APP FAB: Hooking Up With SCRUFF’s Johnny Skandros

As mobile apps continue to dominate our lives, SCRUFF, the two-year-old online social-network for bears, jocks and guys next door, has just stepped up its game with a brand new iteration, SCRUFF Version 3.

We cruised co-founder Johnny Skandros and got him to unlock info on the company, its impact on gay life and where he’s taking SCRUFF next.


What made you decide to launch SCRUFF?

I thought about the kind of guys I liked and realized that most of them were scruffy. It’s a name that encompasses the bear community but can also include a diverse range of guys. My friend and co-founder Eric Silverberg and I launched it in July 2010. We have had an overwhelmingly positive reaction to the name and the brand since day one, and we recently became the top-grossing gay app in the iTunes App Store!

Why do you think it rose above so many of the other geo-locational social apps?

“Scruff” is a hot term that evokes an image that is attractive to a lot of different guys. Check out our global grid and you’ll see what we mean—lots of scruff and non-scruffy guys as well, which is great. Plus, SCRUFF continues to be one of the most feature-rich apps on the market, and we’ve become even better since the launch of SCRUFFf Version 3 this month.

Plus, we’ve had several celebrity promotions, including Babydaddy from Scissor Sisters and [UK rugby star] Ben Cohen, who both took photos in our SCRUFF t-shirt. We’ve also sponsored some of the largest gay events in the country, like Folsom Street Fair, Lazy Bear and Bearracuda.

In general, is there a kind of guy you’d see more of on SCRUFF—a certain age or type or nationality?

SCRUFF has become a very diverse community that welcomes all kinds of gay men. I frequently see guys that are no-nonsense and have profiles that are authentic. We have a lot of athletes, military guys, students, geeks, and guys next door.

What are some of the new features you’ve launched?

We’ve launched more a dozen new features with SCRUFF 3, but my favorites are the advanced search option and private albums. Our members could always search guys in other geographies, but now they can filter by attributes like name, age, relationship status and, yes, even body hair! With private albums you can easily share more photos with guys you like. A full list of features can be found at Scruffapp.com/new/

Some people say apps like SCRUFF and Grindr have utterly changed how gay men socialize—that they’ve killed nightlife, for example. Do you think that’s true?

I think gay apps have actually helped the bar scene.  SCRUFF can be a great way to advertise an event or club to a mass audience, and we see new events added to our calendar on a daily basis. Gay men still want to go out and have drinks, meet people, dance, and socialize with their friends. Neither apps nor the Internet will change that.  Our recent party at Legends Club in Manchester, England, drew more than 850 people— largest party they’ve seen in a decade.
[Ed. note: view a video of the party below]

How has SCRUFF changed since you and Eric launched it?
We’ve grown to be one of the largest gay social networks in the world, with over 2.5 million downloads spanning across 180 countries and 6 continents, and our latest numbers put us in the top 0.0001% of all apps on the iTunes App Store. SCRUFF is also the most international gay social dating service out there: Our members have helped us translate SCRUFF into 10 different languages, including French, Russian, traditional and simplified Chinese, German, Greek and even Arabic.

We also have one of the most active gay Facebook pages on the Web, with more than 150,000 subscribers across our pages, and we’ve seen our subscriber count double in the past six months. I frequently post updates about our business, events, or just gay life in general on my personal page and on our app page. I think utilizing social media to connect with our members is valuable, and Facebook has become a great way for us to connect to our members and let them see a personal side of SCRUFF.

Where do you see yourself taking SCRUFF in the future?

SCRUFF will be reinvesting in its tablet versions to really take advantage of the new form factors and better screens that have been launched on iOS and Android. We also plan on doing much more in the way of recommendations and discovery—we have a lot of data we can use to help our members find guys they like more easily. We also plan on improving our events section to make an even better bridge between our members and real-world venues both in their hometowns and travel destinations.

What’s your summer look like?

I’ll be going out and having fun! We focus on events that we organize and promote,like the Manchester party, and SCRUFF and I also make a cameo in Bear City 2, so I’ll be doing various events and film-festival appearances this summer.

On a more personal note, have you met anyone special on SCRUFF?

I get this question quite a bit :-)  I’ve certainly had my fair share of fun being single in New York City. However, I’m ready for a steady boyfriend or LTR. I dated a guy recently for two months, but nothing serious solidified so I’m back on the market full force!

You hear that boys? Find Johnny and millions of other guys worldwide on SCRUFF.

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  • Kamuurie

    “Queerty exclusive”? In other words, paid article. Wee!

  • Mike

    Great article! It’s amazing how successful Scruff has become. Johnny is also an amazing guy on top of that.

  • nando

    c*nty comment #1! weeeeee!!!

  • Corey

    Remember… Haters read with no resume and critique without credentials…. ANYWAY…. Congrats, Johnny! I have witnessed first hand the relationships and marriages that have happened thanks to the Scruff App. Positive energy always wins.

  • MikeNYC

    Please, let’s be honest Scruff and other apps like it and Grindr are mainly used for hook ups not LOL romance or “Marriage”.

    Gay men who describe their facial hair as “scruff” are twinks who can grow very short facial hair and pretend that it’s a beard. These men do not know the first thing about actually being masculine at all.

  • Corey

    Wow, I imagine meeting everyone on Scruff and Grindr and remembering each of their intentions and relationship track record must be EXHAUSTING. Where does one find the time to date?

  • Jim

    Could part of the reason that they had such a big party in Manchester be in any way related to the fact that they held it during the rugby Bingham Cup? Likely so!

    I’ve found it’s not only the place for single guys to hook up but the ones in relationships to cheat as well.

  • Stephen

    This was a great app until they started charging monthly fees to access, I dunno, your past messages, etc…

    Kinda sucks now. Check out Jacked, waaaaaay better app.

  • Ray

    Messaged Johnny wanting a date and no response : ( guess he missed out

  • Maurice


    Hello Ray, are you aware that Johnny is a multi-millionare?

    If you’re not wealthy, then best of luck on landing a chance to date wealthy guys.

  • What the f**k

    I think it’s amusing how many gay men confuse being masculine with being a c**t….it’s rife.

  • Chicago

    I can tell you one way it is successful… By promising to sponsor charity events and then when we have done everything to promote him and his app he disappears and you never hear from him again

  • amlia

    Spain’s Euro 2012 quarterfinals match versus France was a memorable one for Xabi Alonso.

    The Basque midfielder played his 100th cap for Spain and managed to net two goals in a 2-0


    The first Xabi Alonso goal vs France came in the 19th minute. Jordi Alba crossed the ball

    into the box where Alonso found himself open and cracked it into the back of the net.

    Alonso, a rock-solid midfielder for Real Madrid

  • keith

    so get app it should be avalible even if u are nt
    ot able to have a smart phone.

  • Mark

    That sucks about Johnny and the guy he was dating. They were really cute together.

  • Time Traveler

    C’était innévitable !
    Scruff needed the facelift before botox! Communities started to be really necessary. For a guy like me, already so difficult identify a potential partner…
    My suggestion, Johnny : Scruff might look for great partnerships to make easier, our dreams to come true, and travel around the world to meet the cuties.
    Charters by SCRUFF AIR, you can find in Scruff, the whole staff.

  • danny

    Please don’t judge johnny he is a good man who puts a lot of effort into scruff along with the rest of his team scruff is a great app and there have been some great storys off it guys getting married through scruff ect
    If you actually meet him for yourself you will see he’s a great guy and knows how to party …. What is wrong with some of you guys get a life

  • Chris

    The app is great, the man behind it, not so much. Johnny is a huge narcissist who thinks everything is about him. I’ve never come across someone so full of himself…he might be nice to look at but peel away the layers and you’ll easily find out why he’s single and needs the validation of thousands of strangers miles away. It’s kinda sad, actually…but the app itself is great and the focus should be on the app, not the creator. His idea wasn’t original, it was just tailored to a specific crowd.

  • Travis

    I agree that the focus should be on the app rather than continual galleries of “Johnny Scruff” turning up to any envelope opening like an undepilated Kardashian. On the official Facebook page, users are discouraged from taking about app issues/offering improvement suggestions, and encouraged to praise its creator. Anyone who doesn’t is quickly deemed a “hater” and “full of negativity.”
    I think the false sincerity about Scruff solely being created to bring gay men together is what puts people’s backs up, particularly as one of the early Scruff polls asked “Would you watch a reality show based on Johnny and friends attending various bear events?”
    If Johnny would just be honest about the fact that he’s using Scruff as a platform to become some sort of celebrity, it would reflect better on him.

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