Liberty Bradford Mitchell (seen with her father Artie Mitchell in photo behind) tells the story of growing up on the fringes of an X-rated world at the World Premiere. (David Allen)
Liberty Bradford Mitchell (seen with her father
Artie Mitchell in photo behind) tells the story of growing up
on the fringes of an X-rated world at the World Premiere. (David Allen)

Liberty Bradford Mitchell has a unique perspective on the pornography industry. She’s the daughter of Artie Mitchell. He and his brother, Jim, were hippies, sexual revolutionaries and then kings of the porn industry, as filmmakers and owners of the O’Farrell Theatre in San Francisco.

Now Liberty Mitchell, 42, a mother of two kids, is starring in “The Pornographer’s Daughter.” It’s a one-woman play about growing up on the fringes of the porn industry, and what happened when Jim killed Artie in 1991.

Mitchell often visited her dad at “his office,” the O’Farrell Theatre, sometimes joining him to watch the films he and his brother were making.

“It was very strange. I believe, I was like 4 or 5, when I noticed what I was looking at on the screen,” she said. “You know, it didn’t immediately disturb me necessarily. It was more kind of an overwhelming sense of, ‘Wow, I never really imagined that that’s what a naked movie would look like.’ ”

In the play, Mitchell recalls seeing a sign in the lobby saying “Under 18 not admitted,” and worrying that she’d be thrown in jail.

Her dad’s line, which Mitchell delivers in a sardonic tone: “Relax, beautiful. You wouldn’t be a Mitchell if you didn’t do a little jail time.”

The Mitchell brothers made tens of millions and won an invitation to the Cannes Film Festival for their film “Behind The Green Door,” one of the first feature-length X-rated films. Fueling the film’s success, and the brothers’ infamy, was the revelation that the star was Marilyn Chambers, the woman pictured on boxes of Ivory Snow.

The play also details both the brothers’ drug and alcohol use and Jim’s growing paranoia. And Liberty Mitchell tells the difficult tale of how Jim killed her dad. He served just three years in San Quentin on a manslaughter conviction.

Liberty Mitchell said she can relive that difficult event on the stage because she has some perspective now on the incident.

And one reason she’s willing to do it is to reclaim her dad’s reputation. He was portrayed in two books and a Showtime cable movie as an “unsavory character.”

She wants her children to be able to read “The Pornographer’s Daughter” someday and learn that their grandfather was “a really magnetic, interesting and inspiring guy in so many ways.”

Author

Cy Musiker

Cy Musiker co-hosts The Do List and covers arts and politics for KQED News and The California Report.  He loves good theater, roots music, Berlioz, Mahler and serving the people. Cy has an MJ from UC Berkeley's School of Journalism, and got his BA from Hampshire College. His work has been recognized by the Society for Professional Journalists with their Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service in Journalism. When he can, Cy likes to swim in Tomales Bay, run with his dog in the East Bay Hills, and hike the Sierra.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor