Monkees Fandom: That was Then, This is Now
Monkee Fandom: From Teen Magazine and Newspapers to Websites and Social Media
By M.A. Cassata
I didn’t think much about Monkees Fandom until about the mid-80s when I was working at Tiger Beat in Teaneck, New Jersey. I was knee-deep in all kinds of other celebrity fandom at the time involving the likes of Michael J. Fox, Kirk Cameron, Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, George Michael, Duran Duran, and Boy George to name a few. That was about all I could handle.
I didn’t understand true fandom until I began working on several Monkees special magazines (and later a book) that Tiger Beat was producing for the big 20th Anniversary Tour. I was pretty surprised about the re-emergence of “Monkee Mania” that resurfaced at the time. First and second generation fans called the office (of course all the calls were promptly transferred to me —the Monkee editor!) and sent hundreds of letters a week declaring their dedication and approval of our original revised ’60s to ’80s re-issues.
Then, of course there were those “critical” (first gen) few who complained that we should have left the original ‘60s magazines as is and didn’t have the right to do 20th Anniversary specials on such a huge national level when for years dedicated Monkees fan newsletters were carrying the torch. It was like “All of a sudden who made you the authority on The Monkees?”
Well, yeah we were hired to produce the “new” official issues. It was my job. That puts us in an authoritative position especially when we are working directly with the Monkees themselves and their handlers. So it hurt a little. As the saying goes, “If I knew then what I know now,” I may have handled things a little differently. I never expected “Monkee Mania” to be in full force — second time around!
I wondered why the Monkees were suddenly so wildly popular again. So what’s the big deal? I know 20th Anniversary, new album, Nesmith may do a show or two. Does lightning strike twice? I have rarely seen that happen in the teen star field. What a wonderful surprise it was to experience the reunion tour which had been more successful (and profitable for the guys) than the original ’60s tours.
Many young Monkees fans of the 60’s became parents of teens by the 1980s’ and wanted to share their admiration of The Monkees with a whole new generation. (Let’s not forget about MTV airing the show too). So now, 50 years later I see fans are just as dedicated and their loyalty is stronger than ever!
For me, it was all about the music and fun they so easily represented. Like all first and second-generation fans, we had to rely on local radio, teen magazines, and a couple of different official and unofficial fan club newsletter subscriptions for the latest news on our favorite music artists. Since the mid-90s, the Internet changed all that. Like many fans, I first poked around various newsgroups like alt.music.monkees for new info and to correspond with old and new younger fans.
Now, thanks to dear Brad for building the first (and best ever!) Monkees site to date, we didn’t have to be Monkee news-starved anymore!
For over two decades it is still fascinating to see how Monkee fandom has transitioned from “traditional” print publications to websites and social media. Without missing a beat, we kind of picked up right where we left off. We don’t have to search like crazy anymore. From the official Monkee members to dozens of really good fan sites (that cover everything from music, TV show episodes, facts, FAQ, biography and discussion boards), plus social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, we’re set for the next 20 years!
Besides Monkees.net, where do you get your Monkees new fix on the Internet?