Hair and sex have always been inextricably entwined. I could delve into the deep recesses of history here, and start blathering about Samson losing his virility when Delilah gave him a crew-cut, but I won’t because it means nothing to me. The name I want to bring to the forefront is a that of George Harrison Marks, who produced what then passed for pornographic magazines when I was first introduced to the idea that a hard-on was not an amusing means to piss on your own chin.
The son of the next-door-neighbours in the council flat I inhabited with my parents and younger brother was a sadist and sex-fiend. The former could be deduced by his habit of sending pet mice and hamsters to their deaths by hurling them from the top floor floor of the building – tenth or twelfth, I can’t remember which – attached to pet-sized parachutes of his own devising which never worked.
The latter was evidenced by a huge collection of small magazines that bore the imprimatur of Harrison Marks – he had dropped the “George” at this point, presumably for reasons of propriety. With a little persuasion – he was a passionately committed goalkeeper, myself a nonchalant goalscorer, and it was not difficult to rig one-on-one encounters where he saved the day – he would condescend to lend me one of these priceless publications. (They were priceless, by the way, because unavailable in any known newsagent. You had to know special places to get them and I didn’t have the addresses.)
I was only ever allowed to keep them for one night, because he thought I might steal them, even though I lived next door, a mere three feet away in council flat terms. The positive side of this arrangement was that I gave each precious periodical my undivided attention. What you must understand is that in the early 1960s, there was not much in the way of wank mags, and certainly nothing to tickle the fancy of a 13-year-old. Harrison Marks took pictures of women who looked ready for sex – whatever that might involve – unlike the muscular babes in the naturist magazines who wanted to challenge you to a game of naked rockside badminton.
The only problem, which I discovered soon after, was that they were not anatomically accurate in the sense that the women had no hair on their lower private parts. In fact, to be more accurate still, they had no lower private parts. This was, in some ways, a cheap thrill. I well remember one evening watching a display of ice dancing on television with my father. Every time one of the little skirts lifted in a swirling turn, I thought I was seeing all there was to see. The girl ice dancer had forgotten – perhaps deliberately – to put her ice knickers on, and I was getting an eyeful. Poor dad, he was missing out.
In other ways, it was not such a good thing. My first meaningful encounter with a real, live girl – which I have lovingly recounted before for Erotic Review, and is now widely ridiculed as The Two Smartie Incident– was initially fraught because the girl was equipped with hair down there and a tiny chasm to boot, when I was expecting the smooth crotch of a mannequin. I got over the initial shock, as resourceful boys do, but in the modern world of Brazilians and Posh Spice shaving her growler when Beckham called, I have often wondered whether men ever really liked pubic hair at all.
Illustration by Sylvie Jones.