Home Hollywood Movies Circus of Books Trailer Goes Inside a Famous L.A. Gay Porn Shop

Circus of Books Trailer Goes Inside a Famous L.A. Gay Porn Shop

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Not to be confused with the recent New York City-set documentary The Booksellers, Circus of Books is another acclaimed look at the world of bookselling–among other things–of an entirely different variety. World premiering at Tribeca Film Festival last year and now arriving on Netflix this month, the film explores the famous gay porn shop that operated for over 35 years in West Hollywood.

Directed by Rachel Mason, her parents Karen and Barry Mason were the actual owners of the shop, making for a very personal look at their family life as the secrecy of running the shop was kept in their circles. The film, executive produced by Ryan Murphy, also explores the LGBT+ community that the store helped foster along with facing the struggles of the AIDS epidemic and fight for personal rights.

“My mom basically tried for four years to get this thing to not happen. But I just kept showing up, and I think that was really it,” the director said. “My mom, it was just a major, major secret for her and me shedding light on it was not something she was particularly happy about. My dad could have cared less, as you can tell. He’s not the thing that makes the film so fascinating, even though he is fascinating. I think getting my mom’s sense of why this was such a conflict and what her issues were is really what drives the story of the film.”

See the trailer and poster below.

For 35-plus years, the gay porn shop Circus of Books gave Los Angeles’ LGBT+ community a space to socialize and celebrate themselves without judgment. Unbeknownst to many customers, the store was cultivated by owners Karen and Barry Mason, a straight, mainstream couple with three children who went to religious school and were unaware of their parents’ business. The Masons long refused to disclose the nature of their business to friends or family. While maintaining the secret, they witnessed the dawn of the HIV/AIDS epidemic firsthand, losing a generation of treasured employees. Still, during that time, they never identified as activists — just everyday entrepreneurs catering to a market, until the Internet destroyed it. Executive produced by Ryan Murphy, CIRCUS OF BOOKS is the debut documentary from artist Rachel Mason, who finally asks the least radical people she knows — her parents — how they became America’s biggest distributors of gay porn, and why Karen reacted so negatively when her own son came out of the closet.

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