Mitchell Brothers O'Farrell Theatre

The Mitchell Brothers O'Farrell Theatre is a strip club at 895 O'Farrell Street near San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood. Having first opened as an X-rated movie theater by Jim and Artie Mitchell on July 4, 1969, the O'Farrell remains one of America's oldest and most notorious adult-entertainment establishments. By 1980, the nightspot had popularized close-contact lap dancing, which would become the norm in strip clubs nationwide.[1] Journalist Hunter S. Thompson, a longtime friend of the Mitchells and frequent visitor at the club, went there frequently during the summer of 1985[2] as part of his research for a possible book on pornography. Thompson called the O'Farrell "the Carnegie Hall of public sex in America" and Playboy magazine praised it as "the place to go in San Francisco!"

Mitchell Brothers O'Farrell Theatre
O'Farrell Theatre in 2006
Address895 O'Farrell Street
San Francisco, California
Coordinates37°47′06″N 122°25′09″W / 37.784877°N 122.419295°WCoordinates: 37°47′06″N 122°25′09″W / 37.784877°N 122.419295°W
OpenedJuly 4, 1969


The O'Farrell Theatre went through two major phases which reflected a major transition in the Mitchell brothers' business model: first as a movie house to feature their adult films, and later as a cutting-edge strip club which offered customer-contact shows with strippers.[3][4] Over decades, the events at the O'Farrell Theatre have been as much about the brothers' stubborn persistence in applying legal resources to avoid prosecution by San Francisco's vice squad and district attorney, as they were about their unique innovations for the erotic entertainment industry.[5]

Adult Movie Theater

Before they decided to open business at the O'Farrell Theatre in 1969, Jim and Artie Mitchell had been making and selling short 15 minute porn films, called loops, which patrons could watch for 25 cents a minute in small arcades.[6][7] But the brothers wanted to go beyond the production of short loops, and move on to making longer features whose distribution and presentation they could also control.[8] With the conversion of an old Pontiac automobile dealership on O'Farrell and Polk streets, they built a makeshift soundstage for filming and seating for a movie theater to provide them with that opportunity.[9][10] At a rate of one per month they churned out featurettes, which were 30 to 60 minute films that could be advertised and then shown at the O'Farrell.[11]

But just three weeks after the theater opened, plain-clothed police officers walked in and arrested 25 year-old James Mitchell – still a film student at San Francisco State University – for production and exhibition of obscene material.[12] Not easily deterred, the brothers vowed during a press conference to fight back, and hired a young but fierce lawyer named Michael John Kennedy to defend them against the obscenity charges.[13] Kennedy had already started to build a national reputation as resourceful political activist, and would later represent Timothy Leary, Bernardine Dohrn, Cesar Chavez, and Huey Newton.[14][15] With Kennedy and the First Amendment behind them, the Mitchells tenaciously defied authorities by continuing to show their films while being arrested dozens of times over the coming year.[16]

A little more than a year later when the first case made its way to court, the trial became a local media circus as a flamboyant and wisecracking Kennedy irritated the district attorney while he challenged the legal definition of obscenity.[17][18] After a long trial, the jury became hopelessly deadlocked and the brothers escaped without conviction.[19] Kennedy believed that the social value of pornography was that it served as a shield for the rest of art and literature – meaning that if pornography could not be censored, then other forms of art would be protected as well.[20]

With the adult film Behind the Green Door and its premier at the O'Farrell in 1972, the Mitchell brothers made their first attempt at creating a feature-length adult film for mainstream audiences.[21] The stigma of sex in mainstream movies had been breaking down with films like Last Tango in Paris, and the Mitchells decided to invest extra time and expense into the film's making.[22] Behind the Green Door enjoyed a national marketing coup when it was revealed that its wholesome-looking 19 year-old star, Marilyn Chambers, was the same model who appeared holding a baby on Ivory Snow detergent boxes.[23][24] The film was made for $60,000, grossed $2 million in its first year[25], and later became the second highest grossing adult film of all time when it made more than $50 million.[26] With it the Mitchells became millionaires, opened another ten adult theaters, and had plenty of funds for later experiments at the O'Farrell when it transitioned into a cutting-edge strip club.[27]

In the early 1970s, the theater would stop its adult features at midnight on a couple nights a week, and then re-open as The People's Nickelodeon, along with a five-cent admission charge and free popcorn.[28][29] The midnight shows were a montage of old films, and live vaudeville-style entertainment provided by the Nickelettes, a chorus line of outrageously funny women who would do spunky song-and-dance routines.[30][31] The audience of young hippies and a few oldsters would see movies such as Marx Brothers, Abbott and Costello, Yellow Submarine or other counter-culture favorites, while occasionally engaging in drinking, marijuana, and general carousing. Inspections and disruptions by the fire department and police were common, but the shows usually continued until three in the morning or later.

Strip Club

Everything changed for the Mitchell brothers during the second half of the 1970s, when the invention of the videocassette recorder brought about a proliferation of video rental shops.[32] First videocassette profits of the brothers' movies began to drop, and then demand for public adult movie screenings began to plummet because customers could now rent movies for one dollar a night.[33][34] Realizing that they needed a new business model for the O'Farrell Theatre, the Mitchell brothers sent manager Vincent Stanich around the country to explore customer-contact shows in bars and strip clubs.[35]

After Stanich reported back, the Mitchell brothers responded by opening three new rooms in quick succession which featured live shows by strippers: The Ultra Room, The Kopenhagen, and New York Live.[36] In 1977 they opened the Ultra Room which featured live shows of lesbian bondage. It had a floor-level stage which was surrounded by thirty narrow booths that had glass to separate performers from patrons.[37] Some months later the booths' glass was taken down and enabled customer-contact shows.[38][39] The Ultra Room's shows were very popular, cost $10, lasted for a half-hour, and were sold out on the very first day.[40] Next to open was The Kopenhagen which was a small room with perimeter seating that had live shows in front of, and sometimes upon, a small audience by a pair of naked women.[41][42]

However the club's most profitable new venue was New York Live! which was a strip club act that had a square stage and theater seating on three sides. Strippers performed three song sets while usually being totally nude for the final song.[43][1] Most of the other strippers who were not performing on stage were sitting naked on customers' laps for tips.[44] The amount of tipping rapidly increased, employees coined the term 'lap dancing',[45] and the lap dance's popularity caused lines of men to regularly appear outside the theater's doors.[46] The Mitchells hired new dancers as fast as they could to keep up with demand, and with the lap dance they pioneered a strip club innovation which gained them international notoriety and generated more money than their current film business.[47]

Though the O'Farrell Theatre had successfully fought prosecution in the 1970s concerning obscenity in its films, during the 1980s it would face a new kind of threat from the courts about whether customer-contact could be legal during live shows, and if strippers had the right to give lap dances.[48] A new mood came to city hall when Dianne Feinstein replaced George Moscone as mayor. As a city supervisor Feinstein had been a strident anti-porn voice, and then as mayor she made it clear to her district attorney that he should be aggressive on obscenity and porn cases.[49] In July 1980, less than a year after Feinstein had been elected mayor, fifteen police officers raided the O'Farrell Theatre and arrested fourteen patrons, six performers, and seven employees for charges related to prostitution.[50][51] During a press conference Jim Mitchell vowed to fight the charges and stated, "We believe we have a legally protected show under California laws. Fondling a girl's breast is not prostitution."[52] In the first trial originating from that bust, three strippers faced charges of committing lewd acts in public. The trial resulted in mistrial decisions for two dancers and a single conviction for one dancer – she would become the only dancer in history to ever get a rap sheet while working at the O'Farrell, but she did not receive jail time or a fine.[53]

For the next trial of the 1980 bust, the Mitchells went back to the law office of Michael Kennedy and his secured his former partner, Dennis Roberts, to represent them. Roberts cleverly found a solution which would derail all the other cases against dancers, by using a little-known statute called the First Offender Diversion Program.[54] Under that diversion program, first time offenders could at any time before conviction plead guilty, go into the program, and emerge without a criminal record. When Roberts first mentioned the diversion program in court, a frustrated prosecutor exclaimed: "You can't do that!" However the judge corrected the prosecutor in stating: "Not only can he do that, but it seems to me that what you're going to have if you keep prosecuting these women is a series of cases that are going to drag on for years toward trial, and as soon as you get into trial Mr. Roberts is going to divert these people."[55] That trial was the last time any performers from the 1980 bust would face prosecution.

In the beginning the dancers of New York Live were nude when they sat on customers' laps, but later in the mid 1980s an agreement was reached between the Mitchell brothers' attorneys and the district attorney which instructed the O'Farrell to ensure that the girls wear some minimal amount of clothing while in the New York Live audience.[56]

The Mitchell brothers supported various cartoon artists, and when the 1984 Democratic National Convention was held in San Francisco, they opened the second floor of the O'Farrell to a group of underground cartoonists covering the convention for the San Francisco Chronicle.[57]

A final attempt was made to prosecute the O'Farrell under the Feinstein administration in February 1985, when the Cine-Stage was raided by a dozen police officers during a headlining appearance by adult film star Marilyn Chambers. However the district attorney declined to press charges against Chambers, and a judge refused to issue a critical injunction against the brothers themselves.[58] Also at that time the police department had been receiving protests by media, public, and politicians concerning multiple scandals, like when a police academy graduate received fellatio from a prostitute at a police academy graduation party.[59] Furthering their problems, police officers arrested a local journalist for walking his dog without a leash after the journalist wrote critically of the police department following the Chambers raid.[60][61] In the wake of the Chambers raid and scandals by the police, the Board of Supervisors voted to strip the police department of their power to license strip clubs, and that the Mitchell Brothers should be paid $14,000 for damages resulting from the Chambers raid.[62]

Over the years, the Mitchells were the defendants in over 200 court cases involving obscenity or related charges. Mostly victorious, they were represented by aggressive counsel.[63]

In February 1991, the theater entered the news after Jim Mitchell fatally shot Artie. Michael Kennedy defended Jim Mitchell, and convinced the jury that Jim killed Artie because the latter was psychotic from drugs and had become dangerous. Later in 1996, Jim established the "Artie Fund" to raise money for drug-abuse prevention. Jim Mitchell was sentenced to six years in prison for voluntary manslaughter and released from San Quentin in 1997, after having served half his sentence. The trial is discussed in depth within the Mitchell Brothers Wikipedia article.

During the celebrations for the O'Farrell's 30th anniversary in 1999, burlesque star Tempest Storm, by then in her 70s, danced on stage. Mayor Willie Brown declared a "Tempest Storm Day" in her honor.[64] Marilyn Chambers returned to perform in the theater on July 28, 1999 in what Willie Brown dubbed "Marilyn Chambers Day."

When San Francisco's Commission on the Status of Women proposed in 2006 to ban private booths and rooms at adult clubs because of concerns about sexual assaults taking place there, several O'Farrell dancers spoke out against the ban.[65]

As of 2006, Jeff Armstrong, its longtime business manager, continued running the O'Farrell; legal representation is provided by former San Francisco Supervisor and two-term District Attorney Terence Hallinan.[65]

In June 2010, Jim's daughter Meta Mitchell Johnson took control of the O'Farrell as manager.[66]


The O'Farrell Theatre is open seven days a week, and nearly every evening of the year. A general admission price gives free access to various themed rooms' live shows within the building, and no alcoholic beverages are served. The O'Farrell's main showroom is New York Live, which is a continuous striptease show that has performers doing two song sets on a stage which has theater seating on three sides. The Cine-Stage is a 200-seat movie theater with a large raised stage which can also present live shows, comedy skits, and musical performances. There are also several themed rooms, such as the Ultra Room which is a peep show-type room where patrons can stand in private booths while watching women perform with various props, such as dildoes. The Green Door Room is named for the Mitchells' classic film Behind the Green Door, and has served as the principal set for some movies. And in the darkened Kopenhagen Lounge, customers use flashlights to watch performances by two nude dancers. All the O'Farrell's male employees, including managers, must adhere to a strict dress code of black bow-tie, white shirt, black slacks, and black shoes.

Labor disputes

Originally, the O'Farrell Theatre's management company, Cinema 7, paid their dancers a flat rate per shift and allowed them to accept tips, but in the 1980s they replaced that payment with the federal minimum wage while still allowing the dancers to accept tips.[67][68]

In 1988, the O'Farrell's management (Cinema 7) created a separate company, Dancers Guild International (DGI), that would be run by Vince Stanich, and changed the dancers' status from being paid employees to that of unpaid independent contractors who had to pay DGI "stage fees" of up to $300 per eight-hour shift.[69][70]

Many of the O'Farrell's dancers considered the O'Farrell's new policy unfair and possibly illegal. Two of them, Ellen Vickery and Jennifer Bryce, filed a class-action lawsuit against DGI (the plaintiffs would ultimately number more than 500), arguing that the O'Farrell's reclassification of the dancers as independent contractors was unlawful, and that they were owed back wages as well as a refund of the stage fees.[71] The case was settled in 1998, and the dancers were awarded $2.85 million.[72][73][74] Similar suits challenging independent contractor status have since been filed against numerous other strip clubs, and labor commissions as well as the courts have mostly ruled in favor of dancers and awarded past wages and stage fee reimbursements.[1] The O'Farrell's management still adamantly opposes all attempts of the dancers to unionize.

After the 1998 case, the O'Farrell changed the performers' payment structure again: they posted a "suggested" fee of $20 per lap dance and $40 per private performance and set a quota of $360 per woman per night; the women were allowed to keep half the quota plus all tips. However, it has been recorded on some occasions for lap dances to cost as much as $240. Dancers claimed feeling pressured into paying $180 per night even if they had earned less than that amount, and another 370-plaintiff class-action suit began in 2002. In 2007, a judge ruled in favor of the dancers, declaring the quota system illegal and requiring the O'Farrell to pay any amounts employees could show they paid to fill their quotas, minus any amounts the employer could show the dancers had collected but failed to report. The O'Farrell was also ordered to reimburse dancers for required theme-oriented costumes.[75]

Sometime after the settlement of 2008, the club changed its workers' status from independent contractors back to being paid employees who now receive a minimum wage, workers comp, and some healthcare coverage.[66]

Location and murals

Mitchell Brothers OFarrell Theater
Mitchell Brothers O'Farrell Theatre as seen from Polk Street

The theatre is located in the northwest part of the Tenderloin District, at the corner of Polk and O'Farrell street, a few doors down from the Great American Music Hall. The entire exterior west and south faces of the theater are covered with two large murals. The west wall depicts a fantasy aquatic scene with flying fish, turtles and whales with a silhouette of the San Francisco Bay in the background, and on the south wall is an underwater scene featuring a life-sized pod of whales and dolphins. These murals were painted in 1977 (Lou Silva with Ed Monroe, Daniel Burgevin, Todd Stanton, and Gary William Graham), 1983 (Lou Silva-solo), 1990 by Lou Silva[76] with the assistance of Joanne Maxwell Wittenbrook, Ed Monroe, Mark Nathan Clark, and Juan "Blackwolf" Karlos, and 2011 by the Academy of Art University. Notable visitors, while the murals were in progress, included: Melvin Belli, Marilyn Chambers, Paul Kantner, Toshiro Mifune, Huey P. Newton, Hunter S. Thompson, and Edy Williams. The murals were sponsored in their entirety by Jim and Artie Mitchell.

Notable Dancers

  • Lily Burana, was involved in the class action suit and wrote about her experiences as dancer at the O'Farrell in her 2001 book Strip City: A Stripper's Farewell Journey Across America (ISBN 0-7868-6790-6).[77]
  • Dana Vespoli, pornographic performer and adult-video director[78]
  • Lysa Thatcher, pornographic performer and longtime girlfriend to Jim Mitchell[79]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Steinberg, David (September 8, 2004). "Lap Victory". SF Weekly.
  2. ^ "Mitchell Brothers O'Farrell Theatre History". Retrieved December 23, 2017.
  3. ^ McCumber (1992), p. 41, 79.
  4. ^ Dougan, Michael (July 25, 1999). "The return of Marilyn Chambers". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  5. ^ McCumber (1992), p. 53, 78-79.
  6. ^ McCumber (1992), p. 38.
  7. ^ Ford (1999), p. 39.
  8. ^ McCumber (1992), p. 41.
  9. ^ McCumber (1992), p. 41.
  10. ^ Ford (1999), p. 40.
  11. ^ McCumber (1992), p. 41-41.
  12. ^ McCumber (1992), p. 45-46.
  13. ^ McCumber (1992), p. 47.
  14. ^ Roberts, Sam (28 January 2016). "Michael J. Kennedy, Lawyer for Underdogs and Pariahs, Dies at 78". New York Times. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  15. ^ McCumber (1992), p. 47.
  16. ^ McCumber (1992), p. 48.
  17. ^ McCumber (1992), p. 50.
  18. ^ Hubner (1994), p. 134-142.
  19. ^ McCumber (1992), p. 51.
  20. ^ McCumber (1992), p. 54.
  21. ^ Hubner (1994), p. 209.
  22. ^ Hubner (1994), p. 202.
  23. ^ Hubner (1994), p. 57, 60.
  24. ^ Corday (2007), p. 91.
  25. ^ Hubner (1994), p. 237.
  26. ^ Ford (1999), p. 74.
  27. ^ Hubner (1994), p. 64-66, 78.
  28. ^ McCumber (1992), p. 55.
  29. ^ Hubner (1994), p. 271-272.
  30. ^ McCumber (1992), p. 56.
  31. ^ Hubner (1994), p. 268-276.
  32. ^ McCumber (1992), p. 78.
  33. ^ McCumber (1992), p. 78.
  34. ^ Corday (2007), p. 147.
  35. ^ McCumber (1992), p. 78.
  36. ^ Hubner (1994), p. 306, 311, 314.
  37. ^ McCumber (1992), p. 78.
  38. ^ Hubner (1994), p. 309.
  39. ^ Corday (2007), p. 30.
  40. ^ McCumber (1992), p. 79.
  41. ^ Corday (2007), p. 46.
  42. ^ Hubner (1994), p. 318-319.
  43. ^ McCumber (1992), p. 80.
  44. ^ Corday (2007), p. 22-23, 35.
  45. ^ Hubner (1994), p. 323.
  46. ^ McCumber (1992), p. 81, 155.
  47. ^ McCumber (1992), p. 78, 81.
  48. ^ McCumber (1992), p. 51, 87-90.
  49. ^ McCumber (1992), p. 88.
  50. ^ McCumber (1992), p. 90.
  51. ^ Hubner (1994), p. 324-327.
  52. ^ McCumber (1992), p. 91.
  53. ^ McCumber (1992), p. 92.
  54. ^ McCumber (1992), p. 93.
  55. ^ McCumber (1992), p. 93.
  56. ^ McCumber (1992), p. 97.
  57. ^ Hinckle, Warren (July 21, 2007). "Porn Kings, and a Lot More". San Francisco Chronicle.
  58. ^ Hubner (1994), p. 101.
  59. ^ McCumber (1992), p. 101.
  60. ^ Hubner (1994), p. 373.
  61. ^ Turner, Wallace (March 4, 1985). "Police Motives Questioned in Coast Vice Raid". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  62. ^ Hubner (1994), p. 374.
  63. ^ Dougan, Michael (July 25, 1999). "The return of Marilyn Chambers". San Francisco Chronicle.
  64. ^ Winn, Steven (July 15, 1999). "Storm Still Packs a Wallop 1950s burlesque icon takes it off again for O'Farrell Theatre anniversary". San Francisco Chronicle.
  65. ^ a b Goodyear, Charlie (August 5, 2006). "Adult Club Private Rooms Debated". San Francisco Chronicle.
  66. ^ a b Phelan, Sarah (18 May 2010). "The Mitchell Sister". Bay Area Guardian. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  67. ^ Hubner (1994), p. 180, 320.
  68. ^ Corday (2007), p. 23, 342.
  69. ^ McCumber (1992), p. 157-158.
  70. ^ Corday (2007), p. 218, 308.
  71. ^ Corday (2007), p. 316.
  72. ^ Lynem, Julie N. (July 10, 1998). "O'Farrell Settles With 500 Dancers; $2.85 million includes restitution, legal fees". San Francisco Chronicle.
  73. ^ Romney, Lee (December 19, 2004). "In S.F., Weighing Strippers' Rights". Los Angeles Times.
  74. ^ Reiman, Jennifer (June 1996). "The Naked Truth". Prism Online. Archived from the original on June 21, 2016.
  75. ^ Egelko, Bob (August 9, 2007). "O'Farrell Theatre dancers win fight against nightly cash quotas". San Francisco Chronicle.
  76. ^ Brenneman, Richard (April 23, 2004). "Muralist Marks a Vivid Life On Local Walls". Berkeley Daily Planet.
  77. ^ Taylor, Charles (October 9, 2001). "Strip City". Salon. Archived from the original on May 7, 2009.
  78. ^ Alff, Shawn (March 4, 2013). "Getting inside Dana Vespoli". Creative Loafing.
  79. ^ Lysa Thatcher on IMDb


  • McCumber, David (1992). X-Rated. New York: Pinnacle Books. ISBN 0786011130.
  • Corday, Simone (2007). 9 1/2 Years Behind the Green Door - A Memoir. Minneapolis: Mill City Press. ISBN 1934248622.
  • Hubner, John (1994). Bottom Feeders. New York: Dell. ISBN 0440216796.
  • Ford, Luke (1999). A History of X: 100 Years of Sex in Film. New York: Prometheus Books. ISBN 1573926787.

External links

Behind the Green Door

Behind the Green Door is a 1972 American feature-length pornographic film, widely considered one of the genre's "classic" pictures and one of the films that ushered in The Golden Age of Porn (1969–1984). Featuring Marilyn Chambers, who became a mainstream celebrity, it was one of the first hardcore films widely released in the United States and the first feature-length film directed by the Mitchell brothers. It was adapted from an anonymous short story of the same title, which was circulated by means of numerous carbon copies. The story's title makes reference to the 1956 hit song "Green Door". Though the main focus of the film, Chambers does not have a single word of dialogue in the entire film. The film is possibly the first U.S. feature-length hardcore film to include an interracial sex scene.

Big Al's

Big Al's was one of the first topless bars in San Francisco and the United States since the mid-1960s. It was the first bottomless bar in San Francisco.

It is next to the Condor Club, where the strip-club phenomenon first started, and since 1991 claims to be one of the largest porn stores in San Francisco.Big Al's as an adult book store closed its doors in 2009, it was later replaced by a sandwich store and currently a cigar shop, both kept the venue's name and iconic neon sign. It still stands as a San Francisco landmark featured in several films and TV shows as well as postcards and touristic brochures.

Blaze Starr

Blaze Starr (born Fannie Belle Fleming; April 10, 1932 – June 15, 2015) was an American stripper and burlesque star. Her vivacious presence and inventive use of stage props earned her the nickname "The Hottest Blaze in Burlesque". She was also known for her affair with Louisiana Governor Earl Kemp Long. Based on her memoir Blaze Starr! My Life as Told to Huey Perry (published in 1974), the 1989 film Blaze told the story of latter affair starring Paul Newman as Long and Lolita Davidovich as Starr, with Starr herself acting in a cameo role and as a consultant.

C. J. Laing

C.J. Laing (born August 1, 1956) is a former American adult-entertainment performer, appearing in films during the 1970s. She is a member of the AVN Hall of Fame and the XRCO Hall of Fame.

Condor Club

The Condor Club nightclub is a striptease bar or topless bar in the North Beach section of San Francisco, California The club opened in 1964.The club is located at the corner of Broadway and Columbus Avenue. The large lit sign in front of the club featured a picture of Carol Doda. The sign had red lights on the image of her breasts. She was the first topless entertainer there and the most famous. Her première topless dance occurred on the evening of June 19, 1964.The club went "bottomlessness" with the dancers performing fully nude, on September 3, 1969. In 1972, bottomless nude dancing became illegal in establishments that served alcohol in California, but Carol Doda continued dancing there topless until 1986.

A bizarre death occurred at the Condor Club in November 1983. Bouncer Jimmy Ferrozzo and his girlfriend, exotic dancer Theresa Hill, decided after hours to have sexual intercourse on the famous white piano on which Carol Doda made her entrance, being lowered from the ceiling by cables. They accidentally hit the "on" switch, and the piano rapidly rose to the ceiling, trapping the couple. Ferrozzo was asphyxiated, while Hill survived only because she was thinner than her companion.The club closed in 2000, but soon reopened as a sports bar/bistro. Between 2005 and 2007, it was Andrew Jaeger's House of Seafood & Jazz, a branch of the owner's original restaurant in New Orleans. However, in August 2007, it once again became the Condor Club, and featured go-go dancers. The current Condor Club is branded as "San Francisco's Original Gentlemen's Club."

Great American Music Hall

The Great American Music Hall is a concert hall in San Francisco, California. It is located on O'Farrell Street in the Tenderloin neighborhood on the same block as the Mitchell Brothers O'Farrell Theatre. It is known for its decorative balconies, columns, and frescoes and for its history of unique entertainment, which has included burlesque dancing as well as jazz, folk music, and rock and roll concerts. The capacity of the hall is 470 people.

Honeysuckle Divine

Honeysuckle Divine (born Betty Jane Allsup; January 21, 1938) is a retired American stripper, erotic performance artist, and sexual columnist. Her specialty was inserting and ejecting things from her vagina onstage; when she performed at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, she was described in the program as "vaginiste", a performer using the vagina. She was often arrested. According to Bruce David, editor of SCREW in the 1970s, then editor of Hustler, she was at one point the best-known stripper in the United States. She is particularly associated with SCREW, for whom she was a sort of mascot. As Al Goldstein said, her act "was unbelievably disgusting, so naturally, we made her our symbol." She was the only female associated with SCREW over any period of time.

Kingdom of Fear (book)

Kingdom of Fear: Loathsome Secrets of a Star-Crossed Child In the Final Days of the American Century is a book by Hunter S. Thompson, published in 2003. The book is a collection of writings about Thompson's past that focuses on the theme of rebellion against authority. Many of the stories are placed in the context of the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and its emphasis on heightened police and military operations.

Lusty Lady

The Lusty Lady is a pair of defunct peep show establishments, one in downtown Seattle and one in the North Beach district of San Francisco. The Lusty Lady was made famous by the labor activism of its San Francisco workers and the publication of several books about working there.

Marilyn Chambers

Marilyn Ann Taylor (née Briggs; April 22, 1952 – April 12, 2009), known professionally as Marilyn Chambers, was an American pornographic film actress, exotic dancer, model, actress, and vice-presidential candidate. She was known for her 1972 hardcore film debut Behind the Green Door and her 1980 pornographic film Insatiable. She ranked at No. 6 on the list of Top 50 Porn Stars of All Time by AVN, and ranked as one of Playboy's Top 100 Sex Stars of the Century in 1999. Although she was primarily known for her adult film work, she made a successful transition to mainstream projects and has been called "porn's most famous crossover".

Market Street Cinema

Market Street Cinema was a historical theatre located on Market Street in the Mid-Market district, San Francisco, California. It was founded in 1912 by David and Sid Grauman as the Imperial Theater. It was converted into a movie theatre as the Premiere Theatre (1929) and the United Artists Theatre (1931).

The benefit world premiere of Dirty Harry was held here on December 22, 1971.In 1972 it was renamed Market Street Cinema and was used through the early 2000s as an adult entertainment venue. The role of the theatre in San Francisco's sex industry in the 1980s was documented in a photo essay by photographer Leon Mostovoy. In October 2015, the San Francisco Planning Commission approved a plan to demolish the theatre and replace it with an eight-story building.Market Street Cinema is considered haunted in popular culture: it features in a 2013 episode of Ghost Adventures (season 7, episode 25) and was used as a shooting location by filmmaker Charles Webb for a low-budget horror movie called G-String Horror.On August 15, 2016, Mint Minx Press published the novella Market Street Cinema by author Michele Machado, narrating the fictional account of a dancer working at the club in 1998.

Mitchell brothers

For the EastEnders characters, see Phil Mitchell and Grant Mitchell.Brothers James Lloyd "Jim" Mitchell (November 30, 1943, in Stockton, California – July 12, 2007, in Petaluma, California) and Artie Jay Mitchell (December 17, 1945, in Lodi, California – February 27, 1991, in Marin County, California) were American entrepreneurs. They operated in the pornography and striptease club business in San Francisco and other parts of California from 1969 until 1991, when Jim was convicted of killing Artie.

They opened the O'Farrell Theatre in 1969 as an adult cinema and at one time operated 11 such businesses. They produced and directed many adult films, including Behind the Green Door in 1972. They were also successful as defendants in many obscenity cases. Their notoriety significantly increased with Jim's fratricide and they became the subject of three books, X-Rated, Bottom Feeders, and 9½ Years Behind the Mitchell Brothers' Green Door and one movie, Rated X.

Nina Hartley

Nina Hartley (born Marie Louise Hartman; March 11, 1959) is an American pornographic actress, pornographic film director, sex educator, sex-positive feminist, and author.


O'Farrell (Irish: Ó Fearghail) is a surname of Irish Gaelic origin. Bearers include:

Barry O'Farrell, Australian politician

Bernadette O'Farrell (1924–1999), Irish actress

Bob O'Farrell, baseball player

Brett O'Farrell (disambiguation), several people

Conor O'Farrell (born 1956), American television actor

Derek O'Farrell (born 1983), Canadian rower

Elizabeth O'Farrell (1884–1957), Irish nurse and revolutionary

Emer O'Farrell (born 1981), Irish camogie player, and marketing executive

Finola O'Farrell, British high court judge and barrister

Francis Fergus O'Farrell, Irish soldier of the seventeenth century

Frank O'Farrell, former Irish soccer player and manager

Henry O'Farrell, Australian/Irish attempted assassin

Jasper O'Farrell, Irish-American surveyor and politician

John O'Farrell (disambiguation), several people

Josh O'Farrell, American politician, Member of the Ohio House of Representatives (2010)

Lauren O'Farrell (also known as Deadly Knitshade; born 1977), British artist

Luke O'Farrell (born 1990), Irish hurler

Maggie O'Farrell, British novelist

Maud O'Farrell Swartz (1879-1937), American labor leader

Maureen O'Farrell, British actress

Michael O'Farrell (disambiguation), several people

Mitch O'Farrell, American politician, member of the Los Angeles City Council (from 2013)

Patrick O'Farrell, Australian/Irish Roman Catholic historian

Patrick H. O'Farrell, inventor of two dimensional electrophoresis

Pierre O’Farrell, American actor

Richard O'Farrell (Irish Confederate), 17th-century Irish soldier

Richard O'Farrell (died 1757), British Army officer, Colonel of the 22nd Regiment of Foot (1741–1757)

Séamus O'Farrell (died 1973), Irish politician, member of Seanad Éireann (1948–1951)

Seánie O'Farrell (born 1977), Irish hurler

Tadeo O'Farrell (died 1602), Roman Catholic prelate, Bishop of Clonfert (1587–1602)

Talbot O'Farrell (1878–1952), stage name of an English music hall singer and film actor

Ursula O'Farrell (née Cussen; born 1934), Irish author and counsellorAs a place name, O'Farell can refer to:

O'Farrell, Texas, town in Cass County, Texas, United States

Sex show

A sex show is a form of live performance that features one or more performers engaging in some form of sexual activity on stage for the entertainment or sexual gratification of spectators. Performers are paid either by the spectators or by the organisers of the show. A performance can include actual or simulated autoerotic acts or sexual activity with another performer. The performance can be in a theater style, or it can be in a peep show style. An increasingly popular form of sex show is a webcam performance in which the viewer is able to view and interact with webcam models in real time.

Sex shows are distinguished from entertainment such as striptease, pole dancing or lap dance, which do not involve sexual activity other than undressing and dancing nude or semi-nude. Sexual activity at sex shows is also distinguished from regular prostitution in that the performers usually engage in sex acts only with other performers and not with spectators or paying customers. Sex shows can overlap with other sectors of the sex industry. For example, a strip club may also offer live sex performances, and a prostitute may offer to perform sex acts with another prostitute for the gratification of a patron.

Sutter Cinema

The Sutter Cinema was located on Sutter Street in downtown San Francisco, just off of fashionable Union Square and a few blocks from Chinatown. It was a walk-up, on the second floor 363 Sutter, occupying the space that had previously been one of America's premiere Chinese-owned night clubs, Charlie Low's Forbidden City, which featured dancer Coby Yee.

The Sutter Cinema opened in 1970; the owner/manager, also cashier, was Sexual Freedom League member, and one of Janis Joplin's closest friends in high school, Arlene Elster. She was the first, if not the only, woman to operate an adult theater. The clientele was middle-class.

Asian-americans from nearby Chinatown also frequented the cinema because Elster was one of the few customers of the legendary Sam Wo restaurant to be on friendly terms with its notoriously abusive head waiter Edsel Ford Fong, who she provided with an ample supply of free passes.

The Sutter Cinema was unique, because in pointed contrast to the Mitchell Brothers O'Farrell Theatre, Elster was not primarily motivated by money. She was a member of the Sexual Freedom League, held a benefit for it at the cinema, and felt that her participation in the pornographic film industry was an opportunity to spread sexual freedom as well as earn a living. She was showing sex films out of a feeling that sex films should be shown: "the times now not only allow but require films like ours." She would only show in the theater films that pleased her, some made with her partner Lowell Pickett. "Sutter Cinema played films that Elster wanted to see, films in which woman possessed sexual desires and 'made it' just like men." Elster intended to show erotic films that showed more than a penis going into a vagina. She felt that "erotic film needed to be made of, by, and for men and women. Female orgasms need to be portrayed on the screen at an equal rate to male orgasms." "In December 1970, the cinema with Leo Productions sponsored a five-day erotic film festival toward this end" ("to elevate pornographic film to a higher level of respectability." (To accommodate the crowd, the festival was held at the 800-seat Presidio Theater, but a poster for it says "Sponsored by the Sutter Cinema.") Mary Rexroth's film Intersection (1971) had its premiere at the Sutter, where she also showed the Mary Rexroth film Cozy Cool (1971) and gay porn films. Mary Rexroth is the daughter of the late poet Kenneth Rexroth.

The First International Erotic Film Festival gained a modicum of literary cache thanks to the presence of festival judges, critic Arthur Knight and erotic book publisher Maurice Girodias. As a result, the festival drew the attention of the producers and talent spotters of the Johnny Carson Show, who invited Elster to do a segment on the program, which aired in January, 1971.

By 1975 Elster was disenchanted, because of police harassment (she was arrested 14 times, and paid a fine of $1000) and the lack of quality movies to show. From 1975 to 1976 she sublet the cinema, moved with her lesbian partner to Sonoma County, and, like Fred Halsted, operated a wholesale plant nursery. The cinema closed shortly after.

Tenderloin, San Francisco

The Tenderloin is a neighborhood in downtown San Francisco, in the flatlands on the southern slope of Nob Hill, situated between the Union Square shopping district to the northeast and the Civic Center office district to the southwest. It encompasses about 50 square blocks, is a large wedge/triangle in shape (point faces East). It is historically bounded on the north by Geary Street, on the east by Mason Street, on the south by Market Street and on the west by Van Ness Avenue. The northern boundary with Lower Nob Hill historically has been set at Geary Street.

The terms "Tenderloin Heights" and "The Tendernob" refer to the area around the indefinite boundary between the Upper Tenderloin and Lower Nob Hill. The eastern extent, near Union Square, overlaps with the Theater District.

Part of the western extent of the Tenderloin, Larkin and Hyde Streets between Turk and O'Farrell, was officially named "Little Saigon" by the City of San Francisco.

Webcam model

A webcam model (colloquial gender-neutral: camodel; female: camgirl; male: camboy) is a video performer who is streamed upon the Internet with a live webcam broadcast. A webcam model often performs erotic acts online, such as stripping, in exchange for money, goods, or attention. They may also sell videos of their performances.

Since many webcam models operate from their homes, they are free to choose the amount of sexual content for their broadcasts. While most display nudity and sexually provocative behavior, some choose to remain mostly clothed and merely talk about various topics while still soliciting payment as tips from their fans.Once viewed as a small niche in the world of adult entertainment, camming today has become "the engine of the porn industry", according to Alec Helmy, the publisher of XBIZ, a sex-trade industry journal.

Women Against Violence in Pornography and Media

Women Against Violence in Pornography and Media (WAVPM) was a feminist anti-pornography activist group based in San Francisco and an influential force in the larger feminist anti-pornography movement of the late 1970s and 1980s.

WAVPM was organized in January 1977, following the San Francisco Women's Centers Conference on Violence Against Women. Founding members included Laura Lederer, Lynn Campbell, Diana Russell, Kathleen Barry, and Susan Griffin.It became highly active in San Francisco, picketing strip clubs and peep shows in San Francisco's red-light districts. Its first public political action was a picket of the Mitchell Brothers O'Farrell Theatre, a strip club and live sex venue. The specific target of the protest was the theater's Ultra Room, which was a live show that featured women performing sadomasochistic acts on one another. WAVPM objected to "women beat[ing] each other for men's sexual stimulation." WAVPM also sponsored educational tours of pornography stores and peep shows in San Francisco's red-light districts and anti-pornography slide shows, both forms of activism later adopted by other anti-pornography feminist groups, notably Women Against Pornography in New York City.WAVPM, like later anti-pornography feminists, was also strongly opposed to BDSM, seeing it as ritualized violence against women, and took a particularly active role in opposing it within the lesbian community. This set them on a direct collision course with Samois, an early lesbian sadomasochist group who WAVPM strongly rebuked and whose functions they sometimes picketed. Samois members felt strongly that their way of practicing SM was entirely compatible with feminism, and held that the kind of feminist sexuality advocated by WAVPM was conservative and puritanical. Samois openly confronted WAVPM with their position, and the exchanges between Samois and WAVPM were among the earliest battles of what later became known as the Feminist Sex Wars.The group organized the first national conference of anti-pornography feminists in San Francisco in November 1978. The conference concluded with the first-ever Take Back the Night march. Andrea Dworkin gave a speech at the rally, and then about three thousand women marched through the red light district in protest of rape and pornography.After the conference, Susan Brownmiller approached Laura Lederer and Lynn Campbell and encouraged them to come to New York City to help in organizing Women Against Pornography. Lederer decided to stay in San Francisco to edit an anthology based on the conference presentations, but Campbell took up the offer and left for New York in April 1979.WAVPAM became less active soon after Campbell's departure, though the group stayed active for several more years. At its peak, the group had over 1000 members. The group became mired in disagreements over stances on non-violent pornography, free speech issues, and attempts to reconcile with sex worker and lesbian BDSM activists, as well as having problems with fundraising and mounting debt. WAVPM disbanded in 1983.


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