Tiger (Beat) by the Tail: Keeping the 80s Hot Today


High School Confidential: Click here to score this story of two friends separated by a dark secret.

High School Confidential: Click here to score this story of two friends separated by a dark secret.

By Alexa Day

Celebrating Isabelle Drake’s new release, a young adult novel called Best Friends Never, has put me in mind of high school. High school is now in my distant past, and I’m surprised by how little of it I remember. For one thing, I think my mind is trying to protect me from it. High school wasn’t all that gentle with me.

I have only shadowy recollections of prom season, football games, and the inimitable pain-pleasure of wanting the cutest boy in school to talk to me mixed with the horrifying certainty that I would say or do something ridiculous if this encounter actually took place. Good times, good times, right?

But two special friends made high school in the 80s easier to survive. Their names? Tiger Beat and Bop.

Tiger Beat would tell you why Johnny looks so serious here.

Tiger Beat would tell you why Johnny looks so serious here.

Let’s be honest. Tiger Beat and Bop were basically a version of Playboy, marketed toward the teenage girl. Sure, there was some incredibly hard-hitting journalism buried in their interior pages. If you wanted to know how if John Stamos was going to choose his family over you or what really happened with Scott Baio’s breakup or if George Michael was just going to walk away from Wham!, Tiger Beat had you covered.

It was a more innocent time ... for some of us.

It was a more innocent time … for some of us.

I wasn’t reading Tiger Beat and Bop for the interviews. I’m not sure I remember reading it at all. I was more about the pin-ups. Thanks to them, I always had someone super cute waiting in my locker between classes. Today, I’m learning to appreciate staying power at least as much as good looks, and my vacation down Memory Lane into the 1980s showed me that quite a few of my favorite pin-up boys have become fine pin-up men.

Check out these timeless beauties.

Looking like a billion dollars as Tony Stark, RDJ is older, smarter, stronger ... better.

Looking like a billion dollars as Tony Stark, RDJ is older, smarter, stronger … better.

Robert Downey, Jr. See that guy on the cover of Sassy? Hard to imagine that he’d eventually become the mighty RDJ we know and love today. First, of course, we must consider the obvious — he’s aging splendidly. Robert Downey, Jr. Is every lick as hot as he was almost 30 years ago, if not hotter. But what makes the man so very tempting is the knowledge that he has been through Some Shit and emerged a better, wiser, stronger man. That smooth, unlined face is a thing of the past, but in his place, we’ve got someone with perspective, wisdom, and a brilliant sense of humor. And did I mention that he’s still hot? Even hotter than before? I said that, right?

Not to worry. That frown won't leave a wrinkle.

Not to worry. That frown won’t leave a wrinkle.

Johnny Depp. The big difference between RDJ and Johnny Depp? I’m not so sure Johnny is aging. Even as Captain Jack Sparrow, he looks like he’s been around, but he doesn’t really look any older than he did in the 80s. Put that pinup next to something a little more recent, like this shot from Sleepy Hollow. Does it look like time is passing for Johnny at all? The best thing about Johnny is that he’s unpredictable. There’s something weighty and serious behind those dark eyes, and I sometimes wonder if he even knows what he’ll do next. But one thing’s for certain: almost 30 years after 21 Jump Street, he can still put a smile on a teenage girl’s face. (He’ll make a grown woman cry, too, if you’re not careful. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

Kiefer Sutherland. I’m going to cheat a little here, since I can’t put my hand on an actual pin up of Kiefer. I know I had one, though. Of all the super cute hotties of high school, he stayed in my locker the

Tiger Beat would tell you what Kiefer is looking at.

Tiger Beat would tell you what Kiefer is looking at.

longest. What can I say? Gentlemen aren’t the only ones who prefer blonds. I supplied a little something from Young Guns, which I’m ashamed to say I have never seen in its entirety. I was more about The Lost Boys, where Kiefer was at his angular, platinum blond best. Hey, if blonds are good, blond bad boys are better. And then, just to hit the hot trifecta, can we talk about that voice? This was a while after the pin-up era, but listening to Kiefer’s super sexy voice giving orders to poor Colin Farrell in Phone Booth — just the thought of that is making me fluttery. Still smoking hot in the present day, Kiefer is right now involved in HeForShe, a gender equality initiative for men and boys standing up for the rights of women and girls. Hot blond bad boy with a sexy voice becomes a hot blond feminist with a sexy voice. I will not be heard to say no to that.

Reunited sure feels good to me! Kiefer and Lou Diamond Phillips look like Young Guns just happened.

Reunited sure feels good to me! Kiefer and Lou Diamond Phillips got back together for ’24.’

So who kept your locker nice and warm back in the day? Rob Lowe? The estimable Marky Mark? Did you get caught up in the Second Coming of the Monkees, like I did? Tell all in the comments.

Be sure to get yourself a copy of Isabelle Drake’s Best Friends Never, for all that delightful teenage drama.

And make sure you’re following Lady Smut.

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6 Comments

  • Madeline Iva
    May 3, 2016 at 9:46 am

    I was not into worship of the popular male celebrity in high school, unless it smote me unexpectedly. For instance, a bunch of hot guys playing frisbee in a field, shirts off.

    But I *did* relish a photo of an ad for a guy taking his shirt off. I think I saw it in a doctor’s office and carefully ripped it out of the magazine. You can’t even see his face. It was an add for some kind of home fitness center…and it was my secret pleasure to peek at it from time to time, until my friend stole it from me and posted it right above her bed to openly worship.

    • Alexa Day
      May 3, 2016 at 11:00 am

      When I was in high school, the locally available hot guy had a couple of strikes against him. At the outset, if I went to school with him, I knew him too well to be interested in him. I don’t like to beat this drum. Let’s just say the locally available hot high school guy was vocal about his opposition to diversity and leave it there. Secondly, the locally available hot guy was generally not trying to get out of our small town, which was my #1 priority. In my youth, I was envisioning the long-term relationship in a way that is foreign to me today.

      I had a better chance of going to prom with Kiefer! He earned that spot in my locker. Got me through a lot of long afternoons. 😉

      But the one photo that was in my super secret stash for years — I had a thumbnail-sized black-and-white picture of Mel Gibson, from The Bounty, tucked away for a long, long time. Alec Baldwin eventually took his place much later on, but I was all about Mel for most of the 80s.

      Time rescues us from ourselves. 🙂

  • Isabelle Drake
    May 3, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    Tiger Beat! What else is there is say? (Except, remember the pull out center folds?)

    • Alexa Day
      May 3, 2016 at 12:56 pm

      Dude, yes! I used to use a butter knife to bend the staples so I could lift them out. Then you just have a whole bunch of loose Tiger Beat pages floating around, but hey. I was going to cut those up anyway.

  • Elizabeth Shore
    May 4, 2016 at 7:39 am

    I used to LOVE Tiger Beat! Bringing back some memories, Alexa. Those pull outs in the middle were the best.

    • Alexa Day
      May 4, 2016 at 11:49 am

      Tiger Beat is still around, but it’s digital now, which just seems like it would be inferior somehow. I mean, I get that you have to keep up with the times, and that this is the fate of so many magazines, but how does one live with an electronic centerfold?

      Sounds like a book title. Hmm.

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