San Francisco’s most famous strip club, Mitchell Brothers O ‘Farrell Theater, closes after 51 years
The Mitchell Brothers O’Farrell Theater is perhaps the most famous strip club in the country. Definitely in San Francisco. Opening in 1969, it almost immediately became the starting point for obscenity law and battles for free speech. Mayor Diane Feinstein has led several raids in an attempt to shut down the club. In addition to battling charges in court, the brothers sadly posted “For a good time, call …” with Feinstein’s phone number on their marquee in retaliation.
In addition to being a strip club, the O’Farrell Theater was sometimes a cultural center. There were movie screenings, hippie vaudeville acts, underground cartoonists and literati held meetings there, journalist Warren Hinckle edited an underground newspaper titled War Newsand Hunter S. Thompson was the “night director” for several years.
In the early years, the Mitchell brothers were best known for directing the classic adult film. Behind the green door with former model Ivory Soap, Marilyn Chambers. It went on to become one of the highest grossing XXX movies of its time and helped usher in “The Golden Age of Porn”. Later, however, the brothers returned to the limelight in much darker circumstances when Jim Mitchell murdered his brother Artie when Artie’s drug use began to impact their business. This incident was adapted into a film starring Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen called X rated in 2002.
Although closed this year, the club is not a coveted victim. It had been in trouble for some time and had been put up for sale in 2018. Another savage institution was gone, but leaving in its wake an abundance of stories.