Liberty Bradford Mitchell invites you to peek behind the green door in her saucy solo show “The Pornographer’s Daughter.”
Mitchell explores the thrills and torments of growing up in the sleaze business as her father Artie and her uncle Jim launched a porn empire at San Francisco’s Mitchell Brothers O’Farrell Theatre in the 1970s. A cheeky 85-minute romp about coming of age amid the bodily fluids, vice raids and g-strings of the adult entertainment industry, the breezy one-woman show is making its world premiere through Feb. 16 at San Francisco’s Z Space Below.
Directed by Michael T. Weiss, this is a poignant personal look at a notorious local legend that’s become part of the colorful fabric of San Francisco history. If the show feels a little underdeveloped, there’s no denying the operatic nature of the Mitchell family saga.
The 43-year-old mother of two certainly has a treasure trove of bizarre material to mine here, from her parent’s Summer of Love-era romance to the tragedy of her uncle murdering her father in 1991. Accompanied by the San Francisco band the Fluffers, she regales us with what it was like to learn about the birds and the bees amid the swirl of booze and drugs that marked what Hunter S. Thompson dubbed “the Carnegie Hall of public sex” in America.
It’s not an entirely tawdry tale of tittilation. Indeed, Mitchell notes that before they became porn kings, the brothers, who grew up in Antioch, actually had aesthetic aspirations. “Behind the Green Door,” considered one of the earliest feature-length adult movies, which starred Marilyn Chambers, was arty enough to get them invited to the Cannes Film Festival. The 1972 picture earned the brothers 50 million dollars and forever changed their fates. Big business soon won out over more artistic considerations. Her parents divorced. Cocaine played a starring role in her father’s X-rated lifestyle.