Tiger Beat

What is the line of demarcation between kids and adults? The ability to program every new tech gadget with ease? OK. The ability to identify Zac Efron, Ashley Tinsdale and Raven? Bingo! Ask the average adult to name pop music and TV stars, and you'll often draw a blank stare. Sure, we know Jerry Seinfeld and Sarah Jessica Parker, but they are reruns--and "The Sopranos" is ubiquitous. So if Green Day and Drake Bell are a sealed book, chances are you're not among the mega-readers of Tiger Beat, the teen girl's answer to Us. Tiger Beat is notable for its hyperventilating ardor and copy that positively swoons. True, some celeb mags went a little dippy over Shiloh Jolie-Pitt--as did her parents, who auctioned her off to the highest photo bidder--but usually they dig for dirt.

By contrast, Tiger Beat, 41 years strong, is wholesome; its young stars air-brushed to perfection. Here, celebrity dish is taken literally: They share favorite foods. Like the golden age of Hollywood studio publicity machines, TB is exclusively devoted to good news. Forget those crazy tales about drug-addled sitcom kids or the debauchery of teen idols. If it happens--say Lindsay Lohan's penchant for car crashes--it doesn't show up in TB. This is celebrity lite--no sex, no rehab, just a quick, intimate share from a teen angel--and often with an empowering message.

Rocker Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy says: "Nobody is born cool. Everybody has something weird about them," while Tinsdale, of "High School Musical" fame, is a big believer in hugging your friends and showing them love. That's TB's stock-in-trade: finding positive commonality with stars, be it healthy eating or taking school seriously or learning constructive ways to settle a score. Parents, rest easy; Tiger Beat is cheery, upbeat, even helpful. In "Daniel Head to Toe," Daniel Radcliffe, better known to millions as Harry Potter, says he studies three-to-five hours a day, loves "The Simpsons," is shy around girls and wants his dream date to be "funny, smart and original." (At this rate, he's lucky he isn't stalked by 30somethings.)

But Tiger Beat's forte, its signature breathy enthusiasm, is saved for "High School Musical" alum Zac Efron. Consider the seven-page mini mag devoted to the blue-eyed boy wonder, with hair a Ford model would envy. The editor, known as Editor Leesa, is as excited about the TB photo shoot as any 14-year-old, squealing that the cool thing about the all-Zac mag, complete with pictures and facts, is that "you can slip it in your purse and take it everywhere you go." And to keep your bedroom Zac-errific, TB provides a "giant slurp-a-licious" poster. Now, I understand teen crushes, but do we really want to dissect the hidden meaning behind "slurp-a-licious"?

Still, I like Zac, who confides, "School is always first. I was doing honor courses by the end of my sophomore year." I applaud his--or his parents--or his publicist's--acumen. Tinseltown is littered with kid stars who didn't cut it as adults--I give you Danny Bonaduce and Gary Coleman. Clearly, Zac doesn't want to end his career as teen roadkill.

In fact, whatever the future holds for this month's centerfold kids, readers will only get the sweet spin. That clean-cut sell has been a Tiger Beat specialty since 1965. While its early competitor, 16, reported on Jim Morrison and Alice Cooper, Tiger Beat kept its pages pristine: signing The Monkees to an exclusive merchandising deal and covering heartthrobs like David Cassidy and Bobby Sherman. By the mid-'70s, it was the No. 1-selling teen pub. In the mid-'80s, Tiger Beat printed the word HOT! on the cover, with photos of Kirk Cameron and Michael J. Fox inside the giant letters. The names changed over the ensuing decades, but the color pinups, a devotion to movies, music and fashion, and its squeaky-clean delivery remained. For girls who just want to have fun, Tiger Beat is boss.

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