The launch of the BBC’s season of programmes devoted to the 1980s stirred a memory, and with it faint pangs of guilt. Older readers will recall that in those far off days there was a phenomenon known as Antmania, built around the antics of one Stuart Goddard and his pop group, Adam And The Ants. They were, for a while, hugely popular, absurdly so, no doubt due to the schemings of their manager, the late Malcolm McLaren.
When the hoo-hah was at its height, my pal David Lines and I concocted what seemed to us to be a flawless money-making plot. We produced a fanzine, entitled Antmania!, using the tools of the pre-internet days – typewriters, Letraset, biros and Xerox – and advertised our eight-page publication in the small ads columns of teenybopper magazines such as Record Mirror and Smash Hits. I can’t recall how much we charged, probably about 50p plus postage, but we sat back and waited for umpteen thousand orders to come in. After all, the records were selling by the million, beloved by young and old alike. In the event, I recall only a handful of copies ever sold, so few that I think we failed to cover our photocopying costs.
What our advertisement failed to make clear, and the reason for those faint pangs of guilt, is that the content of our Antmania! was devoted exclusively to ants, as opposed to Adam And The… We had facts about ants, pictures of ants, even song lyrics about ants, including one about a leaf-cutter ant, I think.
It is extremely unlikely that there is a Hooting Yard reader today who, thirty years ago, was one of the few poor teenyboppers who shelled out for a fanzine about their favourite pop group only to be sent a few pages of twaddle about ants. But if so, that person is now quite obviously sitting on a collector’s item which would sell for much more than 50p on eBay. It might fetch a pound, or even a fiver. So my guilt is somewhat assuaged.
I no longer have a copy of this seminal publication myself, alas.