These grandparents sold gay porn for decades and almost went to prison. Now, they are calling it quits

Karen and Barry Mason swear they never planned to sell porn for long.

They were just really good at it.

For 37 years, the couple — now septuagenarian grandparents — have run Circus of Books, a West Hollywood bookstore that sold gay and straight nudie magazines, hardcore pornographic films and sex toys, as well as international newspapers and classic literary titles.

“I always assumed that we would end up doing something else,” Karen said. “We don’t know anything, really.”

The Santa Monica Boulevard store gained legendary status in Southern California’s LGBTQ community as a place where people could peruse gay erotica or meet other gay people, hanging out in a place free from homophobia.

Over the years, Circus of Books has survived an FBI raid, federal obscenity charges and complaints from law enforcement who said the store attracted prostitution and other criminal elements. It remained open during the AIDS crisis, when numerous employees died.

But it could not survive Amazon.

Strangled by the internet — where pornography and dating apps abound — Circus of Books will close for good Saturday.

“A lot of people are sorry to see it go, grateful it’s been there all this time,” Karen said. “And as we’re closing, people are saying, ‘You know, this store saved my life.’ ”

More: https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-west-hollywood-porn-shop-circus-of-books-20190208-story.html