Dear Athena Poster Girl (Playing Tennis with No Knickers) ; Your Bare-Faced Cheek Was Once a Symbol of Teenage Rebellion. Now It Is Synonymous with Bad Taste and the Classic Boom and Bust Stories of the Eighties
Jimwhite, The Independent (London, England)
The news is bad: you have played your last set, netted your last ball, exposed your last cheek. Athena, the poster company that thrust your knicker-free rear view on to the walls of rented accommodation the world over, has gone into receivership. No wonder: last year 131 Athena shops managed between them to contrive a loss of pounds 5m on a turnover of pounds 16.2m. And apparently, it's all your fault.
Once you were a bit like gloating Australians: we could happen across you everyday, everywhere we went. You were the apotheosis of poster power; whole industries grew around you, such as Blu-Tack and those funny little plastic gutter frames which trappedfingers and tore paper. Terry Maher, for 18 years the boss of Athena until he was ousted in a boardroom coup last year, earned a fortune on your back - or rather your backside. Now, nobody wants you any more.
Posters, like a lot of things which were jolly, harmless and thus ruthlessly pilloried 30 years on, were a creature of the Sixties. At first they were political statements - Che Guevara's face, Frank Zappa sitting on the loo - a short-hand which allowed the owner to advertise which side they were on.
They soon became players in a more localised revolution, the perfect expression of teenage rebellion, the things we put on our bedroom walls to express our individuality and distaste for our parents' choice of interior design. Importantly, like all attempts at adolescent individuality, these posters had to be the same everyone else had. And when we grew up a bit and moved off to college, posters were there to personalise dreary lodgings and hide the damp patch on the bathroom wall. …