by Pat Jacobs
Teen magazines were (and still are) aimed at teenage readers and usually consisted of gossip, news, fashion tips, interviews, and may include stickers and posters.
They were first created in the U.S. and England during the 1950s; teen "mags" are now produced in many countries worldwide. They're particularly popular in Latin America, Europe, and Asia. While some focus almost exclusively on music and film stars, others feature more coverage of lifestyle issues and are like young versions of Cosmopolitan or Vogue.
Teen mags are aimed almost exclusively at teenage girls. Teenage boys, like adult men, usually buy magazines related to certain activities that they're interested in, such as sports or cars.Teen mags can be found each month at supermarkets, pharmacies, stores, newsstands, and in recent years, on the Internet.
Let's take a look at some classic ones: Seventeen (which I believe is still around) debuted in 1944. The first issue sold 400,000 copies. Celebrity interviews and profiles were featured, but the main focus were fashions and the teen lifestyle.
"I didn't get Seventeen at all; when I was twelve, my mother got me a subscription to Ingenue, which was like a junior version of Seventeen. I loved it!" recalled Pamela Foster. "She wanted me to read and pay particular attention to the 'girls becoming women' and the 'feminine products' ads, but come on: If given a choice between studying the latest Beatle article or a 'feminine product' ad, what are you going to focus on? I also got In magazine at the local department or music store. Ingenue had the better fashions, but In had the best celebrity features!"
"I also had a subscription to a digest-sized magazine, Calling All Girls, which I received during, I believe, 1964 to 1966." Also known as CAG, the magazine's nickname, this publication debuted in 1941, 10 cents an issue. They claim to be the first teen mag, and their logo was 'the favorite modern magazine of girls and sub-debs'. CAG became Young Miss in 1966, then just YM in 1986.
Another account says that Seventeen was the oldest girls' mag and that this was second. It also says the magazine's size was increased and the title was changed from Young Miss to Young & Modern, then Your Magazine, but the abbreviation YM was still used and referred to.
"I remember a feature about the Johnson girls in the White House (President Johnson's daughters, Lynda and Luci), and The Supremes, also a feature on rising star Sally Field, of the new TV series, "Gidget". There were movie reviews of "The World Of Henry Orient", "Island Of The Blue Dolphins", "The Three Lives Of Thomasina" and "Emil and The Detectives", among others. There was a comic strip called "Penny", I think, and a continuing feature on a group of friends led by Polly, I think. I also enjoyed this magazine very much!" 'Teen was another one I got sometimes, mostly for the great pictures."
16 set the standard for all teen fan mags for more than 35 years, it has been the pinnacle of "teeny bopper" publications.16 was started in 1958 by the late George Winters, becoming such a hit that many imitators were spawned (Flip, Tiger Beat, and Teen Beat, among others)
The contents were never about anything serious, but that was precisely the point and charm of this magazine. What was important to a teen then was finding out Paul McCartney's favorite color, Sonny and Cher's dating tips, Dave Clark's top 10 ice cream flavors, or Mark Lindsay"s shoe size.
In the mid-'60s, the late Gloria Stavers took over as editor-in-chief. Stavers added full-color posters and pin-ups. And made history. "That was a HUGE selling point; those posters were fabulous!", Pamela Foster further recalled. "The Beatle ones were to die for!"
For most of its 30 years, 16 was self-supporting, not accepting any outside advertising from any source. At its peak in the mid-'60s, the magazine had over 5 million readers. In 1964, a spinoff was launched, 16 Magazine Spectacular, later to be called 16 Spec. The same formula was used; this one lasted into the mid-'70s. 16 magazine has also put out at least 50 special editions.
Tiger Beat was the West Coast competition of 16 magazine. Launched in Sept. 1965, it used the same style and focus as 16 and has also had spinoffs and special issues (Some of these were Tiger Beat Fave, 1967-1973; Tiger Beat Spectacular, 1970-1973; and Tiger Beat Star, 1977-1990. Special issues included the Tiger Beat Official Monkees Spectacular (16 issues) and Tiger Beat Official Partridge Family Magazine (18 issues). Tiger Beat also published a number of paperback books over the years.
The magazine's target focus has always been 10-19-year-old girls, giving them the latest in music, movies, and fashion. "You know, I never got into this magazine", said Foster. "It was OK, but there were others, particularly 16, that I liked so much better."
Did you know that there was a picture of Lloyd Thaxton (host of a very popular syndicated dance party TV program, "The Lloyd Thaxton Show") on each issue during Tiger Beat's first year? The publishers thought it was a good tie-in for the new publication. This ended when Thaxton decided to leave his TV show; his logo, "Lloyd Thaxton's Tiger Beat" and picture were removed from the cover after 12 issues. The teen mag became just Tiger Beat. The early issues featured all kinds of rock and pop performers, and there was a monthly feature called Mod Mag", about the British Invasion.
The magazine came into its own in the late '60s, thanks largely to The Monkees. There was huge interest in the group upon the smash debut of their TV series. And publisher Charles Lauffer recognized this and acted upon it by signing an exclusive merchandising deal. Several Monkees-only magazines and pamphlets were published during the show's run.
Flip was started to compete with the other teen mags of the day. It was also very similar in style and content to 16 and Tiger Beat.
Circus got its start this year, 1966, as Hullabaloo Magazine. It became Circus in March 1969 (Jimi Hendrix made the first cover). In its first 15 years, this magazine also featured full color, pull-out centerfold posters. Many top writers of the rock-and-roll era provided articles for the first 10 years, including Kurt Loder (now of MTV fame) and Rolling Stone regular Dave Marsh.
Circus spun off many special issues, publications, and books (Circus Raves, 1974-this only lasted for two and a half years. Special issues included Circus Pin-Ups (1975) and Circus Solid Gold (1978), and three 1975 paperback books on Alice Cooper, Elton John, and Robert Plant, in that order. At the end of 1983, Circus covered the heavy metal music scene. In 1992, it focused on Seattle and alternative music.
Soul magazine was also launched in 1966. This may well have been the first teen mag aimed at blacks. There were great color and black-and-white pics of the stars of the day, and profiles of up-and-coming artists. "I only saw just one issue of this; The Ronettes were on the cover, dressed in Santa Claus outfits, with mini-skirts and white go-go boots. No beards! They looked fantastic!", Foster recalled. "Inside, I remember a picture of Jean Carn and Robert Parker, who had a big hit with "Barefootin' this year. He was in a suit, on stage, dancing barefooted! I never saw this magazine again, though."
In 1972, two mainstream teen mags aimed at blacks debuted, Right On (by the Tiger Beat publishers) and Word Up. And then there were the music magazines that took rock music seriously, aimed more for older teens, college kids, and "hip" adults. No pin-ups here!
Crawdaddy! was the first U.S. magazine of rock music criticism, a pioneer of rock music journalism, preceding even Rolling Stone and Creem. Started on the campus of Swarthmore College this year, 1966, by Paul Williams, a science fiction fan who also liked rock music. At 17, he started mimeographing and distributing a collection of criticisms, at first mostly his own. The budding publication (with a healthy dose of radical views and politics mixed in with music) quickly took hold, gaining newstand distribution and providing a training ground for many rock writers (this was a brand new field in the late '60s), including Jon Landau, Sandy Pearlman, and others. Williams left the magazine in 1968; the magazine briefly suspended publication in 1969, but returned in 1970 with national mass-market distribution. And it continued throughout the '70s decade (Williams contributed articles from time to time. He also went on to write over 25 books.)
Creem, founded in 1968, covered the music scene with a great writers, star interviews, book reviews, record reviews, and "think" pieces. This was considered a classy, distinctive magazine, one of the best. "I'll have to take your word for it; to be honest, I was more concerned with those 16 magazine posters", said Foster.
Guitar Player was launched in 1967, and focused on rock music's guitarists. The articles were written from a musician's point of view. There were also tips on how to play better, and all things related to the rock guitar.
Billboard was started in 1894! and is considered the Bible of the music industry. This is the home of the "Hot 100", the "Album Charts", and other goodies. If you want to know what's going in the music business, this is THE source.
And then there's Rolling Stone, launched in 1967 and considered the granddaddy of rock publications. (John Lennon graced the first cover.) Its founders, Jann Wenner and Ralph P. Gleason, intended Rolling Stone to be a combination of a rock newspaper and a magazine. It's become a standard-bearer, with top-notch writers, award-winning photographers, and insightful, hard-hitting stories; to be on the cover is considered a great honor. Many regard it as the finest music publication of the 20th century. "Wow, really"? There's also many who would argue that 16 was the best", replied Foster.
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