Release Date: April 26th, 2019 (Tribeca Film Festival)
Directed by: Rachel Mason
Written by: Rachel Mason, Kathryn Robson
Cast: Karen Mason, Barry Mason, Rachel Mason, various
Netflix, 92 Minutes
I saw this pop up on Netflix, so I figured I’d check it out, as I generally enjoy the documentaries they distribute through their streaming service.
I wasn’t disappointed, as this is a really interesting story about a religious Jewish family who opened up a gay porn store, which also became a gay porn film studio and distributor. The store rose to prominence within the Los Angeles gay scene in the ’80s and would also reach far beyond its home city.
This kind of hit close to home, as I’ve been around gay culture since my teen years. The scene in southern Florida is big and even though I’m straight, I’ve always had gay friends and also lived with a pretty legit drag queen for a bit. The era that the bulk of this story took place in just brought a lot of those great memories back.
Beyond the nostalgia, this is an intriguing story about really interesting, good people. It’s hard not to love the family that started this store and it’s just as much a love letter to them, as it is the store itself.
I especially liked how interesting the father was with his backstory and the road that life took him on, leading up to becoming a straight, religious, family man that owned a gay book store.
This also examines the impact that owning the store had on the family as a whole in an age when it was considered really taboo. I liked meeting the kids, getting their take on all of it and how they grew up with this “moral” cloud over their religious upbringing.
It was also really cool seeing people from the L.A. gay community talking about the store and what it meant to them during really difficult times in their lives.
This really hits you in the feels and it’s unfortunate that the store, during the filming of this documentary, was falling on real hard times due to the world evolving away from the old mediums of pornography thanks to the Internet.
While this documentary was made by someone within the family, it’s not in any way inauthentic or dishonest because of that. In fact, it made the experience more intimate and meaningful.
Pairs well with: other documentaries about LGBTQ cultural history, porn and small business.