Pamela Green

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Pamela Green' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Pamela Green' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Pamela Green' page

Britain's Queen of Curves

By Yak

If you were an aficionado of the female form in 1950s America, the name of Betty Page was probably at the top of your list. If you were an aficionado living in Britain, however, your list would be topped by another name — Pamela Green.

Some of you may be already familiar with Pamela’s involvement in Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom (1960) and the nudist film Naked as Nature Intended. I invite you and those who are newcomers to come in and take a closer look at Pamela’s work. I hope you will get some insight into her life and times.

Pamela worked with a number of prominent photographers, such as Zoltán Glass, Angus McBean, and Bill Brandt. She combined her skills as a dancer, painter and model with her God-given beauty and created a vast body of work that stands as an intriguing insight and unequalled monument to the under-the-counter culture of postwar Britain.

People often think of the 1950s as a period of gloom and austerity – but for an enterprising young woman with energy and joie de vivre, life was fulfilling and fun. Pamela funded her training as an artist at London’s St Martin’s School of Art by working as a nude model. This opened the doors to a rich and varied life that brought her into contact with many talented and unique people, both in front of and behind the camera.

Pamela got her start modelling at the tender age of seventeen – life modelling for art classes at St Martin’s to defray the costs of her art education. She was paid four shillings and sixpence an hour for costume sittings, and five shillings for nude sittings.

One day a friend of hers said, “You know, if you work for photographers they pay you a guinea an hour.”

“Well, that’s a bit better,” Pamela thought.

So she went up to Studio One Hundred on Soho’s Greek Street, banged on the door and asked the man with the enormous Air Force moustache who answered it: “Are you interested in figure models?”

 “Well, yes!” he replied. “I’d better have a look at your figure first, so get undressed.”

She undressed. “Fine. Turn round. You’ll do.”

Pamela was booked in for a sitting the following week. The photographer, Douglas Webb, was a bona fide war hero: he was one of the Dambusters.

The next week Pamela arrived at his studio to find it filled with white lilac, which Douglas had nicked out of his mother’s garden. Pamela posed nude, and in her Edwardian petticoat, clutching a Chianti bottle. At the end of the sitting Pamela dressed, signed the model release form and was paid the unheard-of sum of two guineas. So for two hours’ work Pamela received more than she did for working an entire day at art school. She picked up her coat and put it on. As she was winding her scarf round her neck Douglas asked, “What’s that you’re putting on?”

Pamela explained that it was her school scarf.

“Good god! How old are you?”

Pamela didn’t know that as she was under the age of twenty-one she couldn’t sign a model release form without parental consent.

“Oh, they don't mind,” Pamela assured him. Nevertheless, Douglas was taking no chances. In his old SS Jaguar he drove out to Kent to see her parents.

“I don’t think my mother minded in the slightest,” Pam recalled later. “My family was very liberal. I mean, there was no shame about nakedness. My father was a good artist, and used to love drawing nudes.” Her parents signed the form without a fuss.


Pamela first met George Harrison Marks, her future partner, in 1953. George was a theatrical photographer and they met in connection with Pamela’s role in Bernard Delfont’s Folies Bergere, which was running at the Prince of Wales Theatre at the time.

During the lean times of the early 1950s the couple struggled to make a living. Their studio was at 4 Gerrard Street, now the heart of Chinatown. Their lives ping-ponged between feast and famine, but they had fun.

In the mid '50s Soho was still very much a village where everyone knew everyone else. Pamela managed to shop without actually going beyond its confines. Berwick Street and Rupert Street had the markets – there she bought fruit and veg. Meat, finally off ration, was purchased at Hammetts in Rupert Street or the Belgian butchers in Old Compton Street. At the top end of Berwick Street was a shop that had every sort of material Pamela could ever want, from cottons to satins and velvet. She purchased yards of black velvet, which she sewed and made into black backgrounds for the studio.

Soho had its prostitutes, and Gerrard Street had three. As they were neighbours Pam got to know them quite well. Brenda, small, middle-aged, blonde and tough, had a young pimp who finished up in the nick. Phyllis, dressed immaculately in tweeds, twin set and pearls, ran a guesthouse in a South Coast holiday resort. If business was slack she would come up to Soho, “To make an extra bit of cash, dear”. Dede was French, with a room on the top floor, on the corner of Macclesfield Street and Gerrard Street. She had married an English sailor with the express purpose of coming to England to work as a prostitute. Gerrard Street was £2, Newport Court was thirty shillings and Lisle Street only £1.

Pamela and George made their living by selling sets of postcards featuring nudes and semi-nudes to the bookshops in the area. The constraints in place due to the era’s censorship laws presented a challenge. However, the quality of the work and the beauty of the models meant that they sold enough to invest in the launch of their first monthly publication, the now famous Kamera.

Kamera was launched in 1957. It was a pocket-sized monthly publication. The models featured were hand picked by George and Pamela, who had the uncanny knack of selecting just the right girls. Some of them – June Palmer, Paula Page, Lorraine Burnett, Vicky Kennedy and Marie Devereaux – were to become celebrities in their own right.

Within two days of the launch of the first issue of Kamera, the initial 15,000 print run was sold out. A re-run led to 150,000 copies being sold in five weeks.

George’s photographic mastery and Pamela’s creative skills led to Kamera changing the face of glamour photography. They seemed to have a natural ability to capture the spirit of the age and, to some extent, guide it. Kamera, though titillating, was imbued with dignity and beauty. Sales of the Kamera calendars were phenomenal.

Naturally the pair branched out into producing 8mm shorts. They made more than 100 films between 1953 and 1961. Pamela starred in the following: Chimney Sweeps (which actually had a theatrical run), Art for Art’s Sake, Gypsy Fire, The Window Dresser, Witch’s Brew, and Xcitement, and she had a cameo in Cover Girl. What is interesting about the films they made is that George’s love of music hall and slapstick comedy is very apparent, making them very distinct from the American films of the same era.

The studio was to become the centre of the nude and glamour scene. In the early 1960s the staff had expanded to 15. Even Pamela’s mother helped out when things got busy.

In a well-deserved tribute to Pamela’s talent for set and costume design, the famed director Michael Powell copied the look of Pamela and George’s studio in his controversial film Peeping Tom (1960), in which Pamela was cast as a model, Milly.

Pamela consolidated her growing notoriety by starring in George's directorial debut, the hit nudist film, Naked As Nature Intended (1961). When the film went on general release it was banned by Birmingham City Council: the cinema in neighbouring Walsall made a fortune. The independent distribution company, Crown International, picked up the film for release in North America. It ran for 18 months straight in London, making it one of the most notorious nudist films ever. Watching it today one wonders what the fuss was about.

In December 1967 Pamela dissolved her partnership with George Harrison Marks and went to live with Douglas Webb, eventually retiring to the Isle of Wight, where she became an improbable stalwart of the Women's Institute.

Pamela Green died from leukaemia, aged 81, on the Isle of Wight on 7 May 2010.

To find out more abut Pamela Green, and the pinup scene of the day, check out her website at

… and the book

Naked as Nature Intended: The Epic Tale of a Nudist Picture,
ISBN-13: 978-0954598594

This page was added by Meister Yak on 12/01/2015.

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