San Francisco's most notorious strip club, The Mitchell Brothers O' Farrell Theater, closes its doors after 51 years

The Mitchell Brothers O'Farrell Theater might be the most storied strip club anywhere in the country. Certainly in San Francisco. Opening its doors in 1969, it almost immediately became ground zero for obscenity law and free speech battles. Mayor Diane Feinstein led several raids in an attempt to get the club closed down. In addition to fighting the charges in court, the brothers infamously 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 something of a cultural center at times. There were film screenings, hippie vaudeville acts, underground cartoonists and the literati held meetings there, journalist Warren Hinckle edited an underground paper called War News, and Hunter S. Thompson served as the "night manager" for several years.

In the early years, the Mitchell Brothers were best known for directing the classic adult film Behind The Green Door starring former Ivory Soap model Marilyn Chambers. It became one of the highest grossing XXX films of its day and helped to usher in "The Golden Age of Porn". In later years, however, the brothers entered the limelight again under much darker circumstances when Jim Mitchell murdered brother Artie when Artie's drug use began impacting their business. This incident was adapted into a movie starring Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen called Rated X in 2002.

Though closing this year, the club is not a covid casualty. It had been in trouble for some time and had gone up for sale in 2018. Another wild institution gone, but leaving a rich bounty of stories in its wake.