Unlike Mary, few male porn performers of the 1970s ever developed a recognisable persona beyond a flickering 8mm image on a rolled-up screen. The most prolific British ‘X’-rated actor of the decade was blond toff Tim Blackstone, who appeared, anonymously, in innumerable hardcore productions for John Lindsay, George Harrison Marks and Lasse Braun, as well as more ‘mainstream’ offerings like Let’s Get Laid! (1977) and Emmanuelle in Soho (1981). Blackstone wasn’t particularly well-endowed, but he was reliable on set, and his aristocratic face became one of the most instantly recognisable in British porn. Incredibly, Blackstone was still featuring in photo-shoots for David Sullivan’s magazines in the early-1990s. I spoke to him in 2011, but, sadly, he was not willing to discuss his lengthy career.
Whilst Blackstone was, to all intents and purposes, the nearest thing British porn had to a ‘male Mary Millington’, he was not a likeable performer – an aura of smugness always seemed to accompany him on screen. However, there was another more charismatic rent-a-stud on the scene; albeit one who remained even more anonymous than Blackstone. ‘Big’ John English towered over his contemporaries – six-feet-tall, with a lean muscular physique, angular face, floppy brown hair and arrogant swagger – he looked more like a glam rocker from Top of the Pops, but what made Big John an irresistible commodity to porn directors was his impressively large penis.
Little is known of Big John’s early life. He was born in London in 1945 and started his career in porn in 1963, working for various London-based pornographers like Ivor Cooke, Mike Freeman and George Harrison Marks. Around 1973/1974 Big John took a role he was born to play – the groupie-shagging rock star ‘Randy Toole’ in Harrison Marks’ light-hearted hardcore romp, Autogramm Stunde (aka Autograph Hunter). The 8mm production was an explicit take on the sort of material director Stanley Long had previously explored on the big screen in Groupie Girl and Bread, and was released in two parts by the Düsseldorf-based Ekstase-Film. Autograph Hunter brought Big John to the attention of other porn producers on the Continent; he subsequently made films for Tabu and Color Climax.
Big John made his naked debut for David Sullivan’s magazines in 1976, in issues #18 of Park Lane, #3 of National News and #20 of Whitehouse. In the latter he was billed as ‘Harry Prestcock’ swinging his ‘ten inch cock’. Sporting an extravagant moustache, Big John was paired up with Italian-American model Suzette Sangalo Bond in a picture story about an insurance rep seduced by a horny housewife. The photographs, taken by George Harrison Marks, were pinched from a much stronger set, which in all likelihood came from another of Marks’ hardcore 8mm film productions.
Nearly a year later, in the autumn of 1977, Big John was ‘interviewed’ by Mary Millington for issue #32 of Whitehouse magazine. Mary probed the porn stud over six pages, although the article was actually ghost written by regular scribe Harry Knights. It seems probable that elements of the piece are genuine (Knights may well have met Big John at one of Sullivan’s socials), but much is fabricated. Big John’s penis had now inflated to “twelve and a half inches when erect” and he admits to shagging on camera for a “solid hour”. There’s a veiled reference to Big John’s work with Mike Freeman (mentioned here as ‘Mickey Muldoon’), whom Big John refers to as “a nicer guy you couldn’t hope to meet.” In reality, the love wasn’t reciprocated.
‘Oh, I knew Johnny English,’ recalls Freeman today. ‘He was a bit of a dodgy character, who was very well endowed. I used him in a photo-shoot in Duck Lane, Soho, with a model he knew, who had huge breasts. I remember him bullying this model, so I chinned him. He was a nasty piece of work. I fell out with him over that and never used him again.’ Freeman also alleges that Big John was a ‘small time villain’ who lived off the earnings of his girlfriend, who was, at the time, working as a prostitute.
The interview in Whitehouse claims that Big John also worked for Italian pornographer Lasse Braun on his 1974 feature Penetration (aka French Blue). Although this is untrue, he did appear in a handful of 8mm loops for the director, some of which were shot in the spring of 1977 on location in and around London. Country Life (aka Land Leben and later reissued as Lolita’s Anal Orgasm) cast him as ‘Jethro’, one half of a pair of randy farmhands who screw a girl, played by Kathy ‘Jane’ Meadows, in a straw-filled barn. He hooked up with Ms Meadows again in the slightly sinister English Schoolgirl, playing a creepy S&M master with a fondness for urology. He also appeared as the denim-clad voyeur in the nurse-fantasy Tit Friction (later reissued as Nurse Attraction), shot around the corner from St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington. When English Schoolgirl and Tit Friction were edited into the feature-length Sex-Maniacs in 1977, Big John was credited as ‘Big Joe Tanner’.
Braun’s films featured a preponderance of anal sex and pissing (both relatively unusual kinks in UK-made 1970s’ porn), but Big John had few qualms in participating. “A lot of [the films] cater to, err, anti-social acts,” he says in Whitehouse, “and if I were to admit to having taken part in them, the law would be down on me like a ton of bricks.” In 1979 Big John engaged in anal sex with Kathy Meadows once again in No Morals, released by German porn distributor, Tabu.
Following his exposure in the Whitehouse interview, David Sullivan attempted to cast Big John as Mary Millington’s male counterpart. Following Mary’s lead, the “old-fashioned cocksman” was subsequently sent around Britain to shag as many birds as possible. His fictitious stories were printed in issues #33 to #36 of Whitehouse, where he trawled Birmingham, Bristol, Sheffield and, finally, Manchester. These torrid tales were embellished with full-colour photographs of Big John in various states of arousal; never before had a penis played such a dominant role in the pages of Sullivan’s flagship magazine, or any other British 70s’ top-shelf publication, for that matter. During 1977, his gigantic penis also popped up again in Weekend Sex issue #30 and National News issue #14. Incredibly, David Sullivan missed a marketing trick by not pairing the ‘Superstud of Europorn’ with Mary in any photo-shoots, and the cocky Cockney actually only appeared just a handful of times in Sullivan’s magazines after Mary’s death (anonymously in Playbirds issue #39, and then sporting a beard in Whitehouse issue #57).
Big John English continued to make blue films – including John Lindsay’s Naughty Schoolgirls (1977), Tabu’s Creme Delight (1979), where he sported a new curly perm and shared scenes with porn starlet Lisa Taylor, plus Color Climax’s Oriental Ecstasy (aka Bangkok Party) (1980) filmed on location in Thailand, and the London-based, anal-themed Lusty Lechers (1981). However, within a few years Big John had completely disappeared from the ‘X’-rated scene, replaced by another shaggy-haired performer. This time it was a genuine ex-rocker, who would steal his predecessor’s thunder to become the most ubiquitous British porn stud of all time – a certain Mr Simon Honey, aka Ben Dover.
All words strictly © Simon Sheridan 2013-2014-2015