"His lips covered mind again, stopping my words eagerly. We made love just as I'd dreamed, and it was all I had ached and longed for all these weeks. Paul was full of tenderness. It was heaven, the ecstasy we shared. I wanted our moment to last forever. . .
"But Paul was stricken. 'Heather, forgive me! I should never allowed this to happen."
"I stopped his protests with kisses. 'Hush darling. Tonight has meant so much to me. Nothing will ever make me regret what we've done.'"
- From "I GAVE UP EVERYTHING FOR THE MAN WHO CAN NEVER BE MINE," True Love magazine, July issue.
You who doubt the Revolution has come, should be advised of a major and incontrovertible change in the annals of kissing and telling.
Heather has sinned but she did not suffer. Wages of Sin, Success And Puppy Love On the Newsstand
Heather sinned with a preacher and she did not suffer.
Heather (it gets worse) ssinned with a married preacher who (it had to come to this) got her pregnant . . . and still she did not suffer.
"That was an old idea someone stirred up," says Florence J. Moriarty, editor-in-chief of True Love magazine. "I never believed that," she adds dryly. "I never believed that if you sinned you necessarily had to suffer. Some people, you know, do not suffer. Many of the magazines did indeed once have that kind of premise. And it's a big bore."
There is not disbelieving Florence J. Moriarity as she sketches the common-sense evolution of the wages of sin in the confessional magazines. It has something to do with her sober print dress, her neatly waved dark brown hair, her alert and authoritative posture, which makes her look like nothing so much as a middle-aged librarian about to impart the mysteries of the Dewer Decimal System.
But the credibility Moriarty inspires rests largely on her position. For she is not only editor-in-chief of True Love magazines, but also of True Romance, True Confessions, Modern Romances, Secrets, True Story and True experience.
"The Trues" - is how Moriarty lumps them.
And the Trues seem to have changed a good bit since the days when we all had to hide them from our mothers. 'The Trues - you have only to delve beyond certain sensational cover headlines into the shocklingly tame stories inside - have devolved considerably into warm-hearted, inspirational slices of life.
There is, however, a war of perceptions raging here. Which changed more - and which changed first - society or the confessional magazines? What kind of confession can shock us any more? Times have changed and so, no doubt, have mothers, but the fact remains that "I NEED MOONLIGHT AND ROSES TOO" (True Confessions, July) is not the stuff of shame, blushes and eternal repentance. It's all ver depressing.
"I think (the confessional magazines) were possibly more sensational at that time," says Moriarty, nodding agreebly. THouse of Trues
More than 20 years ago, Moriarty began this phase of her flourishing career at Modern Romances when it was owned by Dell. Later she worked on True Confessions - a magazine originally owned by Fawcett. Little by little, True by True, the Macfadden Women's Group brought up the confessional magazines of competitors and gave birth to more of their own, so that now Florence J. Moriarty can look about her modest East 42nd Street office, decorated with pictures of a lot of cats, and say happily, "Never did I think that pretty much all the Trues would be under the same roof"
Moriarty is here omitting, for reasons of her own, such confessional magazines as Modern Love and Real Confessions, which are not under the Macfadden roof, but have been around about 25 years. Real Confessions contains such stories as "WE SPENT OUR ANNIVERSARY IN A SEX MOTEL" - and Moriarty doesn't think much of this kind of competition.
With pride, she will point to the framed cover of the very first issue of True Story (May, 1919). Bernarr Macfadden's first-born confessional. It shows an illustration of a very handsome man, scowling most dreadfully at an unhappy woman, and it reads, "AND THEIR LOVE TURNED TO HATE . . ."
True Story is no mean boast as a name. Florence J. Moriarty is very particular about this, bringing up the subject of all her magazines' veracity unprovoked:
"Contrary to what most people think, we do buy actual stories," she says crisply. "We request signed affidavits. Either from the freelance writer or from the people involved if they wrote the story."
Of course there must be allowances made for the fact that the free-lancer was obviously not there when the story took place, so these things are somewhat fictionalized," Moriarty explains. "I like to compare to the day Lincoln was shot or the day Christ was crucified," she says. One does what one can with the facts, in other words.
And so we must assume that "I GAVE UP EVERYTHING FOR THE MAN WHO CAN NEVER BE MINE" is also, all of it, basically true. That Heather (names changed to protect the innocent naturally) gave birth to her lovechild, and then gave it to adoption, without ever telling Paul, the married minister. That Paul and his unwitting wife in a touching move to mend their marriage decided to adopt a little one.
And that - you guess it - the little one they ended up adopting was none other than Heather's baby.
If only they knew . . .
"I paid for my sin by bringing joy to others," reads the caption next to the photograph of "Heather" and "Paul" "Now only God knows my guilty secret!"
Well, there are two points to be made about that. The first is that the actual story itself never uses the word "sin." Both Trues and Untrues alike do occasionally exaggerate the moral and immoral value of their stories in the captions. And the second is that the model used to illustrate poor Heather is wearing what can only be described as a Chiquita Banana costume; and that she is shown vamping a priest-like character who is looking the other way. Which he most certainly did not do in the story.
Moriarty, smiling modestly, points to the logo on the first issue of True Story. It reads, "TRUTH IS STRANGER THAN FICTION."
"That was Bernarr Macfadden's saying," she explains.
That was in fact Lord Bryon's saying, coming as it does from his poem about the most confessional character of them all - Don Juan.
"When we were settled together on a couch and Holly had said several appropriate comfortin words, she leaned close to me, as if she been dying to get something off her chest, and she said, 'Dee, that man has a major crush on you.'
"Come on,' I answered impatiently, 'My dog's in there suffering. I've got a lot on my mind.'"
-From "A PUPPY BROUGHT LOVE BACK INTO MY LIFE," True Love, July issue.
Perhaps it has something to do with all the feline photos on her walls or the 10 cats she keeps at home, but Florence J. Moriarty has been allowing a number of domestic animal stories to vinvade her magazines.
Once upon a time, the Trues were for better known for rapacious mothers-in-law who made time with their daughter's young bridesgrooms or for pregnant prom queens who learned to repent - than for precocious puppies who turn out to be man-magnets.
True Story, which boasts a monthly circulation of 2 million as well as a young lady on the July cover cuddling a kitten, has as one of its stellar stories this month: "MY WIFE IS TURNING OUR HOUSE INTO A REGULAR NOAH'S ARK."
"The stories about animals," says Moriarty, "are usually combined with the human condition: frozen people coming out of their shells. For instance, we had a story about a woman who didn't want her father-in-law's old dog. So she took him to the pound."
The editor-in-chief smiles kindly. "But when she had a change of heart, it was too late. So this was a story about a change in values."
Stories about religion, says Moriarty her headers love that. ("I'm no longer afraid that I was destined to love and lose," explains Heather, who gave up everything for the man she loved. "Such a loving God will guide me to love one day, and I've learned at last to trust Him.") Stories about babies ("I INHERITED MY SISTER'S DEVIL CHILD!" - True Story, July issue.); stories "about hardship" ("WHEN WILL WE LAUGH AND LOVE AGAIN?" - True Confessions); and stories about overcoming marital problems, too ("PLEASE ARREST MY WIFE," - True Love).
"And we also deal with certain sexual problems," Moriarty says delicately, "but not graphically." True Readers
More than anything, Moriarty stresses the conservative nature of her readers. You have to be careful in the Trues - careful not to offend the women readers, often from rural areas, aged 32 and under, "most of whom are high school graduates and a fair share with some college"; many of whom have incomes of between $8,000 and $10,000 a year - who buy 22 million copies of MacFadden Trues a year. The Trues are not soaring, mind you, but they're doing quite well.
"Cartainly if they want to read sexy stories, this is not the place to go." The editor-in-chief purses her lips. "That is not why they buy these books. When people do read these stories, they consistently say, "THIS could be MY story.'"
But for all their basic conservatism about matters sexual, the Trues do occasionally like to play it both ways. A True Love headliner, "My family's warning . . . 'HE'S MARRYING YOU FOR ONLY ONE THING'" does not turn out to be the one thing that first springs to mind. It turns out that this one thing is the groom's immigration papers.
Similarly "A DIFFERENT KIND OF LOVE (I Could Take It . . . Or Leave It . . .)" ends up being the story of a mother who finds out her son is living with a . . . woman.
Still, Moriarty says with some effection in her voice, "I think our readers have come a long way. It's not a dewy-eyed kind of thing; they really are remarkably sensible. People are more and more accepting."
There are now liquor ads in the Trues, and this despite their Bible Belt readership. "But we have readers who don't like those breast-aid ads," says Moriarty.
And then she says, "Our stories actually paint a fairly accurate picture of America, of what life is like."
If what Moriarty says is correct - if the [WORD ILLEGIBLE] do paint America as it is today - then we may assume from their pages that this country's women are:
not in the least ashamed when they engage in what used to be known as illicit sex,
most anxious to marry and have children,
thoroughly, overwhelmingly and frighteningly dependent on men for their emotional well-being.
beginning to make a few small stabs at independence, and
certain that a divine, begnign deity watches over their every move, so that everything will turn out for the best. Out of the Mattress
"I am so glad you haven't yet told me that when you read these magazines as a young girl, you used to have to hide them under the mattress from your mother," says Moriarty, neatly heading off that precise and true confession. "I suppose," she continues archly, "there must have been nothing but Trues under all those matresses . . ." She allows her words to trail off, smiling bravely.
No, it's true. You don't have to hid the Trues under your mattress any more. Just tell your mother that any magazine with cover stories like "MY PERFECT HUSBAND," "THE LAST TIME JOEY KISSED ME," or "I'M PRAYING TO BE POOR - AND HAPPY AGAIN!" (all from Secrets magazine, this month) can't be all bad.
"But just look at this!" Moriarty brings out a manila envelope chock full of magazines with titles like "True Romantic Confessions" and "Secret True Confessions," her eyes widening in sorrow and pain.
What Moriarty cannot bear is competition from similary named but quite different sorts of confessionals.
"See what I mean?" she continues, flipping through a few pages filled with people who appear to be enjoying themselves entirely too much. "This is why we get so mad!"
Real Confessions, a monthly magazine filled with confessions that are not real at all, and published by Sterling Library, seems a tad racier than the Macfaddan Trues. Oh, there may be a shot of a couple necking on a couch, there may be the funniest euphemisms since D.H. Lawrence discovered you know what, but basically it's pretty tame stuff.
"We take Penthouse and Playboy and turn them into confessions," says Susan Silverman, editor of Real Confessions and Modern Love. "Our covers are a bit more blatant, they try to be more catchy. We have explained certain sexual deviations if that's what you want to call them."
Silverman is reminded of the days when the tamer competition contained hot stories about passionate mamas and their sons-law.
"Hey! That's a great idea!" she says shamelessly.
But her two magazines are going through an identity crisis, it seems. Should they be sexier? Should they be more of a soap opera? What do women want, anyway?
"We've tried to sweeten them, especially recently," she says.
And that, longtime readers of the National Enquirerdevotees of Hustler, fans of [WORD ILLEGIBLE] and all her sisters, than may be the trend of the future. Less, Less sensationalism, less sex, less explicitness. The writers who fabricate passion for Real Confessions at 3 cents a word, the writers who tell all for True Story at 5 cents a word - they understand this very well.
We all know too much. We have all seen and heard too much. There are no more true secrets. There is pitifully little left to confess.
It's . . . Well, it's just like Caroll says in the July issue of Real Confessions (female characters in the confessionals are notorious for names like Heather and Caroll): After a wimpy night with her husband in a sex hotel, Caroll concludes:
"We'd talk too much, wanted too much. If we loved each other, in time we could try anything and find pleasure in it. I was looking forward to that, and looking forward to GIVING all the love I possible could."