Circus of Books

Circus of Books

Circus of Books

A significant slice of queer history is explored in this Netflix documentary about a humble Jewish couple who ran a book store that unexpectedly became the biggest distributing centre of gay porn in America. Directed by the store owners' daughter, Rachel Mason.

In 1976, Karen and Barry Mason had fallen on hard times and were looking for a way to support their young family when they answered an ad in the Los Angeles Times. Larry Flynt was seeking distributors for Hustler Magazine. What was expected to be a brief sideline led to their becoming fully immersed in the LGBT community as they took over a local store, Circus of Books. A decade later, they had become the biggest distributors of gay porn in the US. The film focuses on the double life they led, trying to maintain the balance of being parents at a time when LGBT culture was not yet accepted. Their many challenges included facing jail time for a federal obscenity prosecution and enabling their store to be a place of refuge at the height of the AIDS crisis. 

201992 minsUSA
Documentary
Director:
Rachel Mason
66%
want to see

Streaming (1 Providers)

Reviews & comments

RogerEbert.com

RogerEbert.com

press

This is one of numerous eye-opening revelations contained in “Circus of Books,” the wonderful debut documentary feature of Rachel Mason...

Hollywood Reporter

Hollywood Reporter

press

A very funny, very moving documentary.

IndieWire

IndieWire

press

Circus of Books is chock full of entertaining characters, but Karen ultimately emerges as the film's complicated and fascinating heroine.

Film Threat

Film Threat

press

It sends a strong message that we should never be ashamed of who or what we are and that the freedoms we enjoy were fought and won in the most unusual of places.

4.0
Variety

Variety

press

"Circus of Books" is an affectionate look at one of the most unusual mom and pop businesses in America, directed by the person who knew Mom and Pop best.

The Guardian

The Guardian

press

Here is a documentary with an absorbing and unexpectedly complicated story to tell, whose paradoxes and sadnesses are not entirely resolved by the end.

4.0
RogerEbert.com

RogerEbert.com

press

This is one of numerous eye-opening revelations contained in “Circus of Books,” the wonderful debut documentary feature of Rachel Mason...

Hollywood Reporter

Hollywood Reporter

press

A very funny, very moving documentary.

IndieWire

IndieWire

press

Circus of Books is chock full of entertaining characters, but Karen ultimately emerges as the film's complicated and fascinating heroine.

Film Threat

Film Threat

press

It sends a strong message that we should never be ashamed of who or what we are and that the freedoms we enjoy were fought and won in the most unusual of places.

4.0
Variety

Variety

press

"Circus of Books" is an affectionate look at one of the most unusual mom and pop businesses in America, directed by the person who knew Mom and Pop best.

The Guardian

The Guardian

press

Here is a documentary with an absorbing and unexpectedly complicated story to tell, whose paradoxes and sadnesses are not entirely resolved by the end.

4.0

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