Circus of Books to Live on as 2nd Chi Chi LaRue's Location

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif.—When one door closes, another one opens. So the saying goes, and it couldn’t be more true than in the case of Circus of Books, which is shuttering its doors this weekend.

But though the LGBT community will lose a cultural landmark when the gay adult bookstore closes (read more here in an article today in the Los Angeles Times), it’s gaining a second location for venerable adult boutique Chi Chi LaRue’s, which will take over the space.

Chi Chi LaRue’s, a multiple AVN Award-winning retailer located in West Hollywood, will open a second store on the other side of West Hollywood, taking over the Circus of Books space at 8230 Santa Monica Boulevard.


Photo of Circus of Books courtesy Chi Chi LaRue's

For decades the world-famous Circus of Books has welcomed generations of gay men who entered through the saloon doors in search of porn, cruising, sex toys, lube, poppers, books and magazines. The team from Chi Chi LaRue’s plans to honor the legacy of the store, which originally opened as Book Circus in 1960. They point out that when Barry and Karen Mason acquired the store in 1982, part of the store’s cachet was its location directly in front of the notoriously cruisy gay spot known to this day as Vaseline Alley.

Circus of Books represents a significant part of the local LGBT community's history—and it's a story that the couple’s daughter, Rachel Mason, plans to tell in a documentary titled Circus of Books. A filmmaker and artist, Rachel plans to tell the story of the Masons and the path they took to become one of the biggest distributors of hardcore gay porn in the United States.

Reportedly, the new Circus will “marry the upscale and fun aspect of the existing Chi Chi LaRue’s and the history of Circus of Books.” A new addition to both stores will be a Tom of Finland store-within-a-store, which brings even more history by honoring the legendary artist, whose legacy is captured by the Tom of Finland Foundation house—another landmark of gay history in Los Angeles.

“Both stores are getting a little lift. Plus, we are expanding our concept and looking at other manufacturers that mesh with our brands to do pop-ups or long-term store-in-a-store concepts,” said Rob Novinger, owner of Channel 1 Releasing (C1R).

The new Circus is set to reopen on May 1, 2019.

At January's 2019 AVN Awards Show, Chi Chi LaRue’s West Hollywood store, located at 8861 Santa Monica Boulevard, won the trophy for Best Boutique. Chi Chi LaRue’s is the retail arm of 

Channel 1 Releasing is one of the world’s largest gay-owned and operated adult entertainment companies. Through its various arms, C1R covers the entire gay adult arena with award-winning movies, novelties, online products, direct-mail order and retail stores.

C1R offers more than 2,500 gay adult titles covering every genre and niche, with imprints that include Chi Chi LaRue’s Rascal, All Worlds, Dirk Yates and Catalina. The library boasts movies by such influential directors as Chi Chi LaRue, William Higgins, Dirk Yates, Jerry Douglas, Doug Jeffries, Josh Eliot and others.

C1R’s novelty products include the iconic gay brand Rascal and the edgy new Boneyard Toys. Both lines pride themselves on quality and innovation.


Above, photo by Chris King; see more images from Chi Chi LaRue's grand reopening here.