Beat surrender

I had forgotten about Tiger Beat magazine until I saw this Tweet from editor Patrick LaForge of The New York Times: “Creator of Tiger Beat is dead at 87. #obits”

The NYT obituary on Charles Laufer is a fascinating look at how a publisher discovered an audience — adolescent girls — and appealed to it. The obit also serves as a detailed history of the magazine, offering much more information than this threadbare Wikipedia entry.

Under Laufer’s leadership, Tiger Beat used pictures of heartthrobs on glossy paper to attract those readers. His competitors used dull newsprint.

The magazine frequently used exclamation marks to hype its content. And it didn’t shy away from question headlines: “Shaun: A Junk Food Junkie?” and “Marie: Fighting With Donny?”

As a teenager, I despised Tiger Beat magazine. We boys mocked it when we saw it in the magazine racks of the local 7-11 convenience store. We were the anti-audience.

As an adult, I appreciate what Laufer was able to do. I also appreciate the nostalgia that female readers of my generation feel about the magazine. As one of my friends wrote on Facebook after hearing of Laufer’s death: “I think some of my allowance from 1979 is paying for his funeral.”

Even though its founder has died, the magazine lives on in print and, yes, online.


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