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Film and TV

Circus of Books director Rachel Mason, whose parents ran a porn empire, is ‘ashamed’ of the way she let her gay brother down

Nick Duffy May 3, 2020
Josh Mason in Circus of Books

Josh Mason in Circus of Books (Courtesy of Netflix)

Circus of Books director Rachel Mason has said she had a very emotional reaction to hearing her brother open up about coming out.

Mason’s documentary, which debuted on Netflix earlier this month, tells the story of her conservative, religious parents Karen and Barry Mason – who ran a minor gay porn empire in Los Angeles.

One of the most shocking parts of the documentary saw Rachel Mason’s brother Josh speak about his coming out journey – and the frosty reception he received from their mother, Karen, despite her line of work.

Circus of Books filmmaker: ‘I felt very guilty that I wasn’t there for him.’

In an interview with LA Weekly, Rachel Mason said she was left emotionally distraught while making the film – after her brother admitted that he had feared being thrown out onto the streets so much that he had already booked a plane ticket before coming out.

She said: “I was ashamed of myself for not being there for him. I was like, wow, if you thought you had to get a one way ticket, why wasn’t I the first person you would’ve called? Why did you have to go through that alone? Why am I only hearing about this now 15, 20 years later?

“I rebelled and ran out of the house and said bye while poor Josh was there suffering in this closeted state. I was very devastated to hear those words and I felt very guilty that I wasn’t there for him at that very painful moment.”

Karen Mason attending a Pride event with PFLAG.
Karen Mason attending a Pride event with PFLAG. (Netflix)

Rachel herself also identifies as bisexual, and is married to transgender porn star Buck Angel – a fact left out of the documentary in favour of telling her brother’s story.

People ‘from all over the world’ have been in touch to show support

The filmmaker also revealed that despite her on-screen scepticism at the project, her mother was was impressed by the final film.

Circus of Books director Rachel Mason
Circus of Books director Rachel Mason (Courtesy of Netflix)

She said: “My mum, as always, is the last to express appreciation for almost anything but she’s finally had to come around…and I think she’s impressed.

“She doesn’t love being the centre of attention [and] she said that now all of our friends are going to think we held a secret from them. But you know, I think she did live under the shadow of pornography.

“She [said], ‘I never understood why you had to make this movie until I read what people are saying about it.’ All over the world, we get messages from people saying that they see themselves reflected in the film, so it’s been very poignant.”

More: circus of books, Josh Mason, netflix, Rachel Mason

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