Netflix's upcoming documentary Circus of Books looks at the straight couple who created a gay adult media empire and stood by the LGBT community during the AIDS crisis.

Circus of Books from executive producer Ryan Murphy had its world premiere at last year's Tribeca Film Festival. It arrives on Netflix on April 22.

Barry and Karen Mason took over Book Circus bookstore on Santa Monica Boulevard in 1982. The couple, who had been working as distributors for Larry Flynt's publications, renamed it Circus of Books. At its height, there were three Circus of Books locations in Los Angeles.

“In the 80s, if you could sell adult material, you could make a lot of money,” Karen Mason says in the film's trailer.

“We were probably the biggest distributor of hardcore gay films in the United States,” she adds. “But I never felt free to let anybody know what we did.”

“Mom was caught between this stuffy conservative synagogue and the business,” one of the couple's sons says.

But their disinterest in their merchandise didn't stop the Masons from becoming local heroes and developing a cult following in the LGBT community.

During the AIDS crisis, the couple financially supported ailing employees.

Their business began to decline as gay pornography moved online and hook-up apps replaced cruising spots.

Circus of Books is directed by Rachel Mason, the Masons' daughter, who began documenting her parent's work as they prepared to shutter their last remaining store in 2019.