A German Bible of Pop Culture
Unknown to many, Bravo magazine was a case of serious success among pop culture dedicated magazines in Europe during the 70’s and 80’s. Pop Expresso revives some of the highlights of the magazine through our own personal archive. In every sense a German Bible of Pop Culture.
Bravo magazine has been since the late 50’s one of the most successful and complete pop culture magazines issued. All tough it never crossed the European market, the often featured international subjects along with it’s graphics and extras, made it an object of curiosity to other non German or European pop culture fans.
Founded by columnist Peter Boenisch, the magazine was first published on August 26th 1956 and had teenagers as the target audience and readers. It increased in popularity during the 1960’s by covering a big chunk of Rock and Pop’s biggest Anglo-Saxon artists (such as The Rolling Stones and The Beatles) as well as promoting German and European pop and rock acts just as other European magazines at the time did, for example the French “Salut Les Copains” that was published monthly, due to demand Bravo started being published weekly. Though music was the main focus in Bravo by then, also TV and Cinema were regular features as well as Teenage sex counseling. Featured in every issue were always one or more extras, being through the 60’s mostly posters, pop stars calendars and puzzles, these features were upgraded as the 70’s began. Colorful (but not necessary) super posters “(Super Plakat”) from the biggest acts of the 70’s (Rock, Heavy Metal, Glam Rock and Pop as well as TV and Movie Stars) along with nostalgic posters and features about 50’s stars such as James Dean or Marilyn Monroe, started to being issued with the magazine, sometimes together with three or more 2 page size posters and portraits. Sports also begun getting a more important spot in the magazine as sports celebrities started to be promoted as Pop Culture figures too.
Towards the end of the 70’s decade Bravo start to include the “Autogrammkarte”, a detachable glossy autographed pin up photo of popular artists or names. The increasing number of quality collectibles boost the popularity of the magazine that starts getting a wider distribution inside Europe. The German language for some non-German speakers was no longer a problem, the graphics, posters and collectibles of pop idols that the magazine offered were reasons enough to buy the magazine. High in popularity and demand in countries such as Portugal and Spain, and being “trafficked” into communist East Germany, the 1970’s were the beginning of Bravo’s golden era, where it dominated the market of pop culture magazines in Germany (Pop Rocky and Popcorn were the other two major best sellers). With the 1980’s the magazine readjusted again to a new generation and audience, the graphics update in order to adjust a new era, started in the late 70’s, by the 80’s the graphics modifications were noticeable on the cover and on the inside, a new selection of extras and collectibles were added, such as the Star-Album, a booklet consisting of 16 pages dedicated to an artist that could be cut out from the magazine shaping into a mini-Bravo issue, and the popular Stickers, that as the name indicates were collectible glossy stickers from pop and sports artists from every range among other themes, they became Bravo’s most popular extra feature in the 1980’s. Featuring the lyrics to hit songs ever since the magazine started, it wasn’t up until the mid 1980’s that the “Songbook” begun also to be considered a Bravo collectible, first with 3 or 4 full pages featuring hit songs lyrics along with it’s translation in German and colorful photographs of the artists, in late 1986 the format changed to a page sharing two songs and the photographs of the artists separated from the lyrics. In 1986 the magazine started being published in the Spanish language to keep it’s popularity outside Germany growing, but the German issues remained the best sellers. As the 1980’s came to an end the magazine kept it’s high popularity as a cult magazine up until the early 90’s but after that it slowly begun to lose field as the new technologies such as the Internet emerged and new pop culture magazines took over the open market in Europe and Germany.
The Otto Award
Bravo magazine awards every year the top artists by doing a fan voting through the magazine. There are multiple categories including singers, bands, actors, sports figures etc. the top 3 winners in each category are awarded the Otto. This award was given to many well known personalities over the years, such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Metallica, Tina Turner, Michael Jackson, Tom Cruise, Sylvester Stallone among many others.
Nowadays the magazine is issued in 11 languages: German, Polish, Czech, Portuguese, Serbian, Slovenian, Spanish, Romanian, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Russian. The golden era might have gone by but after a legacy of 61 years and generations of teenagers and readers, the magazine still stands strong in the market keeping on with the times and offering what we still cannot get straight from the internet: high quality posters and collectibles.
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