When the McBride family got cable television and a Betamax VCR in the 1980s, no one could have known that in those investments Jim, who was a student at Oak Park and River Forest High School, would find the seeds for a multi-million-dollar company.
McBride built his business not on acting skills or media technology savvy, but on the bared breasts and buttocks of female celebrities.
"It was a momentous intersection of opportunity, technology, and youthful Skin-thusiasm," McBride said. "I began taping all the R-rated movies with female celebrity nudity I could."
Jim McBride is Mr. Skin, owner and operator of www.mrskin.com, what he calls the best-supplied, most-visited and "dare I say the best" web site for female nudity on the Internet with four million visitors each month. Mr. Skin's Skincyclopedia: The A-to-Z Guide to Finding Your Favorite Actresses Naked, published Jan. 1, is ranked 734 on Amazon.com's best-seller list.
"I definitely realize I have the greatest job in the world," McBride said.
The company running the show is SK Intertainment Inc., started in 1999 after one of Mr. Skin's regular appearances on the Steve Dahl radio show to talk about which films female celebrities could be seen naked.
Web techies Jim Lillig and Hank Butler, who worked in Oak Park with a company called Soft Sell, heard the show and contacted McBride in February 1999 to put his nudity knowledge into a web site format.
By August they'd launched mrskin.com, operating the web site out of an office on North Avenue, then at their office 221 Lake St., across the parking lot from Dominick's.
Never knew the biggest female nudity web site was operated out of Oak Park? That's not surprising, McBride said. He and his partners didn't exactly become members of the Chamber of Commerce.
"We keep a low profile," McBride said. "We started here because this is where I grew up and I'm comfortable with the area."
McBride played on the state champion 1981 OPRF baseball team, then got a baseball scholarship to St. Xavier University before transferring to and graduating from Indiana University.
On the company web site, Mr. Skin boasts, "I've become known as the world's leading expert on celebrity nudity in film, the idiot savant of celeb skin. Boy, are my parents proud."
But it's not exactly a family secret. He counts among his 34 "skinployees" his younger sister, his mom has served occasionally as a "skintern," and "my dad enjoys the web site."
Mr. Skin defends his web site by pointing out that it's made up not only of alluring pictures, but "well-written" bios of celebrities, movie reviews and other celebrity insight.
He's taken very little flak about his site from the approximately 9,200 actresses appearing on it. McBride says that's because "we're very positive about the way we review and rate" on the site, and because no paparazzi pictures are posted.
"We are chronicling and celebrating female nudity in movies that actresses willingly performed in," McBride said.
Movie companies now send him advance "screener" copies of movies so he can be up on the latest celluloid skin.
McBride said finding skin in flicks became harder once the PG-13 rating came into use. Those films have more blood and gore, "but if a single breast is shown, it gets an R rating," he said.
"It's a shame because it should be reversed," McBride said.
McBride wouldn't disclose annual revenues for SK Intertainment, Inc., but described it as a "multi-million-dollar" company that he is the "major" owner of.
SK Intertainment, Inc. moved to larger offices in the Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago in April 2004, in part for more space, but also because most of its employees live in the city.
McBride chuckled at the suggestion that perhaps one day he might be in line for OPRF's Tradition of Excellence award.
"Yeah, Ray Kroc, Ernest Hemingway and Mr. Skin."