Monday, 24 May 2010

“Life with George Harrison Marks”- A Chat with Louise Sinclair

I was delighted to recently correspond with Louise S. Sinclair, who back in the 1970s worked as a glamour model and dated George Harrison Marks during the Spring of 1979. Louise is happy to reminisce about “those wonderful pre politically correct days of freedom” and her computer-like memory was able to fill in many of the blank spots I had about Marks’ life during that period. Her stories about him are equal parts comedy and tragedy, and provide a frank, but valuable, insight into Marks’ psyche, post Come Play With Me, at the very fag end of the 1970s. Many thanks to Louise for taking this trip down memory lane!!

“I was involved with George during 1979 when he resided in Red Lion Square and had a company called Helena Grant Associations. I became his lover aged 19 and when he telephoned my mother would jokingly say "granddad is on the phone" At that point George had spilt from (his third wife) Toni. I believe it had happened over a year previously. Toni seemed to be involved with a man called Arthur who aggravated George because his identity bracelet had diamonds and George's was plain gold.

George introduced me to his various friends including Milton and Jack as his mistress. I recall little about (Milton Reid), he seemed a fairly disinterested in people character and usually just nodded in my direction. I recall him looking very over weight and George being heavy, the two of them made quite a sight. George liked wearing a striped top which as I told him made him look like a deckchair on legs. I wasn't diplomatic as I was only 18 when I met George.

George was a very heavy smoker and drinker. He also loved dishes such as saukraut and polish sausages. His moods were volatile and I had a quarrel with him when somewhat hungover he demanded that I helped him clean his flat as Toni was expected. I was nursing a heavy cold and when George demanded that I got up and helped him empty ashtrays and remove empty vodka bottles I exploded with rage dressed and left. Toni arrived and seeing the condition he was in promptly confiscated his adored Burmese cats as she thought he was too drunk to care for them. I wrote George a sharp letter calling him a walking vodka bottle. He quickly contacted me to apologize for his thoughtless behaviour. George was quite stingy with money and rarely bought me a gift. He loved wearing bling jewellery and liked to relax in one of his many kaftans. George was a prolific reader and introduced me to Jackie Collins via Lovers and Gamblers. I was instantly hooked and sat reading quietly for hours while George drank smoked and snoozed. He often mentioned his daughter Josie and took us off to a hairdressers where we both had our hair cut and styled.

During this time George was involved in stronger glamour photography. He used to grumble that there was no art left in 60's style glamour - it was strictly open leg material. I was a glamour model but he never wanted me to involve myself in his hard core material. However it led to some amusing encounters. George once told me we had to get up as he was expecting a dishy male model for an audition. I leapt out of bed and hastily applied make up expecting a tall dark handsome hunk. I was very disillusioned to be greeted by a pale skinny young guy with blond hair and a washed out appearance. Perhaps his assets were concealed by his underwear.

I met Rex Peters who was a highly unpleasant little man and Ed Alexander whom seemed okay. George told me not to work with Rex as he was known for getting "forceful" with women. I didn't do any film or television work myself. I almost got slung out of a Health And Efficiency shoot because I was wearing too much make up and horror of horrors suspenders and nail polish. George almost cried with laughter over that episode.

Another time I visited Toni's flat in St Johns Wood to complete a movie. There were several of us and it was exhausting. That film Toni and her boyfriend did was so appalling it was scrapped according to George. It wouldn't surprise me as the shooting was haphazard to say the least. The films Toni and her boyfriend were making were very soft - no open leg or erections. I think they were trying for a Mayfair image. Everything was suggested but nothing happened apart from several very weary models. Toni also had a model there she was helping to get jobs in exchange for a 10% commission. Shooting continued throughout the day and when evening finally arrived I returned to George to find that he had thoughtfully prepared a meal and bath for me.

George had a great love of Vaudeville which I was too young to appreciate and he often compared my figure to that of Pamela Green. However by this time he was no Casanova as drinking had affected his virility. His amusing personality was his biggest asset to a young woman interested in having fun and aware that the relationship would go nowhere.

Saturdays were often spent wandering along Camden Passage where George knew quite a few of the dealers. Lunch was liquid and complemented by plenty of Marlboro cigarettes. When he moved to Stamford Hill he had an elderly couple in residence
downstairs. I believe the wife’s name was Dolly. The journey from East London to Stamford hill was very awkward and gradually our relationship petered out when I became involved with another man.

George was eccentric, amusing but ultimately somewhat afraid of deep intimacy with women. He was very distressed about the death of Mary Millington. I was with him when he received the news. His view was that the Inland Revenue had hounded her to suicide. David Sullivan was a man he felt contempt for. George told me that Sullivan enjoyed a daily breakfast of steak followed by a box of chocolates. He also claimed that Sullivan had collected the earnings from Come Play With Me as a major backer of the film. It seemed that he resented the success Sullivan was enjoying and certainly didn't want to play second fiddle to a man he viewed as an upstart.

George was going through a fairly quiet period at that point and seemed to enjoy most of his spare time lounging around the flat, playing with his cats and drinking vodka. In retrospect I would suspect he was quite depressed as he couldn't see a clear direction and he got bored doing the blue films.”

Monday, 17 May 2010

Review: Sordid Soho (196?, Director unknown)

 Sordid Soho is a 1960s 8mm glamour film with a West End Jungle vibe to it, that can certainly lay claim to living up to its title, coming across as it does like some sort of travelogue, or maybe even a training film, for the dirty mac brigade. Consisting mostly of shots of 1960s strip clubs in soho and several striptease routines, these appear to be seen from the point of view of a typical 60s Soho punter, whose face the film always keeps off screen, and who is only represented in the film by a shot of a finger pressing a stripper’s doorbell, and as a pair of feet as he makes his way up to her flat.

As it was aimed at the comparatively unregulated 8mm market Sordid Soho eschews the kind of bending over backwards to please the censor sermonizing that feature films like Primitive London and London in the Raw had to adhere to, and instead fills its 11 minute running time with what its faceless punter, and its audience, paid to see, namely the routines of several “naked lovelies” as the cartoonish 8mm box dubs them. Despite all the strip club marquees on display, the filmmakers clearly couldn’t get access to film in the clubs themselves, so all the strip routines take place in shabby upstairs flats, leaving the film to document, or at least recreate, the post-Wolfenden report set-up of girls using advertisements to lure punters up to their flats to watch them strip off, with the implication that “something more” might be on offer. A scenario that was portrayed in a tut-tut and leer fashion in West End Jungle, but which also crops up allot in low-brow horror films of the period like Corruption and The Mutations, where inevitably the girls come to a sticky end, or in the case of the latter film face to face with a deformed Tom Baker. Nothing so dramatic takes place here of course, despite shots of the punter creeping up the stairs looking like they’ve strayed from a horror film, and just in case we get the wrong impression the back of the 8mm box is at hand to reassure us that “we would point out that the girls in this film are models”, heaven forbid we should think they were real life strippers, or shock, horror, ladies of the night.

Sordid Soho is a creditless film, and one that leaves few clues for 21st century archeologists as to its makers’ identity, causing you to speculate whether the film was the work of an enthusiastic amateur, something shot by a person who had a real job in film and TV but had the time to slum it in Soho, or merely the output of one of the many n’er do well jack the lad characters who sprung up in the wake of Harrison Marks and Stanley Long’s success in the 8mm glamour film business. Certainly the film would like you to believe it was the work of a pervy punter who insisted on dragging a camera with him on his Soho prowls for strippers, although the fact that its shot with a degree of professionalism, and its makers clearly cranked out a few more films of this type (listed on the back of the 8mm box are “Her Day Off” and “Helga from Copenhagen”) suggests the truth is likely to be nearer the n’er do well, jack the lad characters option. Curiously the box also advises punters to “ask to see the other films in this series”, possibly indicating that this was designed to be sold in a chain of shops, or maybe just the one shop, rather than the mail order route.

The strip acts themselves are very of the period, with the b/w photography, emphasis on lingerie, bare breasts and bums and the avoidance of full frontal nudity in keeping with the mentality of the Harrison Marks and Arnold Louis Miller girlie magazines of the day. These scenes may have originally been Sordid Soho’s raison d’etre but today play second fiddle to the more historically interesting street footage, with the film obsessively documenting all the naughty sights and places 60’s Soho had to offer. The mixture of snapshots of shady businesses, a faceless protagonist and strip routines even pre-dates, and anticipates the Soho sequence in the beloved Brit sleaze favourite Take An Easy Ride by more than a decade.

Of course whether or not some of the films’ participants would be happy to be remembered on film as the epitome of Sordid Soho remains questionable, especially in the case of the girl who the filmmakers managed to persuade to remove everything bar her shades, which she keeps on throughout her routine. Still what better, or more hilarious, validation do you need of a film’s authentic sleaziness than the fact that even the people who appeared in it insisted on keeping their dark glasses on !!!

Friday, 14 May 2010

Pamela Green 1929-2010

Received an email this morning from Yak El-Droubie, who runs her website, sadly informing me that Pamela Green passed away on Friday 7th May 2010 at the age of 81. Green of course was one of the most famous nude models of the late 1950s and early 1960s, and star of Naked As Nature Intended and Peeping Tom.
R.I.P Pam, Rita Landre and Princess Sonmar Harriks.


Tuesday, 11 May 2010

All4nothing33’s Mary Millington posts

Several posts taken from whose site owner All4nothing33 has decided to discontinue and close the site, but has asked me to rip several posts and photos from it and re-post them here for posterity.

All4nothing33 at what was Private Shop Norbury London

All4nothing33 at ‘hardcore alley’ in Norbury (Allfornothing33 writes “My left arm touching the actual Police Station wall.”)

All4nothing33 visits Mary’s grave

(Allfornothing33 writes
“On Saturday the 27th September 2008 myself and my friend Kevin visited Mary's grave, on it we put a tribute, photos and some lovely flowers in honour of a truly lovely lady who died too soon.

This is the message my friend Kev and I put on her grave.

Mary you were a shining star,
We' look for you in the heavens but sadly your not there.
Maybe in another life' we' will see you again,
You were, and are the best,
Your ideals were true,
Though you were just not right for your time,
'We' wish to God that you were still here,
You would have been 62yrs old this year.
Millie you earned the fame
Those that persecuted and betrayed you should hang their heads in shame.
A quite lovely person you would have achieved more,
Mary Maxted the brightest star this universe ever saw

Two of All4nothing33’s newspaper clippings

All4nothing33 in conversation with Mary’s friend

All4nothing33 writes “The following are the words of Mary's friend to me when in conversation with him “I remember once going around to her home to photograph her in a police woman's uniform for a forthcoming film. When I arrived a young couple were viewing the house which was up for sale at the time. They were extremely well spoken and left shortly after to go and talk to the young woman's mummy. Mary and I settled down to a drink and a chat before starting on the pictures and when we finished Mary started to dress, she had got as far as stockings and suspenders, her white shirt and police woman's jacket, both undone with her breasts fully exposed and her police hat on her head, when I heard the front doorbell. Almost instantly the door to the lounge was opened by the maid, and there stood the couple complete with mummy a stout mature smartly dressed woman with blue rinsed hair, all of them staring open mouthed at Mary's state of undress. The young woman stuttered and said in a faltering voice, "Ohhh I didn't know you were a policewoman". Mary replied giggling, "nooooo I'm not a policewomen, I'm an actress!" To the shocked onlookers. Mary wasn't in the least embarrassed, but I could have died.”

All4nothing33’s potted history of Mary’s life

(Allfornothing33 writes “The Life of Mary a British Icon.

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 modelling 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 'hard/core' particularly for Lindsay mostly abroad, under various pseudonyms.He loved Mary and introduced her to Porn Magnate David Sullivan [who is owner of Play/birds 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 Sullivan's cinema release Come Play With Me [1977] the Brit comedy that outsold any sex/comedy of its era and is still today the biggest box office success in that genre.It ran twice and made twice as much money second time around.It ran alongside the first 'Superman' and at one point for six consecutive weeks even beat that. She starred in many other films before and after 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 taxman 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 19 th 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] Fenella Fielding and Moira Lister as well as other well known people, there, supporting her charities and furthering their causes.

It is I suppose worth notice that Mary 29 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'

Ref :Watch the 1996 Channel 4 film Sex and Shame 'The Mary Millington Story' note what Colin Wills the journalist with the 'Sunday Mirror' says about Mary.
Read Simon Sheridan's remarkably frank unabridged book Come Play With Me 'The Life and Films of Mary Millington' 1999 Fab press
Read 'Come Play With Me' Kelefern productions 1978
Read The Amazing Mary Millington Futura 1979 co wrote by Mary Millington David Weldon [her one time probation officer].

With Compliments of All4nothing33