It’s rare when you hear of an entrepreneur who turned their hobby into a business and brand that nearly every adult male has heard of.
But that’s just what Jim “Mr. Skin” McBride did 17 years ago when he launched MrSkin.com and became the foremost authority on naked mainstream celebrities.
We’ve seen our biggest growth in the past four to five years due to some key relationships which have proven to be mutually beneficial.
Through the years, besides being chief spokesman for the Mr. Skin brand, he’s developed and acquired numerous other websites that have become leaders in their own spaces, including MrMan.com, NakedNews.com, Fleshbot.com and numerous others.
But to date MrSkin.com continues to be the backbone of SKINtertainment’s network of sites, attracting more than 10 million unique visitors every month who come to experience the site’s vast library of sexy celebrity content.
XBIZ recently checked in with McBride to find out about his “SKINpire” and where it’s future is headed in this Q&A interview.
XBIZ: When you created MrSkin.com, did you ever think that you’d be creating, acquiring and running so many diverse web properties? Was that the plan?
McBride: Well in 1999 when I launched MrSkin.com I can’t really say I had a plan other than to make a little extra money. Seventeen years later this thing has grown frankly through a combination of hard work, fortunate hires and plain dumb luck.
How did I know I would ever be a guest on “The Howard Stern Show” over 25 times, or my website would be featured in the blockbuster movie “Knocked Up?” Or I would get to host TV shows on cable? I could go on and on about these lucky breaks. But when opportunities arise you still have to come through. Howard Stern wouldn’t have had me on twice if I bombed during my first appearance. So obviously it’s not all luck.
When I look around the office today at my 45 employees I see a group as passionate about all of our products as I was the day I started Mr. Skin. Plus, when you have a talented team who are dedicated, organized, and enjoy their work it’s a lot easier to make the decision to take on more sites and expand your empire or “SKINpire” as we call it. So no — that wasn’t the plan when I started!
XBIZ: After 17 years, what part of running the business excites you the most?
McBride: Two things. First — I love seeing people rise up through the ranks of the company. Sam Rakowski started out 15 years ago in our content department grabbing pics and clips for the website. Now he is the president of the company.
We have a number of others who started in entry-level positions and now have important management roles in our company. It’s so cool to be able to really reward people for hard work. Those things really make me feel good. Second — it’s like a big family at our office.
For example, every Christmas we do a company wide secret Santa and I’m always amazed how well our employees know each other and how much thought they put into each other’s gifts. It’s a riot to watch everyone open his or her gifts before our holiday dinner. Only a company who has a team that really cares about each other could have so much fun.
XBIZ: While I’m sure your heart beats loudest with MrSkin.com, tell us about your other favorite SKINtertainment web properties and why?
McBride: I’m really proud of all of our sites, but MrMan.com is one I’m especially proud of. I absolutely refused to do a nude-dude site for 13 years — mostly because I didn’t want to have to memorize all the guy nude scenes too, but finally our team convinced me in 2013. I couldn’t be happier with how the site is doing. We’ve had four straight years of stiff growth (no pun intended) and if you’re into male celeb nudity in movies or TV there is no better site out there.
XBIZ: Let’s hear about the Mr. Skin podcast. How did this come about? Tell us all about it.
McBride: MrSkin.com has always been on the cutting edge of technology. Even all the way back when I started in 1999, no other site was doing what Mr. Skin did in terms of presentation of pics and videos, and ease of use. So I’m always on the lookout for what the latest leap forward is in tech.
We also have always stayed out at the forefront of culture. In addition, radio has been essential in building MrSkin.com from Day 1.
The intersection of those elements, right now, all kind of adds up to podcasting.
I don’t listen to a ton of podcasts, but certain ones I never miss. I really love “Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast,” for example, and I loved being a guest on there. That show helped me hear the potential to reach an interested audience in a new way — it’s like, “Get to know the REAL Mr. Skin” — as well as to attract fresh interest just by being part of the podcast revolution.
With that in mind, I wanted to make sure that we did the Mr. Skin podcast right, so I took the time to assemble the proper team and we hit the ground running. Jimmy Failla is a great standup comic in New York who I knew did a hilarious radio show, and Andrea Lowell is a longtime friend and associate from Playboy Radio.
XBIZ: Later this month, on Showtime, you will be hosting a show called, “X-rated: The Greatest Adult Stars of All Time.” What’s the feature all about?
McBride: Plausible Films did a documentary called “X Rated: The Greatest Adult Movies of All Time” on Showtime in 2015 and as you can imagine it did pretty well. I was honored when they asked me host the much skinticipated follow-up, “X Rated: The Greatest Adult Stars of All Time.” The show will be an homage to the greatest male and female adult stars from the 1970s through the 2010s. It will debut on Showtime Oct. 28.
XBIZ: Does SKINtertainment have any plans on creating or acquiring any additional web properties?
McBride: We absolutely plan to continue to grow the Man World Media Network both through acquisitions and internal development. Whether it’s creating or acquiring new sites; however, we want to be careful to only add quality sites that are a fit for our network. We just launched QuickJabs.com which is a hub for quick hits of the most interesting news and viral content from around the web each day. We also have plans to release an MMA/combat sports related blog in the near future and have a few potential acquisition targets in mind.
XBIZ: Where do you see growth areas for adult entertainment brands?
McBride: I think a lot of companies are still leaving money on the table by not engaging in more strategic partnerships with other adult brands. We don’t see other adult brands as competition. If we like another product, we know that our user probably will as well. Our partners feel the same way about Mr. Skin and our other membership sites, which is why our white labels have been so successful. We’ve seen our biggest growth in the past four to five years due to some key relationships which have proven to be mutually beneficial. Often these deals require significant development resources which can be a hurdle for some companies. Luckily we have a talented team and have remained nimble enough to jump on opportunities quickly when they arise.
XBIZ: How important has social media become to market your sites, projects?
McBride: It has become vital. It’s no secret that the leading social platforms are where the masses are these days so if you want to remain relevant you must have a social media strategy. There are obviously limitations to what an adult website can do on Facebook and other key social hubs. This is a big reason why we decided to build out the Man World Media Network of “social friendly” websites. Our goal is to create compelling, sharable content that will ultimately drive traffic back to our sites and expand our offerings for brand advertisers.
XBIZ: What’s a typical workday like in the Skindy City?
McBride: Our people definitely work hard, but it’s a fun environment. Visitors are surprised how quiet the place can be — but if you’ve got to look at celebrity nudity all day you’d be concentrating on your work too. We have a kegerator and a ping pong/pool table so (especially our younger employees) like to stay at the office pretty late.
XBIZ: When not thinking about the biz, what do you like to do?
McBride: Typical suburban dad family stuff. I really enjoy spending time with my family. I love watching my son play baseball or my girls perform in plays or dance shows. My job is kind of a party so I don’t need to get too crazy when I’m not at work.