Streisand Fan Magazines Over the Years
by Matt Howe
There was once a time before the Internet, cable television, VCRs and DVDs existed. As Streisand herself once expressed, “How did we ever manage?” How did Streisand fans gather information about Barbra before the days of Entertainment Tonight, People Magazine and the internet?
Paul Ancheta, a Streisand fan who grew up in Manila, Philippines, remembers, “it was almost impossible to connect with overseas fans. I remember writing a female fan from America in 1981. I found her address in a copy of the Rona Barrett tabloid magazine, and she wrote back with two 1970s photos signed by Barbra.” Ancheta, like a lot of fans, searched for news about Streisand in book stores, thrift shops and even microfilm in local libraries.
Ultimately, it was enterprising Streisand fans who helped keep other fans informed. Over the years, several newsletters and fanzines have been dedicated to Barbra Streisand's career.
The earliest one, a newsletter which was mailed out in the 1960s by the Streisand National Fan Club, was called the Streizette. Allison Waldman (author of The Barbra Streisand Scrapbook) recalls that the Streizettes were one-page newsletters (typed and Xeroxed) which fan club members could receive by sending a self-addressed stamped envelope. Initially they were signed by Roslyn Kind, Barbra's half-sister and the fan club president. Later, Melanie Arnold took over that title. The newsletter covered all the latest Streisand news, anecdotes from the set of her latest film, award information, reviews, etc. “I remember one had a cute story about Jason singing 'Hello, Dolly' to Barbra for mother's day,” Waldman says. The Streizettes ceased mailing in 1974.
[Note: Barbra-Archives has scanned several Streizettes. You can view PDFs of them here.]
In the 1970s, when Barbra was appearing in more films, as well as singing live in Las Vegas, there were two enterprising fans that started Streisand mailing lists.
Rafe Chase, a California resident, distributed a Streisand newsletter in 1972 and 1973. “Rona Barrett's magazine had a page with letters from readers who wanted to connect with like-minded fans,” says Chase. “I wrote in saying I wanted to buy or trade magazines, pictures, etc. on Streisand. It listed my address and soon I was getting lots of mail, including articles on Barbra from the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Then I got the idea of making a newsletter that culled all the important and timely print material that I could find or that was sent to me.”
Although Rafe's newsletter was modest, “the last four issues had a page of photos I had professionally printed,” he says, proudly. “This was an exciting period: Doc, Sandbox and The Way We Were came out. Lots of possible projects were floated, including With or Without Roller Skates, The Merry Widow directed by Ingmar Bergman and Freaky Friday.”
As the 1980's approached, Streisand fans began creating slick publications dedicated to “the greatest star.”
Ronnie Durrence, of Savannah, Georgia, was a super-Streisand fan who, for many years, created and mailed a newsletter that he dubbed the Barbra News Sheet (or BNS). Compiled from magazine and newspaper clippings, Ronnie mailed them at his own expense, although many of the people on his list sent stamps to him to cover the cost of the mailings. He visited Las Vegas in 1972 and wrote all about his adventures seeing Streisand perform at the Hilton. Ronnie was fastidious in his descriptions of the shows— he even sketched the outfits that Barbra wore each night he saw her perform! [Note: Barbra-Archives has reproduced some of Durrence's Las Vegas news sheets here.]
Craig Dickson of Las Vegas is one of the fans who received (and kept!) Ronnie's newsletters. “He sent them to me for at least 15 years on a semi-weekly schedule,” says Craig. “It got to the point where those of us on his list would start searching for Barbra items to include in the news sheet, and we'd send them to him.”
Ronnie passed away shortly before Streisand's Millennium concerts in 2000.
One of the best Streisand fan magazines debuted in 1979 and ran for ten issues through 1983. Barbra (also know as Barbra Quarterly) magazine was founded by Streisand fans Chris Nickens and Bob Scott. Karen Swenson, Vernon Patterson, Guy Vespoint, and others contributed well-researched articles to the magazine. Later, Streisand biography author James Spada joined the magazine. Spada remembers that Chris Nickens “supplied a lot of the pictures because he had a collection, which I didn't. I think Bob [Scott] was struggling, as I ultimately did, with keeping [the magazine] going. I had some money to put into it and I thought it might be interesting to make it higher quality with color and glossy paper and all the other changes we made.”
Barbra magazine paved the way for future fan magazines and was a pre-Internet way for fans to keep informed about Barbra's career. It had regular features like “Letters That Cross in the Mail” (reader correspondence), “Extra, Extra” (the latest Streisand news), and “Don't Believe What You Read” (nonsense written about Streisand). James Spada says the Barbra staff was a “core group of Streisand fans who wanted to participate in the magazine. We met some extraordinarily talented people—good writers who were willing to work for practically nothing, which is all we could pay them!”
STREISAND NOW & THEN
The fanzine Streisand Now & Then filled the void left after Barbra Quarterly ceased publication in 1983. Its editor, John Manzer, was a fan/collector extraordinaire and entertainment historian by avocation. Bill Saul, Richard Bright, and Harv Bishop were the writers on staff. In all, four issues were produced. The magazine compiled lists of Streisand television appearances (especially from the 1960s), as well as a discography, which included rare and foreign pressings. Because of the film buffs on the magazine's staff, the fanzine featured excellent articles on Streisand's films, including information on early drafts of screenplays and cut scenes.
Harv Bishop recalls, “I was a student working towards a journalism degree and we shared a passion for Barbra Streisand, collecting and film history in general. John [Manzer] was a great raconteur and had a wealth of information so I felt the interview format was best to catch him at his liveliest. We would usually watch the [Streisand] film or special (he had a home 16mm theatre) or listen to tracks (all from John's collection) and record the dialogues on the spot which I would later transcribe and edit on what passed for a computer in those days.”
Like other Streisand publications, the staff of Now and Then also faced monetary issues. “I'm still amazed we managed to get out as many issues as we ultimately did,” says Bishop. “We felt the photos and artwork should be of highest quality and were one of the strongest assets for the magazine. Subscriptions definitely helped and John cared about it enough to use some of his own funds to keep going.”
B.S.A. (BARBRA STREISAND ASSOCIATION)
B.S.A. was a fan club (basically the only one) that was launched in the UK during the 1980s. It had members all over the world and the xeroxed A4 newsletters (stapled in the top left hand corner) were typed up and full of news and the latest pictures. It closed shortly before the start of All About Barbra magazine.
ALL ABOUT BARBRA
Of all the Streisand fanzines, All About Barbra has published the longest. “When I first started this publication way back in 1985, I never imagined it would run so long,” says Editor, Lynne Pounder. “It is and has always been put together by a group of dedicated admirers of Barbra Streisand. It is very much a group effort. Only problem is, we're spread all over the world. Our staff members reside in England, Scotland, America and even Australia. How we did this 20 years ago, I don't know, but with the Internet—well it all comes together so much quicker.” [All About Barbra website is here.]
Due to the immediacy of the Internet, why is a printed magazine is still relevant? “We maintain a constant record,” Lynne explains. “Collecting each issue builds into a competent reference library of this artist's amazing career.”
In recent years, AAB has scaled back its printing, dabbled in online-only digital versions of the magazine, and is now maintaining a blog.
Pounder decided in 2010 to cease publication of the magazine. “After publishing All About Barbra for almost 28 years, we realized the internet, its speed and massive coverage, was overshadowing us.”
Currently, in 2015, All About Barbra is still publishing!
JUST LIKE BUTTAH
Thomas Galyean of Arlington, Texas started Just Like Buttah (JLB) magazine in 1993. Issues 1-4 were Xeroxed newsletters mailed to members of the Prodigy online service. Issue number five was full-size, but Xeroxed. With issue number six, the magazine transformed itself into a professionally printed fanzine. Galyean recalls, “I never had a vast collection of photos, so I had to rely on other fans. I did purchase some images from photo services. The photo used for the JLB #9 cover cost me about $900. News and information was collected from a variety of sources: from fans, trade publications, etc. A lot of the material written for JLB was from fans.”
Just Like Buttah had a sense of humor about its subject and featured some modern, eye-popping design. “I have some fond memories of publishing Just Like Buttah,” Galyean says. “It was a lot of fun. I enjoyed the design work. JLB was the first fan magazine—the only fan magazine to have color inside, not just a color covers.”
Once the popularity of the Internet caught on, Galyean noticed a difference. “It was one of the factors that made me stop publishing. It was getting harder to find subscribers who were willing to pay $10 or more for a fan publication when they could get news free on the Internet. Also, by the time I printed my last issue (#15), Barbra was pretty much in a semi-retirement mode. Not much was going on.”
Below is a summary of the last few issues of JLB magazine from the publisher. (Back issues are still sold on ebay.)
Issue #6 — Featured the first ever online chat of 30 fans talking about the film, The Way We Were; featured photos of Barbra at the Harvard University; The cover was an alternate of The Way We Were album photo and the gorgeous back cover photo of Barbra from the TWWW film. Also featured is a full-color centerfold mini poster [“Barbra Streisand–Cover Girl”] with 12 gorgeous foreign magazine covers.
Publisher's Note: This was the first commerically printed version of JLB. The previous 5 issues were just simple photo copy newsletters/magazines. This is actually issue #6SE— Special Edition. The original #6 had a black-and-white cover and a horrible center fold. Two years later the issue was reprinted with the new color cover and with a neat mini-poster for the centerfold.
Issue #7 — Featuring Barbra’s Emmy wins for Barbra: The Concert; a special article on the 10 year anniversary of The Broadway Album; feature article of Barbra at the 1986 Grammy Awards; rare photos of Barbra at Brandeis and Harvard Universities and a review of Barbra’s quadraphonic albums of the 70s.
Issue #10 — Special issue for the release of The Mirror Has Two Faces featuring a very intense and detailed interview Barbra gave to the foreign press; photos from the film and film reviews by critics and fans.
Issue #11 — Featuring a cover of Barbra and James Brolin. Articles include an interview with TV producer Gary Smith; an article on foreign magazines promoting Mirror; a full-color mini-poster of Barbra at the 1992 Presidential Gala, and a gorgeous back cover of Barbra from the early 70s.
Issue #12 — This issue features an interview with Barry Dennen, who was with Barbra when she was starting her career at the young age of 18; a sneak preview of Higher Ground album; an article about a Barbra fan convention held in Hollywood; and another gorgeous color back cover portrait from the early 70s.
Issue #13 — Featuring a great publicity cover photo; reviews of Higher Ground; a gorgeous full color centerfold mini poster; also a pictorial of rare, never published photos of Barbra at Live Concert at the Forum; and a back cover portrait of Barbra and Celine Dion.
Issue #14 — Featuring Barbra and Jim Brolin on the cover, and a back cover photo from the Hollywood Walk of Fame; special feature on Barbra’s wedding with rare photos; reviews of the album A Love Like Ours by music critics and fans; 10-page feature on the 25-year anniversary of The Way We Were and a full-color mini poster of Barbra from the movie.
The offical last issue issue of JLB was #15. According to the publisher, the printer made an error in the print run and they shorted him a couple hundred copies. It is rare to find a copy of JLB #15.
Tony Andriacchi, founder of Barbrabilia, recalls, “The Concert tour was the catalyst that made me develop Barbrabilia magazine. While I had seen the other fanzines and thought they were all excellent, I wanted to try something different. While I would include info about Barbra's current projects and her professional career, what I really wanted to concentrate on was the memorabilia associated with Barbra's career. I contacted a long time Barbra collector, Richard Giammanco—the guru of Streisand Collectibles—and together we set out to give Barbra fans a 'bible' of Barbra's collectibles.”
Barbrabilia published eight issues from 1994 - 1996. Along the way, fitness guru Richard Simmons became involved and co-published the magazine. Andriacchi sums up his publishing experience by saying, “Barbra has an extremely loyal fan base. It was a joy to communicate with them and become involved with their lives. I met three of my best friends, who have been in my life for over 10 years, because of our mutual admiration of Barbra.”
THE BARBRA FILE
Streisand fans Anne Zarraonandia and Allison Waldman started the AOL Streisand message board online (message boards are Internet thread discussion forums which allow users to post and reply to messages from other users). After Barbra's 1994 concert tour, “the fans were flocking to it in droves,” Waldman remembers. “It seemed to me that a monthly newsletter with all the up-to-date news would really be welcomed by fans. And I was right because The Barbra File took off rather quickly.”
Waldman's biggest challenge was how to package her Streisand newsletter without the benefit of high quality printing and photo reproduction. The Barbra File, she reveals, “was desktop publishing on the grassroots level. I continued trying to upgrade the paper quality and photo reproduction, but there were limitations. Therefore, I came up with an inducement to make The Barbra File special. I culled great photos from my personal collection and reprinted them in bulk. Every subscriber would receive the issue plus a 4x6 Kodak reprint of a gorgeous Barbra image. It was like the prize in the Cracker Jacks box. The readers seemed to really like the photos and collected them.”
The Internet initially aided Allison Waldman's newsletter. “Many subscribers discovered The Barbra File because of my first—very basic—website, as well as my presence on the message boards,” she explains. “Over time, though, the Internet definitely cut into my subscriber base. It became more and more difficult to compete because the news online was virtually instantaneous. And the online community was spreading Barbra photos like wildfire. Only the most diehard readers were sticking with The Barbra File.”
Ultimately, publishing her own Streisand newsletter was very positive for Allison. “The entire experience put me in contact with thousands of Streisand fans around the world and that was great. And doing the publication helped me to get involved with the Barbra fan conventions (The Reunions), which were absolutely amazing! The publication helped spread the word about The Reunions, and I personally was on the committees that planned them. So, maybe when all is said and done, the best memory of The Barbra File is the way it led to The Barbra Reunions. Those are memories I'll never forget—ever.”
Published in 1984, BARBRA PASSIONEMENT lasted only one issue yet contained some fantastic photos and stories about Barbra's public appearances in France. Many of the stories (printed in both French and English) were about Barbra at Yentl press conferences and premieres, as well as other European trips she made in the 60s and 70s.
[Pictured, right: Barbra Passionement magazine]
Oliver Brand published the first German Barbra Streisand fan magazine, SONGBIRD. “It was an unofficial magazine, but Barbra sent me an issue with her autograph,” Oliver says. Four issues were printed from December 1996 to September 1997.
Another German fanzine named SIMPLY was published by Martin Linke and Werner Matrisch in Germany. 25 issues were published between 1992 and 2000. Werner Matrisch sent scans (below) of the magazine:
Richard van den Born published Simply Streisand, a Dutch fanzine, in the 1990s.
Mark Bliss, founder of The Australian Barbra Streisand Association, published THE VOICE newsletter in the 90s.
Once personal computers became affordable and more people began accessing the Internet, the breadth of information about Barbra Streisand increased and spread. AOL “Streisand tribute pages” sprung up over night.
People began scanning their photos of Streisand and posting them online. Mark Iskowitz's web site, THE BARBRA STREISAND MUSIC GUIDE (www.bjsmusic.com), was the first substantial Streisand site to offer in-depth coverage of Streisand's recording career.
Now it is possible to search Google for Barbra Streisand and have a choice of 16,000,000 results to view! Several web sites dedicated to Streisand have been online for years. There are many interactive forums online— including Facebook pages and groups — where fans can connect with other fans, chat or post messages about Barbra, her career, and the latest news. Ebay, “the world's online marketplace,” has made it amazingly easy to buy Streisand collectibles. And Streisand herself has indulged her political interests by linking to important articles on her own website (www.barbrastreisand.com). Streisand's official site even sponsored a contest for fans to write reviews of The Movie Album and posting them on the site.
The Internet has made finding information on Barbra Streisand efficient and instantaneous. It wasn't so long ago, though, that Streisand newsletters and fanzines arrived in mailboxes around the world, updating her fans on her latest recording or film project.