There are a lot of things you could say about the second edition Mr Skin’s Skincyclopedia, a spin-off tome from the Mr. Skin website which catalogs big-screen female nudity. You could say, for example, that the book treats women like pieces of meat. Or you could say that it appears to have been penned by an overexcited 13-year-old boy who thinks the female chest area is both the most exciting, and the most hilarious, thing on the face of the planet. Thus, the entry on Nancy “Bart Simpson” Cartwright’s semi-nude appearance in the 1985 movie Flesh+Blood runs, “Ay caramba, it’s Bart Simpson’s have-a-cow udders!” Yep, we’re not exactly talking Gore Vidal here. Then again, the great man of letters did pen the original script for the notorious 1979 soft porn extravaganza Caligula in which, according to the Skincyclopedia, Helen Mirren reveals both her breasts and her nether regions in the same shot (though “nether regions” is not the book’s preferred nomenclature).
But the one thing you do have to admit about the Skincyclopedia is that it is thorough. Shannon Tweed, for example, may not be the brightest star in the Hollywood firmament. That hasn’t stopped “Mr. Skin” from detailing her extremely long history of flashed flesh in such projects as 1989’s Lethal Woman (“Breasts”), 1993’s Indecent Behavior (“Breasts, Buns”), and 1998’s non-Oscar-laden Shadow Warriors II: Hunt for the Death Merchant (“Breasts”). Moreover, while you can call the book sexist, you’d have a harder job criticizing it for ageism. True, the cover may scream “Younger, hotter and with over 350 new actresses,” but space is made for an entry on Jessica Tandy who, at the age of 85, appeared in 1994’s Camilla and displayed “tons of a– and a hint of breast as (she) goes for a naked swim with Bridget Fonda. It looks like she’s already been in the water for quite a while…”
Alas, Tandy died shortly after making Camilla and thus never saw her entry, jammed between Patricia Tallman (whose “SKIN-fining Moment” comes 46 minutes into 1981’s Knightriders, when she “shows her boobs from the semi-safety of the trees”) and Wei Tang (who, an hour and 32 minutes into 2007’s Lust, Caution “goes all the Wei with a guy in bed and gives us amazing, clear, well-lit looks at her frontal flesh! A skinstant classic!”).
Perhaps that’s just as well.