Picture the scene: It’s 1999 and 13-year-old me sits alone in his room adorned with posters and totally untidy. Spotty, virginal, awkward… nothing ever changes, right? As much as I wanted to see naked women in the flesh, I was more than aware that my chances in reality would be somewhat limited at that age unless I reverted to voyeurism or met a really fucked-up woman. So I connect to the information superhighway – as some people still called it back then – with my 56k dial-up modem huffing and puffing like an asthmatic wolf, the odd screech ringing out as if said wolf had caught its nuts in a trap.
A quick browse – no Google remember – and eventually my window alights upon the digital doorstep of the one and only Mr. Skin. Not only is it premium quality nudity… it’s the fleshy bits of people I’ve seen on TV! In a world where I’d experienced online hardcore porn before finding Mr. Skin, his site radiated a better class and quality than its no-holds-barred contemporaries. Sure enough I eagerly signed up to the newsletter… the rest, as they say, is indeed history. Besides, what’s not to love about seeing the beautiful people of Hollywood all aflutter and exposed. In an age where celebrity is omnipresent and they beg and plead for us to buy their latest scheme, it’s like taking something back. A fair trade for sure.
The vast majority of internet smut browsers – from amateurs to connoisseurs – will be aware of Mr. Skin. They will have browsed the site, signed up to the newsletter as I did and know of his influence both online or off. Regular appearances alongside Howard Stern on the radio have helped push Mr. Skin out from the back seat of theater and into the projection room.
Fast forward to 2015 and Mr Skin has grown into an empire. But what do we really know about Mr. Skin – aka Jim McBride – for all of the hard work he’s put in? I spoke with the man himself to get the lowdown on an already stellar careers that promises so much more.
Tell us a little about how Mr Skin came into being. Of all the nude scenes you will have witnessed prior to the site’s establishment was there a particular scene/actress that made you think “right, now it’s time”?
In the early 70s I remember seeing a movie with Valerie Perrine called Steambath on PBS and she showed her butt and some side boob in a shower scene. I was just blown away that this was on regular television. As far as focusing on celebrities rather than just nude women in general, I saw the 1976 drive-in classic Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw in the early 80s and Wonder Woman herself – Lynda Carter – was nude in that movie. I remember thinking “What other stars have been naked… ”. Soon after, Maureen McCormick – the original Marcia Brady – showed her right breast in a movie called Texas Lightning. After that I sort of began this quest to find every celebrity nude scene I could get my hands on.
Who – if anyone – would you consider to be your idols/mentors? Do you see Mr Skin as a conduit for continuing a tradition of titillation via a glimpse of flesh and allowing the imagination to do the rest?
There were three huge influences on me. The first being Playboy’s Sex in Cinema feature in the 70s. That was a big formative influence on me. Then in the 80s, this guy named Craig Hosoda put out a book called the Bare Facts Video Guide which was basically a listing of the exact time in a movie when a celebrity got nude. That was obviously instrumental, because it allowed me to skip right to the scenes I was most interested in, but I remember wanting a little bit more than just data. It was great but absent of any sort of commentary which made the nudity feel very clinical in a way. The biggest influence by far though was Celebrity Sleuth. He put out close to 200 issues between 1985 and 2011 and he was just this incredible collector of celebrity paraphernalia and nude celebrity memorabilia. Plus, most of Sleuth’s revelations were ONE OF A KIND… often not known to exist… and visible nowhere else. It was mind blowing to me that this guy had actually found a way to turn this into a successful career.
How does it feel being responsible for many people’s first real glimpse of celebrity/famous flesh? Are you the recipient of many well wishes? Are you stopped in the street by guys eager to shake the hand of Mr Skin?
Obviously it’s very cool to have the number one destination for female celebrity movie and TV nudity on the internet, it’s a great feeling. I’m incredibly proud of that accomplishment. As far as being recognized, my appearances are mostly on the radio and internet, which allows me quite a bit of anonymity when I’m out in public. I’m able to lead a normal life, which is pretty much the best possible thing you can say when you’ve attained a certain degree of success.
From your first registered user within five minutes of going online to being namechecked in a Hollywood film. Did you ever expect both the longevity and fame that Mr Skin has granted you?
Absolutely not. I mean, how could I have known when I started this site with only one tech guy back in 1999? My thought in those days was that if I could do this part-time for extra money that would be my measure of success. I never dreamed that 16 years later I would have 40+ employees, nine million unique visitors a month, and what’s more, having the best year in the company’s history in 2014.
You have long been a regular on Howard Stern’s radio show. How is your relationship with him?
My relationship with Howard is great. He truly couldn’t be more supportive of me and the site. Every time I’m in studio with him he just gushes over the site and his endorsement goes a long way. The exposure that I’ve gotten from my appearances on his show is far and away the biggest reason for my success. I can’t tell you how many people have come up to me over the last 16 years and told me how much they enjoy my segments on Howard’s show. It’s great going to see him, and it’s also great that everyone on his show is incredibly nice and they’re big fans of the site.
Is there anybody you haven’t featured yet that you are very keen to?
The biggest “get” for me personally would be Christina Hendricks from Mad Men. She’s right there at the top of my most wanted list. In the history of film, however, I am still bummed out that Raquel Welch never did a nude scene, and likely never will. As far as the users who come to the site, their number one has to be Jennifer Love Hewitt. She’s never done a nude scene, yet she’s always in the Top 10 “Most Searched” celebrities.
Is there ONE particular favourite clip/photo that you are most proud of?
One of our earliest discoveries was the brief breast exposure by Julia Roberts at the one hour, thirty-five minute mark in Pretty Woman. Very few who saw that movie at the time realized that you could see her breast through the slatted headboard on the bed. That was when Julia was at the absolute peak of her career, so that one really stands out. We’ve had hundreds of other discoveries like that over the years, and since the advent of Blu-ray and high definition, we’ve gotten a whole new perspective on some classic nude scenes, most notably Sharon Stone’s infamous leg crossing in Basic Instinct!
In a world where the vast majority of sexual urges can be satisfied via the internet, what is it that keeps people coming back to Mr Skin after all these years? Is it difficult to stay ‘relevant’ in a market that exists to push boundaries?
What has always kept people coming back is the same thing that will continue to keep them coming back: familiarity. The internet, television, movies and every other form of media today keeps celebrities in our minds, making our connection to them stronger than ever. That also makes the pull to see them nude very strong. The example I love to use is that if you have the choice between seeing a completely anonymous attractive woman nude or seeing an equally attractive women you see every day at the coffee shop nude, you’ll pick the girl in the coffee shop every single time. So familiarity breeds that kind of desire, and adds to the allure of celebrity nudity. As to what keeps us relevant, take everything I just said and apply it to the fact that there are new movies, new shows, and new stars all the time. The very nature of celebrity ensures that there will be new faces all the time, and as we become familiar with them, the whole cycle starts all over again. It’s a beautiful, symbiotic circle and one that keeps Mr. Skin relevant because of how good we are at chronicling all of those new stars and new content.
What does the future hold for Mr Skin? Will you stay the course you’re on now – and have been on for nearly two decades – or are there any bold/radical changes ahead? Can Mr Skin become a larger figure than he already is?
Over the past few years we’ve added Mr. Man – the male celebrity counterpart to Mr. Skin – as well as Naked News, Fleshbot and a growing network of both adult and SFW blogs. I am also VERY excited about partnering with my good friend Celebrity Sleuth to launch a celebrity pay site worthy of his incredible collection. Sleuth and I have been talking about that website for 10 years and it is FINALLY due for launch later this year. It’s going to blow people away. Plus, we have a few other significant acquisitions in the works. We’ll never lose sight of the fact that our foundation is built on celebrity nudity, but I think you’ll also see us leverage our key strengths (technology, marketing, writing, and pop culture expertise) and infrastructure to expand our borders beyond celebrity nude scenes from film and television.