Teen fan magazines like Tiger Beat were once a very, very big deal. Not only did they provide posters of the teen hunk du jour for you to decorate your walls with, but they were also something that a lot of celebrities (though NOT John Stamos, as you’ll soon discover on this week’s DirtCast) were eager to be a part of.
Now, however, Tumblr has moved in on the territory that teen fan magazines once held. (Either that, or the teens have gotten wise and switched to Rookie or Teen Vogue.) Tweens don’t have to go to the grocery store to find images of Charlie Puth and Shawn Mendes if they want them. Instead, they can just look them up in their internet browser and there find every bit of trivia—from their ideal date to how they’re currently doing their hair—that they could ever want to know.
While we constantly devalue that which teen/tween girls hold dear, the teen fan magazine—as it appeared from the 1960s through the early aughts—is worthy of remembrance, which is why DirtCast invited Anne Raso, Tiger Beat editor in the early ’80s and current lifestyle blogger, to speak on her time at the magazine and the teen mag industry in general. (For more on that part of her career, read her great Gothamist piece here).
Typically, Raso told us, celebrities would only grant the magazine one interview a year that writers would then have to stretch through multiple issues.
“The way it was done there is we had a transcriber, you’d give him your tape, there’d be a transcript in the file for that artist and you’d just circle what [quotes] were used and you’d write which issue it was used in to make sure there was no duplication,” Raso explained. “...That really was bad. I maybe got one to two interviews a year with the people I needed to write about.”
Also in the episode, familiar name and fan favorite Dodai Stewart stops by to weigh in on Meghan Markle, the value of a teen heartthrob, and her days writing for teen fan magazine J-14 in the early 2000s. She even provided us with these incredible, slightly dated clips:
Someone please put these in the Smithsonian where they belong.
Our show is produced by Levi Sharpe with editorial oversight by Kate Dries. Mandana Mofidi is our Executive Director of Audio. Our theme music is by Stuart Wood. This episode was mixed by Brad Fisher. Listen to our politics podcast, Big Time Dicks, here.