Aside from Mary Millington and British sex films, my other real passion in life has always been British comics. I’ve been collecting comics since 1979, when I was just a little boy. My favourite titles were Whoopee and Whizzer & Chips, but the comic I’ve loved more than any other, throughout my entire life, is The Dandy. Produced by DC Thomson, The Dandy was first published in 1937 and ran for an astonishing 75 uninterrupted years, giving a home to iconic characters like Desperate Dan, Korky the Cat, Bully Beef & Chips and Winker Watson. At its peak in the 1950s the comic was selling an astonishing two million copies a week, but sales had been dwindling since the late-1980s and it was eventually forced to close in December 2012. I was still buying it right until the end.
Now, you’d imagine there probably aren’t any Dandy comic-porno crossovers, but actually you’d be wrong. Director George Harrison Marks was a huge admirer of British comics and in 1976 he gave a cheeky cameo to Britain’s longest-running kids’ paper in one of his 8mm films. Using two of his favourite actresses – German Sonia Svenberger (with whom the director was having an affair) and ubiquitous blonde strumpet Lisa Taylor – Marks shot a pair of kinky corporal punishment-themed shorts back-to-back at his flat in St John’s Wood, north-west London. The first of these films – Lesson for Lolita – sees curious schoolgirl Lisa ogling a photograph of an erect penis in Günther Hunold’s notorious 1972 sex manual Sexual Knowledge, and getting seduced by her lesbian biology teacher, Miss Sonia.
In the companion film – entitled Rawhide – a male performer is added to the mix, albeit an extremely unattractive one. Once again Marks’ sitting room doubles for a school building; this time a headmaster’s office. The head of school is played by a mature male model hired by Marks for several of his productions of the time. Craggy-faced, wart-encrusted, nicotine-stained and well into his 50s, he looks like a seedier version of Derek Aylward. He is unfortunately credited as ‘Denis Ugly’ in a photo-spread in Lovebirds (issue #13) and as ‘Dirty Lecher’ in Whitehouse (issue #32); even as late as 1982 he was still appearing in David Sullivan’s magazines. Denis also appears as a drunken darts player in Marks’ mid-Seventies threesome short Inferno, co-starring Come Play with Me bit-part actor Gordon Hickman.
In Rawhide Lisa Taylor is again cast as a naughty schoolgirl, but here she’s summoned into the randy schoolmaster’s study to deliver her homework. But instead of an essay on Shakespeare’s sonnets, a copy of The Dandy falls from her work-book, much to the fury of the mortar-board wearing principal. He promptly pulls down the juvenile delinquent’s panties and begins giving her a buttocks a good hiding, before molesting her. Next door Sonia, as the prim-looking school secretary, hears the commotion, and joins in the action. The two women give the headmaster a taste of his own medicine, stripping off his clothes, tying him up and caning the life out of him. Lisa Taylor acts like a woman possessed and looks suspiciously high throughout. Poor Denis ends up with ‘This must be the end’ scrawled in lipstick on his droopy bum-cheeks for the film’s jokey climax.
Now, being a Dandy aficionado, I can exactly date the particular issue which appears in the film. It’s #1807 from 10 July 1976, which, presumably fixes the production of Rawhide to the second half of that year, which seems to fit in with Marks’ other films of the period (obviously Lesson for Lolita but also the feature film Come Play with Me, which again starred Lisa Taylor and Sonia Svenberger). The comic cover shown on screen features Korky the Cat (beautifully drawn by Charles Grigg) taking a job as a security guard and coming off worse with a fearsome goose. It is, as far as I’m aware, the only instance a children’s comic was used as a plot device in British porn!
Harrison Marks was to return to corporal punishment-themed pornography later in his career. When I first met him in early 1997 he showed me some videos of films he’d recently shot, featuring naked girls gaffer-taped to chairs and whipped by groups of men – all rather sinister, shoddily-made (certainly in comparison to his earlier works) and not my personal cup of tea at all; the twisted feminist charm of Rawhide was sorely absent from his latter productions. I’m not aware that Marks was still buying The Dandy in his twilight years, but the comic is still a big part of my life. In fact, issue #1807 is now my particular favourite – reminding me of a time when 8mm porn met a famous cartoon cat in the most unexpected fashion.
All words strictly © Simon Sheridan 2015.
Dandy artwork © DC Thomson Ltd. 2015
Many thanks to Colin Lane for kindly supplying the 8mm films.