Final day arrives for Silver Lake’s Circus of Books

Storefront ReportSILVER LAKE — After more than 30 years of serving as one of the neighborhood’s chief purveyors of gay porn, as well as running its largest newsstand, Circus of Books will permanently close its Sunset Junction store after today. “Thank you to the many, many loyal and good customers who patronized our store for 31 years,” said the store’s Facebook page.

The owners of Circus of Books announced the closure earlier this year but noted that the original West Hollywood location will remain open.

What will move into the Silver Lake shop at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Sanborn Avenue? The Eastsider has contacted Karen Mason, who opened Circus of Books with her husband, Barry, for information. Earlier this year, a listing on LoopNet.com said the 7,125-square-foot space, which includes a basement, was for lease at an undisclosed price.

The closure of Circus of Books comes as Sunset Junction has seen the arrival of numerous high-end shops, restaurants and bars in recent years. More change is on the way, with a developer planning to build a five-story hotel as well as large apartment buildings in the immediate area.

In a 2011 first-person story, Rachel Mason, daughter of bookstore owners Karen and Barry Mason, tells how her parents bought the original store in West Hollywood, which at the time was named Book Circus, about 40 years ago. They expanded into Silver Lake in the 1980s.

Rachel Mason writes:

“After my parents realized they could manage a store, they replicated the business in Silverlake. The second store has big mural on the side of it. When they first started the business back in the 80’s, gangs constantly sprayed over each others’ tags on the store’s exterior walls. One day my dad approached one of the taggers and asked what he could do to make them stop. They said if he let an artist make a mural and sign his name to it, no one would ever graffiti up the building anymore. So my dad paid him to spray a mural which stayed on the building for nearly 20 years.

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  1. Bent Over a Bento Box

    I’m surprised it lasted as long as it did. It seemed to be on a downhill slide for the last few years, Can’t wait to see what cringeworthy, high end business will take over the space. The times (and neighborhood) they are a changin.

  2. What was the point of singling out Circus as primarily being a purveyor of gay porn? Homophobia? Circus had something for everyone in the area. Circus carried fiction, photography books, calendars, greeting cards and plenty of straight porn, as well as hundreds of periodicals. The store may not have been as clean, organized or sanitized as a mall bookstore, but to kick off your article with such a salacious tone is rather suspect.

    • Don’t forget the meth pipes that they provided the local tweekers with. Good riddance.

    • Are you serious? Circus is mainly known as a gay porn store, plain and simple. I’m a gay man who lived in WeHo in the 80’s and 90’s, and moved to Silver Lake in the 00’s, and this branch sure looked a lot like the famous one in WeHo. I’ve never understood the attraction of the store – it was always mostly porn, some drug paraphernalia, a nice selection of magazines (non-porn), but it couldn’t hold a candle to some of the more well-known and more legit book stores and newsstands. Just this last weekend, my husband and I were wondering how it stayed afloat in the age of online porn. This article answered that question.

  3. Bruce Brook Pfeiffer

    Wasn’t someone saying in comments elsewhere here that an Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella is in the works for the neighborhood? I could very much see this being their location for many reasons not the least being Mohawk General Store next door having already tested the waters by carrying a small curated selection of the Santa Maria Novella line.

    • Plus it’s el pollo loco adjacent …get over yourself

    • That seems a bit precious, even for Silver Lake. It actually does look like we’re turning into WeHo East. Nothing against the products of Santa Maria Novella, which are interesting.

  4. And now the news arrives that the new tenant will be – drumroll – a weed dispensary. Wow, that’s one hell of a letdown, and exactly what Sunset Junction doesn’t need (along with yoga classes). But I’m sure the caged windows and doors will be highly attractive. http://la.curbed.com/2016/8/8/12404716/silver-lake-circus-of-books-closing-gay-porn-store-dispensary

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