The Back Story


"There is no such thing as risk-free anything. In fact, all valuable human things come to us from risk and loss . . .. Part of the sizzle of sex is the danger, the risk of loss of identity in love. That's part of the drama of love."

- Camille Paglia, in Sex, Art, and American Culture.

This book is a true story.  It began as a journal I kept when I started dancing at the Mitchell Brothers' O'Farrell Theater in 1981--a decade after the Mitchells shot their breakthrough porn film Behind the Green Door.  In the fullness of time, I chose to pursue a complex love affair with Artie Mitchell, an infamous, flamboyant pornographer and one of the last true outlaws of the Western World.  I loved Artie because he was uninhibited and challenging. I could love him because our relationship ebbed and flowed--times we were together were balanced by times apart.

Falling for a bewitching pornographer with a radical imagination had many moments of ecstasy and times of maddening frustration.  Since I worked at the theater which Artie co-owned, the balance of power between us was far from equal.  He was a hard-living outlaw, and our relationship was strained when he disappeared on binges.  Although much of what I went through as a result of his drug use and advancing alcoholism may seem diabolical, it went with the territory of being significant in his life.  In many ways, Artie and I lived poet William Blake’s line "The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom."  I count myself lucky to have ridden passion to the ends of experience.  Although agonizing at times, the connection I had with him was truly erotic and over the years the bond of love between us became steel.

After Art's death I began transcribing my journal, towards the end of writing a book.  Dates, events and conversations are accurate to the best of my recollection, and names of the major players are unchanged.  The characters of some of the dancers and other minor figures are composites.  Their names and identifying details have been altered to protect the real people I worked with.  The setting of one non-Mitchell Brothers’ movie was changed, for the same reason.  Compressing ten years of life into a readable manuscript was like assembling a Chinese puzzle, and events of lesser importance are not included.  Details surrounding Art's death have been drawn from grand jury transcripts and published accounts, and represent my earnest efforts to portray what actually occurred.

The O’Farrell Theater was a wild place, where the compelling emphasis was on sex.  I had some wild experiences, which I describe realistically.  It is my hope that the reader will also be able to focus on the more serious parts of this story, and hear my perspective. 

When Art was depicted as a monster at the subsequent murder trial and in the media, I realized how important it was to tell my story--the truth about the Art I knew, about me, and about our world--in all its ugliness, its comedy, and its beauty.

I have never regretted my choice of Artie, or my time behind the O'Farrell's "green door."  In truth, I bought the ticket, and it was a spectacular ride.

San Francisco, California
August 2007

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