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One of them came up to her, she recalls, put out his hand, and said, “Per-‘suede’ me.” Now nearly 74 and still quite glamorous, Appleberg says, “I was extremely … And then I turned out to be a romantic.” For the next three years, Appleberg edited the paper alone, under the intentionally gender-ambiguous moniker “MJ Appleberg.” Her résumé from the period, kept in a locker in the East Village co-op she has lived in since 1969, describes her as “responsible for editorial concept of pioneer monthly Singles News, geared to the interests of unmarried New Yorkers.” Appleberg found contributors, wrote much of the content herself, supervised the graphic design, oversaw sales, distribution, typesetting, photo sources, printers, and more. Box, “in case someone wanted to sue.” In the first half of the 20th century, you might marry your childhood sweetheart, the child of your father’s business partner, or a nice boy or girl you met at church or synagogue. In the meantime, after the pill “liberated” women in 1960, dating had evolved.
Thinking back on it today, she laughs, “I wonder how much they were paying me for that.” All this she did alone in an office building on 3rd Avenue and East 55th Street. By the 1970s, couples were meeting at singles bars or discos—or by putting personal ads in physical, printed papers.
was the first, and largest, “singles newspaper” in the city, and promised “real ads… real responses…” from “100’s of eligible singles.” A fresh romantic life could be yours for just 75 cents a copy.
Across the country, comparable publications sprung up like mushrooms, eager to capitalize on a wave of singles and divorcees looking for love in a time of increased sexual openness.
(Correspondingly, the men seem to have fudged a little—many listed their height as at least one inch above the average.).
The paper, Appleberg says, was fashioned after an English singles magazine.
Though she is agnostic about how she found those dates, she never placed an ad in the paper.
“Potential partners seek to strike bargains which maximize their rewards in the exchange of assets.” Positive descriptors about appearance abound. Women are attractive, very attractive, or extremely attractive.
Women stress those physical attributes, while men speak of status, occupation, or financial security.
Many of the seekers were divorced, and looking for an alternative to the carousel of what the authors of “Courtship American Style” call “the tedious and meaningless …
round of bars and singles’ clubs.” One ad says the writer is looking for “a little fun and excitement and a lot of deep down feeling but not wedding bliss (I’ve gone that route).” “The ads in this paper read a little like the ask-bid columns of the New York Stock Exchange,” wrote those authors, Catherine Cameron, Stuart Oskamp, and William Sparks.