Spending a week talking about a set of vintage Jet Magazines seems excessive, but let me explain where this passion is coming from.
About once a month when I was wee, my mom would bring me to her hair salon, Brenda’s. On this Saturday morning, while my mom, aunt, and cousin would get their hair done, I (in the height of my distracted by shiny things stage) would sit in the salon, listen to conversations, and read anything I could get my hands on.
90% of what I was reading was Jet Magazine. Jet, the weekly Black lifestyle magazine, became this only child’s best friend on said Saturdays. On an average 9-5 at the hair salon, I’d probably get from January to mid-October in my pile of Jets that Brenda would give me. I’d leave the salon extremely knowledgeable about what happened in Black America 2 years prior.
As I grew up and could be trusted to stay at home by myself on a Saturday, my relationship with Jet grew apart. I mean, I would pick one up from time to time, but nothing too serious.
Then this past Saturday happened. I walked into the Flea Market with the intentions of getting full on samples and maybe finding some Atlanta-related buttons. Then I ran into the nicest lady from Bleecker Street Antiques who was selling stuff she had collected over the years and stuff from various friend’s attics.
She had some old LIFE magazines, Avant Gardes, and High Fidelities, but all of those magazines were placed behind a pile of old Jet Magazines. Thrilled, but confused about why this White lady had a stash of Jet Magazines, I grabbed 15 of them and went:
Ma’am, with all due respect, I might have to deplete you of your entire stock of Jet Magazines. You understand, right?
She smiled and replied with:
You like those, huh? Those are just my Jets on display, I’ve got a full box of them under the table.
For the next 20 minutes, I sat in the seat she gave me and I picked out 50 of my favorite Jet Magazines. Fully understanding that I wasn’t trying to spend that much money, I narrowed it down to 14, spanning from the early 70s to the early 90s.
Over the next 5 days, I will highlight some of the best aspects of these unreal magazines, today focusing on ranking the covers.
#14 — Billy Paul: Jan 22, 1976
Billy Paul was more than a 1-hit wonder, but his most famous jam was the homewreckers anthem “Me and Mrs. Jones”. Before this Jet, I had never seen a picture of Billy Paul, but now the song makes much more sense. I mean, what woman could resist that face… at those glasses… at that Zorro hat… and that 6-piece suit… and that pinky ring… and that Kool-Aid smile. I don’t want to call him an outright pimp… but he definitely has pimp tendencies.
#13 — Redd Foxx: May 11, 1987
I love Redd Foxx, I grew up watching Sanford and Son, and when I become old and gray, I hope to have some of the fatal flaws that made him so challenging and endearing. The kicker with this cover, however, is the note on the bottom right corner: “‘The Cosby Show’ goes to Spelman College for the Season Finale”. Very few things make me happier than this.
#12 — Glynn Turman: August 12, 1976
Mr. Turman has been a baller for a long time, and I’m not just saying because I know his daughter (WHAT UP DEE, SWAG SWAG SWAG). I first knew of him from A Different World, but as time has gone on, the more I’ve learned of his long, illustrious career.
Also, Alice Jubert, I don’t know who you are, but I like you. A lot. Glynn, just know I was about 5 minutes away from photoshopping your head out and replacing it with mine. Is that rude? Yes. Am I sorry? Not at all.
#11 — Minnie Riperton: August 2, 1979
Jet got Minnie Riperton’s last interview. That’s big. Between having a 5 and-a-half octave range, being the voice behind “Lovin’ You”, having one of my favorite album covers ever, being Maya Rudolph’s mom, being one of the first celebrities to go public with her own breast cancer, and dying too young at 31, I consider her one of the biggest legends out there. Well done, Jet.
#10 — Magic Johnson & Earl Graves: August 20, 1990
Earl Graves’ sideburn chops + Magic Johnson’s expertise on the English language = the greatest partnership ever. Too bad they invested in Pepsi, because that soft-drink is for terrorists and Coke is for #biwinners. Had they invested in Sweet Tea, this would probably be #1.
#9 — James Brown: January 8, 1976
HA! HOO-WAH! MACEO! BROTHER MACEO! THROW SOME TREBLE IN IT! GIVE EM THE KICK! HA! 6 TIMES! SWEATIN! STANKY! BIG PAYBACK! WOMAN! GET DOWN! WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! HUH! GET DOWN! SMOKIN! CHOKIN! SEX! 6 TIMES!
#8 — Herschel Walker: April 4, 1983
The most talented college football player of all time went to UGA. Just sayin’.
#7 — Angela Davis: May 16, 1974
I will always feel a special connection to Angela Y. Davis because when she was a fugitive, my mom got pulled over because they both were Black, both had afros, and both were fly. While I would never wish bad things on my mom, I sort of wish they would have just locked her up for like 5-6 weeks until they finally realized that my mom wasn’t Angela. Wow, that sounds horrible. I don’t know. Nevermind.
#6 — Lisa Bonet, Raven-Symone, and Joseph C. Phillips: Sept 15, 1991
Raven and Lisa were 2 of my first 6 crushes, which is awkward because they were stepmom and daughter. Note that this is the 2nd Cosby Show/Different World-related cover and please know it isn’t the last.
#5 — Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Ashe: March 24, 1977
As a Black youth growing up playing tennis in the inner city, Arthur Ashe was my #1. My mom and my coaches made sure Arthur was an athletic hero for me and the kids I grew up with, as well as a life hero. Finding this cover gave me the chills and eventually, I could see this one going in a frame. Big frame.
#4 — Phylicia Rashad, Debbie Allen, and their Mom: May 18, 1987
In case you didn’t know, Debbie Allen and Phylicia Rashad are sisters. They’re like Emilio Estevez & Charlie Sheen times 5 or Lisa Raye & Da Brat times 150,000. In a variety of different ways, I have described my love for Phylicia Rashad/Claire Huxtable. At a later date, I’ll tell the story of when I offended Ahmad Rashad by talking about how fly Phylicia was, not realizing they were divorced and he had re-married. Without digressing any further, the most important thing is that this cover is how beautiful of a family they are. Cosby/Different World cover #3.
#3 — Halle Berry: January 20, 1992
19 years have passed since this picture, and she doesn’t look that different. I’m not going to say anything else, because it’s hard to type while drooling.
#2 — Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr, and Lawrence Fishburne: July 15, 1991
This is one of the better photos I’ve ever seen. It has that less-intimidating Tupac/Suge/Snoop/Dre Death Row feel to it, but instead it’s Ice Cube (wearing an Ice Cube t-shirt), Cuba wearing a Margaritaville short-sleeve, and Lawrence Fishburne a.k.a. “Larry Fishburne” (as he must have originally been referred to) looking like the pre-Morpheus boss that he was. I could (and at some point, will) go into why Boyz N The Hood is a Top-3 movie for me, but for now just understand that this Jet is currently resting under my pillow and has no intention of moving. Whatever #1 is, it must be epic, because pretty much NOTHING tops Dough Boy, Tre, and Furious Styles…
#1 — Lisa Bonet: October 26, 1987
I’ve yet to look this this photo in the eyes. It’s too much right now. Saying something like “this is the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen” sounds a little dramatic, so I won’t say it. Saying something like “I would go to the far reaches of the Earth to simply hold hands with the woman that wears pearls with a grey t-shirt and a high houndstooth pencil skirt” isn’t a constructive, necessary statement for me to make. What I will say is that this is the first photo to ever make me blush. What I will say is that I hate Lenny Kravitz. And what I will say is that few eclipse that which was Lisa Bonet in 1987. I can’t say anything else, I’m exhausted.
And, oh yeah… Cosby/Different world cover #4.
Tomorrow — Top 10 Jet Advertisements.