July 13, 2007
Chuck Traynor and the Mitchell brothers began their porn careers in the late 1960s in the same way - shooting still photographs of naked women. They both opened strip clubs. The Mitchells created the O'Farrell on Polk Street in San Francisco and Chuck developed the Las Vegas Inn in North Palm Beach in Southern Florida.
Jim and Artie's father J.R. Mitchell, a gambler and con man, lived fast and died young. The boys loved him. As time passed from his funeral, the more they revered him. Their easygoing mother Georgia Mae lives in Sacramento.
The closest that the two future pornographers got to sex in high school in the rural Northern Californian town of Antioch was watching The Nun - a black-and-white 8mm stag film distributed by salesmen who looked both ways before opening the trunks of their cars.
"Like mainstream films, pornography reflects the society that produces it. In every corny old Western, there is always the same old tired scene. John Wayne wraps his arms around a feisty, independent young lady and tries to kiss her. The young lady beats his chest with her fists and struggles to break free. Then she melts, closes her eyes, and passionately returns the kiss.
"The pornography of the time was that scene over and over again. Only instead of a kiss, the girl ends up eagerly submitting to sex.
"Pornography was a male's adolescent version of the romance of sex. Boy meets girl; girl fulfills boy's every carnal desire. Life isn't like that (and therein lies pornography's appeal), particularly in a conservative, working-class town like Antioch, where a girl was likely to put a death grip on a young man's wrist, look him in the eye, and say, "I'm saving that for my husband."" (Bottom Feeders)
But in The Nun, things happen the way young men wish they happened. A woman dressed as a nun walks into a room and a Peeping Tom watches as she undresses. He finally enters the room. She resists, but like the leading ladies in the old John Wayne films eventually submits.
For years, journalists repeated the myth that Jim and Artie turned to each other while watching the film and said, "Hey, bub. An ole boy could make himself a lot of money with these movies." Supposedly, in that moment, their careers in porn were born.
In truth, neither Jim or Artie had a clue what they were going to do after high school. Jim ended up minoring in Film at San Francisco State University and in 1968 he began shooting stills and later 16mm moving pictures of naked women.
Stag films emerged from the underground in the 1960s. Producers rented vacant storefronts in run-down parts of town and install arcades where men could step into a small booth, pull a curtain, drop a quarter in a slot, and see a film. It'd last up to twelve minutes and then would repeat endlessly. In a typical loop, a woman would bare her breasts. You could get a better, longer look in a tittie bar.
Topless dancing took off in San Francisco in 1964 with people lining up around the block to see Carol Doda at the Condor Club. Soon, San Francisco's North Beach was wall-to-wall topless joints and the arcades in the city also prospered. Theater owners like Harold Greenland began charging men a couple of bucks to sit in a nice dark theater and watch nudie films.
"In the mid-1960s, a theater like the Roxie showed two hours of loops that were strung together and set to music that was totally unrelated to what was happening on the screen," says Lowell Pickett, who, with his beautiful partner Arlene Elster, became one of San Francisco's leading pornographers in the late 1960s and early 1970s. "Can you imagine anything worse? I've often thought that if there is a hell, I'm going to be condemned to watching those films through eternity."
In these revolutionary times, the personal, including the sexual, became political.
"The sex parties were different here than they were anyplace else; that's one of the things that distinguished San Francisco," says Pickett, who hosted many such parties in his rambling Victorian on Hayes Street. The former California Highway Patrolman insisted on a few rules. Partiers had to arrive on time or be locked out. They took off their clothes upon entering the house and everybody had sex in one room.
"At other sex parties, people stood around waiting to see who was going to be the first to take off their clothes," Pickett says. "Then it was, 'I'll f--- your wife, you f--- mine' and couples would split up and go to diferent rooms."
Jim Mitchell found out that his peers praised him rather than condemned him for his new venture, for they believed that Jim helped free America from bourgeois restraints.
"Pornography was anti-establishment, another way of changing things," says Lowell Pickett. "We were conscious of trying to break down barriers. In the late 1960s, my partner Arlene and I went to the first meeting of the Adult Film Association in Kansas City. We took along a projector and ran some San Francisco loops and people were dumbfounded! They'd been showing movies of nudists playing volleyball."
Through porn, the Mitchell brothers got to make money and a revolution.
"The outsider-outlaw feeling was much alive in Jim and Artie," says psychiatrist Dr. Martin Blinder. "Their bent may have sprung from the same anti-authoritarian, sociopathic drive that formed Bonnie and Clyde."
Artie told his new girlfriend Meredith Bradford that porn was a public expression of women's new freedom, a way for a woman to say, "This is my body, I'm proud of it, I'll do with it as I please!"
Jim and Artie were inseperable. They seemed more like identical twins than brothers - never staying in the same room together for longer than a few minutes without going over and dropping a hand on the other's shoulder. In temperament they differed - Artie was friendly and outgoing while Jim was serious and subdued. They never tolerated criticism of the other behind his back for loyalty was their supreme value.
"They tormented each other daily," remembers an associate. "Jim loved Artie and Artie loved Jim, but there was no in between, no understanding what the other one might be going through. When they fought, they fired cannonballs."
In the end, big brother Jim won the battles, like big brothers usually do. (Bottom Feeders)
The Mitchells sought to catch up with the leading porn filmmaker prior to Deep Throat - Alex deRenzy. In 1968, the former photographer for the Gordon News Service in San Francisco and craps dealer in Reno, was 33 years old and handsome, with long blonde hair pulled back into a pony tail and a Fu Manchu mustache.
Alex had a deeply scarred face and he walked with a limp, the result of a motorcycle race up a steep hill in San Francisco that ended when he crashed into a car that had stopped in an intersection.
Earlier on the day of his crash, deRenzy saw across the street from the Screening Room - his X-rated theater in the Tenderloin, San Francisco's version of Skid Row - a prostitute knife a man. When Alex came to in the hospital, he found himself lying next to the man the prostitute had slashed.
DeRenzy later told friends that he liked the scars on his face because before the accident he looked too pretty. Alex, a loner, lived in his hillside estate in Marin with a couple of women and several of his children from a previous marriage.
To compete with deRenzy's Screening Room and Pickett's Sutter Cinema, the Mitchell brothers opened the O'Farrell and began showing "beaver" films - endless reels of women masturbating with their fingers or pulling their labia apart to reveal huge on-screen vulvas and deep vaginal tunnels.
"If the cops hadn't bothered us," says Jim Mitchell, "we probably wouldn't have gotten into stories. The purest form of titillation is the single girl automasturbation film...and the beaver film was a truer form for getting off on some autoerotic fantasy. When it opened up and you added f---ing, you had to show the man and you covered up the girl.... It disrupted the autoerotic trend of sex films. It was boring because all anyone wanted to see was the close-up penetration shots."
Aging beatnik Lowell Pickett tried to eliminate the external cum shots but people stopped showing his films because while they were funnier and more dramatically developed, they violated pornographic convention.
As Jim Mitchell was fond of saying, "The only Art in this business is my brother."
By early 1969, San Francisco hosted two dozen theaters showing beaver films and nobody objected except Diane Feinstein, a candidate for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and leader of a band of anti-porn crusaders.
"What distinguishes San Francisco from any place else is the style with which porn is marketed, its practitioners' attitude toward it and the tolerance most square citizens display concerning the whole question," wrote the New York Times Magazine in a January 1971 article called "The Porn Capital of America."
"The flourishing underground press in San Francisco all share the idea that porn, even at its sleaziest and most bizarre, is an important and healthily revolutionary ingredient of the new culture."
One day Jim's roommate Bob Cecchini came home from work hungry. He opened the refrigerator and found it empty except for a small salami which he ate in a sandwich. Half-an-hour later, Jim burst through the door.
"I was hoping you'd be here!" Jim said. "I've got something to show you."
Jim threaded the 16mm projector and turned off the lights. The words Sacramento Salami appeared on the screen. Cecchini felt sick but forced himself to watch the loop. A woman masturbated with a small salami, plunging it in and out of her vagina.
"I just ate that salami," said Bob.
Jim turned off the projector and started laughing so hard he collapsed in a chair.
Porn became raunchier. "Some jerk in the Tenderloin showed a man-pig beastiality film. The DA and the brass in the police department were so sickened by it they decided to go after everybody," says brunette Arlene Elster.
In response, the Mitchell brothers took on radical young attorney Michael Kennedy who'd worked with William Kunstler, and fought back against increasing police raids. Working the media was a strong suit for Jim and Artie, and they packaged themselves as defenders of free speech.
Journalists became friendly with the Mitchells and took to hanging out at the O'Farrell. "Reporters weren't interested in seeing the films," says San Francisco Chronicle journalist Sandy Zane who did an early series on the porn business. "We'd go up there to drink their tequila and smoke their dope. The Mitchell brothers corrupted a generation of reporters - assuming that we could be more corrupted than we already were."
The stories that Zane and other reporters wrote taught the Mitchell brothers that in porn, there is no such thing as bad publicity. The more ink the brothers got, the larger the audiences at the O'Farrell became.
The fun that Jim and Artie created at the O'Farrell set the Mitchells apart from other pornographers. The brothers took chances, and created striking moments on film such as the 15-minute Requiem where a gorgeous redhead in probably her lone porn appearance mourns the death of her husband at his grave, and then returns home to masturbate to Gregorian chants.
"That film was as close as I ever came to liking a masturbation film," says Artie's girlfriend of the time, Meredith Bradford. "She was so good, so beautiful, and so striking at the cemetary it was painful to watch. And when she went home and got into bed, it turned into an erotic movie with a message. When a lover dies, sex doesn't."
"Requiem...is a significant departure in the dreary annals of American sex films," writes John Hubner. "The lizards in sharkskin suits in New York who were making beavers that featured lifeless, tattooed hookers would never have used a Gregorian choir in a film. The smooth operators in L.A. who cranked out loop after loop that were as devoid of feeling as an industrial film that follows a can of soup from the vat to the shipping crate would never have come up with a story line that involved a grieving widow...
"Jim and Artie knew they could concoct the wildest plots and craziest characters imaginable and the horn dick daddies wouldn't care, as long as a woman climbed out of her panties."
"Acting is believing, and the New Age people who acted in those films believed in what they were doing," says Lowell Picket, who now runs a convenience store in the San Francisco Bay Area. "It could only have happened in San Francisco in the 1960s. Arlene and I would go up Haight Street and say, 'We're making sex films. Beaver films. Want to be in one?' We got eighty percent of the women we wanted and no one ever got angry..."
I Am Curious Denmark
In 1967, Denmark became the first Western country to rescind all laws against pornography. The decision made news around the world, especially when government statistics showed a decrease in sex crimes the year after the abolition.
Alex deRenzy and a partner traveled to Copenhagen to film Denmark's first sex fair and in 1969 they released the first feature film showing sexual intercourse - Censorship in Denmark. Made for $15,000, the documentary grossed $25,000 the first week on its way to an eventual box office of over $2 million.
The flick was clumsy and boring but it was IT!
Documentaries first broke through the hardcore feature barrier in 1969 in San Francisco with Censorship in Denmark. Sexual Freedom in Denmark from LA's John Lamb followed in 1970.
In New York that same year, Gerard Damiano made SEX U.S.A. starring Linda Lovelace and Harry Reems, and This Film Is All About... while Donn Greer's 101 Acts of Love gives the education approach.
Alex deRenzy gathered classic stags into A History of the Blue Movie followed by Bill Osco's inferior Hollywood Blue. The first advertised porn feature in the major New York newspapers was Mike Henderson's Electro Sex '75 released on Labor Day weekend 1970. Freddy Hanson made Animal Lover in Denmark featuring farm girl Bodille doing a dog, pig and horse. Matt Cimber, the husband of Jayne Mansfield, made the first 35 mm porn film to get national distribution Man and Wife.
In December 1970, Arlene Elster and Lowell Picket hosted the First International Erotic Film Festival. Don Simpson, who become famous as half of the production team Bruckheimer and Simpson before killing himself in 1995, handled publicity. Arthur Knight, the Saturday Review film critic, was one of the judges.
The winning entry was a three minute film of a woman peeling an orange.
Adult theaters sprang up all over America and their owners sought San Francisco porn.
"We'd shoot two versions, a hard-core for here and a soft-core for elsewhere," remembers Lowell Pickett. "The places we shipped hard-core versions always surprised me - San Diego, Indianapolis, and small towns all over the country where, I presume, the authorities were being paid off."
Public concern over pornography led to a Presidential commission which included the Nixon apointee Charles Keating, the founder of Citizens for Decent Literature. In his home town of Cincinnatti, Keating was known as "Mr. Clean."
In 1992, after his role in the Lincoln Savings and Loan debacle, Keating became known as "Mr. Swindle."
After spending $2 million dollars and two years in research, the 1970 Report of the Presidential Commission on Obscenity and Pornography found little evidence that porn caused harm. The Commission recommended that the United States follow Denmark's lead in abolishing censorship of sexually explicit materials.
Furious with the majority report, Keating, along with Father Morton Hill and several other commissioners, alerted the White House to the moral damage the report could cause the country.
Richard Nixon, who was known to appear on the beach at San Clemente in a business suit with all three buttons buttoned, issued a statement "totally rejecting" the majority's recommendations. A Democratic President (Lyndon Johnson) had appointed the commission; the Democrats were as soft on smut as they were on Communism. A Republican President would never relax the national effort to control and eliminate smut from our national life.
Until 1957, U.S. law governing obscenity patterned itself after the Hicklin decision in England in 1868 which said that a book could be banned if as much as one paragraph on one page was deemed to be lewd.
But in a majority decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, written by Justice William J. Brennan in 1957, obscenity became defined as material "utterly without redeeming social importance."
The Mitchell brothers' 1971 conviction (later overturned) for showing obscene films which had no plots, led to an important evolution in porno. To give their explicit films "redeeming social importance", the Mitchells and other pornographers in 1971 began adding stories to their films.
The brothers pioneered both the featurette and the pornographic feature film in San Francisco, pumping out 336 of them before doing Behind the Green Door. The films were easier to defend in court and the audience had come to expect films with a story and characters.
Features also drew larger and more varied audiences than the single lonely men who dominated the viewers of loops.
The other adult theaters in San Francisco followed the Mitchells lead. Lowell Pickett's features aimed to be both erotic and artistic.
As for pioneer Alex deRenzy - he'd fallen into a funk. In trouble with the IRS, he made endless attempts at recapturing the success of Censorship in Denmark, pouring out psuedo-documentaries with couples romping around at staged orgies.
As far as production values, the Mitchells never got it right, but their product was still way ahead of the porn of the previous seventy years.
Orphan George McDonald graduated high school in Fresno in 1967.
In his senior year at Herbert Hoover High, George served as student body president, received the class of 1967's vote for "Most Likely to Succeed" and took the North Fresno Exchange Club's "Boy of the Year" award. He dreamed of becoming governor of California.
Hitting bad luck after graduation, he eventually became a clerk at a dirty bookstore in the Tenderloin. One night friends paid for him to see a sex film which starred a stunning actress with short blonde hair. When she took her clothes off, she was even more beautiful than George imagined - large breasts, a flat stomach, trimmed blonde pubic hair and long legs.
The woman gives a man a blowjob but by the time she's finished, he's still soft. The audience groans. Shifting to the man's face, the camera reveals he's terrified.
George decided that he could perform sex on film and he pestered Jim and Artie Mitchell until they give him a chance. His costar was Lelania - the beautiful blonde in the flick that inspired him to give porn a chance. Though George had been laid many times, this was his first blow job.
Jim then told George to perform cunnilingus - another first. He'd always wondered what it'd be like, and now he got to find out on camera.
Moments later, he bolted up, gasping for breath. George had so immersed himself in his work that he forgot to breathe.
The couple moved into the missionary position and after several changes of camera angle, George received permission to come. He stroked hard, burying his face in Lelania's hair before pulling out and achieving another first - watching his own orgasm.
Jim showed George where to clean up and told him they were going to Ocean Beach to shoot the socially redeeming part of the film.
While washing himself, George reflected that porn is the opposite of life. In life, you meet a girl, date and perhaps go to bed. In porn, you go to bed and then you have the date.
In all his features George played a sensitive young man who wanted to get to know a woman before having sex - a radical departure from the typical male characters in porn whose lines were usually confined to "Suck harder, baby."
George McDonald became San Francisco's first porn star, liked by almost everybody except the Mitchell brothers and their film crew who despised those on the wrong side of the camera.
While working as a waitress in a health restaurant in 1972, Marilyn Briggs read an ad placed by the Mitchell Brothers about a major film they were casting. She charged down to O'Farrells and read the audition notice which asked if the actor wanted a balling or non-balling part. Marilyn at first thought the notice meant bowling but in a few minutes Marilyn realized that the film was X-rated. She turned to leave.
It'd been a depressing day for Jim and Artie Mitchell for all the girls who'd answered their ad appeared burned out. Then they saw the fresh looking Marilyn leave the building. They chased after her and by late that afternoon, they'd signed her to do their movie.
When Marilyn told her beatnik husband that evening about what she'd done, he became angry. But Marilyn stood by her decision.
After venting his feelings, Paul kept quiet for he believed in individual freedom. But he must've suspected their relationship was changing, and within a couple of years they divorced.
The Mitchells gave Marilyn a new last name to go with her starring role - Chambers.
Marilyn was the youngest of three children. She'd spent her life unsuccessfully competing for her parents attention. Learning that she couldn't please them, Marilyn decided to defy them. By appearing in Behind the Green Door, she got to defy and impress her family in a way they'd never forget. (John Hubner)
So that her reaction to being raped would be genuine,
Marilyn never read the script of Behind the Green Door which is based on an anonymous story that men had been passing around since World War II. A woman named Gloria is kidnapped from a hotel and taken to a secret sex club.
"That's why I think the film hit," says Marilyn. "I lost my inhibitions onscreen at the same time Americans everywhere were losing theirs."
Filming Behind The Green Door
Marilyn, 19 years of age, smoked a joint of marijuana to calm herself before the filming began.
Six women dressed in black robes like the witches in MacBeth lead Marilyn on stage, undress her and play with her body. Then out comes the ex-boxer Johnny Keyes painted up like a savage. He performs endless cunnilingus on Marilyn who is in anguish and looking around like she hopes that everything will soon be over. It won't.
Johnny eases up Marilyn's body and inserts his penis into her vagina. He strokes long and hard, in and out, as Marilyn winces with pain. As she thrashes about, Johnny follows her eyes, insisting that she recognize him.
Finally Marilyn surrenders, wraps an arm around Johnny and kisses him. Johnny rides on until he and Marilyn appear to simultaneously orgasm.
Next, five men in white tights with the crotches cut out, mount the stage. Three men get on trapezes and another lies down on the floor.
The weird sisters bring Marilyn back out and guide her on to the penis of the man lying down. The three men on trapezes lower themselves to Marilyn, and she takes the middle man's cock into her mouth. Marilyn shudders, then begins masturbating the other two men on the trapezes. The fifth man tries to suck on Marilyn's breasts while the sisters fondle her.
Marilyn masturbates the men harder as the audience starts screwing each other.
The men on stage come all over Marilyn.
The end result is a complex ten-minute scene with advanced special effects. "The image of one of the men ejaculating into the heroine's mouth is shot in extreme slow motion, and it is repeated and reworked by dissolves, overprinting and reverse printing. The color is solarized, and the image becomes brilliant, abstract, changeable. Chambers' elegant characterization of a victimized woman is achieved without a single line of dialogue as she moves with conviction from terrorized, passive virginity to willing sexual maturity." (Sinema p.162)
Former All-pro defensive end with the Oakland Raiders, Ben Davidson plays the bouncer at the club and the Mitchell brothers have cameo roles as Marilyn's kidnappers.
Eventually, George McDonald rushes on stage to rescue Marilyn and they run away to his van to make love.
"The movie was made under conditions so hot," says Artie Mitchell, "we just wanted to throw down the camera at the end of each of day of filming and f--- and suck our way to oblivion."
Jim Holliday: "Behind the Green Door is based upon an underground erotic classic whose vague origins are debated by erotic historians. There can be no debate however on the overwhelming attraction to males of its plot - kidnapping a beautiful woman and forcing her to do everything you want. Green Door could not be made today. The flick is most significant for introducing Marilyn Chambers, who showed in this West Coast classic that there's a big place in porn for the wholesome American girl next door.
"Many of the persons in the film are unattractive but all are enthusiastic and the musical score ranks among the smoothest you'll ever find in an adult film. Green Door's kinky sex retains appeal even though its production values are poor."
Behind The Green Door Premieres
"Searchlights and ushers in tuxedos greet the sleazerati as they arrive at the O'Farrell Theatre here in San Francisco on opening night of Behind the Green Door, the Mitchell Brothers' latest and biggest filim," says a TV reporter standing under the O'Farrell marquee.
"Marilyn Chambers, the star of the film, arrived just moments ago in a stretch limo, and it's no stretch of the imagination to say she left the crowd wanting to see more, which they undoutedly will."
On opening night at O'Farrell, George McDonald felt too nervous to go inside the theater to watch. He stayed outside and awaited reactions.
As the movie ended, guests came out thrilled but confused. On the biggest night of George's life, the projection man confused reels two and three.
"Only in porn could that happen and the audience still enjoy what they saw," reflected McDonald. (Bottom Feeders)
Even shown in sequence, Green Door makes little sense. A crucial 15 minutes of film burned up in the developing lab. The 16mm film is grainy, blurred at times, and the sound, as usual in a Mitchell Brothers production, inept.
But despite the technical problems, Behind the Green Door, shot for a total investment of $60,000, earned about $50-million, making it the second highest grossing porn movie ever.
When Marilyn's parents found out about it, they refused for years to talk to her.
"Green Door... is a cut above everything else we've turned out," says Artie in the 1973 book Contemporary Erotic Cinema."On the others we took a month to make a feature, but we were learning more about cinematography... We had to learn the skills. So we fired off a half million feet of film and learned a lot by shooting a lot."
As for Green Door's orgy scene, Jim said: "We were scheduled with the six nuns for two days... Johnny Keyes for two... The trapeze people had two days. Then the audience orgy was to be a master cover scene with fifty people for one day, then each group for two days. Seven or eight days. But what happened was that we had to go to trial... And we had to shoot the big scene in one day.
"We shot five thousand feet [of film] in one day. So the orgy scene isn't what we wanted... We shot film until we were tired, until we just couldn't shoot any more... We shot thirteen thousand feet on The Green Door. For us one-to-one shooters that was a lot. On Resurraction of Eve...we have shot more than twice as much." (CEC p.232)
In 1973, the Mitchell Brothers made their best movie The Resurrection of Eve - the finest early West Coast effort to deal with serious material - but much of the credit belongs to co-producer Jon Fontana.
"This movie proves that an inteligent story line can be blended into a sexually erotic movie.... [It features] clever interweaving of Eve's life from a child of 13 to her later life with a jealous disc jockey who believes she's sleeping with a black fighter (Johnny Keyes). She isn't. After an auto accident, Eve becomes Marilyn Chambers and marries the disc jockey who gradually talks her into swinging and then gets jealous of her when she finally enjoys it. Most women will like this one. It has many romantic sequences and excellent acting. Why didn't the Mitchell Brothers do it again?" (Robert Rimmer, The X-Rated Videotape Guide, p. 125)
Unsatisfied with the lack of explicit sex scenes in Jon Fontana's original cut, the Mitchell brothers shot more such scenes and put them in the movie.
Adam Film World (AFW) comments (3/87 p. 12-14): "Watching Marilyn develop her screen presence over the decade and a half since her debut in the Behind the Green Door, one is struck by improvements in her poise, delivery.
In her first movie [Green Door] she was willowy and flat-chested, but her wide grin and shining eyes promised much, and when she was turned loose on those guys on the swings, it was like tossing chum to a barracuda. The movie looks slipshod and stoned-out now, and the follow up, Resurrection of Eve, looks even shaggier. Made in '73, it is the cinematic equivalent of acid rock: inchoate, dim, self-indulgent, buried under a heap of long, straight, brown hair...yet, Marilyn's enthusiasm charges her scenes with the voltage that only true superstars command. The keel of the movie is its orgy scenes. Lots of blue eye shadow and false eye lashes date the picture, but add color. Marilyn's lean frame is starting to flesh out with promises of curves to come. Her sex scene with Johnny Keyes is placed center stage, and with all the hippies humping happily around her, Marilyn looks like a kid in a candy store."
William Rotsler: "I was invited onto the set of Resurrection of Eve and saw something that I'll never forget.
There was a huge orgy going on. An entire Gay 90s restaurant had been hired and filled with copulating couples (including some gays) and it was wall-to-wall sex. The cameraman was just going from couple to threesome to orgy lump and no one knew when they'd be on or in the background, so everyone just sucked and f---ed and felt and rubbed and....
"I was crossing the room, careful not to get into the camera's way, or in the mirrors that lined the walls under the balcony - which was filled with voyeurs and press. Suddenly I stopped, transfixed by a sight of both great beauty and great lust.
"Muscular Johnny Keyes, the black star of Green Door, was lying on a couch. Kneeling between his legs was Marilyn. Both were naked and she was fellating him with an eagerness and expertise I have seldom seen. But it wasn't just her mouth that was so expertly moving up and down on his big cock, but that, with every inward suck, her whole body rippled, from mouth to toes, as if sucking him to the innermost recesses of her body."
Marilyn Chambers remains porn's premier star.
From 1975 to 1985, Marilyn and Chuck crisscrossed the country as Marilyn headlined one porn theater after another.
"To create the perfect porn star," says Chuck Traynor, "you have to create an image of a totally uninhibited sexual creature who would be happy being anything you want her to be. You have to eliminate barriers between this chick and the audience, so men think she enjoys doing anything they want her to do."
Chuck refused to allow Marilyn to take classes at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas in case the word got out and it spoiled her image. Marilyn had no friends in the sex industry. Other female performers were jealous and competitive. Marilyn used to drink beer like water, but Chuck limited both that and her drug use. He also forbade her to smoke.
"For me to be put on a pedestal," says Marilyn, "and adored by millions of men, I loved that. I never felt exploited by Chuck or anybody else. I exploited me."
The Mitchell Brothers released Never a Tender Moment in 1979, featuring Marilyn Chambers, Tanya Robertson and Carol Christy in a series of vignettes. The film lives up to its title, particularly in its second story "Hot Nazis." First you see two naked women lustily servicing each other until Nazi guards, both men and women, arrive and brutally rape the women.
In the flick's first 30 minutes, Marilyn dances erotically with camera closeups of her famous labial ring. The former Ivory Soap girl started a trend among female performers by piercing her labia and shaving her pussy.
The Mitchell Brothers also released Beyond De Sade in 1979, as a continuation of Never a Tender Moment. This one takes place in the Mitchell Brothers' famous Kopenhagen Lounge in San Francisco. "Men wearing masks seated around the perimeter have phallic-looking flashlights with which they can caress the performers and explore their genitals better. Marilyn's joined by two women (one black), and for the next 15 minutes they thoroughly enjoy each other's vulvas and breasts." (Guide, p.216)
"If you don't do bizarre things and enjoy them, that will screw you up," says Marilyn Chambers. "So, 24 hours a day, I think of all kinds of ways to have sex."
Bob Rimmer recommends collecting this movie because it's "the only real-life demonstration of masochism I have ever seen. It's mind-boggling!" (Guide, p.216)
Carol Connors returns to adult movies a decade after she began performing in them, and a couple of years after the Candy series to write and direct the Mitchell Brother's first release in years - 1981's Desire For Men. Carol gives her dirty dialogue in a cooing voice which differs from her innocent Candy characterization. She plays a girl who can't get enough, even if it means pursuing her friends and setting them against each other. Comedy, different sexual situations and the typical Mitchell Brothers orgy make the film along with the performance of Jeanne Silver. Serena stunts for Carol in the stump scene that came from Long Jeanne Silver. Jeanna is missing the lower part of her left leg. Desire For Men also sports a long scene of analingus.Many believed that Carol Connors never got into her sex scenes but this film dispels that notion. (Holliday)
The Grafenberg Spot, 1985, is the first big budget Mitchell Brothers film in ten years. Ginger and Amber Lynn star along with Annette Haven, Traci Lords, Harry Reems, Nina Hartley and John Holmes. The film features twenty minutes of Annette explaining the G spot. Holliday says it's a love it or hate it film.The Grafenberg Spot follows the big sex book of 1982 - The G Spot by Alice Ladas and Beverly Whipple. The film is a spoof on a place in every woman's vagina halfway up her cervix. If properly stimulated, it will supposedly cause her to ejaculate and have big orgasms.
Ginger Lynn finds the man of her dreams, Harry Reams, but she shocks him when she ejaculates. You watch this believe-it-or- not flow. Michael decides he needs normal women. So Ginger goes to a doctor, played by Annette Haven, who explains the "problem." Annette reveals that she too in a moment of climax ejaculates. She agrees to take on Michael and lets him discover with a finger probe into her vagina the truth. The story ends happily with Ginger and Harry enjoying a wave-splashing climax as her G spot engulfs them. (Guide #1, p.366)
Marilyn's XXX Movies
After Behind the Green Door and Resurrection of Eve with the Mitchell Brothers, Marilyn performed in only three more adult features - Insatiable ('80), Up 'N Coming ('83) and Insatiable 2 ('84).
These three films led the video revolution, staying at the top of the rental charts through 1985.
Marilyn can't get enough sex in Insatiable. She plays Sondra Chase, an affluent model, who flies to England with her agent and friend Flo (Jesie St. James). While driving in her Ferrari, Sondra picks up a man who's run out of gas. She not only shows him how to siphon fuel out of her tank by sucking on a rubber hose, but also sucks him off until he comes all over her face. Finally, Roger Renee (John Leslie) arrives, but instead of falling for Sondra, he does Flo every which way - first by going down on her, then getting Flo to suck him off, then screwing her missionary style followed by pounding her up the ass, before finally bringing his unwashed dick home to her throat until he comes all over her face. Sondra listens to this whole session while masturbating and wearing out three guys. The best sex scene comes when David Morris takes her virginity on the pool table. Also hot is the Marilyn - Serena lesbian water scene.
Marilyn sings the theme song Shame on You and the rest of the music is typically Godfrey Daniels superb.
The film climaxes with Marilyn in a fantasy sequence with John Holmes, Mike Ranger and Jesie St. James.
Marilyn Chambers plays a country western singer on the way up in 1983's Up 'N Coming. Lisa de Leeuw plays a singer on the way down. Amidst all the ups and downs, ins and outs, Marilyn screws everyone in sight, including disc jockey Richard Pacheco who thinks Marilyn exudes sexual charisma even though she doesn't sing well. Pacheco fantasizes about interviewing "a beautiful woman like you naked." So Marilyn unzips him and deepthroats Dick Pacheco.
John Holmes appears in his first film after finally being released from prison on drug and murder charges. He's as skinny as Marilyn and she's able to deepthroat his not-fully erect cock.The final scene is a four-way between John, Herschel Savage and Lili Marlene. Lilie and Marilyn eat each other out while getting screwed up the ass by the two men. This is Marilyn's first explicit film since Insatiable. The two films are completely different.
The great tunes in Up 'N Coming are sung by Marilyn and lip-synched by Lisa DeLeeuw. The disc jockey voice over was done by former DJ Jim Holliday who also receives writing credit.
Marilyn's insatiable need for cock and punishment fills 1984's Insatiable 2. Jamie Gillis stretches Marilyn out on a pool table, puts a tourniquet around her neck, prods her with a pointed instrument, drops hot wax on her nipples and labia, whips her with leather thongs, ties her hands behind her, and f---s her doggie style while he ass whips her.
Manager Paul Thomas wants Juliet Anderson's two daughters, Shanna McCullough and Valerie LaVeaux. Marilyn's scene with Bobby Dee features an audience participation blow job, with Ron Jeremy as the unseen stunt stand in.
Marilyn breaks with Chuck
After ten years with Chuck Traynor, Marilyn tired of his discipline, and cut loose in 1985, though she was forced to keep Chuck as her manager and pay him 50% of her earnings through 1990.
Finding her freedom, Marilyn resumed smoking, drinking and using drugs such as cocaine. She went all out in her public performances at the Mitchell Brothers' O'Farrells club in San Francisco. Marilyn endured heavy whipping and bondage while fellow dancers drove their fists deep into her vagina and ass (about a foot-and-a-half). Sometimes Marilyn would lock the door in the Kopenhagn lounge and allow the male patrons to do anything they wanted to her - giving or receiving oral sex, anal or vaginal intercourse, fisting, whatever.
"It was a question of showing them how much I could take," says Marilyn. "I showed them I could take a fist up the butt and have hot candle wax dripped all over me. People would go, 'Oh my God, that's amazing.' I loved it that the Mitchell brothers couldn't believe what I was doing and that there were lines around the block. It was great."
Eventually the police had to act. Lieutenant Dennis Martel of the San Francisco Vice Department took these notes one night at the O'Farrells before busting the place and Marilyn.
"I observed approximately twenty patrons have sexual contact with Ms. Chambers. At least five patrons touched or put their mouths on her breasts and nipples as she offered her breasts to some patrons. Chambers raised her vagina and anus to other patrons to touch these areas. I observed at least twelve patrons inserting their fingers into Chambers' vagina while she made undulating motions. I observed at least two patrons appear to make penetration of the anus with their fingers. I observed a white male orally copulate Chambers's vagina for approximately fifteen seconds."
Marilyn and company later beat the charges, much to the frustration of the Vice Squad.
"She signed a pact with Caballero to release a line called Marilyn Chambers' Private Fantasies 1-6. The first few were loop carriers, scenes shot a few years ago, but we later see the new Marilyn. She's been pumping iron and is solid...over thirty...and with age [comes] an attractive layer of rounded female flesh. Number six combines furious f---ing with French pastry photography." (AFW 3/87 p.14)
Marilyn Chambers began giving advice on sex, including anal sex. "Get a good lube and use a vibrator on your clit.
"There's a fine line between pain and pleasure, and yes, it is painful at first, but the thing about anal sex is that most people tighten up. If you push out as its happening, you'll never get hemorrhoids. But you think it's the opposite. When you pull in, breathe in, that's when it tightens up and it hurts. That's when you get pain and blood and everything.
"You may feel at first, "It's so big I can't take it," and then all of a sudden there's a switchover in your mind. "Oh wow, this feels like dynamite. And if you use a vibrator on your clit, it's the most mind-blowing orgasm.
"And when you come your ass gets large. It contracts and expands. People say, "Don't you have trouble controlling yourself afterwards?" No. Your pussy and your ass are muscles, and the more you use a muscle, the better it gets.
"The best position for deepthroating is if you hang your head over the bed and the guy comes up behind you and his cock is over your mouth - straight. It's got to be a straight passageway or it cannot happen. And then there's a breathing thing you must do. When it goes in, you can't breathe, but when it goes out, you take a breath. So you're breathing along with the guy. The guy can't leave it in there. He's got to be screwing you in your throat, so there's a rhythm." (AFW 3/87)
Marilyn Chambers Today
On her way to an early grave, consuming massive amounts of alcohol and cocaine daily, Marilyn met her husband-to-be. They had a great first date, but then he called to say he couldn't see her again. He was a recovering heroin addict and had taken a vow not to associate with anyone who used drugs. Marilyn got so angry that she kicked a wall and broke her leg. Her husband-to-be visited her in the hospital and Marilyn ended up in Narcotics Anonymous.
Today Marilyn drives a black Lexus with the license plate "LUV NA" and she wears a large gold Roman numeral V around her neck. She has been clean and sober in Narcotics Anonymous for five years (as of 1993).
While looking at her baby girl, Marilyn asks herself: "What am I going to tell her when she's old enough to know what I've done?
"Oh hell, I'll just tell her the truth.
"Would I want her to do what I've done? To go through what I did?"
Marilyn pauses and then says definitely "No.
"Marilyn now stars in softcore cable product such as Private Screenings. The ex-porn queen appears naked at times and still looks good. Her daughter is six.
Marilyn still strips at clubs around the country. She spends much of her private time rescuing injured and unwanted animals. Her movies not already mentioned are Party Girls, Legends of Porn 1&2, Playboy Video #4, My Therapist, Electric Blue: Marilyn Chambers and Night on the Town.
In 1993, Marilyn slowed her work. "My career is nice now because I'm not working 52 weeks a year... I've been on the road since I was 18 years old, living out of suitcases in hotel rooms, and it's nice at this stage of my life to enjoy my family." (AVN 9/94)
Marilyn had just finished the R-rated erotic comedy New York Nights where with two female friends, she seeks to marry a millionaire. "I'm fortunate to have a wide-spanning career for 20 years. I've been able to travel the world and meet interesting people."
Marilyn has some regrets about her X-rated past. "It's gotten me to where I am today, but if I were to do things over again, I'd do them differently."
Chambers and her husband use explicit tapes as a marital aid - Night Trips is her favorite.
No More Fun and Games
"The fun and games of the Mitchells gave way [in the mid'80s] to the bitter, gouging sex of the Dark Brothers," write Steve Chappie and David Talbot in Burning Desires - Sex in America. Like most persons who write on porn, Chappie and Talbot don't know what they're writing about.
Mistake number one. The Mitchells never dominated porn. Behind the Green Door was a big commercial hit in 1973, but like the rest of their releases, the technical quality and story is abysmal. Mistake number two. The Darks began making porn when the genre was softer and less nasty than it has ever been. Mistake number three. The Darks nasty material is mild compared to the raunch and degradation of the '70s.
Most persons who write on porn portray the latest porn product as the filthiest ever. It makes their writing seem more dramatic even though they are totally wrong. The smallest amount of research is needed to establish this, but since when have facts gotten in the way of agendas and smooth rhetoric?
Mistake number four. The Mitchells put out even raunchier material than the Darks with Beyond DeSade and Never a Tender Moment.
Whether it's the widespread perception that mainstream pornographers put out child porn, or bestiality or snuff films, or that the biz is controlled by organized crime, or that AIDS is going to devastate porn performers, the history of X-rated movies shows how many, perhaps most persons believe what they want to believe, irrespective of truth.
In the mid '80s, the Mitchells realized that Gregory Dark in particular and porn in general had passed them by. Gregory made the 1984 classic New Wave Hookers as well as Let Me Tell Ya 'Bout White Chicks the same year, and later Black Throat and three sequels to the first two The Devil in Miss Jones flicks.
The Dark Brothers were between deals at HBO when they first looked into pornography. "The adult producers were so stupidly serious," says Gregory. "They'd call a scene beautiful when it was only a 20-year old girl who couldn't remember her lines for more than 30 seconds, screwing for six minutes. 'It's soooo beautiful' the producer would say. 'Why?' 'Her pussy doesn't have crabs.'"
Gregory Dark represented a return to nasty New York style porn. In Miss Jones III, Southern belles are damned to take on black shoeshine boys and black women must f--- Nazis.
Artie Mitchell once visited the Dark Brothers' studio and found it hilarious that on the same production line, the corporation churned out Bible classic with titles such as Story of Jesus next to DMJ3 and Black Throat. (Burning Desires)
"I didn't set out to denigrate women," says Gregory. "I consider men to be morons too. Humans are animals. I do commentaries."
During the mid'80s, in the midst of hype about heterosexual AIDS, the Mitchell Brothers decided to remake Behind the Green Door as a safe-sex film. The sequel appeared in 1986, starring Artie Mitchell's girlfriend Missy (Elisa Flores). Before porn, she served as an aide to conservative senator Orin Hatch. The movie received mainstream attention for its casting of the Republican porn star and its use of condoms. Missy appeared in a Playboy layout and on talk shows around the nation promoting the movie and its safe-sex theme. Jim Mitchell bragged it would make other porn films "obsolete. And if those other porn producers didn't like it, tough s---. It's a whole new world out there."
Jim's pride went before a mighty fall. Despite the abundant publicity, Behind the Green Door II flopped. Screw called it the most disappointing sex flick of the year. It had all the typical Mitchell Brothers problems - garbled sound, no plot, poor lighting and amateurish camerawork. The movie ended Jim and Artie's attempts to make a great film.
Missy remained Artie Mitchell's slave for years. She did almost anything he wanted, such as exposing herself to strangers and engaging them in sex. Artie beat Missy savagely, sometimes knocking her out cold. Screwing with her heart and mind amused him. Missy eventually entered numerous self-help groups to overcome her addictions to drugs, alcohol, punishment, degrading sex and Artie Mitchell. Today she's married to an entrepreneur. They have two sons.
George McDonald lives in the same apartment that he first rented in Sausalito in the early 1970s when he was a new porn star. Married for 20 years to a woman he only sees on weekends and holidays, George works on roadcrews or washes dishes often enough to pay the rent and buy groceries. According to John Hubner, he spends most of his time reading in the Sausalito Library or helping his favorite widow polish an epic poem.
In 1991, Jim Mitchell, frustrated by his brother's erratic ways, drove over to Artie's house to teach him a lesson but got everything ass-backwards. After rousing Artie from bed with his girlfriend by shooting a few bullets into the wall, Jim forgot to give his little brother an opportunity to learn from his instruction. Instead, Jim pumped a few bullets into Artie, murdering him. When it came time for the trial, however, Jim recovered his sanity, hiring a clever lawyer who bamboozled judge and jury into a maximum punishment of six years in prison. After serving three years, Jim was released in 1997.