Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Sex and Violence

I just finished reading X-Rated by David McCumber. It's a biography of the infamous Mitchell Brothers, the porn kings of San Francisco, who directed Behind the Green Door and ran the O'Farrell Theater in the Tenderloin. Jim and Artie Mitchell made millions in the sex biz before Artie slid down the drain into alcoholism and Jim, in what is painted as a understandable breakdown, drove to his brother's house and shot him to death.
It's a good read, as just about any book set in this milieu would be. But it has some definete flaws. The brother's rise to the top, and exactly where all their money came from (are strip clubs really so profitable that both of the brothers would be fabulously wealthy?), is glossed over in favor of page after page detailing Artie's abusive, sex-charged relationships. (Althouugh, in all fairness, the manner in which Artie was able to completely captivate these women is interesting, until you realize that most sex workers were molested, and go on to seek out abusive relationships. That's just what Artie gave them.) There's also about 100 pages of the book dedicated to Jim's trial, which seems excessive: a book ought to be a trial procedural or it ought not to be one. No waffling.
I still haven't seen the movie that was made from this book (it stars Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen). I'll let you know when I do.


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