|About the Book|
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 OwenMoreBoth 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 Etiennes 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 bars capacity and became International Mr. Leather in 1979. More than three decades later, it continues to be one of the worlds most popular gay events. Renslow was also one of the pioneers in taking a bathhouse beyond merely the borders of a mere sex club. Mans 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 Kennedys 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 Renslows annual White Parties were celebrations beyond compare. When Chicagos 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.