memories of the ’80s – Elle Macpherson

In the 1980s, we soon all learned about “The Body” from Australia – supermodel Elle Macpherson.

Born Eleanor Gow in New South Wales, Australia, Elle Macpherson grew up in Sydney and studied law for one year before moving to the United States in 1981 to pursue her modelling career.

Signing with Click Modeling Agency in New York City, Macpherson’s first major national appearance was in a television commercial for Tab soft drink.

Becoming a favourite of Elle Magazine (where she appeared in every issue for six consecutive years, Macpherson landed covers at well-known magazines such as Cosmopolitan, GQ, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.

Gracing the cover of Time Magazine in 1986 at a highpoint in her career, Macpherson then began her tenure as a cover model for the annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, gracing the cover a record five times – four in the late 1980s and once in the 21st century.

In 1989, she was given the nickname “The Body” by Time Magazine, after appearing on their cover. Along with Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Tatjana Patitz, Paulina Porizkova, and Cindy Crawford, Macpherson was part of a new group of supermodels who were the go-to faces for magazines around the world.

Consequently Macpherson has acted in film, produced her own calendars, created her own workout videos and designed her own lingerie collection.

memories of the ’70s – Lauren Hutton

Who knew imperfection could make you the envy of women around the world? For Lauren Hutton, it didn’t stand in the way of her success as a model.

Born in South Carolina as Mary Laurence Hutton, her parents divorced and her mother remarried, with the young girl then known as Mary Hall growing up in Tampa, Florida.

Moving with DJ/boyfriend Pat Chambers to New York City in the 1960s, Hall worked at The Playboy Club and then moved to New Orleans with him and attended Tulane University and received her bachelor degree.

Splitting with Chambers, and changing her name to Lauren Hutton, this 20-something moved back to New York City to go after the modelling world.

With all-American good looks of blue/green eyes and blonde hair, the willowy Hutton had one major flaw – a gap between her front teeth. Consequently covering it up for photos, she became a favourite and started gracing the covers of women’s magazines regularly and revealing her real smile.

Fashion designer Halston proclaimed Hutton “the greatest mannequin in history” and in 1974, she was the first model to receive a million dollar contract – and became the face of Revlon Cosmetics.

As a favourite of American Vogue editor Diana Vreeland, Hutton graced the cover of the magazine over 25 times, a record. Another fave to work with her was fashion photographer Richard Avedon, who even made short films with the engaging Hutton.

During the 1970s, Hutton started acting, making appearances in The Gambler with James Caan in (1974) and Someone’s Watching Me! (1978), a tv movie directed by John Carpenter. At the end of the decade she was cast in American Gigolo (1980) with Richard Gere.

Her uniqueness made her a cover favourite and a successful woman who happily relied on her looks to get her to the top of the heap in the 1970s and in consequent decades.

memories of the ’80s – Sassy Magazine

For teen girls of the late 1980s, a new magazine voice became a fixation – Sassy Magazine.

Launched by Australian publisher Sandra Yates with editor Jane Pratt, Sassy had a half Aussie, half American staff and showed young women what they wanted to read about: pop culture, beauty, fashion, music, social issues and mixed with a heavy dose of humour and teen angst.

Debuting in March 1988, Sassy took a an edgier view of the world of teen women – one that didn’t just look at a cookie-cutter, perfect world, but understood the range of emotions, dreams, likes and dislikes that make up the world of teen girls.

In the pages of Sassy, readers would find the unique illustrations by Lynda Barry, learn to embrace zits as beauty marks, share a devotion to Evan Dando and Keanu Reeves as well as zines, feminism, Sonic Youth and pop culture that wasn’t easily found in the mainstream media.

Sassy Magazine set the precedent for a magazine that didn’t follow the traditional rules – and became a success, growing from 250,000 circulation to 450,000 in a year.

I remember seeing an issue of Sassy Magazine and surprised by the content – it was not just a fashion or beauty mag, but it had music and comics and essays about all kinds of issues. You wanted to know the editors and writers – and you could name them – Jane, Christina, Maryann, Margie and Karen.

By the mid 1990s Sassy was owned by Petersen Publishing and was absorbed into another magazine ‘Teen. Gone was the unique voice and view of the pop culture world, still celebrated online via blogs.

memories of the ’70s – Dynamite Magazine

For kids of the 1970s, pop culture was easily found in Dynamite Magazine. Created by Jenette Kahn, the magazine was published by Scholastic Press, starting in March 1974.

Kahn edited the first three issues of the magazine, and then the mantle was passed to Jane Stine.

Each issue taught kids about pop culture and had recurring sections such as magic tricks, “Bummers”, commercial parodies, puzzles, jokes, contests and pop out / DIY sections such as calendars, greeting cards, bookmarks and postcards.

A cross between a pop culture mag and activity mag, Dynamite would reprint stories from Marvel  and DC Comics as well as ran an advice column for kids and pre-teens.

Kids would even benefit from bonus items such as 3D posters, baseball cards, stickers and glow-in-the-dark items – with themes such as space, future, King Kong and animals repeatedly used.

Most subscribers got access to Dynamite via the popular Scholastic Book Club, which was available via elementary schools, to sign up for a monthly subscription, or the magazine was found on the newstand in the United States and Canada.

Popular cover stories included the Six Million Dollar Man, John Travolta, Snoopy, and Bruce Lee as well as offer samples of new songs via 45 records. The first issue showcased the stars of TV series M*A*S*H.

Since my Dad was a teacher, he had a subscription for his classroom and I got to see copies when he would bring them home – there was so much included in each issue, it felt like an accomplishment to finish reading, doing, learning and creating.

The magazine continued well into the 1980s and as a precursor to the internet, was a kids connecti0n to the world of pop culture.

memories of the ’70s – Playgirl

In the 1970s, marketing to women took a new turn with the launch of Playgirl, featuring nude and semi-nude men, displayed the same way women had been shown in the pages of Playboy and Penthouse.

Published in June 1973 by Drake Publishers, the first issue of Playgirl featured a nude centrefold, a feature article on sexual motivations, the salacious city of Hong Kong and a four page spread on the man for June, actor Lyle Waggoner.

During the 1970s, the magazine relied on male models with a smattering of celebs for the monthly issue, including the always tanned George Hamilton, but had tested the waters with two preview issues – one featuring the twins of tv show Hee Haw Jim and John Hager and the other with race car driver Mike Hiss.

The magazine featured Real Men each month, nude snapshots of men submitted to the magazine, as well as Celeb Nudes, nude images sourced from films of well-known actors, athletes and celebrities.

But Playgirl wasn’t the first magazine to realize the women wouldn’t mind seeing more of the male physique than they were normally allowed in the media. In 1972, Cosmopolitan Magazine had caused a sensation with its use of a nude photograph of Burt Reynolds as the centrefold for its April issue.

And it wasn’t just North American women who got to benefit – with the success of publishing the English-language edition, Playgirl soon appeared in late 1970s in Germany, France and The Netherlands. Although unacknowledged in the ’70s,  a lot of the readership of the salacious mag was gay men.

Did women need Playgirl? Apparently so, with more international editions and the expansion of the brand as the decades rolled on. I didn’t see the inside of an issue until I was in university – purchased as a gag gift for a friend’s birthday party on a dare. Did it dissapoint? Yes. But did I really care that much about it? No. It didn’t mean to me any advancement for women.

Although its cited as part of the feminist movement, the publication of the magazine seemed more to do with capitalizing on the increased marketing to women, which in turn became a lark and a secret indulgence for this consumer, far from the ground-breaking boundaries that were inherent to its competition in the men’s magazine aisle.

memories of the ’70s – People Magazine

 One of the bibles of the entertainment news world – People Weekly debuted in March, 4, 1974. 

A spinoff of the People page in Time Magazine, the focus was on the people, not just the issues.

A mix of celebrity stories as well as human interest, People was initially printed in the black and white and and targeted women, who wanted to know more about the people who were the focus of the news.

With a first run of 1.4 million copies and a cover price of 35 cents, People Weekly Magazine had been test-marketed for over six months, and wanted to avoid being compared to LIFE Magazine, with its similar focus on photography and personal stories.

Initially a balance of the known and the unknown, People Weekly forged a category that in recent years has become a crowded spot at the grocery checkout counter. Entertainment television programs were not commonplace, talk shows were prevalent but didn’t have media empires with matching magazines and merchandise – the plethora of entertainment ‘news’ shows had not yet even been conceived.

People started experimenting with special issues and capitalized on the readers fascination for wanting more information and more pictures of celebs and instant celebs. People became THE source for information on what was happening in the entertainment world.

Still a publishing powerhouse, People currently publishes 3.73 million issues a week and is one of the jewels in the crown of its owner, Time Inc., with its continued popularity in conveying the world of entertainment and celebrity as well as personal stories with lots of photos.

I would always help my Mum when we went grocery shopping, and would love to look at the array of fun items at the checkout counter. Although my preoccupation was often the candy offerings, occasionally I would look at the cover of the magazines, fascinated by the pictures of people and wondering who they were. When I went with my Mum to the hair salon, I would see the magazine on the coffee table and passed between the ladies waiting as the massive hair dryers worked their magic on their tresses. I was too young to be interested, but as an adult its always the one I think about after the award shows, international human interest stories and the Sexiest Man Alive covers.

From its simple beginnings as a competition to the Lifestyle sections of newspapers, People Weekly fuels the celeb obsession of the 21st century, and is the coveted spot for any celebrity to promote and reveal themselves, for the attention of the consumer waiting to pay to learn a bit more about the A list life.