Mitchell was adopted into a single-child family, raised Catholic, and briefly married at age 17 before she was an Off-Broadway actress and dancer who claims to have toured with the Martha Graham Dance Company. Then, in the mid-1970s, she became an adult actress.
During her 20-year career in adult films, she appeared in over 600 movies and directed 29 movies. During her years in the industry, Mitchell admits to being a heroinaddict for sixteen of them. Mitchell also contracted herpes, chlamydia, hepatitis, and trichomoniasis. Mitchell worked with Golden Age production companies such as AVC, Caballero Home Video, Essex Video, Gourmet Video Collection, Leisure Time Entertainment, VCA Pictures, VCX, and the Zane Entertainment Group as well as contemporary studios such as Vivid Entertainment. Roughly a quarter of her appearances were non-sex roles.
In March 1996, after a male stalker who was obsessed with her porn films assaulted, raped, and nearly killed her, Mitchell quit drugs and went back to school.
In 1998, she founded the Adult Industry Medical Health Care Foundation (AIM), an organization which provided information and STD testing to workers in adult entertainment. As of 2004, they were testing 1,200 adult performers a month. In 2011, a security breach led to over 12,000 adult performers' personal information being released publicly. A privacy breach lawsuit was filed against the institute, and they closed their doors in May 2011. Oversight of the protocol was assumed by the Free Speech Coalition.