7/21/07 - Mitchell Brothers San Francisco Co-founder Died

Jim Mitchell died of a heart attack on July 12th. He was buried beside his brother and business partner Art, with whom he founded San Francisco's legendary O'Farrell Theatre in 1969 http://www.ofarrell.com/ . The Mitchell Brothers went on to produce such adult film classics as Behind the Green Door (starring Ivory Snow girl Marilyn Chambers and porn's first black superstar Johnny Keyes), The Resurrection of Eve and Autobiography of a Flea. The brothers' partnership ended in 1991 when Jim shot Art to death in what he claimed was a confrontation over Art's drug and alcohol abuse.


Among the Bay Area notables in attendance at the hour-long memorial were former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, ex-District Attorney Terrence Hallinan, Mitchell's trial attorney Michael Kennedy, political operative Jack Davis and former San Francisco Chronicle reporter Warren Hinckle.  While the Mitchell Brothers have been credited as a major force in the sexual revolution, Jim Mitchell had no illusions about his films. "The only Art in this business is my brother," he famously said.

Several speakers at Thursday's memorial addressed the relationship between Jim and Art Mitchell. For many who knew the Mitchell Brothers, it became impossible to speak of one without mentioning the other. "I spoke here 16 years ago, and it was very difficult because I was trying to talk about Art, but every time I tried to say 'Art' I kept saying 'Art and Jim,' said O'Farrell Theatre manager Jeff Armstrong. "We all owe personal liberties and rights to the brothers that they fought for on our behalf," Davis said. "To be best friends with Artie and to be best friends with Jimmy was an extraordinary thing.  According to Kennedy, Jim Mitchell's three-year prison sentence for involuntary manslaughter saved his life. "Artie was the fucking lunatic -- he was doing more cocaine and alcohol," he said. "Why in the hell would Jimmy want to kill his brother? [Jim] felt so bad ... if somebody hadn't stepped in like that jury did, he would have killed himself. Killing Artie changed his life."

Hinckle recalled the Mitchell Brothers' battle with San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein, who attempted to shut down the O'Farrell during the '80s. The brothers responded by placing Feinstein's unlisted phone number on the O'Farrell marquee under the message: "For A Good Time Call..."  Judy Foster, who stripped at the O'Farrell for 11 years under the name Katrina, said: "It was the best time of my life. They had to kick me out of there. It's so great growing up being a slutty girl and having a place to go and be accepted."  "He was the best boss ever," added another dancer who currently strips at the theatre under the name Kimberly Rio. "He created a safe, classy environment and enabled many of the girls to do other things, like go to school and get degrees. I bought property."

The service ended with a live performance of the Frank Sinatra standard "My Way" and the release of a flock of doves. The San Francisco Chronicle described the memorial as "the end of a glorious time of sexual freedom, political high jinks and fun" for many of the attendees who experienced the Mitchell Brothers' heyday during the '60s and '70s.  


Dave notes I have visited and reported on the current rather unique theater/ strip club in my reports.  I avoided it on the last trip since its known for high fees and just about anything you want sexually.   A very nice place, and known for their fight in San Francisco for adult rights.  San Francisco is probably the best city in the U.S. to enjoy sexual freedoms with former prosecutors (including Hallinan who was at the memorial service) refusing to prosecute private prostitution cases unless some real crime was involved.  It is very open in some of  its strip clubs (almost too much so in my view) even more so than what I enjoy in Canada, just far more expensive which is why I prefer the clubs in Ontario for  lap dances but am not interested in "extra's" in a strip club since far better to have a escort at $180/hr full cost in a bed for an hour vs similar cost for fast sex in the private areas of some strip clubs both in San Francisco and Canada.


I wrote in 1998 regarding the San Francisco Task force to Decriminalize Propitiation (including street hookers so of course died ):
San Francisco Task Force- Recommended Decriminalization
A attorney said: "Spending money on enforcing prostitution laws is ``a total waste of municipal funds. "Criminal enforcement promises only one thing - that sex workers will be criminalized, they will be degraded by charges that can haunt them for life and prevent them from seeking other avenues of employment other than the sex industry,'' she said.   The study that called for stopping the prosecution of sex workers was produced by the 29-member San Francisco Task Force on Prostitution, which was set up by the Board of Supervisors.  The proposal has received support from District Attorney Terence Hallinan, who says the Legislature would have to clear the way for San Francisco to legalize prostitution.


Regarding the killing of his brother:

Jim decided that he had to become Artie's Keeper and put him down before he destroyed and killed himself and the Mitchell Family anymore. There are reports that Artie not only made verbal threats over the phone to Jim but also their Mother as well and maybe Jim felt she was in danger as well from all of Artie's abuses of alcohol and drugs.

In 1991, Jim, in response to their friends' and associates' demands to "do something" about Artie's longtime drug addiction and increasingly unstable behavior, drove to Artie's house one rainy evening in late February with a .22 rifle and shot him to death. O'Farrell stripper Julie Bajo (Artie's lover at the time) immediately called 911 and the police arrested Jim minutes later.

After a highly publicized trial in the jury rejected a murder charge and found Jim Mitchell guilty of voluntary manslaughter. Before Jim's sentencing, numerous people spoke on his behalf (presumably appealing for clemency), including former Mayor Frank Jordan, Sheriff Michael Hennessey, and former Police Chief Richard Hongisto. Mitchell was sentenced to six years in prison. After having served three years in San Quentin he was released in 1997 and returned to run the O'Farrell Theatre.

Jim established the "Artie Fund" to collect money for a local drug rehabilitation center and the surf and rescue team of the San Francisco Fire Department [In 1990 Artie rescued his sons Aaron and Caleb who had been swept out by the tide at Ocean Beach but got hypothermia battling the strong current as he swam back to shore. When the fire department arrived they could do little to help because they had no surf rescue equipment due to minimal funding].


7/28/07 Another View

I am writing to object to your sloppy account of Artie Mitchell's demise and Jim Mitchell's shooting him to death. It is a rehashing of what was reported that the speakers at Jim's memorial said, and of Jim's lead defense attorney at his murder trial (Michael Kennedy)'s statements. Anyone who followed the events at the time of Artie's death in 1991 closely knows that Jim planned and executed the killing carefully. He parked 3 blocks away from Art's house, had armed himself with 2 guns and a knife and an extra box of ammunition. After slashing the tires of Art's car, he kicked in the door and began firing a series of 8 shots, 7 of which were within body mass range. After Art was hit 3 times and killed, Jim stuffed the rifle down his pants leg and was trying to hobble away when stopped by the cops. Jim spent 1.3 million on his defense and was convicted only of voluntary manslaughter. The Mitchells' history of having contributed to many political campaigns and causes helped Jim get many letters of support that led to a leniant sentence. As someone who claims to be a Christian, I find it peculiar that you would call shooting an unarmed man who had six children justified--even if he was an alcoholic and drug abuser. There is always more than one point of view about events, and as we know, the people who survive and who are victorious get to write history.

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