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Man's Country: More Than a Bathouse: More

Man's Country: More Than a Bathouse: More

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By Owen Keehnen

More Than a Bathhouse

When Chuck Renslow opened Man's Country in 1973, he wanted it to be someplace special-and he succeeded. The bathhouse was a part of Chicago gay life for 45 years-serving a number of changing roles, supporting the larger community, and spawning countless memories.

Rudolph Nureyev ran naked down the halls shouting, "Who wants to swing on a star?" Puppeteer Wayland Flowers held court in the TV lounge in nothing but a towel with his puppet, Madame, on his hand. Generations of gay men explored their sexuality in this "oasis of pleasure" with amenities that included a snack bar, a retail store, a wet area and whirlpool, an orgy room, a gym, specialty rooms, a rooftop deck and garden, and the largest steam room in the Midwest.

The Music Hall stage at Man's Country was a venue for such talents as Divine, the Village People, Judy Tenuta, Charles Pierce, and Rusty Warren. When there wasn't a show, there was dancing. Some men checked in to Man's Country for six hours, and others came for the weekend. Man's Country was a place to let your freak flag fly.

When the iconic bathhouse fell to the wrecking ball in 2018, the Man's Country story came to an end, but not the legend. The stories and the memories will endure. Chuck Renslow always said he wanted Man's Country to be more than a bathhouse, and it was much more.

With chapters on the techno-dance club BISTRO TOO & the leather bar, the CHICAGO EAGLE.

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