“Circus of Books”–review–A MUST SEE!   Leave a comment

Circus of Books 1

There are so many reasons to see this documentary and I don’t really want to say anything about it that might turn people away from it–including that it is a documentary–but even if you think you won’t like the subjects tackled get through the first 15 minutes and you will be hooked! In fact, don’t read this review until after you have seen the film!
Karen and Barry Mason, the parents of a girl and 2 boys, owned a famous (or infamous) porn bookstore in West Hollywood for 30 years. Their daughter, Rachel, wrote and directed this film, even showing how uncomfortable her mother was/is on camera, almost as uncomfortable as she was owning the store. No one in her family, or her friends, knew what kind of store she owned only that it was a ‘bookstore’. The few times she had to be there when she had the kids they had a strict rule to “don’t look around, look down at the floor”.
Karen is a devout Jew who has a hard time with what her religion teaches her about homosexuality and yet owning a store that main business came from gay residents of the area plus the employees were mostly gay. In one of the most touching scenes, Karen states that a parent has to be the best parent they can be. Another scene between Rachel and her younger brother is so moving that I ‘lost’ it and had to stop the film for a few minutes.
The family, including Barry, acknowledge that Karen ‘wears the pants in the family’ while Barry is a happy go lucky guy who loves his wife and children and is always there for them.
The film covers the legal rights to produce and distribute what is called porn whether in magazines, books or films. At one point Barry is offered a deal in the Ronald Reagan/Ed Meese War on Pornography versus the rights of citizens.  AIDS and the Internet also affect the bookstore business while Karen, a mother first, is concerned about her clientele getting sick and/or dying from the former.
The story of how they got involved in the bookstore by distributing Larry Flynt’s “Hustler” magazine and get caught up in his legal battles but they never back down is interesting. Then there is Jeff Stryker who would make porn movies and the Masons would distribute them who could have a film just about him. Along with Flynt and Stryker, there are interviews of people who worked in the store and how they looked upon Barry and Karen as ‘parents’.
“Circus of Books” is many things from a ‘normal’ family owning a business to the dynamics of a family to constitutional rights to being parents to religion to doing what is right, not judging but most of all meeting a family filled with love for each other and a couple, after a long marriage are comfortable with each other, who they are and what they have done.

Posted April 26, 2020 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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