Runtime: 8 mins
A more historically important Marks film, that was shot for his Maximus company circa 1974, but later sold by Kelerfern was Sex is My Business (a.k.a. Sex Shop), notable for starring a pre-fame Mary Millington. Sex is My Business was shot late on a Saturday night at a sex shop, located on London's Coventry Street. The storyline concerns a powerful aphrodisiac being dropped by a customer, whose potency renders the shops' staff and customers sex crazy. Millington 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. Marks' wife Toni, also has a small, non-sex role in the film. Harrison Marks' involvement in the film was not well known, and was only discovered when a super 8mm print of the film was privately transferred to DVD in 2008.
Curiously Marks claimed never to have worked with Millington prior to making Come Play With Me in 1977, and he would appear to have forgotten about making the film.“Sex is My Business was something of a British sex film mystery, advertised in 1970s porn magazines as a 8mm film starring Mary Millington, the film was known by title to Millington collectors but little could be found out about the film itself, and unlike Millington’s early John Lindsay shorts (Miss Bohrloch, Betrayed, Oral Connection etc etc) the film was never transferred to video or resurfaced as an internet download. Last year however an intriguing bit of information came my way; an actor/model who worked for the legendary glamour photographer, pornographer and piss artist George Harrison Marks in the 1970s remembered that Marks had made a soft core short with a pre-fame Millington that was filmed in 1974 and “set in a sex-shop just off Leicester Sq in London”, but he could not remember the title. Coincidentally a fellow film collector (the real hero of this story) had a film on Super 8mm called Sex Shop which was sold to him as ‘Starring Mary Millington’. There was no box cover, just “Sex Shop” written on a sticker on the box, but he didn’t have the equipment to play the Super 8mm film.Interesting, while he was still alive Harrison Marks claimed he couldn’t recall filming Mary prior to making Come Play With Me in 1977, something that was backed up by his estate which could find no evidence of them working together prior to that date either. The mystery deepened.I found a website that could transfer 8mm and Super 8mm to DVD, and passed the URL onto my fellow film collector with the mystery 8mm film (albeit telling him to check the company was OK about handing possible pornographic material… after all none of us knew what on earth was on that 8mm film, softcore???, hardcore??? someone’s holiday home-movie???, sod all???.)Finally however the film came back transferred to DVD, and did indeed turn out to be the enigmatic Sex is My Business directed by Harrison Marks for his Maximus company and starring the one and only Mary Millington.
Sex is My Business opens with some choice shots of mid-70s London at night, with exterior shots of the film’s sex shop setting along with other bits of neon scenery including a marquee advertising Danny La Rue. Due to some bad editing Harrison Marks’ hand is also captured for posterity, directing the cameraman which way to pan.Once the film goes inside, Marks gives you a guided tour of a mid-seventies sex shop, with signs on the wall advertising crotch-less panties and other sex aids. In a self-referencing touch, the peep show booths in the shop are showing “Sex is My Business” and another Marks 8mm film called Santa’s Coming (shot sometime in the late sixties/early seventies, I suspect Santa’s Coming was the ‘inspiration’ for the blue film parody in Lindsay Anderson’s O Lucky Man, but thats another investigation).Enter Mary Millington as a member of the shop’s staff, whose unorthodox uniforms consist of see-through dresses that end way before their crotches. Anyway, never mind the plot, heres the narrative excuse for the sex: a customer drops a bottle of a aphrodisiac on the floor, which turns the staff and the customers sex crazy. It must be good stuff, as most of them start having it off right there and then in the shop. Mary at least manages to drag a customer to the back room for some multi-position sex, thoughtfully turning on the shop’s CCTV camera, so that another member of staff, a black girl with a huge afro straight out of a blaxploitation movie, can watch them making out. Quite how Marks forgot he filmed Mary in this, is anyone’s guess, while the film is …..ahem something of an “ensemble” piece, Mary is the films main focus of attention and even though the film is soft core, remains a highly sexual presence throughout. Particularly memorable are the shots of her, quite literally, making love to the camera, ending with a huge CU of her tonguing the camera. My theory is that sometime in 1975/1976 Marks sold a number of his 8mm films to David Sullivan, who then advertised them in his own magazines and those of others. Sex is My Business would obviously have been a lucrative pick-up for him, given that in the short time since the film was made the two main actresses in Sex is My Business had both become big stars of Sullivan’s publications. Mary Millington being the obvious draw, while the film also features Maureen O’Malley, who appeared in Sullivan magazines under the name “Mary Whitehouse”. In fact, it probably wasn’t long after making the film that O’Malley introduced Mary to David Sullivan, and the rest as they say, is history. Needless to say I’m completely chuffed that a ‘new’ Mary Millington film has been rediscovered, and that a small piece of British sex film history has been saved from the dustbin of time
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