Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Etienne (aka Domingo Stephen Orejudos)

Leather-culture illustrator and painter

Chicago native Domingo Stephen Orejudos (1933-1991) was a principal dancer with the Illinois Ballet Company, a dance instructor, choreographer and bodybuilder who led a double life as Etienne*, creator of all-male erotic illustrations, many of them published by his partner Chuck Renslow. Orejudos was too short and muscular to continue a career in ballet, so he turned to a second career as an artist whose works depicted graphic sexual activity by butch, muscular gay men.

Many of his erotic drawings graced the pages of the leather culture magazine, Drummer, and the male physique magazine, Tomorrow’s Man. Another pseudonym often used by Orejudos was “Stephen.

He was still in high school when his first erotic drawings were published. Orejudos was known to friends as Dom, and along with Renslow, his partner from 1950-1991, established Chicago’s gay leather scene. Renslow ran a Chicago-based beefcake photo physique mail order business known as Kris Studio (1950-1979); he also published the male physique magazine, Tomorrow’s Man, and produced bodybuilding competitions. For a long time the two lived in a back room of a Chicago gym owned by Renslow.

In 1958 the couple founded Chicago’s first (and legendary) gay leather bar, Gold Coast, and Orejudos provided erotic murals for the interior. They ventured into gay bath-house territory with Man’s Country Baths, and they founded the International Mr. Leather competition.

Dom was a brilliant illustrator of the gay leather underground, often compared to Tom of Finland, who became a good friend. Dom’s drawings and illustrated books are today highly collectible. Dom died of AIDS related causes in 1991.

*Etienne is French for Stephen, Dom’s middle name; curiously, he did not use the requisite French accent on the initial “E” - Étienne. He used the pseudonym “Stephen” for his illustrated story books (basically gay comic books with a rough sex theme, as in the example above), “Dom” for his more serious oils, and “Etienne” for nearly everything else.

Oil painting by Etienne now on display at the Leather Archives & Museum in Chicago.

This mural was displayed at the Gold Coast at 2265 N. Lincoln Ave, Chicago. The murals in the first Gold Coast were actually painted on the walls of the bar, which opened in 1958, making Chicago the first city in the country to have a leather bar. When Chuck Renslow and Dom (Etienne) lost their lease, they had to remove the murals with paint remover or by painting over them. Some fine pieces were thus lost forever. When the Gold Coast moved, Chuck and Dom decided to paint the murals on 4'x8' panels, so if they ever had to move the bar again, they could save the artworks. This was fortunate, because the Gold Coast operated at five locations before closing in 1988.


  1. Etienne's art for the Gold Coast and for the Man's Country Bath house in Chicago always made me hard! Thanks for this page!

    1. Aaron. Psyberyogi@aol.comAugust 10, 2016 at 5:02 AM

      Same for me,too. I just want to see more are.

  2. Accents are not placed above upper-case (capitals) letters in the French language. They are only used in lower case letters. There should not be an acute accent above the E of Etienne.

    1. From your blogger: During the age of linotype type setting, accents were not placed above capital letters in French because of the limitations of the machine. The modern French typewriter/keyboard does not accommodate diacritical marks above capital letters (except in Quebec, Canada). With the age of computer keyboards, accents above capital letters can now (and should be) used, because they are available. French letter writers from the 19th century used accents above capitals in their handwriting. Besides, sometimes eliminating an accent can change the meaning of a French word. Look it up.

  3. I'm making a comic book about 1963 Civil rights and including Etienne in it!