Skip Allen was new to being a White House usher for President Ronald Reagan when it fell to him to deliver a top-secret document to the commander in chief in the private residence.
While the document was designated "for the President's eyes only," Allen would end up seeing more than he bargained for that day in 1981: a naked president.
“I took it up, and I'm looking for him, and the steward comes out and says, ‘He's in there.’ So I went over and knocked on the door and he said, ‘Come in,’” Allen recalled Reagan saying in an interview with ABC News' Jonathan Karl. “And there he was getting out of the shower. And he was just having a sheet of water on. That's all they had.”
Allen shifted his gaze from the nude Reagan as he extended the document toward the president. “He dried his hands off and he said, ‘Oh, yeah, I'm working through that,’” Allen remembers, Reagan seemingly unfazed by the encounter.
That wouldn’t be the last time Allen would see the president without his clothes on. Later that same day, Allen had another top secret delivery to bring the president. It was nighttime and the president was in his bedroom. First lady Nancy Reagan, who was already in bed, gave Allen permission to enter the room after knocking.
“So, I walked into the bedroom, and the president's just coming out of his dressing room in his underwear,” Allen said. “And Mrs. Reagan said, ‘Oh, Ronnie, you could put on a robe anyway.’ And he looked at her and said, ‘Oh, it's alright. He's already seen me naked once today. We're old friends.’"
Allen remembers a much less friendly rapport with the Clinton's, calling their transition to the White House the most difficult of his time as usher from 1979 to 2004.
“They were a little on the indecisive side as to what they wanted and how they wanted it, and they had to switch around a couple of times before they got things the way they liked it,” Allen said.
He recalled one particular story, when then-first lady Hillary Clinton called to ask that the kitchen stop preparing a particular chicken dish that they were being served. After having the chicken removed from the menu, Allen got another call a couple weeks later. This one was from the president himself.
"’What ever happened to the chicken dish that was on the menu? We want it back again,’" Allen recalls President Clinton telling him. “So I had to call the chef and tell him that the chicken was back being served on the second floor.”
Allen declined to provide any details on any tensions in the Clinton's private quarters during the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. “They have their public face and their private face, and when we were around, it was the public face. And what they did when we were gone, I don't know,” he said.
Allen’s stories, and those of many other White House residence staff, are revealed in detail in a new book “The Residence,” by author Kate Andersen Brower.