Circus of Books

The film of this year's Boone Dawdle! Saturday night, August 10. Tickets on sale now at true/

In 1982, an intriguing business opportunity lands in the laps of Karen and Barry Mason when they learn that Book Circus, a West Hollywood gay porn shop, is on the market. Karen, a former courtroom reporter (and University of Missouri Journalism grad) who is devoutly Jewish, and Barry successfully bid $500, alter the name to "Circus of Books," and become pillars of Los Angeles' queer community, all while managing to keep the family business a secret from their children. In Circus of Books, daughter and director Rachel Mason unravels this unlikely, surprise-filled story, starting with an amusing and, fair warning, explicit tour of the store's merchandise before exploring much bigger subjects, including the Mason's obscenity battles with the federal government, their responses to the AIDS endemic, and their evolving relationship with the queer community. Extraordinary both as portraiture and as a work of cultural history, Circus of Books approaches its subject with warmth, humor, and nuance.

"A rare delight and a nearly perfect documentary. Circus of Books is chock full of entertaining characters, but Karen ultimately emerges as the film's complicated and fascinating heroine. Her journalism career, her forthright nature, and her skepticism at the film's very premise make her an endlessly intriguing subject, lovingly but truthfully rendered by her filmmaker daughter." (Jude Dry, Indiewire)