Circus of Books

Circus of Books is a documentary (available on Netflix as of 2020) about a straight Jewish couple who ran the iconic LA book store, Circus of Books, a “place where people could peruse gay erotica or meet other gay people, hanging out in a place free from homophobia.”  Circus of Books sold gay pornography, but also “obscure novels from LGBTQ authors, as well as science fiction books, foreign newspapers, even Bibles.” (Branson-Potts)

While the documentary discusses a range of LGBTQ issues such as gay rights, the AIDS crisis, and coming out, as a documentary about a gay book store it also features a lot of gay publications, of all sorts.

Spotted on the shelves of Circus of Books were many titles that sit on our very own shelves in the Neil Richards Collection of Sexual and Gender Diversity.

Following is a list of just some of the publications that you can find in Circus of Books and the Neil Richards Collection. Follow the links to see their catalogue records. The images are screen captures from the documentary, and their time stamps are included.

Uncommon calling : a gay man’s struggle to serve the ChurchBeyond Acceptance is available in the main stacks of the Murray Library. The Neil Richards Collection also carries an extensive non-fiction selection on topics such as religion, history, politics, art, self-help, health, and more.

Curious Wine: A novel by Katherine V. Forrest   (8:00)The Neil Richards Collection is also home to a wide variety of fiction  – from classics, to contemporary, erotic and non-erotic, popular fiction, pulp fiction, and everything in between – as long it is has ties to LGBTQ issues, whether in it’s themes, characters, or authorship.

Physique Pictorial and Drum   (8:18)Physique magazines were the precursor to modern gay magazines, popular around 1940-1960. Styled as magazines about bodybuilding, health, and fitness, they were a way to try to get around censorship and the cultural taboo of homosexuality.

The Neil Richards Collection has more examples of this type of magazine which has been collected into a kit. Examples of titles include Grecian Guild Pictorial, Male Figure Studies, Iron Boys, and Stallion.

Blueboy (21:30)“Blueboy was one of the first really successful gay publications that was not underground” says Larry Flynt (interviewed in the documentary). Flynt was the publisher of Hustler Magazine, who also took on the distribution of gay publications such as Blueboy, Honcho, and Mandate.

Mandate and Honcho (21:35)


All these and many more books, magazines, and movies are available for viewing in the Neil Richards Collection of Sexual and Gender Diversity.


Branson-Potts, Hailey. “These grandparents sold gay porn for decades and almost went to prison. Now, they are calling it quits.” Los Angeles Times, 8 Feb. 2019. Accessed June 2, 2020.

Screen captures from Circus of Books, Netflix, accessed May 2020.

12 Days of Archives 2018

The new year means the newest edition of the 12 Days of Archives, where we share via social media some of the neat things we have in our archives in a lead up to the holidays. This years’ tune goes a little something like this…

12 Playing Cards

MG 586, “White Pass and Yukon Route” playing cards. These cards come from the Raymond Yochim fonds, a collection which contains many interesting collectables.

11 Tiny Pins

These pins come from the Sylvia Fedoruk fonds, MG 435. There are pins for the College of Arts and Science, Penta Kai Deka, the Sheaf, as well as many others!

10 Silhouettes

MG 410, Courtney Milne fonds, 165-506. One of many of the beautiful images from the Milne Photograph collection. You can find more images here:

9 Alpha Flights

These are the first 9 issues of a comic book series featuring a team of Canadian superheroes, set in the same universe as X-Men. From our Shortt Collection of Canadiana.

8 Sporty Postcards

These come from the “Views of Canadian Sports” postcard collection. For more postcards check out our “Wish You Were Here” digital project

7 Inuit Wall Hangings

These come from the R.G. Williamson fonds, which contains a lot of material collected during Williamson’s work for and with the Inuit of Northern Canada.

6 Women Wrestlers

The Neil Richards collection, MG 355, is more well known for its LGBT material but it also has an extensive collection of material on professional (& amateur) wrestling!

5 Fishing Flies

These come from one of our newer acquisitions, the Logan-Wickendon Collection. They were created by artist Horace Wickendon and sent to his friends Ivan and Marjorie Logan.

4 USask Ceramics

In 1921-1958 College of Engineering had a Ceramics Department. We have many examples of the pieces they made in our Duff Spafford fonds

3 Student Floats

These images come from the University Photograph Collection, which contains thousands of images of University of Saskatchewan throughout it’s history. These are from the late 1950’s/early 1960’s when the University of Saskatchewan’s homecoming included a parade! (A-2549, A-4357, A-4298)

2 Baby Booties

What the finding aid says is that these were knit in 1987 with the wool from the family’s own flock of sheep. What do I say? ADORABLE. (MG 271 – Cooper, Hunter, and Anderson fonds)

1 Brass Blood Leaching Tool

This beautiful but slightly terrifying artifact comes from the College of Nursing fonds, RG 2096.


More about our new hours

From Tim Hutchinson, Head of University Archives and Special Collections:

Starting today, we have adjusted our hours. The new hours are Monday – Friday, 10 am – 4 pm.

In the spirit of the “University Archives and Special Collections unboxed” theme of this blog, we thought some of you might be interested to hear a bit more about what’s behind the change.

When you visit UASC, in addition to being assisted by a staff member on the reference desk, there is always more going on: sometimes in the reading room, but often behind the scenes. Staff are processing archival collections, digitizing items, preparing exhibitions, and responding to in-depth research requests, to name some of the more prominent activities.

With the previous hours and service model, on any given day, just over half the staff was assigned to the reference desk in some capacity; reference services were available for the whole time staff members were working; and retrieval services were available at all times. You can appreciate that this had an impact on our ability to undertake our full range of functions. Especially since some activities, like processing large archival collections, can be difficult to do on the reference desk.

We are making these changes after several iterations of possible configurations, staff consultations, and compilation of practices at peer institutions. Slightly shorter hours than regular business hours are not uncommon for archives and special collections. Our new hours are comparable to several Canadian universities with archives and special collections.

Retrievals from closed stacks in the Murray Library will be available daily:

  • 10 – 10:30 am
  • 11 am – noon
  • 1 – 2:30 pm
  • 3 – 4 pm

The limitations on retrievals reflect a shift from having two people on morning and afternoon shifts, to having two people on daily shifts, so retrievals will not be available during lunches and breaks.

For in-depth research needs, especially use of the archival collection, we continue to encourage you to contact UASC in advance of a visit, either to request material for retrieval or to discuss your research interests. Staff members are in a much better position to assist researchers if they have lead time to pull together potential sources and clarify research interests; and you will be able to make better use of your time at UASC.

Everyone in UASC takes great pride in the reference service we provide. But we also want to make sure we are able to properly undertake our many other activities, which have the ultimate aim of making our collections accessible. We have adjusted our hours to try to achieve a better balance for those activities, but we look forward to continuing to offer the timely service, dedication and expertise available from the UASC team.

Man reading in library

University of Saskatchewan, University Archives and Special Collections, Photograph Collection, A-2598