Chuck Renslow, founder of International Mr. Leather, has reigned over a six-decade empire, starting more than two dozen businesses-bars, discos, photo studios, health clubs, bathhouses, gay magazines and newspapers, hotels, restaurants, and bookstores. He's fostered organizations and dealt with Mafia and police payoffs, the Chicago Machine, anti-gay government policies, and controversy within the gay community.
Renslow was politically active, including running as a delegate for Sen. Ted Kennedy's 1980 presidential campaign. Renslow bailed out and ran GayLife newspaper, and when the AIDS epidemic struck, Renslow was there with money and support. He also knew celebrities from Marlene Dietrich to Rudolf Nureyev, from Divine to Sally Rand. He even helped with the Kinsey Institute's sex research.
Leatherman: The Legend of Chuck Renslow contains more than 300 images, posters, murals and photos from the boldly defiant gay leather bar the Gold Coast, physique magazines and more.
In the mid-1950s Renslow became a pioneer in male physique photography with Kris Studio. With his longtime lover, artist Dom Orejudos aka Etienne, Renslow battled censors and went on to publish magazines such as Triumph, Mars and The Rawhide Male. In 1960 Renslow assumed ownership of the Gold Coast and transformed it into one of the most libidinous lowdown bars in the world. It was the birthplace of motorcycle clubs and sex groups as well as the first leather contest, which evolved to become International Mr. Leather in 1979.
Renslow expanded the concept of bathhouse by creating the sex-and-entertainment complex Man's Country in the 1970s that attracted top names on the "K-Y circuit." Renslow is also 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 support to one another. His life has been anything but forgettable.