Rolling Stone Uncloaks Mr. Skin

Lila Gray

CHICAGO — Rolling Stone uncloaked Jim McBride’s Mr. Skin website in a piece published today about the empire built, literally, on the naked backs (and fronts) of celebs.

Not Safe for Work: How Hollywood Helped Mr. Skin Become a Porn Empire” traces the site back to its humble beginnings in 1999 to its current mainstream Hollywood acceptance under what founder McBride calls the “Golden Age of celebrity nudity.”

An unintentional nod to this truth, the most searched celeb on Mr. Skin, Scarlett Johansson, recently stripped bare in the bizarre sci-fi art haus flick, “Under the Skin” — in multiples scenes, after never appearing publicly nude.      

McBride told Rolling Stone that more than 75 studios, including major shakers like Universal and Fox, send him screeners and sometimes even exclusive clips of unreleased scenes-in-the-buff. While no studio had the gall to provide Rolling Stone with a comment, McBride believes that he is being courted for the perceived influence and prestige of his site.

"If we put, 'Hey, check out Paz de la Huerta and Katrina Bowden naked in ‘Nurse 3D,' on our website, that's incredible publicity for their movie with the number of people we get to the site," McBride said. "We don't care if a movie is good or bad; we just care that an actress got naked and we celebrate that. So we have a really great platform for studios and PR companies to promote these films that have nudity."

Currently celebrating its 15th anniversary, Mr. Skin now employs 40 people, eight of whom browse through the source material to identify and parse nude scenes into handy categories like “breast,” “bush” and “butt.” McBride’s data entry clerk, or “skintern,” also happens to be his mother.  

"Until you get an email from your mom that says, 'Hey, is that bush or a shadow in that picture?' you have not lived,” McBride said.

Repping the slogan “Fast-Forwarding to the Good Parts,” Mr. Skin features a growing list of 23,000 female celebs that have gone au natural for the camera, as well as a rating of the quality of theirs scenes — a jump from the list of 1,000 he started with 1999. For a fee, viewers get access to the nude photos and clips in question. By functioning as a review site, McBride says he avoids copyright entanglements and has never yet been sued.

"We're actually living in the Golden Age of celebrity nudity," McBride told Rolling Stone. "There are so many opportunities for actresses to do nude scenes, way more than there were in the 70s, 80s or 90s."

And the increased opportunity extends to men as well. Acknowledging this and hedging on the success of Mr. Skin, McBride last year launched Mr. Man, a site that celebrates male celeb nudity. The current featured playlist on Mr. Man is "Famous Fellas With Foreskins." 

"Everyone has a friend that is great at baseball trivia and a friend that knows all the Civil War battles or something," McBride said about his encyclopedic knowledge of the nude. "I just happened to have this knowledge. Thank God there was a way to monetize it, because it would have been kind of weird if I was sitting here knowing all this stuff and not having an outlet for it."

To read the article in full on Rolling Stone, click here.