Page 256 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
P. 256

238      Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999

               In the 1950s, Chuck Renslow and Dom “Etienne” Orejudos founded
            Kris Studio in Chicago. They recruited models within the straight authen-
            ticity of their Triumph Gym, the very old-school iron pile they purchased
            on Van Buren Street in the Loop. They introduced a Midwestern crop of
            butch leather models, like the homomasculine icons, Ron Rector and Mike
            Bradburn, in their classic magazine, Mars, which was the first dedicated
            leather magazine to publish continuously (1963-1967). Renslow, daring to
            mix sex and politics, wrote an editorial titled “Victory for Censorship!” in
            Mars 21 (September 1966). He analyzed how unconstitutional censorship
            was impairing the media of gay culture. With Mars as a kind of mail-order
            catalog, Kris Studio sold its image of homomasculinity in photographs and
            8mm films, such as Cabin in the Woods, Black Magic, and Slave of the Sheik.
            Because even the gayest of 1960s gay magazines liked masculine-identified
            men, Kris Studio’s images, particularly of Rector and Bradburn, went wide
            in other periodicals such as The Young Physique, Volume 6 #3, February-
            March 1965. In 1976, Kris Studio gave its mailing list to my longtime friend
            Lou Thomas to use to build up his mail order at Target Studio. Thomas had
            also been, with Jim French, the co-founder of Colt Studio. His Target brand
            provided many covers and centerfolds to Drummer.
               Was rivalry the reason Chuck Renslow did not give his mailing list
            to Embry when the needy Drummer was one year old and busted by the
            LAPD? Or why Renslow’s iconic homomasculine Kris photography was
            never published in Drummer even though Etienne’s drawings were? Or how
            Renslow felt when immediately after his first International Mr. Leather
            (IML) Contest in 1979, Embry “invented” the Mr. Drummer Contest?
               As an eyewitness at the 1982 IML, Drummer employee Patrick Batt
            revealed insight into Embry’s one-sided feud with Renslow in the biography
            Leatherman: The Legend of Chuck Renslow, page 36.

                   I was living in San Francisco, and I was in [traveled to] Chicago
               that year for the IML Contest because I was working for Drummer
               at the time. Our contestant was Luke Daniel. I didn’t think he’d
               have a chance in hell of winning, because there was some tension
               at the time between John Embry and Chuck [Renslow]. I don’t
               know what it was about or even if it was legitimate. I think it was
               a bigger deal to John than to Chuck.....Well, Luke ended up win-
               ning, and I was representing Drummer...and suddenly had to do
               all these things. through on the phone to Embry, who was
               [at his summer home] in the Russian River area, to tell him our
               contestant had won.

              ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—posted 03-16-2017
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