Mum and Dad Gay Porn Store Owners Get Netflix Doco

Circus of Books

A new Netflix documentary tells the story of a Jewish married couple who for over 35 years operated a gay porn store in Los Angeles.

Situated on Santa Monica Boulevard, across the road from Golf Coast gay bar and a block from Hamburger Marys, the store was a gathering place where the environment could shop porn movies, magazines and books, as well as meet others without meeting prejudice.

The store was run by Karen and Barry Mason, a quarrel and Jewish couple with three children. The kids knew that the parents were running a store, but not what they were selling and who their customers were. The couple’s family, friends and social circle did not even know what kind of store Karen and Barry were running.

Circus of Books had its heyday in the midst of the AIDS crisis in the United States in the 1980s and the couple saw with their own eyes how the environment and their customers were affected, and not least their own employees in Circus of Books.

Father Barry Mason and daughter Rachel Mason. Photo: Netflix.
Father Barry Mason and daughter Rachel Mason. Photo: Netflix.

Mum and Dad sell porn, Netflix

Karen and Barry never considered themselves activists, rather as entrepreneurs who delivered goods to an environment, before the Internet and digital media destroyed the foundations of Circus of Books, which closed its doors in 2016.

Karen and Barry’s daughter, Rachel Mason, has created the documentary “Circus of Books” about her parents’ store.

This is her debut film and she goes straight to the source, to the least radical people she knows, mum Karen and dad Barry, and asks how they became America’s biggest gay porn distributors, as well as why Karen Mason reacted so negatively when one son came out as gay.

Responsible producer on “Circus of Books” is none other than Ryan Murphy, known for successes like “American Horror Story”, “Pose”, “Glee” and “Feud”.

Circus of Books in Los Angeles. Photo: Netflix.
Circus of Books in Los Angeles. Photo: Netflix.

Jeff Stryker and Alaska

In addition to interviewing parents Karen and Barry, Rachel Mason also has known names in the documentary, such as porn actor Jeff Stryker (57). Stryker had his heyday in the 80s and is one of the most well-known stars in gay porn. Filmmaker John Waters has named Jeff Stryker for “porn’s Cary Grant.”

In addition, we meet pornographer Larry Flynt, known for publishing the magazine “Hustler”, the drag artist Alaska Thunderfuck, known from the TV series RuPaul’s Drag Race and as the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 2 in 2016.

“Circus of Books” closed its doors in 2016, but that doesn’t mean the premises are empty.

In January this year came the news that the porn queen and drag artist Chi Chi LaRue has taken over the lease and will open a porn supermarket called “Chi Chi LaRue’s Circus”.

“Circus of Books” premieres on Netflix April 22.