Never in Mark McIntyre’s life have so many people paid attention to him in his underwear. “Certainly I’ve dreamt about it, but I never thought it would come true!”
The Toronto-based actor is becoming something of a microcelebrity on Facebook, where his twenty-five-day stint as “The Guy at Home in his Underwear” is, at day fifteen, now past forty thousand “likes.”
This PR stunt-cum–charity extravaganza is being sponsored by Nova Scotian underwear company Stanfield’s, and it involves exactly what it sounds like: a guy at home in his underwear for twenty-five days, with a webcam tracking his every lounge, lunge, and junk readjustment. For each Facebook “like” the exhibition garners, a dollar is donated to the Canadian Cancer Society. As McIntyre explains, “[Stanfield’s] wanted to do something to boost testicular cancer awareness. And, you know, it’s a good fit for them because they’ve been ‘supporting men,’ so to speak, for over 150 years.”
When the project quickly surpassed its initial goal of twenty-five thousand “likes,” the target was doubled with Stanfield’s agreeing to match each “like” dollar for dollar.
To make the event interesting for both McIntyre and his voyeurs, each day is scheduled with a series of fun (and borderline humiliating) activities, many of which viewers help select from a poll featured on the Guy at Home site. When we arrived to speak with McIntyre, clad in an electric blue pair of boxer briefs, he had just finished a guided workout routine and was preparing for a session of viewer-voted Lite Brite playing.
A map marks viewers from around the world.
McIntyre is himself a testicular cancer survivor, having been diagnosed just over two years ago while serving as a live teaching dummy for University of Toronto medical students. He still has his medical demonstration gig, despite having had his cancerous testicle replaced with a prosthetic. He claims to be a favourite among urology professors, who love seeing whether their students will be able to detect Mark’s decoy ball—though, as McIntyre is quick to point out, “they usually can’t.”
McIntyre’s experience with cancer inspired him to make a PSA for the Canadian Cancer Society, which was how he entered Stanfield’s radar for the underwear project. “They had talked to a few people who’d had testicular cancer,” McIntyre explains. “But really, when it comes down to it, I think I was the one they thought was really crazy enough to be able to pull it off.”
McIntyre, a friendly extrovert with a wash of class clown goofiness, is clearly relishing the attention he’s receiving as the underwear guy. He spends much of his day interacting with the site’s ebb and flow of visitors, and keeps a desktop volleyball mascot named Stan (“because Wilson was taken”) for company and chuckles. Stan, McIntyre notes, is a big hit among viewers.
Even for an exhibitionist, being trapped in front of a camera for nearly a month has its downsides. “The hard thing is that 99% of people are supportive, but every now and then you’ve got someone going ‘What’s up with the fat guy?’ And I’m like ‘Hey! I’m trying to raise money for cancer! I’ve got a fitness instructor, I’m working on it!’ That stuff is a little bit like, ‘Oh, how do I deal with that?’ But you just go, ‘Eh, whatever. It’s not THAT bad.'”
Photos by Andrew Louis/Torontoist.