Zimmerman Library is now offering dating advice from the 1970s.
So if a freak time-warp leaves you in a supermarket aisle in spring ’79, try out this little gem on the cutie in the hair-products aisle: “I’ve been noticing your beautiful hair. Which of these shampoos do you use to give it that gorgeous shine?”
This killer pickup line comes courtesy of Albuquerque Singles Scene magazine, the entire catalogue of which Zimmerman Library absorbed into its permanent collection in December.
Jordan Biro, who was assigned to write a short history of the publication for Zimmerman Library, said the collection is useful for research purposes in a variety of fields.
“Students working on dissertations or anyone interested in kind of the social-cultural scene of Albuquerque can come in and use it,” she said. “It’ll be great for people interested in sociology, American studies, history, gender studies — that kind of thing.”
The magazine, which published its first issue in August 1979, is also useful as a comic goldmine/repository of retro cheesiness. For example, the aforementioned article is titled “Dromedary Dates to Dinner Dates: Singles shop for both at their favorite supermarket.”
The article goes on to advise people, “This may go without saying, but do try to look your best. There’s a lot of competition cruising those aisles.”
It also tells readers, “A majority of supermarket employees are single, and many of them admit to finding up 90 percent of their dates at the store,” and counsels them that, “Items in your cart should indicate you’re cooking for one.”
The magazine’s major selling point, however, was its’ “Person to Person” section, which Biro said was one of the earliest examples of a localized personal-ad section.
“The history of personal ads from 1930-1950, they were very rare. And then in the 1960s, they started becoming really popular. They were on more of a national scale,” she said. “So how do you meet people nationally? If you live in Albuquerque, you want to meet someone who lives in Albuquerque. So that’s why she kind of brought this magazine about, and that was the most popular aspect of it.”
These personal ads are one of many aspects of the magazine that social scientists may find interesting, Biro said.
“This collection is now open to anybody that wants to come and use it. It just depends on what your interests are,” she said. “I myself study gender and sexuality, so I would be interested in the evolution of personal ads.”
The magazine’s founder, Marilyn Stutt, decided to donate the back issues to the library after her and her son found a collection of all the back issues in Stutt’s garage, Biro said. She said Stutt had strict requirements for the personal ads banning explicit sexual content, and also refused to accept ads from people seeking same-sex relationships.
“She really wanted it to be about just meeting people on the level of friendship, or on a romantic level, but without sex,” Biro said, and then paused. “In the ad.”
The magazine also featured an events directory and places offering opportunities for singles to meet each other. One early directory entry for Graham Central Station claims it was “the largest disco in America — maybe the world!’”
Although the personal ads and the directory may have been useful on a lonely Saturday, the magazine won national fame for an educational series, Biro said. She said the magazine won a national award for an informational series they published on STDs.
However, upon perusal of a July 1984 article, “The Great Imitator – Syphilis,” the Daily Lobo found no mention of condom use, which would stand out as a glaring oversight by today’s standards.
In 1988, the magazine dropped the “Singles” part of its name and became On the Scene magazine, a name it kept until it closed its doors in August ’99, exactly 20 years after the first issue of Albuquerque Singles Scene was published.
Biro said the name change reflected a shift in focus for the magazine, which had come to focus on events throughout Albuquerque, some of which did not specifically cater to singles.
The cover story of the first issue of On the Scene, published May 1988, has no obvious connection to singles. In the article, “Jane Metzler of KOAT-TV Action 7 News and 94 Rock’s T.J. Trout discuss their highly publicized on-the air feud.”
The feud, as far as can be extrapolated from reading the interview, involved a remark Trout made about Metzler’s hairstyle.
The last issue of On the Scene magazine listed only five employees, as opposed to a total staff of 18 listed for the magazine in the mid-80s.
There was some good news, however. An “Important Notice” at the front of the magazine informs readers that they can still respond to personal ads “for at least six weeks.”