Circus of Books, West Hollywood’s historic adult video store, to close

Circus of Books

Circus of Books, the iconic West Hollywood adult video and novelty store, will be closing, possibly as early as Friday, according to an article in Photo: Visit West Hollywood.

UPDATE: Circus of Books closed February 8.

WEST HOLLYWOOD — Circus of Books, the historic West Hollywood adult video and novelty store, will be closing, possibly as early as Friday, according to an article in

Talk of the store shutting its doors have been circulating for months — a medical marijuana dispensary was a potential tenant, but it didn’t happen — but owners Karen and her husband, Barry, Mason said they plan on turning off the lights sometime in February.


“It’s sad to close, but people aren’t buying magazines or renting videos anymore. They’re getting them on the internet now,” Karen told Wehoville. “This store used to have a steady stream of customers all day long. Now we get a few an hour. It’s just not worth it anymore; it’s too much work.”

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The historic space opened in 1960 as a newsstand and bookstore originally called Book Circus.

The Masons took over the store in 1982 and eventually bought the building. The also changed the name to Circus of Books.

Apart from videos, the store has a large selection of sex toys, leather items, condoms, and lubricants.


Circus of Books also played an important role for gay men discovering and exploring their sexuality. The store is located in what was once known as “Vaseline Alley,” a parking lot and alley behind the store where gay men cruised for hookups.

“There was a lot of activity in the alley behind our store,” Karen told Wehoville. “People would meet each other here, and even though we, as owners, kept out of it, it was definitely a pickup spot.

“When Circus of Books opened,” Karen said, “this was such a special place for people who were gay or were trying to come out or feel comfortable.”

Phillip Zonkel can be reached at 562-294-5996 or [email protected].

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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