Emmy Award-nominated director Rachel Mason sat down with The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk in the latest episode of “At Home With The Creative Coalition,” a podcast featuring unplugged and uncensored conversations with today’s biggest stars. In the newest episode, Mason discusses the background and reception of her award-winning Netflix documentary, Circus of Books, her upbringing as the daughter of Hollywood’s most notable porn bookshop proprietors, and much more. Highlights below.
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Highlights from “At Home With The Creative Coalition” featuring Rachel Mason —
On the inspiration for her latest documentary, Circus of Books:
“‘Circus of Books’ is a documentary about my parents’ sort of iconic bookstore in the LGBT – formerly just called ‘gay’ – world in Los Angeles. It was a really central place for – also I will say – gay men. You know, really it was very focused on gay men to come and meet each other and have all kinds of awesome sexual experiences, and see sexual materials, videos, magazines at a time when that was not widely available. And not only that, gay people were considered perverse and disgusting and were just like, one step away from being a pedophile on the social track. So you know, their store was really operating throughout the AIDS epidemic era, and I made this film about how I was raised under the sort of shadow of a big family secret.”
On the surprisingly widespread reception of Circus of Books:
“If you had told me it would go to a wide audience, I would’ve been the first to say ‘that’s not gonna happen with this documentary.’ I saw it as like, my side project that the gays would love. My world of like, you know, fun freaky weirdos who loved the store – that’s who I honestly set out to make the film for. And then, you know, what happened when I realized that I needed to collaborate with people that knew what they were doing is that, all of my vérité and all the footage that I had and all the stuff with mom became so much more central. And then I realized ‘oh no, this dialogue I had with Josh, my brother, that’s actually the story.’ If I had just set out to make sort of the more artistic version of ‘Circus of Books,’ I would’ve probably investigated more of the nuances of the differences between Silverlake and West Hollywood and LA and kind of the various types of genres in gay porn, and it wouldn’t have been as wide. So, it’s really a wide-reaching film because I allowed it to sort of have more storylines. You know, also I think I did sort of take the initiative to say ‘okay, its gotta be really personal,’ and it was the hardest thing I think I’ve ever done because I don’t tend to be personal on that level.”
On the struggles of growing up as an artist:
“Well, you know I will say, as far as I can remember I’ve always been an artist, and I really remember – and you know by artist I mean that kid who was like doodling and drawing on the table. You know, being told ‘you need to put that away and focus.’ So I was always doing it and it wasn’t really a positive. It was like ‘okay, Rachel can’t seem to focus ‘cause she’s drawing all these pictures,’ and I just found another notebook of mine that’s filled with drawings. You know, I was that kid, and you know, my mom was genuinely worried about me. I remember even talking to her recently and she was like ‘yeah, you know, we thought we were just gonna have to send you away somewhere.’ It goes to show you like, had I come from a family of like, you know, maybe a physics professor would’ve been like ‘no it’s just art, its actually okay…’ I also am a musician and a songwriter and so – I just, my world of what I always did was creative, musical… You know, in a strange way, I think I came from the least creative artistic family in Hollywood.”
On understanding pornography:
“I know it’s a radical thing to say, but I do see porn as a form of art, and I say that because now that I’ve really investigated it much more thoroughly than I ever had, you know, people who are in it really care about it. They think hard about and, you know, even like – you know, people make fun of it so much but like, I read Stormy Daniels’ book recently and she was just sort of talking about like her diving into the screenplays. I know they’re like in a genre, which is porn, but there’s a depth of creativity there… It’s so interesting because the history of pornography does – if you wanna look at it in art terms – it goes back to caveman times, and you look at like, Japanese netsuke carvings, these beautiful little ornaments. I mean there really are visual depictions of adult content, you know, sex, and Kama Sutra, that go back centuries, and its phenomenal. I mean, the actual depictions of sex are so beautiful, you have to just like, sort of say ‘yeah, humans have been interested in this for a long time.’”
More about “At Home With The Creative Coalition”
Hosted by The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk, “At Home With The Creative Coalition” brings listeners intimate portraits, key moments of discovery, and “art and soul” conversations with iconic entertainment industry personalities from the big screen to the boardroom, from L.A. to D.C. Listen now at http://thecreativecoalition.org/podcast.
Upcoming guests include Justin Bartha (“The Hangover,” “National Treasure”), Kerry Ehrin (“The Morning Show”), Evan Handler (“And Just Like That…,” “Californication”), New York Times Bestselling Author Susan Isaacs (“Compromising Positions”), International Bestselling Author Patrick McGinnis (“The 10% Entrepreneur,” “Fear of Missing Out”), Ken Olin (“This is Us,” “Thirtysomething”), Joe Pantoliano (“The Sopranos,” “The Matrix”), Yolonda Ross (“The Chi”), Reid Scott (“Echo”), and Alena Smith (“Dickinson”).
Previous guests include Jason Alexander (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Shiri Appleby (“UnREAL”), David Alan Basche (“The Exes”), Asante Blackk (“This Is Us”), Carly Chaikin (“Mr. Robot”), Wilson Cruz (“Star Trek: Discovery”), Alan Cumming (“Briarpatch”), Ethan Cutkosky (“Shameless”), The Creative Coalition President and actor Tim Daly (“Madam Secretary”), Lea DeLaria (“Orange Is the New Black”), Griffin Dunne (“This Is Us”), Michael Fishman (“Roseanne,” “The Conners”), Jim Gaffigan (“The Jim Gaffigan Show”), Willie Garson (“And Just Like That…”), Judy Gold (“The Other F Word”), Nicholas Gonzalez (“The Good Doctor”), Clark Gregg (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”), Tony Hale (“Veep,” “Arrested Development”), Patricia Heaton (“Everybody Loves Raymond,” “The Middle”), Cheryl Hines (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Jon Huertas (“This Is Us,” “Castle”), Jason Isaacs (“Star Trek: Discovery”), Richard Kind (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Chad Lowe (“Supergirl”), Aasif Mandvi (“The Daily Show”), Marlee Matlin (“CODA,” “The West Wing”), AnnaLynne McCord (“Let’s Get Physical”), Eric McCormack (“Will and Grace”), Wendi McLendon-Covey (“The Goldbergs”), Katherine McNamara (“Shadowhunters”), Marta Milans (“Shazam!”), Rob Morrow (“Billions”), Kathy Najimy (“Duncanville”), Haley Joel Osment (“Future Man,” “Entourage”), Bill Prady (“The Big Bang Theory”), Jessica Queller (“Supergirl”), Anthony Rapp (“Rent”), Mona Scott-Young (“Love & Hip Hop”), Julie Taymor (“The Lion King”), Krista Vernoff (“Grey’s Anatomy”), Matt Walsh (“Veep”), Alfre Woodard (“Clemency,” “Luke Cage”), Constance Zimmer (“Good Trouble”), and David Zucker (“Airplane!,” “Scary Movie”).
More about The Creative Coalition
The Creative Coalition is the premier nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) social and public advocacy organization of the arts and entertainment community. Founded in 1989 by prominent members of the creative community, The Creative Coalition is dedicated to educating, mobilizing, and activating its members on issues of public importance. Actor Tim Daly serves as the organization’s President. The Creative Coalition also creates award-winning public service campaigns including #RightToBearArts to promote the efficacy of the arts. The Creative Coalition harnesses the unique platforms of the arts community and entertainment industry to make positive impacts on social welfare issues. For more information, visit https://thecreativecoalition.org.