Circus of Books (2019) Script

[Young Rachel Mason] Mom.

Mom, turn around!

Mom, turn around! You're on Totally Hidden Video!

Say hi. Scream!

We've got a house full of company. Can we call you back? Okay.

[Young Rachel] Hello. What's your name, sir?

"You're on Candid Camera."

Look at that little camera hidden in that corner behind the cabinet.

Aren't you too close right now? Yes, that's a camera.

I'm not focused, Rachel. [softly] Scream.

[screams softly]

[Young Rachel] Five cans of water?! Holy-moly!

Five cans of water.

Rachel, this is gonna be such a boring tape, watching somebody put five cans of water in a pitcher.

[Rachel] Okay, Mom, Dad, can you introduce yourselves?

[Barry Mason] You start. [Karen Mason] Okay.

So, I'm Karen Mason.

I'm Barry Mason.

And we own Circus of Books, since 1982, so 33 years ago.

Which is a long time to do anything.

[Rachel] Can you say what the Circus of Books is?

All right. So, Josh, can you describe our family for me?

Like, what are Mom and Dad like?

[Josh Mason] Um... [clears throat]

I think our family...

There's a level of conventionality in our family. I think, um... we're a normal, tight-knit family.

I just mean to take us.

Hey, Micah, stop it. Micah! Come on.

[Josh] We were striving for the perfect family look.

Micah, you moved.

[Josh] Mom, she's definitely the alpha woman but still quite soft around the edges.

♪ Oh, Hanukkah ♪

♪ Come light the menorah ♪ Do it again.

[Micah Mason] She is strong-willed, and she goes for what she wants with force.

[Rachel] How would you describe Dad?

[Karen] Don't bang into the bars.

[Micah] Dad is one of the few people whose default state is happiness.

He's just kind of a happy guy.

[Karen] What does the red light in this thing mean?

Daddy, can I go in here? [Barry] Yeah.

Daddy!

[Josh] The description is always, "Look for the bald guy with a smile on his face," whenever he was lost in a shopping mall.

It was definitely a good cop/bad cop duo.

[Karen] You know, here I was, this, uh...

I would never call myself a soccer mom, but I was certainly a working mother with three children.

We didn't want them to know what we did at all, because we thought maybe people wouldn't, like, play with them.

I think that's a very tough piñata.

[cheering]

[Karen] We never talked about it.

[Micah] It was just known that's how the family worked.

You don't talk about family business in the family.

If anyone asked us what our parents did, the official answer was, "Run a bookstore."

"We own a bookstore."

That's what you tell people.

[Micah] There were times we had to get to the store, 'cause Mom was driving us home and needed to stop by.

We were under strict instructions to stare down at the ground the entire time we were passing through certain areas of the store.

"Don't look around. Look at the floor."

But obviously... you know, wandering eyes.

[Micah] There was one time I found a VHS tape in the back of Mom's car, and I grabbed it, and hid it, and waited for months.

Finally, everybody was out of the house, and I run to my hiding place, and I pull out this tape... and it turns out it was a Beta, and I couldn't watch it. [laughs]

[Karen] So, Circus of Books is a bookstore and a hardcore gay, adult business.

[upbeat music playing]

[Alaska] I would always see Circus of Books, and I thought it was just... a bookstore... with a circus theme.

And I went in and realized that it was so much more than just a regular bookstore.

It had this whole section that was just, like, porn, P-O-R-N, you know.

It was great.

A purveyor of gourmet sexual material for every pervert in America, that was Circus bookstore's claim to fame.

It made all these men comfortable exploring their own sexuality.

Circus of Books was a safe place to find other gays.

There was cruising going on in the book stacks.

It was the center of the gay universe in that neighborhood.

[male host] A regular feature here on 2 on the Town is to take a look at some of the famous and infamous streets of Southern California.

And tonight, Lou Lauren takes us along with him to Santa Monica Boulevard.

[Lou Lauren] This is the face of Santa Monica Boulevard that is familiar to most outsiders.

But the street also has a private side, perceived by outsiders only if it dawns on them that almost all of the people they see here are men.

[Alexei Romanoff] In the first year I moved to Los Angeles, I found a place that was accepting.

West Hollywood was mainly very young, gay people, and it was called Boystown.

[Phil Tarley] Back then, if you were out, you were an outlaw, and you did outlandish things, you know?

[Alaska] That whole, like, toe-tapping, and cruising, and like, bandannas and flagging...

[interviewer] People don't say, "Well, maybe I'd better get into a corner.

My boss might see me here"?

No, no, I think gay liberation is here, and there's no problem at all.

My name is Alexei Romanoff, and I happen to be one of the last people who are still alive from the demonstration at the Black Cat.

On New Year's Eve, 1966, there were police raids on two of the bars.

Two or three seconds after midnight, after the song "Auld Lang Syne" was playing at the Black Cat, the police started to arrest people who were kissing.

They were afraid, because if they got outed, they could lose their job, lose their homes.

From that incident, came demonstrations against police brutality outside of the oldest gay bars in Los Angeles, the Black Cat and the New Faces.

It was the largest demonstration in the country at the time, and it was two and a half years before Stonewall.

The New Faces became the Circus of Books.

That bookstore was really important, because there was literature in them that had to do with our lives.

I mean, we were the unspoken, hidden people that you never talked about because they were disgusting.

[Billy Miller] I can't even explain how different it was.

To be a homo was unspeakable, basically.

[Don Norman] Porn has always had a place in the gay community, because, you know, we didn't see anything like that.

To see men, you know, naked and unafraid... that gave us a lot of pride.

Circus of Books was my first glimpse into the fact that I wasn't alone as a gay person.

[Paulo Morillo] Being gay back then was not easy, and this bookstore, you know, it kept me safe. It kept me out of harm's way.

[doorbell chimes]

[Karen] How are the sales today?

They're on the slow side.

Then up.

Like every day, huh?

Oh, looks like some of the VHS might have sold, huh?

Yeah. [Karen] Did it?

Yep. Somewhat, yeah.

[Karen] So, I mean, I just see this this morning.

Somebody brought in straight VHS tapes, and these are in really good condition.

I don't know who's gonna buy the straight VHS tapes, but we didn't pay anything.

We traded for books that we sell for a dollar.

These are pills. These are called cock rings.

Why is this going over there?

I don't know why this is going over there.

All right.

We got a report of a rat.

So one of the employees this morning happened to see it way back here where there is no food, but we just want to catch it before he decides to go up front and grab some of our snacks.

[Karen] Well, the front of the store has our most merchandise.

So this guy here, Handjobs magazine, just stopped publishing.

Now, he does organic chicken farming.

So when I order from him, we catch up on his chickens.

Okay, so this is our adult section.

Famous.

So, this is one of our best sections of all.

This is called "Previously Viewed," and these are... hardcore gay DVDs that customers bought from us over the years.

I don't know that this is one of the really good ones.

For a while, we were just doing buy-one-get-one-free with this sale.

It's called Nude and Rude, directed by Carl Stanyon.

But even at $3.95, they're not flying off the shelves.

Some days, I go to work, and I feel like I'm just moving the deckchairs on the Titanic.

I take a seven-dollar movie and reduce it to three dollars, and I move it from this side of the wall to that side of the wall.

We're just an aging, ailing business.

[Micah] She set off to be a journalist, so she did not set off to go chart a different course.

But I guess circumstances changed her from that path.

[Rachel] But if you look at Mom's early reporting, she interviewed Larry Flynt. She wrote about smut raids in bookstores.

Really? [Rachel] Yes.

That was her early reporting? Yes.

[Micah] I had no idea.

Me neither until I found her articles.

[Karen] Oh, this was our little, um... staff in Dayton.

[Rachel] Whoa! You dressed kind of sexy actually.

[Karen] Yeah, I did. I had a nice figure. Look at that.

[Rachel] Whoa!

What?

[Karen] Yeah. [Rachel] What?

[Karen] See, but, Rachel, what are you gonna do with stuff like this?

I mean, this is just stuff that I happened to be involved in.

[Rachel] Okay, well, you're not somebody that makes documentaries.

[Karen] Well, neither are you.

Well, if you want to take it and make a collage or...

[Rachel] Mom, I don't know what I'm gonna do with it.

Just stop criticizing every little possible turn of events.

I want to find that Flynt article.

Oh, look at this.

"Six arrested in smut raids."

[Karen] Oh...

So, this could be...

"The judicial system moved with unusual speed Friday in the cases of six men charged with selling obscene material in downtown Cincinnati adult book stores."

Karen and I met in high school.

She was outgoing, inquisitive, interested in everything.

Karen always wanted to be a reporter.

[Karen] My first real newspaper job was at the Wall Street Journal in Chicago.

And then I got hired at the Cincinnati Enquirer.

[show narrator] The editor has arrived.

It's a start of a typical work day at the newspaper.

[Karen] I specialized in criminal justice.

My special project was to interview a Supreme Court Justice named Potter Stewart, who's particularly well-known for his obscenity decision, which said, "I can't really describe obscenity, but I know it when I see it."

I interviewed Larry Flynt for a series on these Hustler bars.

[Larry Flynt] I'm a very unlikely person to be in this, because if I hadn't have ran away from home when I was 12 years old, I'd still be looking a mule up the ass.

[Karen] It was clear that he had a pretty big concept, and it looked like he was gonna be pretty successful.

[Rachel] What was happening in that picture where you are looking around a car?

[Karen] There was somebody in a house, and they were trying to get him out, and I think shots were fired.

[Ellen Winer] She always wanted more exciting stories.

She likes things to be hard.

[Karen] I never expected to be burned out of journalism, but a good newspaper story is very often somebody's tragedy.

I covered plane crashes. I covered murders.

I covered car accidents.

At some point, you either get very jaded, or you say, "That's enough."

I came out to LA to visit my parents, thinking I was gonna go to Alaska and be a freelance writer.

I never went to Alaska, and I never did anything with freelance journalism.

[Rachel] And is that when you met?

We met at a Jewish singles party in Woodland Hills.

[Barry] It was pretty dark. I don't know why it started so late.

[Karen] As I got to the party, there were some women leaving, and they said, "This is terrible party.

Why don't you come with us?"

I said, "Well, I drove all this way. I think I'll stay for a bit."

[Barry] I just happened to notice the light from the end of a cigarette.

I said, "That looks like it might be a girl up there."

[Karen] He came over to me, and we just started talking.

It was a very interesting conversation.

[Barry] The whole time, I couldn't see her.

I mean, I couldn't see her face. It was so dark.

[Karen] He suggested we go for coffee.

[Barry] When she walked in, that's first time I saw her.

She looked fine to me.

And then, from then on, we just went out all the time.

[Karen] He had a motorcycle.

[Barry] Mother wasn't crazy about that.

And we got married in seven months.

I had a blue dress.

He had a jacket that we paid five dollars for.

[Barry] It was on sale. Yeah.

A lot of stripes, colored stripes.

[Winer] I remember she said he's this kind of genius, inventing gizmos.

[Barry] I started in UCLA's Motion Picture Department.

Jim Morrison and his friend Ray Manzarek, those two hung around together.

And since we were all in the same department, we shot movies together.

But what happened?

How come my parents, or the state, or the university didn't look ahead?

I got my first job in the movies with Linwood Dunn.

When I first got to work with him, we were just finishing up special effects for 2001: A Space Odyssey.

[man on set] Light it up. Okay, lights up, gentlemen.

And then Star Trek came along, and we did that for three years.

They used these optical printers.

That was a very common thing in special effects.

And since I knew a lot about color and light, I invented an accessory for dialysis machines.

We have to back up and say his father was a kidney patient.

Okay. So, I invented things for him and then...

Well, you have to say why. In those days, Barry trained running his father's blood through the machine.

The first night he was home, a tube broke, and he could have died.

[Barry] Yeah, he could have died.

I said, "There's no reason I can't make a little detector that would detect when the tubing turned red instead of white."

And so I... figured out a way to do that.

[Rachel] So you actually just applied your special effects technology skills to medical devices, and you had no experience with that?

Yeah.

[Barry] The technician who had trained me calls me, and he says, "Hey, Barry, you gotta quit your job.

Your thing works so good that I went out, and I showed it to a company who makes actual kidney machines, and they're gonna order 325 of these."

[Karen] We made a very modest living as an inventor of dialysis equipment.

But then malpractice insurance went up $35,000.

Well, at that time, that's about what I was making.

These doctors, they said, "Well, if you can't afford the insurance, we're out."

[Karen] We were not in a good place at all.

We were starting a family and needed to make a living somehow.

[Simon Leis] The basic unit of society is the family.

And if you destroy that, you destroy society.

And I'm firmly convinced that pornography, obscenity attacks the family.

[Flynt] I decided a long time ago. If you're gonna be a bear, be a grizzly.

I'm not rolling over and playing dead for him or any other prosecutor in America, because this country belongs to me as much as it belongs to them.

I spent most of the '70s and '80s putting out censorship fires all over the country.

[Rachel] Hi. It's so good to see you. How you doing?

[Rachel] You put out an ad in the L.A. Times looking for small distributors.

Well, because the establishment distributors would not distribute the magazine.

So I went direct to a lot of bookstores and secondary distributors.

[Barry] The very day after I sold all our rights to these machines, Karen came in. I hadn't woke up yet.

And she shows me a full-page ad from Larry Flynt that says he's looking for distributors.

It was just something else he could do, because we didn't...

He didn't... have anything to do really.

Yeah, I was... I was sleeping late, you see, 'cause I didn't have anything to do that morning... until she woke me up with the ad.

I spoke to a woman, and she said, "You just need to send us an order for 2,500 magazines," and they would put us on as a distributor as long as we had a truck.

And so, I said, yeah, I had a truck.

Of course, I didn't, but I could rent a truck.

[Karen] You don't have the luxury of not earning a living.

You have to figure out what you're gonna do.

Barry took our little station wagon out to the liquor stores in our area.

[Barry] I would say, "If you can't get it from your regular distributor, would you buy it from me?"

And at the end of the day, I had 2,500 orders.

Your mom and dad were one of our very first distributors in this area.

And they grew, and they did very well.

[Barry] I told Karen, "This was so easy.

Why don't I just see if I can get more customers?"

[Karen] We made enough money that we could just function while we figured out what we were gonna do.

[Barry] Meanwhile, Flynt took over other magazine companies.

So, now, we had several gay titles.

One. We had Blueboy.

[Flynt] Blueboy was one of the first really successful gay publications that was not underground.

They had trouble finding a distributor, and they came to me.

[Barry] Then he got other ones, Honcho and Mandate, which were all the top gay magazines at the time.

We had even thousands of titles: knitting magazines, woodworking, guns, you name it.

- New York Review of Books. Yeah, but fine, good magazines.

We would try and get the better magazines, and they sold it to us. What do you mean "better"?

- Like New York Review of Books. No.

The New York Review of Books never sold very well.

What sold well was Hustler.

I remember hearing that Barry was distributing Hustler magazine, and Circus of Books, or Book Circus, was on his route.

The store was taking 600 of all the gay titles.

I mean, I would load the whole truck up just for them.

Book Circus was not paying their bills very well.

And so, Barry saw an opportunity and pounced.

When he stopped paying, I ran into his manager.

He says, "He's become a terrible cocaine addict, and he's not paying anybody."

I got the idea to call the landlord and offer him half the rent.

So then, we actually were in business, and there was no more problems, other than the old owner threatened to kill me one day, and that was...

But that didn't happen fortunately.

There was this big, fluorescent sign. It said, "Book Circus," and we had to rename it.

I said, "You know what? We could just cut that sign right in half, and flop the words around, and just pay for "of," and...

I didn't know that you switched the sign.

I mean, that's kind of like our whole philosophy of retail.

How can we do this cheap? Because it may not work. [laughs]

I mean, if you look at the store, it's all kind of falling apart now.

Don't Drop the Soap. Let me see what it says about that one.

[Rachel] What are you looking for?

[Karen] I'm just trying to find something that isn't quite as explicit.

[Rachel] What does he want?

[Karen] He wants a white man and no penetration, he said.

Do these guys look white to you, Jorge?

Yeah, they're white, all of them. White? All of them?

Okay, good.

Okay, so we'll take this one.

Do these guys look white?

See, all these boxes are full of DVDs.

We made all the titles in this list here.

[Rachel] You guys made all of those? [Karen] Yeah, those sent you to college.

[Rachel] These are the videos that sent me to college?

[Karen] They certainly helped.

[Rachel] What year were most of these made?

[Karen] Oh, you can't photograph those model releases.

[Rachel] Mom, I'm just photographing the title names.

[Karen] Okay, you gotta stop filming, Rachel.

So, now, Mom?

So, where we're going now is to this...

It's called Adult... ANME, Adult Novelty and... something Expo. ANME, yeah.

And then I'm not going to this ever again. It's the last time.

[Rachel] Why?

[Karen] Because I don't like it.

She said we're gonna meet in the lobby, but I don't know where the lobby is.

Can you just stop for one second, so I can put this mic on you?

[Karen] You can't just keep telling me what I can and can't do.

I run a little business, and I don't usually have to answer to people.

[woman] Ellen's here. [Karen] Oh, hey, Ellen.

I brought you an order.

[Ellen] Excuse me.

Yeah, I came... This is a bigger camera than last time.

I didn't wanna poke myself in the head.

Okay, this is an order.

Okay? Okay.

What kind of a special do you have this time?

I got a big special for you. Okay.

This gets rid of herpes, destroys herpes.

Okay, we didn't do good with the... We didn't do good...

Just give us the stuff we always sell.

We're not doing good with new stuff.

The other thing that I have that everybody likes, it's the lube, is the anal lube.

Which one is that? It's this one.

I mean, it's doing really well. It's our silicone.

It's anal lube. It's silicone.

It's got clove in it, so it's kinda numbing.

So it's not gonna tear...

Okay, but do you have a smaller size? Yeah.

Okay, so send me, like, 12. It comes in a fishbowl.

Okay, all right.

You want a fishbowl? Yeah.

Okay, so just add that. I'll do that.

Okay, that's a nice order, Ellen.

We're placing an order for those pills from China.

I guess you only have 200 left.

We got lots. I bought lots. We received a lot.

Okay, is that still selling okay? 'Cause, uh... Hello.

How are you? Okay.

Good to see you. How's everything? Okay.

[vendor 1] Yeah?

[vendor 2] How's Barry doing?

[Karen] He's good, yeah.

What happened to Frankie?

[vendor 3] Are you Circus of Books in LA? [Karen] Yeah.

[vendor 3] I've been to your stores.

You're the owner? Yeah.

Whoa! Good for you! [Karen] Yeah.

Hello.

All right, so what do you have besides a good name?

Yeah, this is gay, right?

Or not necessarily? [vendor 4] Uh... Not necessarily.

Clamps... Okay.

Don't explain anything to me. Just, uh...

If it's not for gay, then that's the reason we didn't do any business.

[Rachel] What's something that would do well for you?

[Karen] Here, like this whole wall of stuff.

But I don't particularly enjoy looking at it, so I can notice it without looking at it.

So, this wall would probably do well for us, whatever it is.

That's it. Now, can we go? [Rachel] Yeah.

We hired the people who ran the store for the old owners, and they really taught us what we needed to know about how to get the merchandise, which was the key to the whole thing.

I'm one of the buyers for the condoms, the lubricants, and some of the sale video.

They pretty much let me decide.

You know, and if I make mistakes, it's no big deal.

Karen and Barry were the absolute best.

They were so good to me.

It was always my dream to work in a porn store.

I'm a weirdo and kind of a pervert, I guess. [laughs]

[Ben Liefke] The heyday of this place was really, really jammin'.

People spent money on books, magazines, you know, whatever they wanted to.

Within the month, we opened, and the first day, the store did over $1,000.

[Liefke] You got your magazines on that side of the store, and your real graphic, adult magazines were on this side.

There was an alley behind Circus of Books called Vaseline Alley.

Every community that has a big gay population has a Vaseline Alley.

It was a place where gay sex happens.

I lost my virginity in the alley behind Circus of Books... with a cop in training.

I mean, this was, like, every queer boy's wet dream.

[Liefke] On my first night here, there's this guy in that corner...

This is not even on the adult side.

...with his pants down, stroking.

And I'm like, "Son of a bitch! My first night here, and this happens."

[Fernando Aguilar] You could walk back to the back room, and there were some steps to the attic, and...

I had sex in the attic.

Not full-on sex in the attic, but...

I've never even been up there.

I didn't even know that existed.

I missed out, man.

[Rachel] Did you ever hear about any of that stuff?

You know, I heard about it, but I didn't think they were so crazy.

The whole operation was a little goofy, so it would have to be something incredible for me to find it really crazy.

When Barry walked in, you didn't change.

You still continued reading a magazine.

"Hey, Barry, how's it going?"

When Karen walked in, phew, that magazine flew to the back.

Your dad has always been the very mellow one.

He's not the one that wears the pants in the family.

I shouldn't say that on camera.

They were very, like, no-bullshit, no-nonsense.

"If you steal from us, you will be fired, and that's that."

[Karen] In the '80s, adult material was expensive, and it was illegal in some places, and if you could sell it, you could make a lot of money.

A manager said to us, "You should open a Circus of Books in Silver Lake, and this will become your biggest store," and it did.

[Alaska] They're not offended. They're not scandalized.

It's their job.

It's like they're selling apples at an apple cart.

[Karen] I don't think we had any misgivings about doing it.

We just felt it was gonna be a very temporary thing until something came along that was, um... more substantial.

Because, I mean, we're college graduates, and we had careers.

That was, like, not anything anyone would do, and we certainly wouldn't tell anyone we were doing it.

[Rachel] So then what led you to start making the adult movies?

Oh...

[cameraman] This way just a tad. There you go. Yeah, that's it.

[Karen] Somebody knew a very famous hardcore gay movie producer, Matt Sterling.

[Barry] He was looking for a legitimate distributor who he could trust.

And he was coming out with this new movie, which no doubt was gonna be a hit, because it was also gonna star that, at that time, very famous...

Jeff Stryker. Jeff Stryker.

[Karen] Who was already famous. [Barry] Who was very famous.

[Alaska] I mean, Jeff Stryker was, like, a superstar of gay porn.

He was one of the biggest, you know.

[laughs] No pun intended.

♪ Lookin' so good, feelin' good ♪

♪ When you know things are going right ♪ Are you willing to give me whatever I want?

Anything.

♪ 'Cause I know who I am ♪

♪ I'll do all I can now ♪

♪ I'm a new man, dreams have come true ♪

♪ Bigger than life ♪

♪ Yeah! ♪

Hello. My name is Jeff Stryker, and... here I am. [laughs]

This is the Jeff Stryker action figure.

It's 12 inches tall, anatomically correct, and the penis is pose-able.

[laughs]

That's what I got over... an edge on Ken.

You would never expect these people to be distributing adult movies worldwide, but they looked at it the same way I looked at it.

You're creating a product, and it's the supply and demand.

It's just business sense.

[Karen] It was strictly an opportunity.

So we started a business, um... that made hardcore gay... films.

They made Stryker Force, and it was hard to keep up with the demand.

People were calling us and insisting we ship them the tape already.

I said, "I don't even have it yet. I can't ship it to you."

It was like a panic to get this tape.

In fact, we had him at our store signing the tapes, and there's a big line of customers.

Barry would bring stack after stack of these boxes, and I would sign as long as they could supply them.

[Barry] Other people, when they knew we were distributing, they would come to us too and say, "Would you do ours?"

Of course, by then, we'd hired another fellow to sell the tapes.

[Freddie Bercovitz] Barry and Karen were behind the scenes, they wanted somebody like me to be their front man for them.

When we first started, we might have been releasing one movie every six weeks.

And somewhere in the middle of that, we were releasing two movies a week.

It was like riding a tiger, we used to say.

[Stryker] So many companies wanted to do business with them because they're good, honest, trustworthy people, and in the adult industry, that was a rare bird at the time.

This is one of the compilations I made for Barry and Karen.

It's called Rimnastics Gold Part 2.

"Video 10 Distributors has uncovered even more hot rimming scenes to bring you Rimnastics Gold Part 2.

It's more than fantastic. Its rim-tastic."

[Rachel giggles] Sorry. Oh, my God!

[Karen] It never felt like we were getting into pornography.

We were just getting into a different business that was related to the business we were already in.

We never saw any of those movies.

At one point, we were probably the biggest distributor of hardcore gay films in the United States.

[Stryker] It was a very lucrative market, but you really took major chances, major chances of imprisonment in any part of, uh, the adult movies.

[Karen] Adult material, especially at that time, was a pretty polarizing thing.

There were always people on the right who looked out for things they could demonize.

Obscene publications are socially harmful.

The Department of Justice says that pornography is a problem that pervades all levels of society.

Should therefore be solved by all levels of government.

Their anti-porn plan is expected to involve state and local participation.

This was led by Meese, the Attorney General for Ronald Reagan.

This administration is putting the purveyors of illegal obscenity on notice.

[inaudible]

[Karen] I never felt free to let anybody know what we did.

I don't think you would have cared, but I didn't want it.

Right, I just didn't talk 'cause she didn't want me to.

She preferred that I not tell people.

[Karen] If you went somewhere, and you said, "Well, I own Circus of Books," people would say to you, "Oh, I don't have any problem with that."

So, it was like you were being judged.

I mean, you don't go up to somebody when they say they're a teacher and say, "I don't have any problem with that."

Or, "I'm a lawyer." "I don't have any problem with that"

But they would say that to us. "I don't have any problem with that."

And they probably did have a problem with that. I had a problem with that.

[Winer] Karen's problem with the whole sexually-explicit inventory, a lot of it, I think, has to do with her faith.

She was raised in a conservative household.

She loves to be in synagogue all day praying.

[Karen] Well, I always say we're a mixed marriage, because I'm the religious person, and he's not.

He doesn't particularly like anything very spiritual, I don't think.

Pretty accurate. Yeah.

[singing in Hebrew]

[Karen] We've always belonged to a synagogue.

Although, the synagogues never knew what we were doing.

[Micah] She was very afraid that the business, if it got out, would impact those relationships.

[singing continues]

[Rachel] Do you feel like we had a lot of, like, religious education or...

So, I feel it was really complicated.

Mom was kind of caught between this stuffy, conservative synagogue.

But that's what she was born with.

And us growing up in West Hollywood, which is just really secular and liberal...

So, I feel like it was kind of forced on us... and not in a soft way.

Mom's usual force of nature, "You are going to Sunday school" kind of way.

[Karen] Just go ahead. You have the Torah out. You have to be respectful.

Now, come on. Find your... Come back here and find your spot.

But, Mom...

[Karen] Find your spot.

[Micah] My reaction to a lot of the pressure was to be quiet.

I know you fought with Mom a lot

'cause you wouldn't dress the way she wanted you to.

Definitely did your own thing.

[Josh singing in Hebrew]

[Micah] But I'm guessing Josh's reaction was, "Fine, I'm doing what I'm gonna do, and I'm gonna do it perfect."

[Josh] I think I absorbed the most of Mom's ambition towards perfection.

I was always looking to give a positive image to them, to everyone else.

[man] Use your power! Kick the thing!

[Barry] Just spread out, Joshua. All right!

[man] Get the ball!

[Josh] I wanted to be perfect.

Do you remember writing this book when you were a kid? [laughs]

Don't remember it.

[Rachel] It's called Boy by Joshua Mason.

"In the future, my family would consist of my beautiful wife, me, and my three kids.

I would live in a world so close to heaven it would be unreal."

Oh, my God!

I distinctly remember "gay" being a bad word.

It was one of those words that you used about bad things.

I definitely perceived that it was wrong.

[Rachel] All right.

[Barry] Keys for her store.

Tom's gonna pull another 100 today. [Rachel] Oh!

And over the weekend.

This used to be ten times more than this.

[Rachel] I know. It seems like it's hardly any now.

That's it. There's still a lot, but it's not nearly as much as it used to be.

[Rachel] Yeah. Did you know many of the people in these films?

[Barry] Uh, I know some of the more famous ones.

The Matt Sterling one, that was a very famous one, and Jeff Stryker, he was a very famous guy.

[Rachel] What happened to Matt Sterling? [Barry] Died. He died.

Yeah, I know a lot of the producers of them.

How many people would you think died in, like, a lot of these movies?

A lot. When AIDS was going around, a lot of them died then.

How old were a lot of them? Like, what would the average age be?

[Barry] In their 20s and 30s maybe.

Those would be the ones I would see in the hospice, those guys I knew or...

But a lot of them didn't do that. I didn't even know.

They would just go home, maybe back to Wisconsin or wherever they were from, and, uh... that was it.

[Tarley] Barry and Karen enjoyed a strange, freakish vantage point to bear witness to the epidemic without being part of it.

I mean, my God! They ran a sex business.

That was the locus of the population of the people that were dying.

[Romanoff] Nobody knew what it was caused from at first, and people were avoiding each other.

We just didn't understand it.

We were afraid of each other.

[Ted Koppel] More than 800 cases nationwide, and yet still surprisingly few people are familiar with the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

The reason for that may lie in part in the character of its most common victims, homosexual males who frequently change sexual partners.

[Barry] We lost so many of our employees, and nice people. I mean really nice people.

[Karen] Talented, bright, young.

It was a real, real tragedy.

Ninety percent of the people I knew at that time are no longer here.

[Karen] I remember Barry visiting an employee who was in bed.

[Barry] We would call the parents and say, "Hey, your son is sick.

Don't you wanna come and..."

A lot of them would just say, "No, I don't.

I kicked him out. I never wanna see the guy again."

I'd say, "But he's your son."

I was just so surprised that the parents could be so bad to their children.

And I didn't think about the gay part of it.

It was just their children.

[Karen] The employee who worked so closely with us to open that store went home on a Friday and died on Monday.

We were working with him until... literally, until he passed away.

And I remember taking a call from his mother after he died.

She wasn't in touch with him during that period, and I think she was feeling bad. I don't know what she wanted from me.

But she should have visited him.

It was a horrible, horrible time. [Barry] Yeah, really bad time.

[Rachel] I remember going to the store and being like, "Oh, where's so-and-so?" "Oh, he just died."

Something seemed... like a horror about that to me, but I didn't understand it till much later.

I know they supported the gay community.

I mean, they didn't set out to, but they did.

They were not gonna let other forces tell them what to do.

I think what we did was small, human kindnesses in a very small way.

[John Weston] Government officials will very often use pornography as a means of deflecting attention away from their failures to do something.

[news reporter] Attorney General Meese accepted the pornography report today.

Obscenity, that illegal activity, it is not the kind of thing that is subject to the protection of the First Amendment.

When that Meese commission was on, I would read about it all the time, and it was a totally stacked deck.

Everybody that testified was anti-pornography people.

So, the outcome was absolutely assured. They were just gonna say it was no good.

[news reporter] Opponents say the commission is using a half-million dollar report to moralize.

The government is attempting to obtain self-censorship by the threat of these draconian sanctions.

[Flynt] They had a multi-million dollar task force with all the money they needed with one mission, you know, to control people's reading and viewing habits and their sexual habits if they could.

Isn't it about time we remove the profit motive from activities that are sick and obscene?

[applause]

[Karen] One of the things you did in those days, was you only sold movies to people you knew.

So, we sold movies all over the country, but only to companies we'd been dealing with.

One day, somebody called up and ordered three films to, like, Joe's Video Store, in Lebanon, Pennsylvania.

And our guy entered him in the computer and shipped them out.

Unbeknownst to us, the prosecutor begins this process of illegal transportation of adult material over state lines.

They were running a sting operation.

The FBI comes in, like you see on television with FBI on their...

Jackets. Big letters. ...jackets, and their guns drawn.

[police officer] We made some undercover purchases of this stuff, and after consultation with the Prosecuting Attorney, uh, they issued us a search warrant.

[Barry] We were charged with shipping obscene material.

It easily could have been a five-year jail sentence or maybe more, and the fines could have been very, very large.

One of us was gonna have to go to jail, and I thought it had better be Barry.

[Weston] That lead prosecutor had put together a staff of very religious people, and he himself was very anti-porn.

So they said Barry has to enter a guilty plea.

He has to be convicted and made guilty of a felony.

[Flynt] Jail is the worst place in the world you can be, but... fearing jail is... even worse.

[Karen] It was like a knife over our heads all the time.

We never ever talked about it with anybody.

Our parents didn't know what was going on.

The kids didn't know what was going on.

Our friends didn't know what was going on.

I felt like I was going down in an elevator and was losing everything that was inside of me.

[Rachel] Did you know about the FBI charges?

[Josh] I didn't know about the prosecution.

I think I'd heard... something about a video being mailed to Pennsylvania.

They completely hid that from us growing up.

I don't remember knowing about that at all.

We just were completely kept in the dark because... you know, we were kids, and we're not supposed to be anywhere near that stuff.

So because of that, I didn't have much of a connection to the business.

[Rachel] Did you feel any connection to the store?

I think the store definitely operated in its own sphere outside the family, but I think that's fairly...

There's a conventional element to that.

Parents go to work.

They don't necessarily talk about what they do all the time.

[woman 1] Stop rubbing your eyes!

[Josh] I think the family at home fell into a conventional pattern.

[Karen] Did Josh say that to you? [woman 2] Really?

[Young Rachel] Yeah, he did.

[Josh] We all talked about kids, getting married, and being straight.

Nobody sort of questioned it.

I think even my understanding of... um, gays and gay life was through... through the business in a strange way.

And I would like to say, you've been a pretty good kid.

I really like being your mother.

Realizing I was gay was a kind of long, ambiguous period.

I was keeping that secret from the world...

'cause being gay was not acceptable.

[Rachel] But did you ever know or see people that just were gay, like, and that, you know, you recognized and like, "Oh, that's gay.

That's cool. That's like a thing." No. Definitely not.

[chuckles] I think I was kind of actively ignoring... um... all the gay issues in the world... much like my straight high school friends.

You just didn't talk about gays or, you know, what it was like.

It was very archetypal, jocks picking on the gays.

[Young Rachel laughs] Idiot!

I did what I could to keep myself out of the gay category, but I wasn't good enough to be heterosexual.

So I was just asexual as far as they were concerned.

I put a lot of pressure on myself to be the more conventional, rule-follower child.

You ready, Dad?

Whoa! Yeah!

I think I filled every available gap in the day with some sort of activity.

So I had diving, gymnastics team.

[Rachel] Did you feel, like, pressure to pretend that you were straight?

[Josh] There was a lot of pressure towards dating.

There were kids that lost their virginity and stuff like that.

Um... Not me.

[Rachel] It's just so weird to me that you wouldn't have thought that I would have cared, right?

I mean, I didn't care. I wouldn't...

I mean, my world was gay anyway.

Like, why wouldn't you have wanted to jump into my world?

Your world was too gay. [laughs]

Your world was too gay. It was too artsy.

I didn't connect with it. I think that was...

That wasn't where I was.

It's not where I am, I don't think.

[Rachel] So, Fernando, can you tell me how we met?

[Fernando] So, we met in ninth grade.

At that time, you kind of recognized those people that were living to the beat of their own drum, I would say, um, through... you know, hair, and clothes, and music.

And you were one of those people that had the whole package of what I was looking for in a friend, you know, someone that just, again, walked to the beat of their own drum.

[Young Rachel gasps] Ooh!

Always looking for attention!

[Young Rachel] Pssht! Oh, nice coming from you, Miss Green.

[laughs]

[Rachel] Do you feel like our friend group identified as the queer group at school?

We didn't really identify as queer.

In the '90s, we identified as weirdos, artists, punk rockers, rebels.

Like, that was our identity, and that's what drew us all together.

That's why it was so accepting for all of our friends to experiment with their sexuality.

Can I come over and, like, hang out with your computer?

[girl] Okay.

[Rachel] Do you remember when I found out about the store?

Yes.

You had said, "My parents own a bookstore."

And I said, "Oh, what bookstore do they own?"

You're just like, "They own a bookstore.

You probably never heard of it. It's called Circus of Books."

And we were like, "Circus of Books? What?" [laughs]

"Rachel, Circus of Book is a porno store!"

[Rachel] I just remember being really confused

'cause it didn't align with who I thought my parents were.

It was sort of an interesting, fun secret, but also kind of a dangerous secret, 'cause I could definitely tell it could easily be a problem.

[Fernando] As rebellious and as precocious as we were, we were still pretty innocent.

[Rachel] What's funny to me is that I didn't think my parents got my world with artists and queer kids.

But they were actually intersecting with my scene without me even realizing it.

[Fernando] Yeah, it felt like we had seen Karen and Barry one way, very parental and a little bit more strict.

Certainly not subversive, you know?

Certainly not part of the counterculture.

But when we realized they were invested in Circus of Books, it started to become clear to us your parents were more layered than we had previously thought.

It allowed us to realize that you can live as an adult without following the path that everyone's telling you you need to follow.

[Weston] I think that when your parents acquired their business, they really didn't know what they were potentially facing, and the terrible thing about it was that nobody could know.

There was no way to look at the obscenity statute and predict whether something that one was selling might trigger a prosecution.

[Karen] We knew people who had been in this business and had gone to jail.

But what I thought initially was, "We'll just go out of business," and when we finally sat down with John Weston, he said that is a terrible, terrible plan.

[Weston] Government always wants its pound of flesh.

So, if at the very beginning of something, you close it down, then you've got less to offer.

[Karen] If the war on drugs ever goes away, all these people who fight drugs are going to lose their jobs.

Well, it was the same thing with people who fought obscenity.

They needed somebody to negotiate with, and so we were advised not to close at all, but to stay in business and fight.

[Micah] I mean, it's scary when the government comes after you.

That is just really powerful... and for basically religious reasons.

It's pretty scary stuff to me.

[Weston] I got a communication from the government, saying, "We need Barry Mason to say, 'Guilty.'"

He has to be convicted and made guilty of a felony.

Just at a human level, the idea that Barry Mason should be a felon was just unacceptable.

I mean, that's just not part of any world that I'd wanna live in.

And so I implored them to reconsider.

To see who he was as a person, and what the impact on him, and his family, and to some extent, you, would have been if your dad had been forced to stand up in court and say, "Yes, I'm guilty. I've committed a federal felony."

[Barry] The reason it was resolved was that Bill Clinton got elected.

The President of the United States, Bill Clinton.

All right. [applause]

Thank you.

So, the prosecutors got switched.

There was a different attitude towards obscenity, and I'm sure that created a climate which allowed my earnest request for reconsideration to be evaluated.

They were able to see the fineness of your dad.

They accepted the guilty plea by the corporation.

[Barry] Corporation pleads guilty. They let you out on parole.

I had to just go down to the Federal building once a month, sign a little piece of paper that said I didn't commit any crimes that month, and then that ended the whole situation. I was off.

It turns out our First Amendment rights are really protected by the most extreme kind of speech and the most extreme kind of material.

The greatest right that any nation can afford its people is the right to be left alone.

[Karen] Josh needs a perfectly round head.

Say hi.

[Rachel] So what did you just say?

So, in June, both stores had the worst month they've ever had.

And... it's still profitable, but it's not, um...

It's not sustainable.

At some point, it's just...

Like yesterday.

I was leaving the store, and I'm trying to get out, and I can't, because the man there just bought something, and he's got a walker.

And he's sort of looking at what he bought, so he's not opening the door.

And because he's got the walker, he's stuck there.

And this is our customer base. They're aging, uh... mostly men... who can barely even walk.

[Rachel] Are you, like, mixing it in as a cereal?

[Barry] Yeah, 'cause otherwise, you can't eat the little pieces.

This way, I can eat all the pieces.

[Karen] So, I think instead of a business decision, I have a psychology problem because... you know, I've run this business for all these years without knowing what I'm doing, and...

I need to close it, but I still got people working for me who won't get as good a job if they...

That's cheese. Cottage cheese, yeah.

If they, um... Cheese.

[Karen] ...you know, if we close.

I don't know.

You know, that's... I don't know.

And I don't know why you think this is worth documenting.

Because, I mean, this happens in small business.

It's just... It's a different, um, business model.

I don't like all this filming.

I don't know what you're gonna come up with from this.

[Alaska] Karen and Barry were in a constant state of... panic about the collapse of their business.

And so, it was constantly like, "Oh, this is it. We're closing the doors this week.

This is it. This is the end."

That was always the case.

So, that's why I'm sort of in disbelief about it closing.

I'm like, "Well, it was always about to close."

[Karen] These are letters of reference.

It just says, "He's worked for us for over 25 years.

And if you need a good, honest, reliable, hard-working employee, you've found him in Ben."

Oh, I'm so sorry, but good for you. Thanks.

[Liefke] Today is my last day. I'm retiring.

So, I'd say it's kind of a depressor, but it's time.

The worst thing in the world is laying off a good employee...

because you can't afford to keep them anymore.

It's a terrible thing to do.

[Liefke] The past will never come back.

And unless you're willing to invest in the future, there's no use even trying to... exist anymore.

[Karen] "As I'm sure you can see, business at the store is slowing down despite our best efforts to improve sales.

This is to let you know that I have listed the store for lease with a real estate agent.

I welcome any suggestion of new merchandise and any ideas for a different use of the space."

Post it here by the time clock.

Let me see.

Okay, so this is...

That's gonna go... They'll see it.

[Rachel] Can you describe that day that you came out to Mom and Dad, and what led you to feel that you could be more open about it?

What led you to really think that you should be?

So, it probably wasn't until after high school that it even started to enter my mind as an option.

And it wasn't really until college that I sort of started transitioning from, um, who I was outwardly towards who I felt like I was inwardly.

I came home a number of times from college expecting to come out, and it didn't happen.

I put a lot of pressure on myself to kind of make it happen.

I made sure I had my flight... booked and paid for, 'cause it wasn't an impossible thought that, um, you know, I was gonna get thrown out.

Yeah.

Are you okay?

[Rachel sniffles]

[Josh] Should I read the questions to myself?

No, I'm sorry. It's just upsetting to me to hear that.

[Karen] Friday night dinner, just before he was going back to school at Columbia.

[Barry] He was at one end of our dining room table, and I was at the other.

[Josh] Someone was having a conversation that required a Post-It Note and a pen.

And I just started scribbling on the Post-It Note, "I'm gay."

I flung the pen and paper on the table.

And I'm trying to see who wrote this note, 'cause it didn't have his name on it.

Finally, his mother and him went upstairs, and I said, "Wow! It's Josh."

[Karen] I said, "Are you sure? Why are you doing this?

God must be punishing me."

[Josh] God would punish her for having this business, and I think she was thinking this was a punishment.

[Karen] Up until that point, it had just existed somewhere outside any of my core values.

It wasn't, uh...

It wasn't something I really needed to think very hard about.

I was fine with anybody who was gay as far as I was concerned, but I really wasn't prepared to have a gay child.

[Josh] I was actually expecting Dad to be more upset about it, just 'cause it's usually the dad that throws the gay son out of the house.

And he was... Yeah, he was really good about it.

[Barry] When he told us, I was just simply surprised.

The only thing that I was even slightly upset about was that he had kept it a secret, because it would have made absolutely no difference to me.

His plane was the next morning, so we didn't get a chance to talk much about it.

[Josh] As we were driving to the airport, he said, "You know... men can take advantage of other men just as much as men can take advantage of women."

Which I thought was actually quite astute.

Why do you think Mom had any issue whatsoever when she was so deeply in this world?

Everything about the business was really in support of family, ironically.

The gay part of it fell on the business side of that mental dividing line.

[Karen] I never thought of my employees in the same way that I thought about my son.

I was fine working with gay people, but when it came to my own family and what I had absorbed in the religion, I was not fine at all.

When it came to my own son, I realized that I had some thoughts about gay people that needed to change.

Well, I don't know why he didn't come, the trash.

What day does he come?

I think Thursdays, but I can check. Well, that's today.

[Rachel] Why were you saying that you wanna close in June?

You know, if it's... Sales are bad.

We're trying to keep our staff.

It seems, because the business is so slow, they're not even doing kind of minimal straightening.

So...

You know, everybody's kind of done here.

So, goodbye... to this box.

You know, if I thought it was a viable business for anybody, then I would put it up for sale, but I don't think that anybody will be able to make it more than what we make it.

But, you know, it may go another year, say, or something.

Or not. It's hard to know.

Which is why I wish your movie was done, so I could see how it would end too. I would like that.

This is a statement about this business.

[chuckles]

It kind of all ended up in the dumpster.

Here.

I just think it's kind of interesting.

[chuckling]

That's, like, a sales, you know...

It tracks it.

Okay, so this is 2008, which is, like, the recession and also the Internet, and then you can just see it going down.

When people started selling on the Internet, we didn't.

We have a website, but it really doesn't sell anything.

Well, it just tells people what we have and they come into our stores.

I've wondered how they could survive with the Internet, because porno was devastated.

You can't sell what people can get for free.

[reporter] Pornography is pushing the limits online.

Sexually explicit material is increasingly available on the Internet.

The Internet totally devastated my business.

It robbed me of my income.

It also could be considered the death knell of the gay bar, because you don't need to go to a bar anymore to meet somebody.

You can meet them online.

Grindr or SCRUFF.

[Alaska] In a lot of ways, the Internet has helped, because we don't have to live, like, in the shadows and so, like, oppressed and afraid anymore.

But I also think it's, you know...

I mean, it just sucks that the younger generation is...

It's so hard to just talk face-to-face with one another.

[Weston] They weren't just places of commerce.

They were places of gathering where people could get together.

They were places where people could meet in all the best senses.

The material may be delivered, but it's not going to be a substitute for human interaction, and to the extent that's what's going on, I think that's a tragic and irreplaceable loss.

I don't think they're gonna want any of these papers.

I don't know what I'm giving them anymore.

It's been such a long time since I put this stuff in here.

[man] I've heard his name, though. [Karen] Yeah.

So, those are some of his covers.

He was really a nice guy.

You know, I would like... If he's not in ONE Archive, I think he would like to be in it, so...

[man] I think you have to sign this.

Oh, what? It's a deed of gift.

Just basically saying that you're giving the materials.

Right there. Oh, okay.

And if you don't want it, just throw it away, 'cause, um...

You don't know who you're talking to. We never throw anything away.

But whatever it is that you have, we're happy to look at it.

[Karen] I don't think we have anything you want there.

But as long as I'm here, I'd just like to look at...

I just think this is really where it all started.

So, where the erotica was, or where the pulp fiction was, they would basically put it behind a big curtain.

So, there was the problem of being caught by the police, or there was, alternatively, the problem that... the good problem, perhaps, that you could meet somebody else who was looking for the same material.

So, it was actually a really great thing to be able to go get them.

I remember going to Circus of Books, and it was a place where you could go and find other people like yourself.

[Karen] The store served its purpose, and it's just not...

[stammering]

I'll be happy when it's closing.

Thank you for your donation. I really appreciate it.

Well, it's just some stuff.

This is important, I think. Much more than our store, this is...

I mean, the courage that it took to put these out month after month.

They had to go in secret.

But can you imagine some kid in Iowa or someplace getting a copy of this and thinking, "God! I'm not the only one."

It's just amazing.

Should be doing the documentary about this.

When Josh came out, the next morning, we took him to the airport, and the rule was that when he got to his dorm, he had to call and say he got to his dorm.

And so we waited and waited, and he didn't call, and finally, I picked up the phone, and I said to him, "You know, no matter what you are, you still have to call your mother and say you got to your dorm."

It was much harder for me to then begin talking about it.

Karen did not, could not, tell any of her friends for a year.

[Karen] I was sitting there in the congregation just trying to find how I was gonna get through this struggle that I had with who he was, my wonderful son.

The idea that he was homosexual was an abomination in our religion.

In a marriage like Daddy's and mine, the non-religious spouse has much less trouble accepting their homosexual child than the religious spouse.

[Rachel] Why didn't you ever just drop religion?

You know, it's just not an option for me.

If your way of being in the world is to be religious, accepting God is just easier.

But being religious is not easy. You have to work at that, too.

I needed to rethink my theology in order to be okay with it.

I took Bible study classes.

You know, what does the word "abomination" mean?

Why do they say that in relation to homosexuality?

And what were they really saying in the context of the time?

It was a long time of searching, and acceptance, and learning that there was a really profound group of thinkers, and leaders, and people who happened to be gay, and were forming these wonderful, vibrant communities.

[Barry] We got involved with PFLAG, and she met other women that had similar experiences.

It's called Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, and it's a support group for people who need help understanding what gender issues are.

She really went through kind of a transformation after that.

[Karen] I was not not gonna be his best mother that I could be.

Your children have their own path, and you can't direct it.

You can only take them the first few steps on their way.

But it sure took a lot of work to come around.

So we're gonna start with the Masons telling their story, and you...

Would you like to go first, Karen, since Barry went first the other time?

I think let Barry go first. He has the better story.

That'll compensate for you. Well.

Okay, so... [clears throat]

About 15 years ago, our son was coming back from college in New York.

Now, we're big shots in PFLAG, and we just talk about it to them, try and make them feel more comfortable with it.

And I didn't have a clue that he was gay, not a clue.

[Karen] I'm a trained facilitator, so I can lead support groups.

I'm kind of the poster child, I think, for somebody who had a really bad reaction to it.

And I'd like to take back everything I said to him the night he came out, but it doesn't go away, and unfortunately, I speak a lot, so I have to remember it.

Their involvement in PFLAG has been amazing.

I think at some point...

Mom said that it's the parents' role to fight for change, and it's the kids' role to have as normal a life as possible and just get on with things.

[inaudible]

[Karen] You just always think you know what's best, and you're wrong.

Yeah, parents, uh... are only smart for a very small window of time.

[laughs]

I'm happy with who I am because of them.

So, um...

Yeah.

I'm not very good at finishing my sentences.

I've spent the last 20 years helping other people understand and accept the gender variations in their children, and there are a lot of gender variations.

And they're all okay, and I hope you put that in this movie.

[indistinct chatter]

[Rachel] Mom!

Now I wanna find my, uh, husband so that we get a group picture.

Okay. Yeah. You guys will be at the end.

[Rachel] We're taking a picture? You're here to take a picture? Good.

Dad, give me the camera. You should go in.

Okay, I'll get one.

[camera shutter clicking] [Rachel] Okay.

Well, you organized a really big picture. That was hard.

I know, and don't keep calling me, 'cause this is like my job at PFLAG to do this.

[Rachel] I'm not. That was it.

Hi again!

[announcer] Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, PFLAG!

[cheering]

[announcer] Forty years, ladies and gentlemen, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, moms, dads, brothers, sisters, proud parents.

[crowd cheering]

[Karen] If you watch the parade, you'll see nobody gets this kind of cheering.

Just the PFLAG, and it's for the parents who came before us, the people who were there when there was nobody standing up for the people who came out as gay.

I wish my parents were here.

[crowd cheering]

[Rachel] Dad, look, there's your store. I know!

[woman in crowd] Whoo, Barry!

No one has ever given us anything we haven't had to fight for.

I have seen so many changes in this world.

For the better and for the worse.

But I have hope, and there is hope.

I'm not gonna end this on a sour note.

This is a good note, because people are more together today than they ever have been.


[Karen] It's our last hour, so shop quick.

[male customer] Last hour? Yep.

We're gonna put up the closed sign pretty soon.

You can be the last customer maybe.

Okay.

Owner of the last item sold by Circus of Books.

[female customer] Yeah.

Well, I always like to be anonymous, but...

Well, you could sign it "anonymous" if you really wanna be a purist.

No, at this point, I'm pretty public about it.

All right!

[Karen] Okay.

Barry and Karen have always been like Mom and Dad almost.

You know, we've always had...

Our surrogate. Like family here. Yeah.

Goodbye, Karen. Bud, you're great.

Thank you. I'll miss you.

Well, you're gonna go on to do good things. I know you are.

It was great working with you. Thank you, Barry.

And I hope everything goes well. Thank you.

I need to give you a hug. Oh, Karen!

Thank you so much for everything. You've been wonderful.

[Karen] It's not an easy trick to be married and be in business together for such a long time.

Very hard, actually. [laughs] Yeah, he had to listen to me a lot.

["In the Circus" playing]

♪ Who's in the circus? ♪

♪ Who's on the trapeze? ♪

♪ Who's in the circus with me? ♪

♪ Who's on the trapeze? ♪

["Give You Everything" playing]

♪ Wait on the corner Till I give you a sign ♪

♪ Can you see my red bandanna? ♪

♪ It's set to the right ♪

♪ We'll get along for the ride ♪

♪ This is where the sunlight ♪

♪ Lives on the ground ♪

♪ It's where lovers meet ♪

♪ When they need to be found ♪

♪ It's where you gave me the look That took me out ♪

♪ And away and over ♪

♪ And away ♪

♪ Let me celebrate ♪

♪ What you don't understand ♪

♪ It's where I get the strength ♪

♪ To be who I am ♪

♪ And if you give me a look ♪

♪ I promise I'll always Give you everything that I have ♪

♪ Always give you everything that I have ♪

♪ Cruisin' the alley With a broken taillight ♪

♪ Lose a few dollars But get a good price ♪

♪ You'll be a friend for the night ♪

♪ I'll be a friend for the night ♪

♪ This is where the sunlight ♪

♪ Lives in the sand ♪

♪ It's where I want to be ♪

♪ Whenever I need a hand ♪

♪ It's where you gave me the look That took me out ♪

♪ And away and over ♪

♪ And away ♪

♪ Let me celebrate ♪

♪ What you don't understand ♪

♪ It's where I get the strength ♪

♪ To be who I am ♪

♪ And if you give me a look ♪

♪ I promise I'll always Give you everything ♪

♪ Always give you everything ♪

♪ Always give you everything That I have ♪

♪ That I have ♪

♪ Let me celebrate ♪

♪ What you don't understand ♪

♪ It's where I get the strength ♪

♪ To be who I am ♪

♪ And if you give me a look ♪

♪ I promise I'll always Give you everything that I have ♪

♪ Always give you everything that I have ♪