Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Gloria Stavers: Princess of Pop

U.N.C.L.E. - David McCallum?

16 magazine. 1957-2001. A ‘fan’ publication. Written —primarily—for teenage, American girls. The editorial focus was on television and teen male music celebrities.

How did an editor who extolled the talents of David Cassidy and Paul Revere & the Raiders ever gain such influence? Well, for a start, she gave us answers: What does the Dave Clark Five eat for breakfast? How tall, really, is the Monkees’ Davy Jones? What about Paul McCartney’s favorite color? Are Sonny and Cher dating or married?

Just considering the career of Gloria Stavers (1926-1983) causes one to hold, and balance, sets of opposed virtues, tastes and interpretations. She is evasive, on one page jabbering about Gary Lewis and the Playboys, the next, discussing the career of Lenny Bruce or getting physical with Jim Morrison.
Gloria glammed

How this former magazine subscription clerk and model helmed bubblegum pop promotion with such élan has as much to do with ambition and self-confidence than discernible talent.  It’s as if she willed herself into existence.

As editor-in-chief, she never accepted advertising and readership peaked at more than five million in 1964. Actually, her talent was quite discernible.

The magazine offered clean, sober intimacy, unpinned with grade-school photo collages and non-threatening confessions, trivializing real-world, contemporary concerns. There was little chest hair. Gloria knew who paid the bills.

Gloria editing
She focused on boys but occasionally let girls through the door—Connie Francis, Hayley Mills, Patty Duke, Susan Dey, Marie Osmond, Farrah Fawcett. But young male readers generally went elsewhere to look at pictures of pretty women.

When she died, Dave Marsh in Rolling Stone opined… “[we have] lost America’s original pop-music writer, the force behind what was at one time the most influential and widely circulated rock publication in America.”

Dave Marsh wrote that?

Gloria Stavers knew, intuitively, that pop culture is interchangeable with
Jim and G-L-O-R-I-A
commercial culture: therein lies its genius, its banality, its endurance, and its fragility.

16 magazine offered an ambiance unsullied by pregnancy, napalm, drugs and rebellion... It was a state of mind,  a place to go when you were a young girl, a gentle reprieve before the long slow you-can-never-turn-back stroll from the magic garden and across the field to Grownup Land.