Come Play With Me

“There were some really beautiful girls in it. I enjoy working in films, the people in the business are fascinating but oh, those hours. I’m nocturnal and to be on a set at 6am is like the middle of the night for me. When the reviews appeared I was shocked when I found that not one single critic had liked the film, one of them said it was the worse British sex comedy that he had ever seen.
Even now when I’m supposed to be a personality or infamous, depending on your point of view. I still make a great deal of personal appearances. I meet as many fans as possible, and most days I visit a sex shop which I help run in Tooting, South London, and talk to the customers and find out what they like, or dislike, about my work. I really do like people and reckon I’m the most “approachable” model and film star in the business. If it wasn’t for the man on the street I wouldn’t be where I am now and I’ll never forget that fact. I feel a great obligation to them, and I feel very privileged when they travel for miles just to see me in the shop.”

The Playbirds

“David Sullivan sent me a film script. He had commissioned it with me in mind, he asked me to read it as quickly as possible as he wanted to start shooting right away. The part was that of a policewoman, and I just loved the irony in the casting, although I’ve never seen a 4‘11 policewoman.
There are black magic scenes, sex scenes, party scenes, a very good ‘chase’ scene, in fact everything that goes to make up a first class modern day thriller.”

Sex, Censorship and Pornography

“It is time the whole obscene publications act was rewritten so that everyone knows where they stand. Publishers do not wish to break the law any more than anyone else, but until that particular law is redefined then publishers have to stagger on from day to day not knowing if what they have published is obscene or not in the eyes of the law, we entered the common market but censorship which is virtually abolished there did not come along with the butter subsidy.
Surely this clamp down on girlie magazines goes against the whole basic freedom of speech and choice that we hold so dear in this country. Democracy had to be fought for in this country over the years, and it was not an easy fight. Demand that you be treated like an adult. Perhaps we can make porn legal and then, a few years afterwards, the novelty will have worn off, the sales of porn will go down, and we can get on with more important things.
I’ve always thought that the paranoia in this country about sex is a class thing, just as much as public schools and comprehensives are. The old story of those in authority saying they know what is best for the rest of us while doing the opposite themselves, and using the excuse that the “working classes” aren’t educated enough to be able to chose for themselves. I think this is a grave insult to the man in the street. At election times we are supposed to be able to pick our way through complicated political issues before casting our vote; but when it comes to reading matter we are treated like children.
I treat sex as something to be enjoyed, something to be savored, something to cling to, something to be indulged in whenever possible. The old slogan of ‘Make Love Not War’ was a very good one. This love of sex may be a throwback to my childhood days when I craved for love and affection, I just don’t know. But even if it is, so what? Self-analysis won’t change anything now.”




Theres Something About Mary.

Gavcrimson on Mary:
Absurd as it may first sound I’ve always considered Mary something of the Elvis of British sex film actresses, in the sense that her headlining film career came about due to her being famous for “other things”, and you get the feeling she was thrown in the deep end acting wise by Svengali type figures who had a crafty eye on mass media. Just as Elvis in films, tends to come across merely as Elvis dressed as a Cowboy or Elvis dressed as a Jail Bird, due to poorly written characters and a lack of acting training, so too Mary in Come Play With Me and The Playbirds is always Mary dressed as a nurse or Mary dressed as a policewoman. She described herself, as “the world’s worst actress, I’d be quite happy to win such as award”, but she is clearly trying hard, especially in The Playbirds, and has an appealing personality which clearly won her fans over (if not the critics) and kept them coming back. Something that compares her favorably to the “special guest stars” that inevitably surround her in these films, people who possessed the acting talent she thrived for, but ironically are just content to go through the motions.
Of course if Mary wasn’t the best actress in the world, then that is maybe because she didn’t have the best acting coach in the world in John M East. Despite his claims to have appeared in numerous films, TV and theatre, its hard to think of him in anything outside of the roles he got in her films. What little else of his career that occasionally crops up tends to consist of extra level work in Please Sir and On the Buses, you can sometimes spot him in the background of the latter, cracking smiles at Reg Varney’s jokes and mouthing non-conversations to other extras, on a good day he might get half a line of dialogue…. on a good day. His lengthier roles in her films, hardly convince that he had the qualifications for being an actor let alone anyone’s dialogue coach. Ironically in her last Sullivan films, Queen of the Blues and Confessions from the David Galaxy Affair, she shows quite an improvement as an actress, with confident line readings replacing the obvious nervousness of the earlier films. What a waste then that, despite being the “star” of those films, she is actually given little to do, and the films squander whatever talent she may have acquired by that point by instead focusing on the far less appealing personalities of John M East and Alan Lake respectively.

One of the first “sex” films I ever saw was Mary Millington’s True Blue Confessions, in the early 1990s, re-titled The Naked Truth. This was a few years before Simon Sheridan’s excellent, authoritive biography of her, so I was essentially walking blind into the Mary legacy and probably taking too much at face value. Approached like that however, the film made for sombre, emotional viewing with Mary portrayed as a loving and lovable person, selfless whether it be in her support for her dying mother, helping charities or providing lonely men with a fantasy figure, as well as someone whose sexual frankness and anti-censorship views put her at odds with the authorities, who hounded her and (the film implies) drove her to suicide. Granted that is a somewhat simplistic interpretation of her life, with any guilt East should have felt over her death conveniently whitewashed, but that tends to be True Blue Confessions’ take on events. The sight of her adopted dogs alone in her house who “still pine for their mistress”, was faked by East, they’re not even her real dogs for fucks sake, but naively taken at face value, made for a truly heartbreaking moment.

Despite knowing little of John M East’s evil machinations, even on first viewing the film did however strike me as more than a little tasteless as times. East’s narration often carries all the inappropriate feel of a funeral eulogy written in the style of Max Miller monologue “she didn’t have much upstairs, but what a lovely staircase”. Faith Daykin, who plays “Young Mary” in the film’s soft core recreations of her life looks so unlike Mary that the first time I saw the film I had no idea she was meant to be Mary, and couldn’t figure out what these scenes had to do with the proceedings. Actually even if you do realize she is playing Mary, its debatable what these scenes have to do with anything, ditto the “Heaven” disco footage.

Today the film tends to be discredited, but its dubious motivation didn’t go unnoticed at the time of its release either, with even Harrison Marks, despite being desensitized from years of heavy drinking and shooting hardcore, waking up from a drunken slumber to call the film “not a bit sick, very sick”. While subsequent documentation of Mary’s life, C4’s Sex and Fame: The Mary Millington Story from 1996 and Simon Sheridan’s biography are far worthier and piss all over True Blue Confessions in terms of accuracy and honesty, John M East’s ramshackle little film was what first got me interested in her life, and British sex films in general, for that I give kudos.


Speculation can at best be pointless and at worst dangerous, but what Millington fan hasn’t wondered where her career would have taken her had she not died. What would the eighties have held for Mary Millington? Fiona Richmond’s subsequent career offers possible hints, with Fiona cashing in her racy reputation for celebrity status appearing as a panelist on the likes of Celebrity Squares and Blankety Blank. Fiona was also clever in sending her old sex symbol self up, receiving good comedy parts in the Comic Strip productions in the process. Of course to compare Mary to Fiona is to overlook their differences, Fiona was a much more experienced actress with a stage farce background even before she appeared in films (and you could argue that being “Fiona Richmond” was itself an act), still Mary’s role in The Great Rock and Roll Swindle does hint at a self-parodying, second career in comedy and willingness to the kind of ironic casting that could have seen her follow Fiona into the world of the Comic Strip, where alternative comedians rubbed shoulders with 70s showbiz veterans like Nosher Powell, Koo Stark and former Crossroads cast members. Its easy to picture Mary in that bizarre world. Ultimately though, we’re posing answers to a question that can’t be answered, we’ll never really know what she would have achieved. Instead Mary’s pictures now have a Dorian Gray quality to them, she’ll never age or grow older. The 1970s Mary is the only Mary we're fated to know. She’d actually be in her sixties now, but as hard as I try, I just can’t imagine Miss Bohrloch picking up her free bus pass.


Allfornothing33 on Mary:

Mary Millington 1945-1979 beautiful inside and out, always loved, sadly missed never forgotten. I mean every word of it.. remember without Mary at that juncture in time in the 1970s and afterwards toward the end of her own short life at aged just 33 'we' would not have been able to watch x rated film view what we wanted to see or have our freedom as we have today, indeed the 'nanny state’ would still be telling us what we could read see and say. Mary suffered, oh how she suffered and for what.
Born Mary Ruth Quilter Nov 30th 1945 at the end of the second world war to a middle class family, her mother worked for the foreign office and her father was a biographer, she was illegitimate. Her father had a role in her younger life but disappeared out of her life as she grew older. Mary had an ordinary schooling, was reported as very mischievous. She left school to attend Reigate art school but could not manage the work so she left to start work as a veterinary nurse but again she was unable to do the necessary studying, as she said many years later in her book 'The Amazing Mary Millington' [1979] she was never academic. However she had a wonderful charisma and charmed all that met her. Mary married at aged 18yrs to Bob Maxted and was to stay married throughout her short life.

She was given her big chance in life when she was offered a job in a boutique as the manageress, all the time doing part time modeling nude, glamour and porn. It was whilst she was employed at the boutique she began to love the trappings of fame and vowed one day to be in the public eye.. It was one chance adventure that gave her the break she needed. One day whilst out on her lunch break in a coffee shop she met Scottish photographer John Lindsay [he of hard core fame], it was not long before she stumbled into film and progressed to doing hardcore particularly for Lindsay mostly abroad, under various pseudonyms. He loved Mary and introduced her to Porn Magnate David Sullivan [who is owner of Playbirds/Whitehouse empire] He too loved Mary, they had a relationship even though Mary was married [as events turned out there was much ambivalence between Mary's husband and Sullivan even though Mary tried to keep both the relationship and the two men apart] Sullivan promoted and made Mary big in film and although she could not [by her own admission] sing or act, she was to progress to great things and become Millington [she had always been known as Maxted before meeting Sullivan].

Sullivan invented the name Millington to augment her career in the mags and said she was the sister of the then Whitehouse editor Doreen Millington [utter rubbish] but all the same it helped sell his mags. Mary became renowned as a model and actress star of Sullivans cinema release Come Play With Me [1977] the Brit comedy that outsold any sex/comedy of its era. She starred in many other films pre and post Sullivan’s relationship with her, notably Queen of the Blues The Playbirds etc but none of them [although they were in fact successful] were to equal the success and fame of 'Come Play With Me'. Mary was a star of countless porn mags a fervent supporter of civil rights and firmly against the Obscene Publications law that she found was outdated and draconian. She supported both animal and cancer charities. Her mother whom she doted on was suffering cancer throughout the early 70s when Mary was modelling etc.. herself to pay for her care [a rare thing in those days as not many people had the money]. She adored animals more so than humans and was involved with the Peoples Dispensary for sick animals [PDSA]. it is rumoured that Mary had a relationship, a 'one night stand' with the then prime minister Harold Wilson, this has [as far as I know] never been denied by the British authorities. She also had 'relations' with the then Shah of Persia [Iran] for mega money and also some very notable and eminent figures.. Her fame and the fact the authorities felt challenged by Mary, indeed to police and government she was a constant embarrassment, they chased her time and time again trying to set her up. They sent letters and bills to her threatening imprisonment. The tax man was chasing her for £1,000,000 and the police were after her, she had a pressing appointment in the Old Bailey court on obscenity charges. Also her husband had asked her for a divorce. Probably because of the constant pressure she developed major insecurities and had become hooked on cocaine and was a kleptomaniac often stealing things [not always valuable objects] but anything that she thought she wanted. [Note it is now thought by agony aunts psychologists etc.. who have dissected Mary's life that she stole things because she had a need to feel wanted and loved]. She began to despair with British Government and their measures to suppress her lifestyle, thought her life was a mess, feared the impending court case as she did not want to go to prison.


She was hounded by the police who raided her shops with impunity the second they knew she was out of the area. They hit her hard in the pocket and prevented her advancing/promoting her mags by destroying them. She was a liberated person with a relaxed view of censorship, she had a sexual openness and ideals that were not in keeping with the times. She strove for the legalisation of pornography, less stringent laws and better civil liberties, however the British Government was just too big for her. She had, had enough on the night of the 19th August 1979 she rang John M East [her publicist] asked him to sing the song he always sang to her, ending in 'tomorrow', she said 'there will be no tomorrow John', the phone went dead. In the morning her husband found her dead in her bedroom she had taken analgesics. anti depressant capsules alcohol and passed away in her sleep. RIP Mary Maxted [the name on her gravestone] her married name, buried South Holmwood, Surrey above her beloved mother. Mary Millington the biggest box office draw of the 70s rich and famous [but never media mainstream because she was not right for her time] has according to the reverend of St Mary Magdalene church the smallest gravestone in the cemetery Mindful of this and considering that she was the biggest star of the 1970s and could presumably afford the very best, why did she not have a splendid grave stone?. The truth is I honestly do not know!! I believe Mary would have indeed one day [had she lived] become mainstream, she had the strength and charisma to mix in all societies and was a truly wonderful person. She was seen at charity events etc. with the likes of Arthur Askey [the one time comedian] and other well known people supporting her charities and furthering their causes. It is I suppose worth notice that Mary 28 years on from all her battles where she was harangued persecuted and so willfully hurt by those in authority whom it has been proven had double standards by that I mean out of the public eye used her, bought her mags etc... the one and the same people police magistrates etc.. were then prosecuting her for her actions and beliefs in the Old Bailey courts. I believe it was always at the back of Mary's mind to expose these people as hypocrites indeed she had experienced that some of the same people who upheld the law also bought her magazines. Mary was hounded and for what, look what porn is freely available today!. The films of Mary Millington are seen as nothing more than 'glorified nude Benny Hill sketches' despite at one time what David Sullivan maintained, indeed a good percentage of Mary's 'fellow actresses' in her films starred in Benny Hills sketches three I know of were 'Hills Angels'. Abandoned in death by those that sought to gain from displaying her as a macabre show the contemptible way that they displayed her in order to get what they wanted, that includes the late John M East her manager and publicist who Mary seemed to worship in life. Shame on him and the many others who did the same. Mary Ruth Maxted RIP with your beloved mother. The grave stone is inscribed simply 'REUNITED'


Filmography

* Miss Bohrloch (short 1970)
* Oh, Nurse! (short 1971)
* Oral Connection (short 1971)
* Betrayed (short 197?)
* Special Assignment (John Lindsay short 197?)
* Secrets of a Door to Door Salesman (1973, scenes cut)
* Response aka Go Down, My Lovely (short 1974)
* Sex is My Business (aka Sex Shop) (short 1974)
* Love Games (short, Mountain Films, 197?)
* Eskimo Nell (1974)
* Erotic Inferno (1975)
* I'm Not Feeling Myself Tonight (1975)

* Private Pleasures (1975) (shot in Sweden)
* Keep It Up Downstairs (1976)
* Intimate Games (1976)
* Come Play with Me (1977)
* Whats Up Superdoc (1978)
* The Playbirds (1978)
* Probito Erotico aka Erotic Fantasies (1978) ringmaster (scenes cut)
*Kamera Club a.k.a. Camera club (8mm Tabu short: make-up artist/non acting)
* Confessions from the David Galaxy Affair (1979)
* Queen of the Blues (1979)
* The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle (posthumous 1980)
* Mary Millington's True Blue Confessions (posthumous 1980)
* Mary Millington's World Striptease Extravaganza (posthumous 1982)
* Sex and Fame: The Mary Millington Story (TV documentary 1996)




Special thanks to Suzy Mandel, Peter Mason and AFN33 for their help with this article.

Monday, 1 September 2008

“Viva Peters” - the career of Luan Peters


Luan Peters is a British actress, born Carol Hirsch, on the 18th of June 1946 in Bethnal Green, London.

Though not from a showbiz family- her grandparents were German ex-patriots who emigrated to London when her father was three, and he grew up to be a garage owner in the East End- she made her stage debut in a pantomime aged four, then went on to win a drama scholarship at aged 16 after a recital of Twelfth Night. Becoming sidetracked with a music career she started singing in a band for two pounds a night as a way of earning extra money in between attending drama school. Her singing career began proper in Manchester, where under the name Karol Keyes (named after her management Keystone Promotions), she fronted “Karol Keyes and The Big Sound”, a band previously known as The Fat Sound (for more on The Big Sound see http://www.manchesterbeat.com/bands/bigsound/bigsound.php). “We first met her in early 1966 when the Big Sound backed her” recalls the bands’ Kevin Parrott “Her first record was an Ike & Tina Turner number called ‘A Fool in Love’ on Columbia. The Big Sound auditioned with her at Abbey Road, but they used session men on the actual release (and you can tell, as it's rather bland). However, I still have the original Abbey Road acetates recorded with the Big Sound. I last met her in the early 1980s on the opening night of Stringfellows.”


She split from the Big Sound in June 1966. A year later she joined Joan Littlewood’s drama school at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, whilst continuing to sing in nightclubs “I was performing in a club one evening when an EMI man looked in. Through him I began making records for his company. My records didn’t burn up the charts, but they didn’t do so badly either”. A third and final name change came in the late sixties, Gordon Mills who had successfully given the stage names to Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck, suggested she call herself "Delilah Jackson" to capitalize on Jones’ 1968 hit Delilah. Feeling that she didn’t look like a Delilah Jackson however, the soon to be ex-Karol Keyes decided to blindly stick a pin into a map and came up with a town in Russia called Luan (although some articles claim it was a town in China) “it sounded nice and I adopted it as my first name”. It was her love of films that caused her to come up with her surname “all of my life I’ve been cinema crazy, I still go two or three times a week” she told Photoplay in 1972 “I couldn’t think of a surname… until one night I went to see the film Viva Zapata, with Marlon Brando and Jean Peters”. Hence “Luan Peters” was born.

In 1970, she starred in the 13 part TV series ''Go Girl'', playing the lead role, a go-go dancer who finds herself involved in action oriented story lines. The show, produced by Kenneth F Rowles (later of Take an Easy Ride infamy) and actor Simon Brent, who also played Luan’s gormless DJ boyfriend in the show, was unfortunately beset by problems from the outset, which included the financers backing out, the production running out of money, and the actors union Equity closing the production down.


Luan and Rowles even went to America at one point to try and raise money for the show, but without success. The series was never broadcast and it is believed only the pilot episode was completed. However promotion of the series continued for a few years after it was made, as late as 1973 Titbits magazine announced the series would be “screened nationally by Harlech Television, starting in September”. The pilot episode only saw the light of day more than a decade after it was made, when it was released twice on UK video in the early eighties once under the title Give Me a Ring Sometime (which is actually just the pilot episode title) and another time as Passport to Murder. On the basis of the pilot Go Girl clearly had a lot going for it with lively, action packed plots taking place in picturesque locations, pop music interludes, cartoon inserts and Luan go-go dancing to Slade’s “Coz I Luv You” in hot pants. In the pilot episode her character, ironically called Carol, finds herself in possession of treasure map and targeted by a mysterious killer identified for most of the programme only by his tattooed hand.

That Go Girl was never broadcast at the time seems a genuine shame in retrospect, Luan single handedly carries the show with her good looks and acting. Had it been broadcast, you wonder if people may have thought of her in more of a leading lady capacity, as opposed to just small roles being leered at by Reg Varney or bitten on the tit by Hammer vampires.

A rare lead role did follow however in the british sex film Not Tonight Darling (1971) in which Luan played a bored housewife lured into an extra marital affair and then blackmailed into appearing in blue films. Luan gives a fully realized performance as a tortured, three dimensional character, compare and contrast to the now laughably wooden actresses who populate Derek Ford’s The Wife Swappers.
As well as Not Tonight Darling, and her two Hammer film appearances (in Lust for a Vampire and Twins of Evil) some of Luan’s other big screen roles include a waitress whose romp with Ian McShane causes him allot of trouble in Freelance (1970), although most of her screen time hit the cutting room floor in order to get the film an A certificate. No such problems befell Pete Walker’s early films Man of Violence (1969) and The Flesh and Blood Show (1972), which proudly lived up to their X certificates. Remembering Luan in an interview for the DVD release of the former, Walker recalled her as “a good working actress”. On her death scene “it was February and we threw her off the end of the pier in freezing conditions on that movie. To have her dead body floating in the ocean. So yes she was a good pro, and good memories of Luan”.





A small “blink and you’ll miss her” role as Bernard Bresslaw’s secretary in the David Niven comedy Vampira (1974) followed, as did a more lengthier role in The Devil’s Men (1976), a Greek horror film headlined by British horror icons Peter Cushing and Donald Pleasence. Despite their and Luan’s efforts however its a rather dull film. Sadly Luan, and her nude scenes, were the only good things about her final films, the ill conceived The Wildcats of St. Trinians (1980) and the Australian erection failure sex comedy Pacific Banana (1981) in which Luan pulling off her top causes a volcano to erupt.

Luan was better served in her simultaneous threatre and TV career of the time. Her stage work included, “A Man Most Likely To” (1969, with George Cole), “Pyjama Tops” (1969) Paul Raymond’s famous show in which she co-starred with Bob Grant from On the Buses, and appeared naked on stage "for thirty seconds". “Decameron 73” (1973) was a similarly racy play well covered by the tabloids at the time. However Luan remained covered up to play Linda McCartney in “John, Paul, George, Ringo and Bert” (1974), plus Tom Stoppard’s “Dirty Linen and Newfoundland”
(1976), “Shut Your Eyes And Think Of England!” (1978 with Donald Sinden and Frank Thornton) and “Funny Peculiar” in 1985.

She was also active on television in series such as: Z Cars, Public Eye, Doctor Who, Target, The Professionals and as Raylene Miles the busty guest whose breasts are groped more than once by Basil in the Fawlty Towers episode ''The Psychiatrist''. Evidentially Luan’s Australian accent was so good that some people still believe her to be an Australian actress!! Target, the BBC’s notoriously violent Patrick Mower vehicle from 1977, also gave Luan an interesting role in Denise Musgrave, a secretary at a corrupt haulage company that Det. Supt Steve Hackett (Mower) is investigating undercover. The role showcases Luan in a suitably malevolent mode, a jarring contrast to her usual nice girl roles. Perhaps taking method acting a little too far, the climax called for Luan to attempt to smash a bottle over Mower’s head after his cover is blown. While in the episode she fails to do this, it was reported in the papers at the time that she did accidentally brake a bottle of Dom Perignon champagne over Patrick's head during shooting!! The episode also features Mower and Luan disco dancing in what must rate as the most screamingly 1970s scene ever filmed.

In honour of her appearance in Public Eye in 1971, Titbits magazines ran a pictorial of Luan dressed as Sherlock Holmes, modeling a bikini, deerstalker cap and a magnifying glass.

Ironically Luan claimed her role in the episode Transatlantic Cousins was “one of the few times I have had to play down the glamour. I’m now starting to be judged as an actress- not just a dolly bird”. Her good looks and sex appeal, did occasionally seem to be working against her wish to be seen as a serious actress though, and its hard not to notice her frustration at this in interviews of the time. “My looks have been a handicap” she complained to Titbits “if a plain looking girl walks into a studio they say ‘she must be able to act’. But if you’re a pretty girl you just decorate the set”. Luan continued acting throughout the eighties, appearing regularly on Cannon and Ball's TV shows. According to Luan fan Freddie Baer “One week she slapped Bobby Ball (scripted!) harder than he was expecting, or, at least, he gave that impression to the merriment of the audience!”. Luan’s last known television role was in an episode in The Bill in 1990, in 2005 she was interviewed for the documentary Fawlty Towers Revisited, talking about one of her most famous roles.

Music wise, Luan’s biggest brush with the pop charts came in 1975 when she fronted the band 5000 Volts and appeared on Top of the Pops singing their hit song “I’m on Fire”. Controversy arose when it was later alleged that Tina Charles had actually sung vocals on the single itself, however it is believed Luan’s vocals were used for the Top of the Pops performance. Luan continued the release singles (mainly in Europe) throughout the 1970s. A versatile singer her recordings range from her early 60s soul recordings, to 1970’s Crazy Annie, which Luan belts out like Bethnal Green’s answer to Bobbie Gentry (“Crazy Annie was a good time, to a boy named Joe, Crazy Annie wasn’t crazy, oh no, no, no!!!” ) to the feel good late 70s disco of Love Countdown and the even better B-Side Beach Love. Her personal preference however was singing jazz and moody blues, describing her voice as “low and husky. You could call me a pop-contralto”.

Director Pete Walker once referred to his film Man of Violence as "a glossy Hollywood thriller made for three and a half pence with the necessary ingredients- Luan Peters with her 42 inch bust, and a bit of blood", upon reading this Luan retorted "I don’t have a 42 inch bust” later claiming her bust was 37" and that “I have a small back”.


Discography


Singles

*"The Good Love The Bad Love/Gonna Find me a Substitute" (Karol Keyes & The Big Sound, Unreleased Abbey Rd. EMI audition recording)
*"No One Can Take Your Place" (1964) (as Karol Keyes)
*"You Beat me to the Punch" (1964, Fontana) (as Karol Keyes)
*"Can't You Hear the Music" (196?) (as Karol Keyes)
*"A Fool in Love/The Good Love and the Bad Love" (1966) (as Karol Keyes)
*"One in a Million/Don’t Jump" (1966) (as Karol Keyes)
*"Crazy Annie/ Colours" (1970)
*"This Love of Mine/ New World Coming" (1971, Polydor)
*"Everything I Want to Do/Billy Come Down" (1973, Polydor)
*"Love Countdown/Beach Love" (1977,CBS,Germany)
*"Dolphin Dive" (1979)
*"It’s Me Again Margaret/Henhouse Holiday" (1980, Precision)
*"Trouble" (1981, from the film ‘Pacific Banana’)

Selected Magazine Appearances



* ''Mayfair'' (Vol.5, No.8, “Moon and Sexpants”, October 1970)
* ''Cinema X'' (Vol.3, No.8, 1970) "Lovely Luan"
* ''Saturday Titbits'' (4th Sep 1971)
* "C7" (Spain) (4th September 1971) No.543
* ABC Film Review march 1972
* ''Photoplay Film Monthly'' (May 1972)
* ''TV Times'' (16-29 December 1972)
* "TV Times" (31 March- April 6 1973) “Yoga with Luan Peters”
* ''Titbits'' (6th June 1973)
* "New Cinema" (Italy) (December 1973) Vol.5 No.12 “The Flesh and Blood Show”
* "TV Life" (May 1974) “Luan Peters Visits a Health Farm”
* ''Weekend Magazine'' (25th Dec 1974)
* ''Weekend Magazine'' (7th August 1974)
* ''Cinema X'' (Vol.8, No.3, February 1975 “The Devil’s Men”)
* "TV Times" (11-17 January 1975)
* "Record Mirror" September 20 1975 “Interview with Luan Peters”
* "TV Times" 30th October 1978 “Luan Peters in Mixed Blessings”
* ''Extra Deiz Minutos'' (Spain, 1980)