From Free Love to Hard Core--The Rise and Fall of Counterculture Heroes Jim and Artie Mitchell
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 Sex, drugs, money, death: The saga of the Mitchell brothers has it all--which, no doubt, is why this is the second book about these trend-setting pornographers, one of whom killed the other, to appear in recent months (a third, by Warren Hinckle and Susan Cheever, has been postponed indefinitely). Happily, Hubner's intensively researched account is every bit as compelling as David McCumber's X-Rated (1992), and complements it nicely. Though Hubner (the Pulitzer-winning San Jose Mercury News journalist who coauthored 1988's superb exposÇ of the Hare Krishnas, Monkey on a Stick) doesn't write with the same explosive flair as McCumber, he livens his straightforward prose with key exclusive interviews, including one with Marilyn Chambers, whom the Mitchells launched into porno superstardom. With input from the Ivory Snow-girl and others, Hubner focuses more tightly than McCumber on the business/artistic aspects of the Mitchells' rise from obscure makers of penny-ante porno loops in the late 60's to rich and notorious creators of the porn classic Behind the Green Door and proprietors of San Francisco's infamous O'Farrell Theater. It's a savvy, sexually explicit report, and also jaw-dropping as the Mitchells' sense of sex as theater unfolds (one O'Farrell innovation was ``The Streets of Paris,'' a room containing a cobblestone street, wrought-iron balustrades, and doorways from which women beckoned men to sex). Hubner's quiet approach doesn't convey the drug-induced madness growing inside Artie Mitchell's head with the same intensity as did McCumber's flaming pages--but Hubner compresses the trial of Jim Mitchell for blowing away his brother into far fewer--and more cogent--pages than did McCumber. And so the Mitchells' story is replayed again, and in the retelling begins to take on the dimensions of another uniquely American myth of talent, excess, and tragedy, one to be put alongside those of JFK, Marilyn, and Elvis. (Twenty-five b&w photos--not seen.)

Pub Date: Feb. 12th, 1993
ISBN: 0-385-42261-X
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1993


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