X-RATED by David McCumber


The Mitchell Brothers
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 Adults-only rendition of the lives of two pioneering pornographer-brothers and how one came to murder the other, related in live-wire prose by California journalist McCumber (The San Francisco Examiner, etc.). When Jim Mitchell, 45, shot dead his brother Artie, 43, in 1991, the X-rated film world was stunned: How could this have happened to the dynamic duo of sleaze, who brought the world Ivory Snow-girl Marilyn Chambers and the porn classic Behind the Green Door? Drawing on interviews with the Mitchells' family, friends, and stars, McCumber weaves an unusually lively true-crime chronicle that doubles as a eulogy for innocence lost. For at first, the Mitchells were innocents of a sort, riding the wave of free love that washed over San Francisco in the late 60's, ``having fun'' turning out porn loops and opening up a theater whose troupe of exotic dancers eventually included many disciples of the notorious guru Rajneesh. In 1972, the Mitchells filmed Behind the Green Door for an unheard-of (for a porn film) $60,000; the film grossed $35 million--and everything changed. Though reveling in his new money and power, Jim kept an even keel--but Artie went hog-wild, living life on a manic, sadistically sexual edge, and wallowing in drugs. McCumber traces Artie's descent in rich style, drawing in-depth portraits of the women he used and abused; and the author's snappy writing continues into his coverage of the trial that ensued when Jim, at last half-crazed himself over his brother's madness, pulled the trigger. (Of the prosecutor, McCumber says, ``He looks tough, intense, feral, predatory. Hell, he looks like a vampire.'') Convicted only of manslaughter, today Jim is free on bail, pending appeal. There's a strong moral about the wages of sin here but McCumber doesn't belabor it, instead letting this sad and sleazy story--one of the most gripping yet told about the world of pornography--speak for itself. (Photographs--not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-671-75156-5
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1992


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