Haha.....the problem wasn't a bug in the Simple Skin node or with Lightwave itself. Just overlapping polygons in my sofa model....go figure. So, if you ever see a huge jump in render times when using Simple Skin....check your models :O)
I just need to go through and clean up all the nodes before unleashing them to the world..stayed tuned.
Here's the latest tests that don't use Simple Skin....the render times are way faster.