Michael Thevis

Michael George Thevis (February 25, 1932 – November 20,[1] 2013) was a Greek American millionaire pornographer and convicted murderer based in Atlanta, Georgia, but with close links to the Five Families of New York City and the DeCavalcante crime family of Newark, New Jersey.[2] After escaping from prison on April 28, 1978, Thevis was put on the FBI Most Wanted List.[3][2]

Michael Thevis
Michael Thevis (mugshot).jpg
Michael George Thevis

February 25, 1932
DiedNovember 20, 2013(2013-11-20) (aged 81)
Other namesThe King of Pornography
The Sultan of Smut
The Scarface of Porn
The Scarface of Sex
Partner(s)Jeanette Evans
Patricia McLean

Early yearsEdit

Thevis was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, and raised by his Greek immigrant grandparents after his parents separated. He dropped out of high school at the age of 17 and hitched his way to Atlanta in 1951 where he completed high school and enrolled in Georgia Tech, although he would leave before graduating to become the manager of a newsstand, earning $50 a week.[3] While young, he served as a Greek Orthodox altar boy and had thoughts of entering the priesthood. However, he grew up very poor and after being convicted of attempted armed robbery, he reconsidered his future.[2]

At the age of 19, he married Joan, three years his junior, and fathered 5 children: George, Christina, twins Tony and Stephanie, and Jason.[2]


Thevis was in the pornography business and made a fortune with peep show machines.[4] He was known as "The King of Pornography" and "The Sultan of Smut",[5] and was a millionaire by age 37.[citation needed] He was also involved in music recording: rock group Flood recorded a soundtrack for the US release of the martial arts movie Blood of the Dragon starring Jimmy Wang Yu, which was produced by author William Diehl. Flood disbanded when Thevis' GRC Records label folded after his arrest.[6] Other artists who recorded for GRC included Sammy Johns (million-seller "Chevy Van"), Moe Bandy and Loleatta Holloway.[7]

He commissioned one of the largest residences to be built in Atlanta in 1972, a 30-room British Tudor-style mansion called "Lion's Gate."[2] Lion's Gate was designed by Robert M. Green, an Atlanta architect who studied under Frank Lloyd Wright, and was originally valued at an estimated $3.3 million.[8] During the 1990s, the Thevis mansion was the home of singers Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown.[9]

Legal historyEdit

In November 1970, Thevis shot and killed business rival Kenneth Hanna.[2]

In September 1973, Thevis and Roger Underhill used a pipe bomb to kill Jimmy Mayes, a former employee who had opened his own adult magazine shop.

In 1974, Thevis was charged with transportation of obscene materials, and conspiracy to commit arson.[2] The arson charge was related to Thevis's attempt to burn down a warehouse owned by a business rival. Thevis was convicted and sentenced to eight years imprisonment.

Underhill was imprisoned in 1974 for possession of stolen property.[2] While in prison, he became an informer against Thevis and agreed to wear a hidden microphone to record their conversations.

In 1978, Thevis and several associates were charged with murder and various crimes under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

On April 28, 1978, Thevis escaped from a jail in New Albany, Indiana. Underhill, who had been paroled, was shot and killed in October 1978, along with Isaac Galanti; the two men were at an empty lot Underhill owned and Galanti was interested in buying.[2] Underhill survived long enough to identify Thevis as his assailant.

Thevis was captured in November 1978, while attempting a large cash withdrawal from a bank account he'd established under a false identity in Connecticut.

Thevis and two associates were convicted on October 21, 1979, and all were sentenced to life terms.[2]

Once imprisoned, Thevis was able to secure help from Congressman Andrew Young (D-GA), who contacted Norman Carlson, chief of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, on behalf of Thevis. Having just been appointed United States Ambassador to the United Nations by newly elected President Carter, Young wrote to Carlson on his new stationery, convincing him that Thevis needed to be moved in order to receive appropriate medical attention.[10]

Thevis died in prison in Bayport, Minnesota, on November 20, 2013.


  1. ^ BOP inmate Locator
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j The Daily Beast The Scarface of Sex: The Millionaire Playboy Who Murdered His Way to the Top of Porn, June 16, 2017
  3. ^ a b The Washington Post 'I was the GM of Pornography', November 11, 1978
  4. ^ Newser.com He Made Millions Off Porn. And Killed to Keep It That Way: Meet Michael Thevis, the 'Scarface of Sex', June 20, 2017
  5. ^ "Wanted poster for murderer and pornography tycoon Michael George Thevis, "The Scarface of Porn," after his escape from prison in 1978 and placement on the FBI's Top Ten Most Wanted List". digitalcollections.library.gsu.edu. Retrieved October 20, 2021.
  6. ^ "Golden Isles Records | Music Studio and Publishing | Flood". goldenislesrecords.com. Retrieved June 12, 2018.
  7. ^ "GRC Label | Releases | Discogs". Retrieved June 14, 2019.
  8. ^ Trocheck, Kathy (March 3, 1985). "Future looking brighter for stately Lion's Gate". The Atlanta Constitution. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  9. ^ Sun, Feifei (March 18, 2015). "5 not-so-true romances: The couples who kept our tongues wagging". Atlanta Magazine. Retrieved August 29, 2019.
  10. ^ The New York Times Porn free, June 15, 1978