This is an article extracted from TRACY BRAIM WEBSITE one of the authors of this book.
Leatherman: The Legend of Chuck Renslow available May 10, 2011 on Amazon and selected bookstores.
CHICAGO ? A prominent Chicago gay activist and entrepreneur is the subject of an in-depth biography, Leatherman: The Legend of Chuck Renslow, by journalists and authors Tracy Baim and Owen Keehnen. The book contains more than 300 images, including murals and drawings by Dom ?Etienne? Orejudos, posters for International Mr. Leather (IML), and photos from the Gold Coast, Pride Parades, IML contests, physique magazines and more.
The book is published by Prairie Avenue Productions, 414 pages, $24.99 black and white (ISBN 1-46109602-2), $79.99 color (1-46111908-1). It is available on Amazon.com. People can search for the title or link: http://www.tinyurl.com/renslow. It will also be available from Women & Children First and Unabridged bookstores.
Living as an openly gay man in 1950s Chicago was no easy task. For Chuck Renslow, that was only his first of many bold moves. Just out of high school he began what was to become a six-decade empire, starting more than two dozen businesses in Chicago, as well as a few in other cities. He has owned bars, discos, photo studios, health clubs, bathhouses, gay magazines and newspapers, hotels, restaurants, and bookstores. Throughout it all he dealt with Mafia and police payoffs, anti-gay political policies, harassment from censors, and even controversy within the gay community.
In the mid-1950s, after having a portrait and then cheesecake studio, Renslow began experimenting with beefcake photography and began Kris Studio. With his longtime lover, the artist Dom Orejudos aka Etienne and Stephen, at his side, Renslow created Kris Studio a leader in male physique photography, resulting in such magazines as Triumph, Mars and The Rawhide Male, producing thousands of erotic images as well as several films.
In 1959 Renslow took over the Gold Coast Show Lounge and transformed it into one of the most lowdown libidinous gay leather bars in the world. With Etienne?s murals adorning the walls, a leather/Western/uniform dress code for patrons, and a dark Pit that featured all sorts of goings-on, the Gold Coast set the standard for raunchy kink and gay sexual liberation. It was the birthplace of motorcycle clubs and sex groups, but above all a place for people to meet, connect, and explore themselves and their sexuality.
The Gold Coast was also the birthplace of the first leather contest, which in the span of a few short years evolved beyond the bar?s capacity and became International Mr. Leather in 1979. More than three decades later, it continues to be one of the world?s most popular gay events.
Renslow was also one of the pioneers in taking a bathhouse beyond merely the borders of a mere sex club. Man?s Country became something truly unforgettable in the 1970s – a sex-and-entertainment complex with a variety of rooms, shops, and a Music Hall that attracted top names touring in the ?K-Y circuit,? from Sally Rand to Wayland Flowers to Rusty Warren and Charles Pierce.
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