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January 19, 2016

Mr. Skin Entertains in Keynote Address at Internext

LAS VEGAS—In a heartfelt and funny keynote address Monday evening at Internext, Jim McBride shared his unexpected story of how he turned his teenage hobby into a digital media empire. Known worldwide as Mr. Skin, the Chicago native McBride suggested “no one has had more fun going to work than I have” as he took the stage.  No argument here. The undisputed king of celebrity nudity entertained a full house at the Vinyl Nightclub inside the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino with a vivid recollection of how he went from being a horny teenager to a nationally known guru of T&A. Wearing a sharp black suit and sipping from a cup of water in the darkened room, the charismatic McBride pointed to three defining moments on his career path—or as he likes to call them, “Skinfining” moments—in which he “rose to the occasion” and “stuck the landing.” He recounted how he began recording nude scenes from late-night cable channels such as HBO, Cinemax and Showtime on a Betamax just for the thrill of it, and soon he accumulated boxes of five-hour tapes. But McBride didn’t just press record during the early years. He approached what he was doing with surgical precision. With careful attention to detail, he included hand-written notes with each tape about “who was naked, the body parts and how far into the movie.” “Maybe the Smithsonian would want those some day,” he joked. “You’ve heard of the term Rhodes Scholar. They used to call me a Loads Scholar.” He said iconic 1980s TV characters such as Wonder Woman (Lynda Carter), Daisy Duke (Catherine Bach on Dukes of Hazzard) and Marcia Brady (Maureen McCormick on the Brady Bunch)—“The Holy Grail”—were among the women he was excited to find partially nude in various B-movies. McBride called the period between 1980-85 the “Golden Age of teen sex comedies" as it produced cult classics such as Porky’s, a movie that featured what he considers “the greatest shower scene in the history of cinema.” With no pretension and the tone of a guy swapping stories at the local watering hole, he confessed to watching the 1983 sex comedy My Tutor “at least 50 times” to see the gorgeous Caren Kaye in various states of nakedness. He also declared “the greatest nude scene in history of movies” involved Phoebe Cates stepping out of the swimming pool and shedding her bikini top in slow motion during the 1982 film Fast Times at Ridgemont High. But McBride joked that his hobby wasn’t helping him move out of his parent’s basement. He landed a day job working as a runner and then a clerk at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. About six years after he started at the Merc he was out on a Tuesday night with friends at Charlie’s Ale House in Lincoln Park and doing what he does best—talking celebrity nudity—when a local radio host named Harry Teinowitz asked him if he’d be interested in coming on his show. “I’d never been on a radio show,” McBride said. “I’d never even called into a radio show.” McBride decided to do it, but he didn’t want to use his real name because he didn’t want his parents finding out about his perverted passion. Teinowitz first suggested he call himself “Mr. Naked” but that was “too creepy,” McBride said. “The second name he said was Mr. Skin.” He took a cab on his lunch break to do Teinowitz's radio show, nailed it and got invited back. But McBride didn’t think it was going much further, and that he was just enjoying his “15 minutes of fame.”  After becoming a regular for Teinowitz, McBride moved onto guest appearances on some bigger radio shows and soon became a local celebrity in Chicago. “But I had nothing to promote. I had nothing to sell,” he said. Then in the summer of 1998, after being approached at celebrity softball game he was umpiring to start a Mr. Skin website, McBride raised $70,000 with two $35,000 loans and hired a web developer. MrSkin.com went live on Aug. 10, 1999, “at 4:45 p.m.” “By 4:50 p.m I had my first signup for $4.95 for three days access. It was a guy from Cincinnati,” McBride recalled. But the first six months were tough. Then everything changed on March 23, 2000, when McBride was asked to call in to the Howard Stern Show. Combating his nerves, he came through in the clutch once again on Stern’s show, where he promoted his first annual Anatomy Awards. MrSkin.com got 1,000 joins that day, and since then he’s been invited back on the Stern show about 30 times. With the site now already booming, McBride said another huge moment came Feb. 1, 2004, when Janet Jackson had her notorious “wardrobe malfunction” at halftime of Superbowl XXXVIII in Houston, where her bare breast fell out of her bra on national TV. McBride quickly added the clip to his site and on Feb. 2, 2004, MrSkin.com enjoyed its best signup day ever. “We killed it that day. This was before Youtube, TMZ and Facebook,” McBride noted.  Perhaps the moment that cemented him in pop culture history came in the summer of 2006, when he was approached by the attorney for Paramount Pictures who told him the director of The 40-Year-Old-Virgin wanted to use his website in his next movie, Knocked Up. That product placement turned into a full scene in Knocked Up, which did $250 million at the box office in summer of 2007 and has since been shown at least 5,000 times on various cable networks worldwide.  Mr. Skin is now entering its 17th year and McBride said he is more excited than ever about the future. This Monday he and his staff of 40 at SK Intertainment will launch a complete redesign of the site. It’s become a family business—his sister has headed the HR department for 13 years and even his mom works out of her home in Arizona doing data entry.  “You haven’t lived until your 77-year-old mother asks you ’is this bush or a shadow?’” McBride said. "True story." McBride thanked his team, noting SK Intertainment president Sam Rakowski came up through ranks after starting in the content department. And he proudly revealed his company enjoyed its best year ever in 2015. “When you are No. 1 in your field people are willing to pay for it,” McBride said. He said he’ll continue to build MrSkin.com, acquire complementary brands and chronicle every nude scene in the history of film and TV. “There are no bad nude scenes,” McBride told the audience. “We celebrate nudity in film.”

 
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