It’s the 80’s just before the advent of AIDS, and we are behind the scenes at the entrancing Mitchell Brothers’ O’Farrell Theater, which Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson has declared to be "the Carnegie Hall of public sex in America." The theater and its steamy live shows are a countercultural venue for celebrities in entertainment and sports, and for San Francisco politicians and journalists. They are drawn by the beautiful strippers and the backroom hospitality of their outrageous porn king hosts, Artie and Jim Mitchell--who directed the groundbreaking porn film, Behind the Green Door, starring Marilyn Chambers.
Simone Corday, who danced at the O’Farrell and was a girlfriend of the late Artie Mitchell for nearly a decade, shares her unique story and her insights. She is the only woman insider to write about this insular but captivating world during this period, when she was close to the impulsive Mitchells, and a friend of the O’Farrell’s honorary Night Manager, Hunter Thompson. Corday’s unusual background of having an MA in English, along with her honesty, irreverent sense of humor, and keen focus as an observer, make this a delicious expose.
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Corday gives vivid accounts of three Mitchell Brothers’ films she took part in. They include the disastrous Behind the Green Door, the Sequel, a grandiose safe-sex epic with characters from Greek mythology, and their documentary on Hunter Thompson, titled The Crazy Never Die. She shares memories of her unconventional, passionate relationship with "Party Artie" Mitchell. His affectionate personal and domestic side, along with his love for his children, are remembered fondly. His taste for cocaine and advancing alcoholism--that led him to disappear on binges with a succession of young dancers--is also recaptured, as well as his volatile temper, his impish sense of fun, and his charismatic, macho persona.
Corday sheds light on Jim Mitchell’s motives for shooting Art to death, and on the murder trial that follows. She reflects on her experience in the sex industry, and on her relationship with a notorious club owner. From the fun she had performing in the O’Farrell’s spotlight as the theater’s nemesis, then-San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein, to her heartbreak visiting Artie’s grave a few short years later, this is a sensational ride.
I am grateful to Charles Gatewood, for the use of his unforgettable cover photo of a dancer from his “Post Modern Pin-Ups,” available at charlesgatewood.com.
*Please Note: The cover model is not the author! The cover photo was chosen to represent the numerous alluring women who give the sex business vibrance, and enable it to thrive.
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