INTERNATIONAL and HISTORIC HOMOEROTIC HALL of FAME NOMINEE:
The next artist be be honored with a gallery within the HeroesNHunks Homoerotic Hall of Fame (as a noteworthy trailblazing international artist who had a major contribution to the advancement of homoerotic art) is… Etienne.
There are a handful of artists in the homoerotic genre that can truly be considered pioneers. One such trailblazer is Dom "Etienne" Orejudos, born on July 1st, 1933 in n Chicago IL. Many do not know that the internationally known erotic artist known as Etienne (A.K.A. "Stephen" his middle name and the English translation of his French pseudonym) danced with and was the Illinois Ballet Company’s resident choreographer for 13 years, choreographing over 26 ballets, including The Tin Soldier, The Firebird and Metamorphosis of the Owls. The recipient of three National Endowment for the Arts grands and three Emmy Awards, Dom Orejudos’ critically acclaimed choreography talents were sought for by ballet companies around the country.
A gymnast at McKinly High School, in his home town of Chicago, Etienne received a scholarship to the Ellis-DuBoulay School of Ballet and from there continued on to the Illinois Ballet Company. While still in High School, Dom was publishing his erotic works under the exotic sounding name of "Etienne" in pre-Stonewall gay “physique” magazines such as Tomorrow’s Man, Adonis, Physique Pictorial and The Young Physique.
He gradually refined a distinction in artistic names based on the medium he was working in. He kept Dom for his more ambitious oils, acrylics and pencil works (giving homage mythical men of might and brawn. Sometimes these large works show strong relationships to classical paintings of the past although he often interchanged the Greek and Roman gods with his leather-clad tough boys and waterfront thugs) and used Stephen for his cartoon-style pen & ink works.
While only 16 or 17, Dom met his future partner in 20 year old Chuck Renslow (Photographer and founder of physique pictorial publisher Kris Studios in the 50s). Chuck approached Dom and high school buddy Jim Klaja at the "Oak Street Beach" to ask him to pose for photographs. Chuck was immediately smitten with the young artist and helped and encouraged Dom to become a published artist. In 1963, when Renslow founded the physique magazine Mars, Etienne was a regular contributor. The two shared a relationship that lasted for over 40 years, partnering together for a number of ventures including International Mr. Leather, the Gold Coast Bar, Man’s Country, Zolar, Pyramid and Center Stage.
Etienne was a big fan of the work of Tom of Finland and vice versa. The two were introduced by mutual friend Durk Dehner (President of the Tom of Finland Foundation) who had this to say about the Etienne…
Etienne will go own in homoerotic history as being the quintessential humorist. His typical formats have one or more characters as the brunt of the joke, many times under severe physical torment, all for the sexual gratification of another of his ruffians. His relaxed mastery of figurative cartoon illustration, along with a superb ability for gutter dialogue, produced the kind of stories that we were always wishing for when reading Flash Gordon and Spider Man, but never got until Etienne/Stephen entered our lives.
Under the name of Stephen, Dom published story booklets filled with beautiful masculine studs (military men, ranch hands and other "tough guy bad boys from the wrong side of the tracks") in bizarre situations where the only release from the threat of death or severe sexual punishment was performing perverse, oftentimes humorous, sexual acts. "In fantasy anything is possible and nothing has consequences; for it’s just make believe." Like his friend and contemporary Tom of Finland, Dom worried that over time people might misinterpret his works. Etienne and ToF mutual friend Durk Dehner says that both artists believed "within the realm of fantasy and art there are no limits, and that is the fun of it, yet in the real world such unsafe "no-limits" scenarios are not acceptable.
Dom "Etienne" Orejudos died at the age of 58 of AIDS on Sept. 24 1991 in Boulder CO (where he had lived since 1981) and was posthumously inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 1992.
Two perviously published volumes collecting his work may available thru the tertiary links found on the Etienne page of the QueerSUPE store. I haven’t found any more recent publications, Please let me know if you have knowledge of any others.
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