26 August 2008

Harrison Marks. Kamera 1957 +

Harrison Marks. KAMERA. (Magazine) Issues 1 to 89. 1957 -1968. Soho, London.

Current Selling Prices
$15-$40 /£8-£20 per issue

We recently put a short run of this magazine on Ebay with the illustrations below and this description:

"Harrison Marks, Kamera (London: Kamera Publications, 1957)
ISSUES 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9 & 10
This is a nine-issue run of the earliest numbers of Kamera magazine, the serial portfolio of nudes created by Gerrard Street photographer Harrison Marks. Each magazine measures 7.25 x 4.75 inches and is 32 pages long. The format throughout is uninterrupted black and white photographs of female nudes accompanied by a short commentary printed at the front and back. These commentaries cast light on the techniques used in the photographs; for example, ‘with breasts of unusual beauty, by cutting in with my camera, I have tried to achieve with dramatic use of light, shade and texture an effect comparable to a piece of sculpture'. (Like his American contemporary Russ Meyer, Marks was a breast man: ‘big tits sell’). Each magazine offers the reader 10 x 8 inch enlargements of any photo for 8/6 or a set of six for 42 shillings: ‘Truly a magnificent collection to hang in one’s study or office’. Models featuring in these pages include Pamela Green (Marks’s pretend wife) and the dark-haired ‘Julie’.

This suite of nine issues (the first ten minus issue number 8) is in exceptional condition without blemish or scuff and the colour covers are as lurid as new.

A flawless archive of erotic kitsch from Soho's glory days."

The curious thing is that the item got absolutely nowhere on Ebay, although a shorter run is catalogued at ABE at £750 and we wanted about £250. Four people only viewed in a week and I have a feeling they were all me. The explanation came from looking at other chancers listing risqué magazines--you are not allowed to show nipples. Curious because, as you may know, proper porn is freely available all over the infobahn. I guess Ebay have some sort of nipple detecting software or more likely pick up on key words in your description (nudes, breasts, tits). The items are not banned but if you put them up they get no visitors and are not indexed and have a sort of purgatorial half-life. Fees however apply. This rude word detection software is fallible--a few months ago a scholarly description of an 18th Century edition of Pope's 'Rape of the Lock' lead it to being sectioned in the same way.

VALUE. There were 89 issues of these kitschy mags and you seldom see the late ones. The punters for them these days tend to be funky collectors of oddballiana, kitsch, bad taste and erotica - they are now known as 'jazz mags.' Customers buy them for a laugh, young women, taste freaks and fashionistas collect them and they sell readily at £5 +. Occasionally older punters want them out of nostalgia, one collector pushing eighty had known some of the girls in the pics and collects specific women in the great Marks oeuvre. The whole run is now available on 18 CDs from a special Harrison Marks website. A complete run in paper should get into four figures.

A biography of the Van Dyke bearded photographic maestro is promised and interest in the man has never abated since a cult for him started in the late 1970s. TRIVIA. HM's chief model Pamela Green was cast, appropriately, as the nude model, Milly in Michael Powell's 'Peeping Tom' movie (1960.) The Parisian set had originally been designed and built by Pamela for her red-headed ‘Rita Landre’ character. Harrison Marks's Gerrard Street studio, in the heart of what we now know as Soho's 'China Town' (and within spitting distance of our shop) became the centre of the nude and glamour scene in the late 1950s. Possibly one day a blue plaque will appear on the building.
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