In 9 1/2 Years Behind the Green Door, readers are taken back to 1980s San Francisco and into the world of Simone Corday, a stripper working during the heyday of the infamous Mitchell Brothers O'Farrell Theater. Opened as an X-rated movie theater by brothers Jim and Artie Mitchell, the O'Farrell was and remains one of America's oldest, most notorious adult-entertainment establishments. This nightspot was the major force behind the normalization of lap dancing in strip clubs nationwide. Corday's memoir is a lengthy peek at the lives of the theater's management and employees, most notably her lover of ten years, Artie Mitchell.
The Village Voice
Brothers Jim and Artie Mitchell are sex-industry legends. They're the best known for producing several porn films (including Behind the Green Door) and running the infamous strip club, the O'Farrell Theater. Opened in 1969, the O'Farrell occupied a unique place at the center of a burgeoning San Francisco sexual subculture. It featured rooms with different themes, live girl/girl action, and stage shows, some of which were less standard striptease and more avant-garde performance art. Nina Hartley, a house dance at the O'Farrell in the mid-80's, says it was freewheeling, open, and laid-back: "What made it special was that there was live, hardcore lesbian sex. ...I loved that it was so easy to get some action every week. All I had to do was ask one of three or four women if they wanted company onstage. ...At least one woman per week would say yes, so I was like a kid in a candy store." Behind the scenes, the brothers hosted outrageous private parties where special guests were treated to fisting, bondage shows, and orgies. The theater attracted celebrities, rock stars, politicians, artists, writers, including Hunter S. Thompson, who spent a great deal of time there during Hartley's era researching a book called The Night Manager that was never published.
The brothers constantly pushed the envelope when it came to how much contact dancers could have with customers. It was one of the first clubs to offer live sex shows -- without glass separating the dancers from the audience -- and also nude lapdancing (until both were outlawed). The San Francisco mayor and district attorney repeatedly attempted to shut down the Mitchell brothers, conducting stings, raids, and arrests. The two spent a fortune defending themselves and won more than they lost. By many accounts, Jim and Artie were both inseparable best friends and frequently warring siblings.
The Center for Sex and Culture hosts a wide array of classes and events, including the monthly Erotic Reading Circle. Its site is sexandculture.org. The Center thrives because of the efforts of its founder, the accomplished author, speaker, and performer, Dr. Carol Queen. www.carolqueen.com
Good Vibrations, which is more than just the premier San Francisco Bay area & online sex-toy emporium. It was established by Joani Blank in 1975 as a friendly, "clean, well-lighted" alternative to conventional "adult" bookstores. They also offer books, videos, community events, and classes. http://www.goodvibes.com/
Jen Cross facilitates supportive erotic writing classes and workshops. Her site is www.writingourselveswhole.org/
Annie Sprinkle, Ph.D., Porn Star and Prostitute turned Sex Guru and Performance Artist, has written several books and co-directed and appeared in the terrific Annie Sprinkle’s Herstory of Porn --ANNIESPRINKLE.ORG. Annie appeared as a star at the O’Farrell when I was dancing there.
Susie Bright is a prolific author, speaker and editor of the popular Herotica series. She blogs at Susiebright.com. Susie appeared in Behind the Green Door, the Sequel.
Nina Hartley, sex-positive porn star, performer, speaker and author of Nina Hartley’s Guide to Total Sex, has a blog at www.nina.com Nina began dancing at the O’Farrell, appeared in the Mitchell Brothers film The Grafenberg Spot, and has frequently appeared as a star there.
Deborah Sundahl is a sex educator, author of Female Ejaculation and the G-spot, and director/producer of a video series on the subject. Her site is www.deborahsundahl.com. Deborah danced at the O’Farrell in the 80s and appeared in two Mitchell Brothers films.
Recent Books about Stripping & Porn:
Strip City, a Stripper’s Farewell Journey Across America, was written by journalist/novelist Lily Burana. She danced at the O’Farrell in the early 90s, and was a named plaintiff in the class action suit against the theater. Lily’s blog is at www.lilyburana.com/
Candy Girl, A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper, was written by Diablo Cody, who worked in clubs in Minneapolis, and since then has become a screenwriter, and appeared on David Letterman. Her blog can be read at diablocody.blogspot.com/
How to Make Love like a Porn Star, A Cautionary Tale is the best-selling memoir by mega-star Jenna Jameson. Jenna’s site is at www.ClubJenna.com.
Lapdancer, by photographer/writer Juliana Beasley, was published by Powerhouse Books.
Heather Hunter made star appearances at the O’Farrell. She wrote a novel, Insatiable: The Rise of a Porn Star, that was published this summer. She is now a hip hop artist and painter whose site is www.heatherhunter.com/
Pretty Things, The Last Generation of American Burlesque Queens was written by Liz Goldwyn, who also produced and appeared in an HBO documentary of the same title.
Burlesque and the Art of the Teese/Fetish and the Art of the Teese, by Dita Von Teese. Her website is www.dita.net/
"An exciting look into the world of burlesque dancer, Alice. Corday incorporates a supernatural touch to this adventure as Alice and her friends set out on a voyage throughout California where they meet ghosts, ghost hunters, and the banshee of the Moulin Rouge. Wicked fun with an amazing cast of characters." — San Francisco Book Review
The first thing that comes to mind is that this book is fun. A really fun story about a girl named Alice who works for a strip club, aka burlesque theatre, called the Moulin Rouge. The owner, Sally Hyde, along with her son, Tommy, is making some changes and planning on upping their game to transform the Moulin Rouge into Ultraland. I absolutely love the punny title of this book as well as the way Alice really does seem to slide down the rabbit hole…or rather to Tahoe. Upon being hired at Ultraland, Alice discovers that Deidre, her best friend who got her the job, has been dating Tommy and is madly in love. Through a series of events, Alice finds herself with a group of other ladies from the club and a few surprising supernatural guests who live at the club, taking a trip to Tahoe to find a secret something that one of the ghosts had hidden long ago.
I really loved the characters in this book. Alice seemed like a very normal, good-head-on-her-shoulders-type of gal, while the other dancers were very fancy and outspoken. Tommy Hyde is a very big playboy, although we find that he is not very fond of the creatures from another realm. One ghost was an Olympic hopeful who died tragically and goes to see his girlfriend in one part of the book.
Another part of the book that was fantastic was the description of the theater. With its velvet drapes, sconces, and chandeliers, the reader can only imagine what it would be like to step onto the stage of Ultraland. The author paid much attention to detail, from the decor to the costumes and acts the women would be performing, which I enjoyed reading about. The best part of the book was that it was written with class. The author’s main focus was not on the dancing itself but about the characters, their relationships, and their development throughout the story. Some of the ghosts were quite funny. Being from the San Francisco Bay Area, I appreciated the author’s description of the various neighborhoods. From the Tenderloin to Burlingame to Half Moon Bay, I was able to say that I knew where all of those places are in relation to each other, and it made the story easier to visualize.
Overall, this book was an easy-to-read story with colorful characters and a beautiful backdrop. The plot was simple to follow but believable sans ghosts. I truly enjoyed reading Alice in Ultraland.
—San Francisco Book Review