‘Circus of Books’ Debuts on Netflix

By  | 

The Masons, owners of West Hollywood landmark Circus of Books.

Circus of Books was an iconic West Hollywood bookstore owned by an unlikely couple–a conservative husband and wife with three children. “Circus of Books” is also the name of the funny and moving film that tells the story of the couple’s 35+ years at the helm of the store, and arrives on Netflix this Wednesday.

The opening-night film at Outfest 2019, “Circus” was reviewed by Goweho’s Jen Baers, who at the time called it a “hilarious and heartwarming documentary” about the unassuming owners, Karen and Barry Mason.

Written and directed by the couple’s daughter, Rachel Mason, “Circus of Books” takes viewers “on a journey with her parents, documenting the story of how this clean-cut family ended up in the business of selling gay porn,” Baers wrote.

The couple got their start in distribution working with Larry Flynt, a little side hustle that turned into a 30-year fight for free speech. It also became an inner journey for Karen, and the acceptance of her gay son.

Producer Cynthia Childs, Joanne Duray at Outfest.

“Circus of Books” is a courageous tale of a West Hollywood landmark that in its heyday was a refuge and resource for its primarily gay clientele.

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 displaced the business.

Mason also produced the film, along with Cynthia Childs, Kathryn Robson, Camilla Hall and Adam Baran; Ryan Murphy was executive producer.

“Circus of Books” was acquired by Netflix in 2019.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login