Keeping up with your Faves - The Rise of TIGER BEAT and The Laufer Company Magazines in the 1960'S

By Malcolm Tatum
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Teen idols have always created a buying frenzy among their fans. Ever since Elvis Presley first strutted his stuff across a stage, savvy businesspeople have known that a great way to make a mint is to publish magazines and other goodies that cause the hearts of young fans to flip flop.

In September, 1965, Charles Laufer decided to get in on the teen idol craze and create a magazine that would do just that. The first issue of Tiger Beat prominently featured a well known disc jockey, Lloyd Thaxton, as a way of helping the fledgling magazine find an audience. Its cover was graced by the stars of the day, with color pictures of the Righteous Brothers and Peter Noone of Herman's Hermits.

The headlines enticed readers to buy the magazine and learn more about the Beach Boy's personal loves, Jan and Dean's comeback, and an important article about the Beatles.

To help Tiger Beat compete with Gloria Stavers' 16 Magazine, which at the time was the gold standard for all teen magazines, Laufer knew he needed to stand out in the industry. His way of accomplishing his goal was to build promotional relationships with production and record companies that allowed his staff of reporters easy access to the stars of the day.

Laufer's strategy paid off in a big, big way. By the time the casting and production had begun on the Monkees television show in early 1966, Laufer already had a strong rapport around the Screen Gems lot. Working out a special deal to promote the Monkees via his magazine, Laufer was able to have first pick on new photo sessions, interviews, release dates of new singles and albums and tour dates. Laufer was also to have first dibs on creating promotional material such as Monkee picture books, love beads, and other products.

While laying the groundwork for the Monkees project, Laufer continued to refine his new magazine. His editor, a young and engaging blonde by the name of Ann Moses, proved to be the perfect editor. She immediately clicked with both the readers and the young stars she would work with. The magazine began to include color photos on glossy paper in the magazine, giving them one leg up on 16 Magazine, who still did colorized photos on plain paper. After several months, the connection with Lloyd Thaxton was played down and finally dropped, but it had served its purpose. By the summer of 1966, Tiger Beat was clearly the cool magazine for any teenage fan to read.

The Monkees' promotional deal was immediately a success. Not only did Tiger Beat's sales go through the roof, Laufer launched a second magazine, aptly titled Tiger Beat's Monkee Spectacular. Ann Moses took on double duty, acting as editor of both magazines.

By the fall of 1967, the two magazines were going so well that a third was added to the company's efforts: Fave Magazine. For this new effort, Laufer gave another young journalist a shot at editorial fame in the teen world – Laudy Powell. Along with Ann Moses, she became as much an icon to the readers as the stars themselves. The summer of 1968 found Fave with strong sales, almost as good as the sales for Tiger Beat itself.

Laufer continued his good fortune past the Monkees project by working up deals that gave him and his editors easy access to the next big teen phenomenon, Bobby Sherman. Ann Moses in particular clicked with Sherman, and the fans could look forward to many featured interviews between their hero and their favorite editor.

As the sixties drew to a close, Tiger Beat was easily the premiere teen magazine on the market. Fave was right up there with it. Monkee Spectacular had run its course by August of 1968, but loyal Monkee fans in 1969 and 1970 could still count on more coverage of their heroes in the Laufer magazines than anywhere else. Laufer was not one to kick anyone to the curb as long as his reader's mail told him there was still some interest.

Unlike some of the teen magazines of the day which relied almost entirely on pictures and fantasy style articles about favorite teen stars, the Laufer magazines were often the first to break "real" news about teen stars. The marriage of Micky Dolenz to Samantha Juste and Elvis's plans for a comeback special in 1968; the "secret marriage" of David and Linda Jones PR debacle and Bobby Sherman's recording contract with Metromedia in 1969; and the departures of Peter Tork in 1969 and Michael Nesmith in 1970 from the Monkees were all reported first in Tiger Beat.

Other magazines came and went at the Laufer Company in the years following. But Tiger Beat endured. Eventually, the magazine was sold and left the capable hands of the Laufer family. While it continued in different formats and with varying publication schedules, it never recovered the energy and sheer fun of those first several years. The magazine found its way back into the Laufer family in 2003, when Laufer's son Scott purchased Tiger Beat from Primedia. Who knows? Another golden age of teen magazines may be about to begin.

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