Jim and Artie Mitchell were brothers from Oklaholma, just a few years apart. Jim was the older and more serious one, while Artie was the younger, clow...moreJim and Artie Mitchell were brothers from Oklaholma, just a few years apart. Jim was the older and more serious one, while Artie was the younger, clownish one. Together, the brothers would become infamous from their forays into pornographic films, including one of the biggest 'porn chic' films of the 70s, Behind the Green Door.
This book not only chronicles their rise from being rather impoverished sons of a docile housewife and a father who both loved his boys and made his money on card sharking, through their pornographic careers, until the tragic end, when Jim shot Artie for reasons still murky.
The brothers started out with a counterculture ethos that their father had implanted on them - fight the establishment. For their father, it meant never having a steady job and taunting the police. For the brothers, what started out as a fun way to learn how to make films by videotaping attractive 'free love' hippie chicks soon escalated into pushing the envelope, showing hard-core sex, collapsing under the unlimited sexual and narcotic freedom offered to them, and finally ending in a murder trial.
The book is well written, but it at times meanders into questioning the validity of pornography itself. While these arguments, pro and against, have their place, it breaks into the narrative. If I wanted to read what feminists and religious people have to say about porn, I would read their books, after all.
Another flaw is that the book was published in 1993 and has not been updated, as far as I can tell, despite the fact that Jim Mitchell served three years in San Quentin, established a fund in Artie's name, and died in 2007. This book does not explore Jim Mitchell's life post-sentencing, so one has to turn to the Internet to get the 'full story.'
In the end, neither brother is likable, and the entire story is basically sad and sick, but it is well told and worth reading. The people who hold men like these up as heroes are deluded.
The brothers were abusive towards women in general, their actors and actresses (these people were referred to as "meat",) their 'inner circle,' and ultimately towards one another. While they may have helped establish some landmark anti-censorship court rulings, they did so out of their own self-interest. Much like another pornographer held up as a hero, Larry Flynt, they are still scummy 'bottom-feeders' in the end.(less)
Perhaps it's being in a post-9/11 world, but much of what Selzer describes as "terrorist chic" has nothing to do with terrorism. Maybe in the late 70s...morePerhaps it's being in a post-9/11 world, but much of what Selzer describes as "terrorist chic" has nothing to do with terrorism. Maybe in the late 70s it was different - Weathermen, SLA, etc. But today, kids fighting in CBGB's or a rock show with violent imagery is nothing special.
While the subtitle is slightly more accurate, the book isn't about violent crime or violent acts - instead it is about psuedo-S&M and rape themed advertising campaigns for clothes, S&M clubs, the "decadence" of Studio 54, CBGB's and similar locales. Basically, Selzer does investigations into what he classifies as "violent" subcultures (how psuedo S&M and disco dancing are "violent" is beyond me) and describes it all with a haughty "I'm above all of this" sneer.
He's determined to find punk, S&M, disco and other "vices" of the 70s pretentious and ridiculous, and his descriptions of the clubs, the people and the events follow suit. While it's interesting as an exploration into these subject from an 'on-the-scene' perspective, the author seems far less interested in reporting and far more interested in puffing himself up. Good for some names and the interviews (including one with resident CBGBs punk Helen Wheels) but not a very good read in general, unless you consider disco dancing and S&M to be horrible blights on society.
One might say that about disco dancing, sure, but S&M? Good clean fun.(less)