Apr 14, 2014

Mark Gregory: Mascara-Wearing Man-Mountain of 1980s Actioners

You're probably seen The Warriors (1979), starring Michael Beck (of Xanadu) as Swan, a gang leader trying to get from home from the Bronx, while rival gangs try to kill him.

The Bronx Warriors (1983) is a blatant ripoff, with Mark Gregory as Trash, a gang leader trying to get home from the Bronx, while rival gangs try to kill him. But it features more gay subtexts -- the mascara-wearing, leather-clad Trash doesn't particularly care for women, but he cares quite a lot for some of his fellow gang members, especially Fred Williamson's Ogre.

You've probably seen Escape from New York (1981), with former Disney kid Kurt Russell as the gnarly Snake Plissken, who must escape from Manhattan (transformed into a maximum-security prison) along with the kidnapped President of the United States.

Escape from the Bronx (1983) is a blatant ripoff, with Trash and his friends trying to escape the post-apocalyptic killing zone of the Bronx, along with the kidnapped president of a major corporation. But again, Trash is not particularly interested in women, but rather interested in gang leader Dablone (Antonio Sabato).

In 1983, director Enzo G. Castellari discovered the 17-year old shoe salesman working out in a gym.  Renaming him Mark Gregory, Castellari groomed him to capitalize on the man-mountain fad, beginning with the two Bronx Warriors movies.

Gregory didn't seem to like acting much.  His feminine mannerisms resulted in homophobic harassment from some of the extras.  He kept to himself, not socializing with anyone except Castellari and his teenage son Andrea.

During the next six years, Gregory appeared in seven movies in the U.S. and Italy, including the Thunder series, about a Native American seeking revenge; Fred Williamson's Delta Force Commando; and Adam and Eve, with the primordial couple fighting cannibals and dinosaurs.  

He gave it his best shot, but acting wasn't his cup of tea, and in 1989 he returned to being Marco di Gregorio and disappeared into civilian life.

Gregorio remained incognito for over 20 years, in spite of efforts from fans and Castellari to find him.

Finally, after extensive research, a fan managed to track him down: he still lives in Rome, where he is the manager of a company that specializes in personal growth.  No, he won't do an interview.  He doesn't want to be disturbed.

Apparently the homophobic harassment took its toll.

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