Founded by Time Inc. in 1998 and shut down in 2006, Teen People magazine now mostly exists only on Tumblr and eBay. But we got our hands on every single issue from the year 2000.
Each month this year, we'll take a look back at the groundbreaking glossy.
First up: The December 1999/January 2000 issue.
The cover: Singer Christina Aguilera, thumb hooked into the waistband of what appear to be flocked velvet pants. The cover lines speak to the wide variety of topics inside: a horoscope special, Hollywood style, living with AIDS, "inside a camp for anti-abortion teens." Oh, and "up close and very personal" with LFO, aka the dudes who liked girls who wear Abercrombie and Fitch.
Paging through: One of the first ads in the issue is for the Playstation game Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage. This game involved breathing flames upon enemies and making sure your dragonfly sidekick eats enough butterflies: Very hardcore.
Millenium glitz! From Claire's. Wearing little sparkly crystals on your face — in the corner of the eye, especially — was sooo cool in the year 2000.
Page 58: This photo of Britney Spears flanked by Method Man and Redman should be your new wallpaper. In your bedroom. Above your bed. It's amazing.
Page 60: A young, tearful Aaron Carter embraces his big brother, Backstreet Boy Nick. They are both wearing white, a symbol of purity. Gaze upon this image while humming "I Want It That Way" and know an ethereal calm.
Page 93: The Christina Feature story focuses on the then-eighteen-year-old's beginnings — the Mickey Mouse Club, Star Search and so on. She is still so new to this fame thing; she describes the MTV Awards thusly: "Getting out of the limo and getting interviewed by MTV VJs with fans all around cheering — it's the first time I actually felt like a real celebrity!" says Christina, still excited. She goes on to exclaim, "I finally made it!" And this was before she starred in a movie with Cher. A pal slash backup dancer tells the magazine: ""I've worked with the Artist and Ricky Martin.. Christina's the hardest-working person I've ever met. She gets this look on her face, almost like a glare, and I know not to go near her because she's focused." Yikes?
Page 100: "Radical Behavior" is about Survivor Summer '99, a camp for young anti-abortion activists. The survivors are "all Christians and many of them home-schooled." They crash the campus of a high school in Irvine, CA. There's a kerfuffle, the cops are called, one protester is grabbed and pushed "hard against the wall" by an assistant principal:
Jessica, a pretty blonde, with sparkling eyes, is exhilarated by the confrontation. "It was so fun," she says. "I was into it." One teen named Danielle says she understands the impulse behind bombing clinics: "Oh, I can totally understand it," says Daniell. I can imagine seeing a woman walk into a clinic and thinking I want to save that baby right now. When you think that with one bomb you could just end all the murders at that clinic.. man! But it wouldn't solve the entire problem."
Wow. Unexpected and powerful. Tucked between the smiles of burgeoning superstars are real, serious issues.
Page 114: "Out Of The Dark" profiles 10 gay and lesbian stars, including The Indigo Girls, Dawson's Creek creator Kevin Williamson, My So Called Life's Wilson Cruz, Anne Heche and Chastity Bono (as he was then known).
Page 137: While skipping past an article about Felicity star Amy Jo Johnson's mother dying, a profile of Boy Meets World's Ben Savage, and the LFO story, we landed on a Candie's Ad starring Dennis Rodman and Carmen Electra, both wearing revolting purple towels and applying makeup in a mirror. Some marketing genius assumed this was what teens wanted to smell like: A D-list bathroom.
Page 140: Here's a charming story from Lil' Kim about the time the Notorious B.I.G. threatened a fashion accessory:
"I used to tour with this ugly little green flowery bag, but one of the wheels went missing. B.I.G. said, 'I will cut this bag in half if you ever bring it to the airport again.'"
Page 141: That's not a giant mp3 player on a strap being held by Mandy Moore (or what seems to be a Photoshopped, almost nearly lifelike animatronic clone of Mandy Moore). That thing is for CDs. Remember CDs?
Page 142: "The Faces Of AIDS." Well-reported and beautifully shot: Do teens still get information of this quality funneled toward them?
Page 182: Old photos of Brandy spark the age-old question: Contouring or nose job?
Page 214: As a parting shot on the last page of the issue, we're treated to a "Star Flashback" featuring Mariah Carey. It's tough to say which is more unsettling: That wedding dress, that Derek Jeter embrace or that weird straight-hair Aniston-esque pic on the upper right.
There you have it: The January 2000 issue of Teen People. An impressive mix of celebrity, news and issues, with progressive social politics deftly sandwiched between pop stars and face glitter.
Next time: A look at the February 2000 issue, starring Ms. Britney Spears.