In the early 70s, when I was 12, on the cusp of teendom, I was the queen of celebrity crushes. I was wild about so many movie, TV, and pop stars, I lost count. Good thing a queen of celebrity crushes like me had the social media of the day—the fan magazines—to help me keep track of them all.
[The “Big 2” fanzines, competing with ever more ludicrous headlines]
Fan magazines had been around for a while, but this post-war, baby boomer iteration targeted teen girls (or those on cusp). Teenyboppers we were called, and 16 and Tiger Beat catered to our teenybopper fantasies by offering up a heavenly host of generically sexy stars, all with magnificent hair, all of them clean-shaven (in the 70s—one of the hairiest eras in US fashion history!), and all of them, with one exception, white.
[Michael Jackson gets a cover pix, but no story teaser]
I’ll confess, I was hooked on those magazines. My sister and I would save our baby-sitting money and ride our bikes to Liggett’s at the nearby shopping center once a month when new issues of 16 and Tiger Beat came out. Sometimes twice a month if they released a special issue with extra pop-out posters and pinups to hang on our bedroom wall. We’d pour over every picture and every word: David Cassidy’s pet peeves! Bobby Sherman’s dream date! Brady Girls’ make-up tips!
I crushed on many of the fan magazines' stars of moment, but the center of my crush universe, my mega-idol, the boy I wanted to know about most was this excessively toothy guy, Donny Osmond.
[Doesn’t he just make your heart go pitter-pat?]
We were soooo compatible, Donny and I. He loved the color purple, I loved the color purple. Donny liked long walks on the beach, I liked long walks on the beach. Donny was a Mormon, I was… not. No matter, our birthdays are on the same day, and if that wasn’t a sign, I didn’t know what was.
I begged for Donny’s albums as Christmas presents. Cajoled, pleaded, and promised to do the dishes and the laundry for one solid year if my mother would buy us tickets to the Osmonds concert at the old Boston Garden (being the best mom in the universe, she did!). I even wrote Donny a fan letter, something I’d never done for any of my other celebrity crushes. Sadly, Donny didn’t write me back. I’m sure he was busy.
Time went on, and my enthusiasm for Donny, and all those other teen crushes, waned. I realized there were real live boys right nearby. Eventually, I tore the posters off my bedroom wall, chucked the magazines, tucked Donny into my memory, and moved on.
Until this year, while in Las Vegas with my husband for a conference, I had the chance to see Donny in person. He and his sister Marie perform nightly at the Flamingo, year round. When I heard that, I thought, first, I’m exhausted just reading about that schedule, and second, I am so going to see that show. I was excited, to say the least, texting teasing taunts to my sister along the lines of, “I’m here and you’re not.” What can I say, I’m mean.
Donny looked surprisingly youthful and fit for a guy pushing… well, what are numbers, really? He opened with his first hit, Go Away Little Girl. I shrieked, actually shrieked. The long-forgotten teenybopper inside me popped out. I was in my childhood bedroom again, singing along with Donny on the 45 playing on my portable record player. Me, and a couple of hundred other former teenyboppers, reliving a sparkling moment, remembering our teenage (or on the cusp) crush.
[ Yes, he really did that! *swoon* ]