Studies in Crap and Teen Beat Magazine Kill the Video Star (Willie Aames!)
Teen Beat Video Rock Stars Magazine
Author: Probably whoever it was who first used the words "monetize" and "youth culture" in the same sentence.
Date: Fall, 1983
Discovered at: Willie Aames' garage sale.
The Cover Promises: Michael Jackson has been pinned down like a frog in Biology 101.
Also: Someone needs to invent Photoshop.
Also: Willie Aames, who is not in the magazine, touched this long enough to sign it.
"When the leading jean manufacturer and one of the hottest rock and roll groups join forces, you know that something big is going to come out of it. Well, those fabulous five Canadian Loverboys and Sassoon jeans have decided to capitalize on just such an alliance!"(page 32)
"But what is this band called INXS? Many just call them 'six lads from Australia.' One word they forgot to include in that sentence was good-looking." (page 58)
In 1983, not long after Sassoon jeans and Loverboy set aside their differences and chose to rule together, the zeitgeist straddlers over at Teen Beat found themselves in a world made new.
How to handle the surprise success of a cable channel dedicated entirely to short promotional clips of white people pretending to play guitar? Like John Reed celebrating the Bolsheviks, editors Mandy and Harry Matetsky chose to position themselves on the side of the revolution.
"ROCK & ROLL CONQUERS TELEVISION!" shouts an editorial by "MM." In it, she discloses the rules of the new regime:
"Gone are the days when just listening to music was enough. Thanks to the new wave of colorful, visually-exciting videotapes of rock stars in action - rock music must now be seen as well as heard."
Music must be seen! No word on the penalties for non-compliance. . . yet!
So, heading up the wholly unnecessary ink-and-paper component of a sound-and-vision revolution, the Matetsky's launched "America's First Video Rock Magazine."
Their chief contributions to the cause? Horrible writing and an outlet for publicity stills.
First, the writing:
- "In an age of simplicity, what simpler name could you think of for a band than INXS (pronounced in-excess)?"
- "John [Cougar]'s style of music is not unusual but it is rare."
- "[Journey's] videos show all the members of the group banging away on their instruments with life and fire or boogie-ing on down (and up!) to their top hits. The videos give the band a chance to enjoy themselves and their music, and they give you a chance to actually see them . . . And who in their right mind would pass up the opportunity to watch this gorgeous group?"
- "Rock's three blond baliffs [The Police] are back on the rock and roll patrol!"
Seriously, the Police article sounds like a computer has translated it into English.
"In 1977, three musical blondes met up in France, and from there Sting, Andy, and Stewart introduced their back-to-basic sound in Birmingham, England, thereby signifying the birth of The Police."
"Despite their almost fairyland world of fame and success, all three state that they have still been able to keep a clear perspective on reality, much of which is concerned with the future."
The headlines and publicity stills are almost as bad.
Here's the exact moment the word "exclusive" lost all meaning.
Apparently, J. Geils once completed a screentest for the role of Wolverine.
The recipe for Lita Ford's hair:
Cook on high for 3 to 5 minutes. When the popping slows to 1-2 seconds between pops, remove from microwave.
Caution: you will be hot!
Selling out or deep level irony?
"Rock stars like David Johansen knows what taste is. David wears the finest of T-shirts, just like this one he has on in these photos everywhere he goes. During the late summer or early fall months when he's dancing up a storm on stage or when he's watching a show, David knows that there's nothing like his Teen Beat tee to keep him cool."
Yes, this comes from Willie Aames' house.
At the behest of the producers of whatever horrible reality show he is currently feeding his soul to, Aames held a two hour garage sale for television cameras on March 26. Aames peddled Bibleman posters and some impressive stuffed wildlife to the 200+ plus people who -- like your Crap Archivist -- sharked on over, lured by the chum of celebrity misery.
(Thanks to Ginger Man Justin Kendall for the video!)
Aames asked $3 for the magazine, admitted that he had no idea whether or not he was in it, and reminisced a bit about opening for Hall & Oates (and Chicago!) in Tampa, Florida.
You Tube confirms that, at some point, Aames had a record contract.
He added, touchingly, that John Oates is "the nicest man on the face of the earth." Thanks, Willie! Sorry the revolution didn't work out for you!
The Crap Archivist lives in Kansas City, where he originates his on-line Studies for the Voice's sister paper, The Pitch.
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