Leatherman

Leatherman

by Tracy Baim, Owen Keehnen
     
 
Both B&W ($24.99) and full-color ($79.99) editions available.

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

Overview

Both B&W ($24.99) and full-color ($79.99) editions available.

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.

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.

Renslow was a dynamic force in Chicago politics under mayors starting with Richard J. Daley, and he ran to be a delegate for Sen. Ted Kennedy's 1980 presidential run. He danced with another man at a 1977 inaugural ball for Jimmy Carter. Renslow helped protest against unfair policies, fought censorship and entrapment, and battled Anita Bryant. He even served as a field contact for the pioneering work at the Kinsey Institute, as well as performing sexual acts for Kinsey researchers. He knew entertainment celebrities from Marlene Dietrich to Rudolf Nureyev, from Divine to Grace Jones, and from Sylvester to Quentin Crisp. In their heyday Chuck Renslow's annual White Parties were celebrations beyond compare.

When Chicago's gay community faced the loss of its newspaper, Renslow bailed out and ran GayLife.
He also co-founded the Leather Archives & Museum (with Tony DeBlase).

Through it all Renslow has also been Daddy of the Family, a unique created group of lovers, tricks, and friends who were bound by sex and oftentimes love and by a goal of providing comfort and support to one another.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781461096023
Publisher:
CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date:
05/03/2011
Pages:
416
Product dimensions:
7.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.85(d)

Meet the Author

Tracy Baim is publisher and executive editor at Windy City Media Group, which produces Windy City Times, Nightspots, and other gay media in Chicago. She co-founded Windy City Times in 1985 and Outlines newspaper in 1987. She has won numerous gay community and journalism honors, including the Community Media Workshop's Studs Terkel Award in 2005. She started in Chicago gay journalism in 1984 at GayLife newspaper, one month after graduating with a news-editorial degree from Drake University.
Baim is the author of Obama and the Gays: A Political Marriage (Prairie Avenue Productions, 2010). She is also the co-author and editor of Out and Proud in Chicago: An Overview of the City's Gay Community (Surrey/Agate, 2008), the first comprehensive book on Chicago's gay history, and is author of Where the World Meets, a book about Gay Games VII in Chicago (2007, Lulu.com-Baim served as co-vice chair of the Gay Games board). Her most recent book is a novel, The Half Life of Sgt. Jen Hunter, about lesbians in the military prior to Don't Ask, Don't Tell. She also has an essay in the book Media Queeried.

Historian and writer Owen Keehnen's fiction, essays, erotica, reviews, and interviews have appeared in hundreds of magazines and anthologies worldwide, including the upcoming Windy City Queer from University of Wisconsin Press. His newest novel, The Sand Bar, is due in autumn 2011 from Lethe Press.
Keehnen is the author of the horror novel Doorway Unto Darkness (Dancing Moon Press, 2010) and recently published the humorous gay novel I May Not Be Much But I'm All I Think About (e-gaymag.com). His upcoming collection We're Here, We're Queer features more than 100 of his best interviews from the 1990s with LGBT writers, artists, and activists who helped lay the groundwork for the current LGBTQ world.
He is also co-editor of Nothing Personal: Chronicles of Chicago's LGBTQ Community 1977-1997 (Firetrap Press, 2009) and contributed 10 of the biographical essays in the groundbreaking coffee-table book Out and Proud in Chicago (Surrey/Agate, 2008).
Keehnen is a founding board member of The Legacy Project and currently serves as secretary for the LGBT history-education-arts program focused on pride, acceptance, and bringing proper recognition to the courageous lives and contributions of international LGBTQ historical figures (legacyprojectchicago.org). He is the former programming director for Gerber/Hart Library and has had two queer monologues adapted for the stage.

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