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Circus of Books Insights: The Story of Legendary West Hollywood Gay porn shop

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HISTORY

The store Circus Of Books was an iconic bookstore of its time. It was also considered to be the best gay porn shop in West Hollywood for decades. The store is owned by Mason’s couple (Barry and Karen). The couple bought the shop in 1983.

It was first known as Book Circus and it was closed in 1982 due to bankruptcy. The Mason couple flipped the name and grew the store alongside the increasing gay community public footprint.

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However, the store was finally closed last year when the owners were not able to compete with the internet facilities.

ABOUT THE DOCUMENTARY

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The daughter of Mason couple Rachel Mason has come up with a Netflix documentary of the bookstore and named it as CIRCUS OF BOOKS. The filmmaker Rachel never thought that it would get such a response.

It was quite unexpected for everyone to receive such acclaims and wide distributions. The couple told that store’s truth was a secret to everyone. Even, the children of the family were told to say their parents run a bookstore without any specifications.

THE REALITY OF THE STORE

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It was a place for gays to live their lives freely. Anyone can live there without the fear of judgment. It was a gay place even if it was not clearly said.

The store had such material for gays that they could not find anywhere else. The owners said that they find the bookstore to be like any other public place, like a bar. A place where people could share chats, find reading, and viewing materials.

The store had an alley behind called ‘Vaseline Alley’ where gay men were free to congregate and share their views and chats. Well, it is good that now there are no sexual boundaries. Now the gay men also have all the rights and they can freely exist.

The shop grew even at the time of the AIDS pandemic too. It was not planned to run the store this long but later it was all a go with the flow thing. Its reach and demand grew wider and wider.

END OF THE STORE

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The store carried publications about gay pornography. But soon the internet replaced magazines on shelves. It was quite evident that the store was at an end. In the documentary, we could see the owners were facing larger economic downfalls. They were not able to provide insurance and pensions to the employees.

The store was hit badly due to the internet. Now, gay people can easily find each other on the Grindr app, hence there was no need to visit the store. The internet provided them with space to live life freely.

 

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Aishwarya Asthana
A Journalism and Mass Communication student, who loves to share her views almost about everything. An avid reader, a budding writer and a girl who thinks out loud. Interested in political and historical news, TV shows, web series and all the latest happenings around the world.

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