How did this all get started?
A part of it is that we saw this thing happening. In retrospect, we've been calling it social erotica. The Internet is fragmenting all kinds of things, including erotica. It's blurring the boundaries between subject and shooter. It's no longer just men taking pictures of women to sell to other men. People are taking pictures of themselves to post on their Tumblrs. We thought that was really interesting, and there are some really good sites that have tapped into that like Synthetic Pubes and Me and My Place.
Our take was they are really good at curating and collecting pictures of erotica, but they don't really dig deeper than that. What we wanted to do was create a travel guide but through the lens of skinny dipping. Where are these people? What are their stories?
Were the photographers excited when you came to them? It's always hard to pitch people an idea that doesn't exist yet.
Yeah, that's a good point. They were super exited when they saw the product, and a lot of the contributors helped push the story. Some of them do have Internet presences, so that really helped. Initially, they were sort of ambivalent, but they agreed. We had to get contracts from anyone who appeared. One of them, the photo that started the whole thing, we had to communicate the entire time with her in Catalan because she didn't speak English or Spanish. We really wanted her photo. She has this beautiful photo set up on Flickr, and that's what really got us thinking about place. It wasn't so much like "I'm looking at these photos and I want to fuck her," it's like "I want to be there," which is a different thing. We were really glad to have her on board.
The Skinny Dipping Report is surprisingly servicey.
Exactly. That's what we're hoping for. The point is not that you're going to pack your bags and go to Belarus. The reason that we look at all of these things is that we get vicarious pleasure from someone else. The Skinny Dipping Report is about experiencing place through something that is a little bit more tactile. Going swimming in a body of water is a pretty good way to experience that place, and it is a cultural universal. Anywhere there is a body of water, skinny dipping can happen. We like the idea that when people review food, they talk about everything but the food. Food is obviously a part of it, but it's another lens through which you can look at culture and place. Food is very taste-centric, but what happens when you look through some of the other senses? It was sort of an experiment. Can we become the experts? It says somewhere on the website that we're the world's leading authority on swimming naked and doing it well. Which is ridiculous, but hey, if no one else is, why not us?