Rachel Mason grew up not knowing her mom and dad peddled gay porn

15th April 2020, 10:11 pm

“I was born to be the gay porn heiress of Los Angeles,” says Rachel Mason inside the sauna-hot dressing room of the East Hollywood club Faultline. Dressed in black-and-red-leather shorts, fishnet stockings, metal-studded white ankle boots, and a Warhol platinum wig framing her Kiss-like eye makeup, the 41-year-old performance artist and filmmaker is fresh off a sound check for her opening set at a fundraiser for the Tom of Finland Foundation hosted by her lover, Buck Angel, a 57-year-old transsexual porn star, author, and activist.

Though the funky mise-en-scène might not suggest it, Hollywood has been courting Mason of late. She’s on track to direct her second feature film after TV titan Ryan Murphy signed on to executive produce her first, the documentary Circus of Books, which debuts on Netflix on April 22. Shot in a style that recalls Diane Arbus’s photography, the doc portrays the history of the legendary L.A. gay porn repository, which Mason’s parents, Karen and Barry, owned and operated for more than three decades—much of it unbeknownst to her—before it closed in February 2018. “It was really weird because my parents were not interesting people—or gay,” says Mason. “My mom is very type A and very religious and wanted kids and to have a solid family foundation.”

Long before her parents got into the gay porn racket, they were two creatives pursuing respective careers in investigative journalism and special effects. When newspapers and sci-fi projects failed to pay the bills for their growing family, her mother answered an ad about distributing magazines for Larry Flynt, and her dad started a route with the family station wagon. After the couple realized one of their clients, WeHo’s Book Circus, was struggling financially, they took over the business in 1982. They rearranged the words on the marquee and went on to make a killing producing films with stars like Jeff Stryker, but they also battled the Feds for years over obscenity charges.

READ THE COMPLETE ARTICLE BY MICHEAL SLENSKE


 


Tom of Finland Foundation produced Tom’s first fine art book in 1988 – Tom of Finland: A Retrospective. After much searching, a small, quiet, devout Hassid from Israel, who had a small bindery out in the suburbs of L.A., was willing to stitch together the pages, completing the book.

Tom had a signing of it at Circus. They had a card table set up. And a very long line. A lot of memories in this place…


Published: 15th April 2020

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