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Mario Z. Alipio doesn’t think he’s the only grown man in Arlington who carries around a copy of ym. But he probably is the only one who does so purely for artistic inspiration: In May of last year, along with partner Sun Kim, Alipio published the first—and, so far, only—issue of Pro-teen, a fanzine that Alipio hopes will help him achieve his goal of interviewing “every last teen who ever was.”
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Much like high school, teen mags have rules: “For the cover, you’ve gotta have at least one blurb that has a big number in it,” Alipio says. (Pro-teen offers “100 ways to get high.”) “You gotta talk about beauty,” he continues. (The magazine’s cover also promises tips on ass-hair grooming.) But the lifeblood of any teen magazine, according to Alipio, is celebrity. For Pro-teen, that means author Gordon’s recollection of his adolescent encounter with Linda Blair’s brother. “Hopefully, in future issues, our quality level of celebrity will go up,” Alipio says.
Alipio, 28, works at a District lobbying firm that he declines to name, and Kim, 30, is a graphic designer who by day labors at an area financial institution. All this adultish activity seems to provide enough distance for an intellectual analysis of adolescence (which both weathered at Northern Virginia high schools). “If you’re in the cafeteria looking over at the cool table,” Alipio says, “back then, it’s really hard to understand what makes the cool table the cool table.
“If you’re wondering why a 28-year-old and a 30-year-old are doing a magazine about teens,” he continues, “that’s pretty much why.”
Though the content is mostly parody (see the Teen-Pop Review of Anal Cunt, the detailed Can’t Hardly Wait vs. Sixteen Candles plot comparisons, and Kim’s clip-and-save Guide to Guys section), Pro-teen also conjures a semi-nostalgic Wonder Years feel. The very-punk-rock ‘zine contains, for example, unadulterated excerpts from Kim’s five-year teenage diary: “12/2/86 Today at the Grease rehersal’s, Quentin played Anarchy in the UK and other stuff. He’s really good. He’s also cute.”
Kim says that she hopes to eventually have “actual teens” involved. Currently, the publication is assembled by only Kim, Alipio, and a handful of contributors. Which leaves room for pubescent help—maybe. “If you are ugly,” advises Pro-teen’s cover, “you can’t be our intern.” —Mike Kanin