TIME Media

See the Most Memorable New Yorker Covers Over 90 Years

The magazine, known for iconic and controversial covers, celebrates its 90th anniversary this February

There are few magazine-world traditions as instantly recognizable as the cover of the New Yorker, a space that’s only grown in prestige the further it moves from the actual contents of the magazine.

Most magazines use their covers to advertise a particular story within the issue, but the New Yorker—which is celebrating its 90th anniversary this week with nine different covers—uses its often-jokey covers to promote a general sensibility: Tuned-in but as often as not divorced from the news cycle, witty in an often absurd way, self-consciously erudite.

From the magazine’s first cover, which featured the foppish mascot Eustace B. Tilley, through editor Tina Brown’s announcing her buzzy presence with a cover depicting a Hasidic man kissing a black woman amidst racial tensions in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights, on to the recent era of sharply critical engagement with stereotypes around the Obamas and the misdeeds of Anthony Weiner and Chris Christie, the magazine’s cover has crystallized both the news and something more ineffable: The culture.

Here are some of the most memorable moments of artistic greatness from the New Yorker‘s history.

TIME movies

The Breakfast Club at 30: Read TIME’s Original Review

Cover Credit: THEO WESTENBERGER The May 26, 1986, cover of TIME

The classic teen flick was released on Feb. 15, 1985

They’re not teenagers anymore: the adolescent archetypes who populated The Breakfast Club turn 30 this weekend — the film was released on Feb. 15 in 1985 — and are celebrating with a planned theatrical rerelease.

But, when the movie was originally released, their teen-dom wasn’t necessarily their most salient feature anyway. In a piece for that week’s issue of TIME, critic Richard Corliss took a look at the fact that there were “too damn many” movies for that age group, and that the flood showed no sign of stopping. (It was more than a year later that Breakfast Club star Molly Ringwald would be featured on the cover seen here, proof that the reign of the teen queen was yet to peak.) However, he also found that some “teenpix” transcended their demographic bounds, and that Breakfast Club was one of them:

[Filmmaker John] Hughes must refer to this as his ‘”Bergman film”: lots of deep talk and ripping off of psychic scabs. But this film maker is, spookily, inside kids. He knows how the ordinary teenagers, the ones who don’t get movies made about them, think and feel: why the nerd would carry a fake ID (”So I can vote”), and why the deb would finally be nice to the strange girl (” ‘Cause you’re letting me”). He has learned their dialect and decoded it for sympathetic adults. With a minimum of genre pandering—only one Footloose dance imitation—and with the help of his gifted young ensemble, Hughes shows there is a life form after teenpix. It is called goodpix.

Read the full story here, in the TIME Vault: Is There Life After Teenpix?

See the Molly Ringwald cover story here, in the TIME Vault: Ain’t She Sweet?

TIME Pop Culture

See the Best Impersonations of Presidents From Saturday Night Live

A look back at how some of the greatest comedians impersonated the Commanders-in-Chief on the iconic late night sketch comedy show

TIME Sex

Fifty Shades of Grey and How One Sex Act Went Mainstream

A cultural evolution, from 'Fanny Hill' to 'Fifty Shades'

In 1976, a survey was distributed to American women through magazines like Cosmopolitan. The questions it asked were personal — very personal — and the answers, compiled in The Hite Report, were a landmark insight into female sexuality. Women were asked to describe their experiences, desires and disappointments. In a 1987 story, TIME praised the report’s author, Shere Hite as “the doyenne of sex polls” and “liberator of the female libido.”

(Read more from TIME’s archive on Shere Hite and her research on sex in America.)

In their anonymous responses, women vented and raved about both sexual practices and social attitudes. One of the findings that might shock audiences today, however, was actually one of the least “free love” of all. Buried in the section about receiving oral sex (and not even listed in the index), was a question about fellatio. One woman’s comment (expressed in blunter language than can be used here): “I would consider [it] with a loaded gun at my head. No other way.”

Reading that line, I wondered where that woman is now. Perhaps she’ll be one of the millions of people off to see Fifty Shades of Grey this week: the story of a young woman’s sexual awakening in which said act accounts for some of the tale’s least provocative moments. Advice about it is now a staple of Cosmopolitan today; indeed, today’s readers are told that it’s basically “the kickoff…for sex.”

How did attitudes change, and so quickly? As recently as the 1970s, this was certainly not something that a gentleman would expect. Today, the act is something more like bread before dinner: noteworthy only if it’s absent.

But there’s more to the history behind that change than a simple move toward permissiveness — and, it turns out, the ubiquity and “standardness” of fellatio is perhaps not as widespread as one might believe.

***

Fellatio has been happening for as long as humans have been around, and there are references to it from ancient Peru and classical Rome. Cultures and religions, however, have not all taken—and still do not take—the same attitude towards it.

I went to the Kama Sutra, thinking that would be an obvious starting place for historical ideas about the topic, but its discussion of fellatio is fairly brief, associating it with dirty and loose women. (Interestingly, the Kama Sutra spends much longer on the erotic quality of using one’s fingernails to impress dents in a lover’s skin.)

That classic of the dirty book canon, 1748’s Fanny Hill, makes no reference at all to fellatio, which suggests it wasn’t something commonly offered in London brothels at the time (or else that it wasn’t something that the clammy-handed readers of smut novels were expected to want). In American legal texts of the early 1900s, fellatio was clearly for fellas. The statutes referring to it, originally falling under the vaguely defined idea of “unnatural acts,” were about catching gay men. Hetero oral sex tended to get passing references in pre-World War II sex manuals, the kind that talk about the need for a man to “instruct” his presumably virgin bride. Apparently some healthy couples indulged in this kind of thing, the message ran, but it’s not part of most people’s repertoire. In 1919’s Sexual Truth Versus Sexual Lies, Misconceptions, and Exaggerations, the author wrote that cunnilingus and fellatio “are very common in the less worthy marriages.”

In his 2000 study, The Social Organization of Sexuality, sexual behaviorist E. O. Laumann theorized that oral sex became more popular in the 1920s. Laumann’s surveys, which describe the sexual histories of various age cohorts, show a big jump in oral sex right about the time when the baby boomers started hooking up. The sexual revolution brought fellatio into the public consciousness, via its most famous practitioner, Linda Lovelace.

Despite the counter-cultural frisson of the subversive act going mainstream, there’s indication that not everyone was on board with it at this point. Women started to write about fellatio, but as something they merely did, much more rarely as something they enjoyed. The narrator of Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying (1974) references it, unpleasantly. Indeed, as Samantha, the most liberated of the group on Sex and the City, consoled a friend, “there’s a reason it’s called a job.”

The act is barely depicted or mentioned in mainstream films at all before the 1990s, when the act itself became a well-known activity in the Oval Office. Bill Clinton made famous the notion that fellatio is “not sex”, and 60% of teenagers today agree with him. (The idea that it is “not sex” could go part of the way to explaining why people tend not to use protection for it.) At the time of the Starr Report, Newsweek warned readers that some of the activities described would make readers “want to throw up”, which does suggest that their readers in the 1990s (or at least the editors at Newsweek) were still not of the view that the President’s predilections were “standard.”

***

Even today, the “everyone’s doing it” attitude that prevails in sex writing is not entirely accurate.

Perhaps the reason we’ve come to believe that everyone is into oral sex is because it’s most common among white people, and it’s white sex writers who are saying that it’s universal. Yes, 75% of white college women reported in 2001 having done it at least once, according to a 2001 study called “Race, gender, and class in sexual scripts,” but only 56% of Latina and 34% of African American college women say they have. (Of these groups, only 55, 46, and 25%, respectively, describe performing fellatio as appealing).

Other research over the last twenty years bears out these ethnic differences. Among college students in the ’90s in Canada, whites were more likely than Asians to participate in oral sex. In the U.S., a national survey in 2002-2003 of women ages 15 to 44, showed that 84.3% of white women had engaged in fellatio at least once, while only 60% of Hispanic women, and 57.4% of black women had. (That’s “ever in your life,” not “regularly.”) That study’s authors found that whiteness correlated highly with practicing oral sex: “White race, age of 20-44 years, being married and having higher numbers of life time ex-partners were related to having ever given oral sex.”

In addition, though the act is much more common than it once was in mainstream films and TV, not every pop-cultural depiction has caught up with the idea that it’s standard. In some cases, it’s still used as shorthand to suggest that the man receiving it is a jerk. He’s an adulterer, a corrupt cop, or from Wall Street. The message to viewers is disregard for these scumbags mixed with (depending on the film) some level of reluctant admiration for this jerk who manages to be on the receiving end. The message is generally less mixed for the woman involved. For her, the transaction is degrading. Even Tony Soprano thought that it was only for a certain type of woman: when asked why he had a mistress, he explained that his wife “kisses my kids with that mouth.”

In the 2013 film Don Jon, which is hilariously honest about casual sex, the main character describes his girlfriend (played by Scarlett Johansson) as too hot to need to give oral sex—as though that were something only unattractive women have to do, to compensate for their other failings.

Indeed, fellatio is often seen in pop culture as the act of a desperate supplicant begging for favor (see: every single joke ever about a woman earning a promotion on her knees), a source of homophobic innuendo or simply as some kind of punishment.

So how can something that almost “everyone” is doing also be something bad? After a century of rapid evolution in attitudes toward fellatio, we’ve arrived at the warped mindset that something that is seen as degrading and awful is also often seen as obligatory for straight women — and perhaps made even more disturbing by the fact that we ignore the people who prove it’s not obligatory at all.

These cultural differences and paradoxes are ignored in the “this item is standard” mindset. I spoke to several friends while writing this piece, and one told me of having the offer of fellatio declined: the man is from a culture where that just isn’t done. By normalizing a predominantly white practice—and not even one that all white people do—the message is “your culture is having sex incorrectly.”

It’s hard to reconcile a sex-positive attitude that was supposed to allow women freedom to express their needs with the mindset that says oral sex is compulsory. In fifty years, fellatio has gone from a niche (and in many places illegal) sexual activity—which at least would have offered the frisson of an illicit thrill—to something not only normal, but also presented by mainstream culture as obligatory.

And as attitudes toward the one act have changed, that progression has perhaps created space for other acts to move from niche to mainstream (see porn, Internet). And other formerly-rare practices among heterosexuals seem to be heading towards that tipping point. Just look at Fifty Shades of Grey. If you’re looking for a hint that bondage and sadomasochism have breached the mainstream, how about an R-rated movie that breaks ticket presale records? Though Anastasia Steele’s oral-sex choices might have once scandalized audiences, today they’re just filler before the real action begins.

TIME Television

Grey’s Anatomy Creator Opens Up About What’s Coming Next

Grey's Anatomy cast pose with their awards during the 2015 People's Choice Awards in Los Angeles
Danny Moloshok—Reuters ABC drama series Grey's Anatomy cast (L-R) Kelly McCreary, Ellen Pompeo, Sarah Drew and Camilla Luddington pose backstage with the awards for Favorite TV Drama and Favorite TV Character We Miss Most during the 2015 People's Choice Awards in Los Angeles, California January 7, 2015.

Quick summary: More men

The ABC medical drama Grey’s Anatomy is returning to the screen with some doctors kindling new romances and others shifting off-screen.

Shonda Rhimes, the creator of the show, says that the series will not be set in two different places as Meredith Grey, played by Ellen Pompeo, attempts to reconcile the trials of a long-distance relationship with Dr. Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey).

In fact, Rhimes says the neurosurgeon may be spending more time off the screen than on it. Rhimes acknowledges that the show may need a greater male presence and says she is “bringing in some men,” according to Entertainment Weekly.

Read the Entertainment Weekly exclusive with Shonda Rhimes here.

[EW]

TIME Pop Culture

How Frisbees Got Off the Ground

1966, ENGLAND, FRISBEE TREND
Gamma-Keystone / Getty Images Frisbees were a trend in 1966 in England

Jan. 23, 1957: The Wham-O toy company releases the Frisbee

Fred Morrison never liked the name “Frisbee,” but he stopped complaining after sales began to soar.

The flying disc was Morrison’s invention, first sold by the Wham-O toy company on this day, Jan. 23, in 1957 — as the “Pluto Platter.” Wham-O changed the name the following year as a misspelled homage to the popular New England pastime of tossing around pie tins from Connecticut’s Frisbie Pie Company.

Fifty years later, Morrison recalled his initial displeasure, telling the Press-Enterprise of Riverside, California, “I thought the name was a horror. Terrible.”

“Frisbee” was only the latest in a series of brandings for the idea, although it happened to be the one that became a household name. When Morrison first fell for flying discs, it was 1937 and he was 17, tossing the lid of a popcorn container to the girl he would later marry. The future Mrs. Morrison — Lucile Nay, better known as Lu — shared his love of lid-throwing. Soon they upgraded to cake pans, which flew better, as he explained to the Virginian-Pilot newspaper in 2007.

The idea of improving on the cake pan — and perhaps turning a profit — was born the next year, when a stranger saw Fred and Lu tossing one back and forth at the beach and offered them a quarter for it. “That got the wheels turning,” Morrison told the Pilot, “because you could buy a cake pan for five cents, and if people on the beach were willing to pay a quarter for it, well — there was a business.”

The business got off the ground with what Morrison called the “Flyin’ Cake Pan.” He retooled the disc’s design and renamed it several times, producing models called the “Whirlo-Way” and the “Flyin’ Saucer” before landing on the “Pluto Platter.”

Although he didn’t quit his day job — first as a carpenter, then a building inspector in L.A. — Morrison was an inventor above all, as his 2010 New York Times obituary made clear. He sold two other creations to Wham-O: the Crazy Eight Bowling Ball and the Popsicle Machine (a mold for freezing juice), although neither quite reached Frisbee-level success. He was a natural salesman as well, and would hawk the Pluto Platter at fairgrounds, demonstrating the disc’s unwavering flight.

The people couldn’t resist. As TIME recounted in a 1972 story about “froupies” — Frisbee groupies — the reason behind their popularity may be a deep one:

Dr. Stancil Johnson, a long-haired Santa Monica psychiatrist who serves as Frisbee’s official historian, has an apparently sober explanation for the disks’ popularity. They are, he says, “the perfect marriage between man’s greatest tool—his hand—and his greatest dream —to fly.”

And the name didn’t hurt. Although he initially hated calling his toy a Frisbee, Morrison reversed his stance after royalties from its sales made him a millionaire, according to the Los Angeles Times. “I wouldn’t change the name of it for the world,” he said then.

Read about the time the Navy tried to use Frisbees as military tools—and failed—here in the TIME Vault: The Frisbee Fiasco

TIME Comics

You’re Going to Be Able to Buy Mickey and Donald Comic Books Once Again

Mickey Mouse congratulates coming-of-age ceremony attendants
Kyodo/AP Mickey Mouse congratulates those who attended a coming-of-age ceremony at Tokyo Disneyland in Urayasu, near Tokyo, Japan, on Jan. 12, 2015

First up: Uncle Scrooge No. 1

Timeless Disney icons are to reappear in comic stores around the U.S. starting this April.

IDW Publishing, one of the largest publishers of comics in the U.S., will use its license to the perennial Disney favorites to reprint translated versions of classic Disney comics that were originally published in foreign languages overseas, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

First will be Uncle Scrooge No. 1, followed by reprints of erstwhile titles Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Walt Disney Comics and Stories before July.

All of the comics will be adorned with new covers themed after Walt Disney resorts like Fantasyland, Tomorrowland and Adventureland.

San Diego-based IDW also holds licenses to publish comics and print spinoffs from franchises such as Star Trek and Doctor Who. Although Marvel Entertainment, owned by Disney, boasts exclusive rights to Disney theme park-related characters, IDW has the right to classic Disney icons.

[THR]

TIME

See Exclusive Portraits of the Year’s Biggest Stars in Culture

Photographs of the year's key players, from Michael Keaton to FKA twigs

TIME Pop Culture

You Can Now Buy Nick Offerman’s Wooden Emojis

All proceeds go to the Children's Defense Fund

A few weeks ago, Nick Offerman stopped by Conan’s late night talk show to sell his hand-crafted wooden emojis, for when you care enough to text in high-quality oak. As Offerman said, it’s a “more old-fashioned, more personal, more American mode of communication.”

While the commercial started out as a joke, Conan knew a good thing when he saw it and teamed up with Tilt.com to produce a limited run of the high quality, yet highly impractical, emojis and sell them with all proceeds going to a great cause — the Children’s Defense Fund.

The first batch sold out quickly, but in the great capitalist tradition, Conan is producing a second batch of the world’s heaviest emojis for charity. For $100 you can send someone you love an extremely heavy Smiley Face, Heart Eyes, The Wink, The Cat or the always popular Pile of Poo. For $300 you can send your loved one a pine-based emoji sentence sure to warm the cockles of their heart (or their fireplace, if they choose to use them as kindling). If hand-crafted whimsy isn’t enough to entice you to open your wallet, purchasers will also receive Andy Richter’s official “Certificate of Reluctant Philanthropy,” sure to impress both your parents and potential dates.

Head to Tilt now to wrap up that Christmas shopping with wooden emojis for all.

TIME Pop Culture

See All the Official Batmobiles Ever Made

Which is your favorite batmobile?

Built in 1963, the earliest officially-licensed Batmobile known to exist was used by DC Comics licensee All Star Dairies to tour small towns in the Eastern U.S. as “Batman’s Batmobile.” This original custom Batmobile precedes even the iconic Lincoln Futura iteration of the Batmobile that graced the screens in the popular 1966 Batman TV series.

As this 1963 Batmobile goes up for sale at Heritage Auctions, take a look back at all the other Batmobiles to have been featured on film.

The 1943 serial Batman and 1949 serial Batman and Robin featured unmodified Cadillac and Mercury cars respectively as their “Batmobiles” and, as such, are not featured in this gallery.

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