Of all the video guides cluttering up my apartment (and by “video guides,” I’m referring to actual ink-and-paper books here, relics of the past though they may be), one of the most eye-catching is the massive Mr. Skin’s Skincyclopedia: The A-to-Z Guide to Finding Your Favorite Actresses Naked. That’s because, for one thing, it’s the size of a phone book. Also, it’s vibrantly colourful, and has a photo of Pamela Anderson’s cleavage on the spine, next to the title. It kind of stands out on a book shelf, and I keep forgetting that it’s up there, announcing my credentials as a pervert to any visitors in my home.
The point of the Skincyclopedia (and of its sister website, MrSkin.com) is to exhaustively catalogue all of the nude scenes of every actress you can think of. It’s a bit peculiar that this book even exists in the age of the Internet, which only makes it more interesting. So I thought I’d blow the dust off this sexy tome, open it to a random page, and see what’s there. Will I recognize most of the names therein, exposing myself as a pathetic, nudity-obsessed creep, or will I find myself scratching my head, exposing myself as a clueless movie noob who has no business writing a video column?
Okay, let’s do this. The Skincyclopedia falls open on pages 458-459, and I skim the entries, looking for familiar actresses. Hey look, it’s Charlotte Rampling! I get to see boobs and reaffirm my art-house cred! Mr. Skin and I both know that Charlotte sported a peek-a-boo top in the nigh-unwatchable sci-fi fiasco Zardoz (1974) and that she shot to fame in the controversial art-house hit The Night Porter (1974). The guide shows off a bit by listing the 18 films Ms. Rampling has appeared nude in prior to the book’s 2005 publication, points out her full-frontal appearances in everything from 1974’s Caravan to Vaccares to 2003’s Swimming Pool, and even cites a breasts ’n’ buns sighting on a TV show called Radetzkymarsch. Her lengthy and nudity-filled career has landed Rampling in the coveted “Hall of Fame” category in Mr. Skin’s “Skin-O-Meter,” and her defining moment in screen nudity is apparently one hour and 12 minutes into The Night Porter. Well heck, I better check this out. I pop the Night Porter DVD into my machine, speed to the 1:12 mark, and see… Dirk Bogarde chatting with an old lady. Mr. Skin, did you lead me astray?
Not to worry; before 60 seconds have elapsed, we cut to a flashback of a topless Ms. Rampling singing to a roomful of Nazis. She looks a bit scrawny and rib-cagey, and the guidebook makes no warning of the unpleasant surprise that ends the scene, but Mr. Skin’s skill with a stopwatch is vindicated. Who else is listed on this page?
I see the name Anne Ramsay, and am briefly repulsed by the thought of Danny DeVito’s terrifying mother from Throw Momma from the Train (1987) having her own Skincyclopedia entry. Then I look closer and realize that the name is spelled “Ramsay” rather than “Ramsey,” and that this entry is on the pretty actress who played Helen Hunt’s sister in Mad About You. Whew! (Neither Anne has ever done a nude scene, but the younger Anne’s body double flashed her left boob in an episode of The L Word. Wow, this book is well researched!)
The other five names on the page don’t ring any bells, but apparently Jeramie Rain gets her boobs out in the notorious horror flick Last House on the Left (1972). (Damn, I should have known that.) There’s also an entry for somebody named Anne Randall, star of something called Stacey (1973), who… wait a minute, Stacey?! The first film from the visionary tits-and-explosions director Andy Sidaris?! That flick where the star unzips her jumpsuit in her very first shot, just as the titles start?! I should definitely have known that! Another point for you, Mr. Skin.
Well shucks, I’ve already run out of space, and only looked at one page. I’m not ready to put the Skincyclopedia down just yet, so it looks like this column is going to be a two-parter. Come back next week for more of this obsessive nudity guidebooking. You know you wanna.