Remembering LA’s Circus of Books in all its sexy glory


In this time of internet porn overload and self-quaratined, it’s sometimes hard to remember the vital role gay shops and bookstores once played in our lives, not just in providing the print publications we required to help figure out who we are, but also the imagery that that showed homosex in, well, all it’s physical beauty and pleasure. 

Until it was sold to Chi Chi Larue and renamed “Circus” last year, West Hollywood’s Circus of Books for many years was owned by husband-and-wife entrepreneurs Karen and Barry Mason. They are an ordinary Jewish family who threw caution to the wind in 1982 by taking over Circus and, through their sympathy with their clientele, became unorthodox champions of equality and free expression.

The store is now closed due to the quarantine. But at least we can relive the West Hollywood store in its ’80s & ’90s glory in the the documentary “Circus of Books” as seen through the eyes not just of its owners but its patrons. Now streaming on Netflix.