The XX Factor

How to Get on the Cover of People Magazine

Good news for boomer celebrities, People magazine wants you on its cover. The New York Times Generation B column , in which Michael Winerip tracks life trends of 78 million middle-aged people , struck an encouraging note Sunday reporting that relics of the counterculture still appeal as commercial sex symbols, at least from a marketing standpoint. Since magazine readers between 45 and 59 make up 28 percent of People ‘s circulation, over the last 11 years, its editors chose five annual ” sexiest man alive ” covers from the aging hipster demographic. Famous senior-ish ladies have also called out from checkout lanes for various newsworthy achievements, especially losing or gaining an enormous amount of weight. When Valerie Bertinelli , dropped 50 pounds, she posed in a bikini . Kirstie Alley ‘s extra 83 pounds got her a People cover wearing a hot pink sundress. Some prominent prehistoric persons, especially longtime favorites of the 35-year-old celebrity glossy, such as Farrah Fawcett and Cher , have appeared on People covers multiple times. Sadly, although People is bullish on boomers (10 boomer covers so far this year, compared with 11 total in 2007), there are only so many senior celebrities to choose from. Citing Madonna’s lackluster sales for her 13 th cover girl appearance, People editor Larry Hackett complained, “If you keep going to the same ones over and over, you get reader fatigue.”

Fortunately for the weekly (though not so much for the aging population), at least one newsworthy event remains for the slogging-toward-oblivion crowd. Death sells. The cover of Tim Russert , who died at 58, was a newsstand top-10 last year. Fawcett ‘s prolonged battle with cancer has been well-documented in the magazine, so it seems she is also due for one last front. Hackett told Winerup, “At this point Farrah has to die. It’s the only cover left for her.”