Joepie, No. 365, March 15, 1981

Posted on 5th September 2017 in "Times Square"
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“Geef mij maar New Wave.”

Cover of a Belgian entertainment magazine featuring article on Robin Johnson and TIMES SQUARE.

I don’t know when Times Square opened in Belgium and the Netherlands, but the weekly entertainment magazine Joepie (which Google wants to translate for me as “Yay,” but I think is more properly “Whoopie!”), devoted two pages in its March 15, 1981 issue to an interview with Robin promoting the movie and her next role as the female lead in Grease 2.

Article from Joepie No. 365, 15 March 1981, pp. 36-37 Text (Dutch): Natuurtalent uit film «Times Square» Robin Johnson volgt Olyfje op in 'Grease 2' De donkerharige, tere Robin Johnson is nauwelijks zeventien. Toch is zij al de vedette van de veelbesproken popmuziek-film «Times Square». Maar live herkennen wij nauwelijks de schelmse kwajongen. Enkel haar krassende stem en het boeventaaltje van de Newyorkse Brooklynwijk zijn dezelfde als in de film gebleven. OPSTANDIG GEDRAG Robin zit er naast haar ma als een piekfijn geklede prinses bij. Ze stelt onze verbazing vast. «Gewoonlijk ben ik niet zo opgetut als nu», verontschuldigt zij zich, «maar zoals in de film loop ik nu ook weer niet rond». In de film is zij «Nicky», een punkmeisje, met wat men een «anti-sociaal gedrag» pleegt te noemen. In een psychiatrische instelling maakt zij kennis met Pam (Trini Alvarado), een onbegrepen rijkeluiskind. Samen besluiten zij weg te lopen. Zij stelen een ziekenwagen en verstoppen zich in een vervallen warenhuis in de buurt van Times Scjuare. Een lokale deejay trekt zich hun lot aan en onder de naam «The Sleazy Sisters» maken zij met hun anti-maatschappij songs furore. Zij worden radio- en teeveesterren, organiseren zelfs een middernachtelijk rockkonsert op Times Square, maar de politie en Pams vader wachten hen daar op... Een leuke film, wat in de stijl van «Breaking Glass» en «Quadrophenia», maar dan op zijn Amerikaans en met prachtige muziek van The Pretenders, Roxy Music, Gary Numan en Joe Jackson. SCHOOL OP HOTELKAMER Robin Johnson is een leuke jongedame, erg bij de pinken en schijnbaar nog niet door het sukses aangetast. Haar houding en gebaren zijn niet ingestudeerd. Zij zit er helemaal als een 17-jarig schoolmeisje bij. Enkel het kostschooluniform ontbreekt. «Het was overigens niet makkelijk mij op school voor de film en promo-tietoernee vrij te krijgen», vertelt Robin. «Mijn pa, nu mijn manager, heeft keihard bij de direkteur moeten pleiten. Hij liet mij alleen gaan op voorwaarde dat ik intussen een berg schooltaken zou maken. Vervelen doe ik mij niet. Straks, op mijn hotelkamer, zal ik weer de handen vol hebben met dat schoolwerk!» ONGURE KNAAP Hoe Robin de hoofdrol in «Times Square» kreeg, is een apart verhaal. «Ik was met enkele schoolvriendinnen na schooltijd op straat blijven hangen», vertelt zij, «en plots werd ik door een onbekende aangeklampt, die mij vroeg of ik zestien was. Hij stelde zich nauwelijks voor. Ik vond het eerst hoogstverdacht. Hij was op zoek naar een meisje voor een film. In New York lopen er nog van die ongure knapen rond. Hij verzekerde mij dat het allemaal netjes was en gaf mij het telefoonnummer van de prodjoeser. Ik wist eerst niet goed wat aanvangen, maar belde toch op. Ik had niets te verliezen, dacht ik. De zomervakantie stond voor de deur en ik had helemaal geen plannen». Pas na dat eerste telefoontje kwam Robin er achter dat zij in kontakt was met het machtige Stigwood-keizerrijk. Robin schitterde tijdens de autities en grote baas Stigwood zelf liet haar een kontrakt tekenen voor een hoofdrol in drie films! Na «Times Square» wordt Robin de tegenspeelster van Andy Gibb in «Grease 2». «Het gekke is,» lacht Robin «dat niemand schijnt te weten wie het mannetje is dat mij aansprak. Het kan best een door de hemel gestuurde engel zijn!» GEEN LIEF MONDJE In de film valt Robin nog op door haar onfatsoenlijk taalgebruik. Heeft ze dat aangeleerd of is het «aangeboren»? «Ik geloof dat het natuurlijk is», lacht Robin. «Van kindsbeen af werd ik op de vingers getikt omdat ik weinig lieve woordjes in mijn mond nam en mijn stem, houding en gebaren zijn inderdaad deze van een kwajongen. Ik ben altijd zo geweest. In «Grease 2» zal ik moeten uitkijken en mij wat meisjesachtiger aanstellen, maar mijn derde film wordt weer helemaal op mijn lichaam geschreven. In feite ben ik niet helemaal tevreden met de afloop van «Times Square». Het had beter gekund. De dialogen zijn soms verschrikkelijk naïef. Meisjes van zestien praten zo niet, zeker niet in New York! En wat tijdens de montage gebeurde is mij een raadsel. De film kwam bij mij verwarrend over. Bepaalde taferelen zaten helemaal niet op de plaats waar ze moesten zijn. Er werd ook wat weggeknipt in de eindmontage en dat maakt bepaalde toestanden totaal onbegrijpelijk. Over mijn eigen vertolking ben ik nochtans best tevreden. Bovendien verwachtte iedereen in Amerika dat de film het veel beter zou doen dan het geval was. Misschien werd de film wel op een verkeerd moment en op de verkeerde plaatsen in omloop gebracht. Iedereen vindt de soundtrack mieters. Persoonlijk dweep ik met de hoogstandjes in de film van Talking Heads, The Ramones, Lou Reed en The Pretenders. Dat is mijn soort muziek. Geef mij maar New Wave. In Engeland woonde ik een konsert van Roxy Music bij en ging na de voorstelling Bryan Ferry opzoeken. Toffe knul. Ik dankte hem voor zijn song («Same Old Scene») op de soundtrack. Een goeie song. Heb ik hem ook gezegd. Ook indien ik er niet zou van gehouden hebben, zou ik hem dat lekker gezegd hebben!» Dat is helemaal Robin Johnson, recht voor de raap, zonder aanmatigende houding of valse verwaandheid.

The article is accompanied by five photos. The second and fourth are familiar; the first, third, and fifth are similar but not identical to ones we’ve seen before.

An interesting thing happened as I tried to translate the article, using Google Translate to get the general sense of it, and then Reverso to try to get a more accurate, colloquial-in-context meaning out of it: it began to sound familiar. Here’s my translation; I invite any Dutch speakers to improve on it.

Natural talent from the film “Times Square”

Robin Johnson to follow Olivia in ‘Grease 2’

The dark-haired, delicate Robin Johnson is barely seventeen. Still, she is already the star of the much-discussed pop music film “Times Square.” But in person we hardly recognize the roguish bad-girl. Only her scratchy voice and street-wise lingo of New York’s Brooklyn district have remained the same as in the film.

REBELLIOUS BEHAVIOR

Robin sitting there next to her mom is an impeccably dressed princess. She notes our surprise. “Usually I’m not as dressed up like now,” she apologizes, “but I also don’t run around like in the movie.”

In the film she is “Nicky,” a punk girl, with what is usually called “anti-social behavior.” In a psychiatric hospital she is introduced to Pam (Trini Alvarado), a misunderstood rich kid. Together they decide to run away. They steal an ambulance and hide in a dilapidated warehouse near Times Square. A local deejay takes interest in their cause and under the name “The Sleaze Sisters” they cause a furor with their anti-social songs.

They are radio- and TV-stars, even organize a midnight rock concert in Times Square, but the police and Pam’s father are waiting for them there …

A fun film, something in the style of “Breaking Glass” and “Quadrophenia,” but in an American way, and with amazing music from The Pretenders, Roxy Music, Gary Numan and Joe Jackson.

SCHOOL IN HOTEL ROOM

Robin Johnson is a nice young lady, very on her toes and yet seemingly unaffected by success. Her attitude and mannerisms are not rehearsed. She’s just like a 17-year-old girl at school.

Only the boarding school uniform is missing. “It actually wasn’t easy to get free from my school for the film and promotional tour,” says Robin. “My dad, now my manager, pleaded adamantly with the director. He let me go only on condition that I do a ton of schoolwork in the meantime. Me, I won’t get bored. Later, in my hotel room, I’ll have my hands full again with schoolwork!”

SLEAZY GUY

How Robin got the starring role in “Times Square” is another story. “I was hanging around with some school friends after school, on the street,” she says, “and suddenly I was hustled by a stranger who asked me if I was sixteen. He hardly introduced himself. I found it at first highly suspicious. He was looking for a girl for a movie. In New York, there are still lots of sleazy guys around. He assured me that everything was proper and gave me the phone number of the producer. I didn’t at first, but eventually called. I had nothing to lose, I thought. Summer vacation was coming and I had no plans at all.”

Only after that first phone call did Robin find out that she was in contact with the mighty Stigwood empire. Robin shone during the auditions and big boss Stigwood himself had her sign a contract for a starring role in three films! After “Times Square” Robin is co-starring with Andy Gibb in “Grease 2.”

“It’s crazy,” laughs Robin “that no one seems to know who the man is that spoke to me. He may well be an angel sent by Heaven!”

NOT A SWEET MOUTH

In the movie Robin stands out for her indecent language. Did she learn or is it “innate”? “I think it’s natural,” laughs Robin. “From childhood I was reprimanded because of my dirty mouth and my voice, posture and gestures are definitely those of a little brat. I’ve always been like that. In “Grease 2” I will have to watch out and act girlier, but my third film will be written completely for me. In fact, I’m not entirely happy with how “Times Square” turned out. It could have been better. The dialogue is sometimes terribly naive. Sixteen-year-old girls don’t talk like that, definitely not in New York! And what happened during editing is beyond me. The film was confusing to me. Certain scenes were not in the place where they should be. There were also some cuts in the final editing, making certain situations totally incomprehensible. Bit I’me very satisfied with my own performance. Also, everyone in America expected that the film would do much better than it did. Maybe the film was distributed at the wrong time and in the wrong places. Everyone likes the terrific soundtrack. Personally I am a fan of the masterpieces in the film by Talking Heads, the Ramones, Lou Reed and The Pretenders. That’s my kind of music. Give me just New Wave. In England I attended a Roxy Music concert and after the show went to see Bryan Ferry. Cool guy. I thanked him for his song ( ‘Same Old Scene “) on the soundtrack. A good song. That’s what I told him. If I hadn’t loved it, I would have been honest!” That is totally Robin Johnson, straightforward, without posturing or false conceit.

Now have a look back at the interview she gave in the January 31, 1981 Record Mirror.

It’s entirely possible that she gave essentially the same responses to the same questions she got over and over on the publicity tour, but even aside from her statements, I found that I could get a perfectly acceptable translation of most the Dutch article by simply copying whole passages from the Record Mirror article. I didn’t, just in case, so you can be the judge of what may have happened here.

One last piece of information: although there’s no writer’s credit for the article in Joepie, buried in the magazine’s masthead on page 58 is this:

Eksklusieve rechten van het Engelse popblad «Record Mirror». Overname (ook gedeeltelijk) verboden.

… which would seem to translate to “Exclusive rights to the English pop music magazine “Record Mirror”. Reproduction (in whole or in part) prohibited.”

So, it seems to me that Joepie ran a translation of Mike Nicholls’ interview from two months previous, and Robin’s publicity tour didn’t actually make it to Belgium.

Lastly, here for your further analysis is the original Dutch text. I’ve tried to correct any OCR-created typos, but I probably didn’t get them all.

Natuurtalent uit film «Times Square»

Robin Johnson volgt Olyfje op in ‘Grease 2’

De donkerharige, tere Robin Johnson is nauwelijks zeventien. Toch is zij al de vedette van de veelbesproken popmuziek-film «Times Square». Maar live herkennen wij nauwelijks de schelmse kwajongen. Enkel haar krassende stem en het boeventaaltje van de Newyorkse Brooklynwijk zijn dezelfde als in de film gebleven.

OPSTANDIG GEDRAG

Robin zit er naast haar ma als een piekfijn geklede prinses bij. Ze stelt onze verbazing vast. «Gewoonlijk ben ik niet zo opgetut als nu», verontschuldigt zij zich, «maar zoals in de film loop ik nu ook weer niet rond».

In de film is zij «Nicky», een punkmeisje, met wat men een «anti-sociaal gedrag» pleegt te noemen. In een psychiatrische instelling maakt zij kennis met Pam (Trini Alvarado), een onbegrepen rijkeluiskind. Samen besluiten zij weg te lopen. Zij stelen een ziekenwagen en verstoppen zich in een vervallen warenhuis in de buurt van Times Square. Een lokale deejay trekt zich hun lot aan en onder de naam «The Sleazy Sisters» maken zij met hun anti-maatschappij songs furore. Zij worden radio- en teeveesterren, organiseren zelfs een middernachtelijk rockkonsert op Times Square, maar de politie en Pams vader wachten hen daar op…

Een leuke film, wat in de stijl van «Breaking Glass» en «Quadrophenia», maar dan op zijn Amerikaans en met prachtige muziek van The Pretenders, Roxy Music, Gary Numan en Joe Jackson.

SCHOOL OP HOTELKAMER

Robin Johnson is een leuke jongedame, erg bij de pinken en schijnbaar nog niet door het sukses aangetast. Haar houding en gebaren zijn niet ingestudeerd. Zij zit er helemaal als een 17-jarig schoolmeisje bij.

Enkel het kostschooluniform ontbreekt. «Het was overigens niet makkelijk mij op school voor de film en promo-tietoernee vrij te krijgen», vertelt Robin. «Mijn pa, nu mijn manager, heeft keihard bij de direkteur moeten pleiten. Hij liet mij alleen gaan op voorwaarde dat ik intussen een berg schooltaken zou maken. Vervelen doe ik mij niet. Straks, op mijn hotelkamer, zal ik weer de handen vol hebben met dat schoolwerk!»

ONGURE KNAAP

Hoe Robin de hoofdrol in «Times Square» kreeg, is een apart verhaal. «Ik was met enkele schoolvriendinnen na schooltijd op straat blijven hangen», vertelt zij, «en plots werd ik door een onbekende aangeklampt, die mij vroeg of ik zestien was. Hij stelde zich nauwelijks voor. Ik vond het eerst hoogstverdacht. Hij was op zoek naar een meisje voor een film. In New York lopen er nog van die ongure knapen rond. Hij verzekerde mij dat het allemaal netjes was en gaf mij het telefoonnummer van de prodjoeser. Ik wist eerst niet goed wat aanvangen, maar belde toch op. Ik had niets te verliezen, dacht ik. De zomervakantie stond voor de deur en ik had helemaal geen plannen».

Pas na dat eerste telefoontje kwam Robin er achter dat zij in kontakt was met het machtige Stigwood-keizerrijk. Robin schitterde tijdens de autities en grote baas Stigwood zelf liet haar een kontrakt tekenen voor een hoofdrol in drie films! Na «Times Square» wordt Robin de tegenspeelster van Andy Gibb in «Grease 2».

«Het gekke is,» lacht Robin «dat niemand schijnt te weten wie het mannetje is dat mij aansprak. Het kan best een door de hemel gestuurde engel zijn!»

GEEN LIEF MONDJE

In de film valt Robin nog op door haar onfatsoenlijk taalgebruik. Heeft ze dat aangeleerd of is het «aangeboren»? «Ik geloof dat het natuurlijk is», lacht Robin. «Van kindsbeen af werd ik op de vingers getikt omdat ik weinig lieve woordjes in mijn mond nam en mijn stem, houding en gebaren zijn inderdaad deze van een kwajongen. Ik ben altijd zo geweest. In «Grease 2» zal ik moeten uitkijken en mij wat meisjesachtiger aanstellen, maar mijn derde film wordt weer helemaal op mijn lichaam geschreven. In feite ben ik niet helemaal tevreden met de afloop van «Times Square». Het had beter gekund. De dialogen zijn soms verschrikkelijk naïef. Meisjes van zestien praten zo niet, zeker niet in New York! En wat tijdens de montage gebeurde is mij een raadsel. De film kwam bij mij verwarrend over. Bepaalde taferelen zaten helemaal niet op de plaats waar ze moesten zijn. Er werd ook wat weggeknipt in de eindmontage en dat maakt bepaalde toestanden totaal onbegrijpelijk. Over mijn eigen vertolking ben ik nochtans best tevreden. Bovendien verwachtte iedereen in Amerika dat de film het veel beter zou doen dan het geval was. Misschien werd de film wel op een verkeerd moment en op de verkeerde plaatsen in omloop gebracht. Iedereen vindt de soundtrack mieters. Persoonlijk dweep ik met de hoogstandjes in de film van Talking Heads, The Ramones, Lou Reed en The Pretenders. Dat is mijn soort muziek. Geef mij maar New Wave. In Engeland woonde ik een konsert van Roxy Music bij en ging na de voorstelling Bryan Ferry opzoeken. Toffe knul. Ik dankte hem voor zijn song («Same Old Scene») op de soundtrack. Een goeie song. Heb ik hem ook gezegd. Ook indien ik er niet zou van gehouden hebben, zou ik hem dat lekker gezegd hebben!» Dat is helemaal Robin Johnson, recht voor de raap, zonder aanmatigende houding of valse verwaandheid.

 

 


Joepie, No. 365, March 15 1981 (magazine (periodical), AAT ID: 300215389) ; 26.5 x 20 cm.; (contains:)
Natuurtalent uit film «Times Square» – Robin Johnson volgt Olyfje op in ‘Grease 2’
(article (document), AAT ID: 300048715), pp. 36-37 (work);
Joepie No 365 15 March 1981_cover_1080px.jpg
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Joepie No 365 15 March 1981 pp 36-37_1080px.jpg
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Image 2_Joepie No 365 15 March 1981 pp 36-37_800px.jpg
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Image 5_Joepie No 365 15 March 1981 p 37_800px.jpg
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©1981 N.V. Sparta te Deurne


 

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Record Mirror, January 31, 1981

Posted on 15th April 2017 in "Times Square"
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“‘Oh, I’ve been known to curse in my time…'”

Cover of Record Mirror, January 31, 1981, a UK music magazine containing an interview with Robin Johnson, during her publicity tour of the UK for "Times Square"

Page 7 of Record Mirror, January 31, 1981, a UK music magazine containing an interview with Robin Johnson, during her publicity tour of the UK for "Times Square"

 

RSO had evidently come to the realization that Robin was the film’s major selling point, so they sent her to England accompanied by her mom to promote Times Square’s opening and herself. The interviews she gave must have occurred even as the bad reviews started coming out, but they were published after. Along with the teasing of RSO’s plans for her future projects, she wasn’t hesitant to gripe in public about the poor editing of Times Square. She even agrees here that the script wasn’t all it could have been.

Record Mirror, January 31, 1981, p. 7  Text:  Record Mirror, January 31,1981  7  ROBIN JOHNSON MEETS BRYAN FERRY (and Mike Nicholls!)  ROBIN JOHNSON ponders becoming the next Chrissie Hynde as well as Liza Minelli.  ROADRUNNER ONCE, sipping cocktails in the hyper - high - rent confines of Mayfair's Inn On The Park hotel. A Daimler limousine purrs up to the entrance and I'm ushered into it. Inside sits a dark, diminutive, refined looking girl and her ma. The former is 16 - year - old Robin Johnson, star of trash epic 'Times Square'. Not that anyone who's seen the film could possibly guess. The amoral urchin with the matted hair has been transformed into a veritable princess. Only the scratchy, street - wise Brooklyn larynx remains the same. So what's all this nonsense? I gesture, referring to incongruity between our present surroundings and those of the film.  "That was only a movie and this is real life," she replies matter - of - a factly, "though I don't travel everywhere like this. For longer journeys we use trains."  A quick - witted likeable young lady, seemingly unaffected by success. Both her feet are square on the ground and she makes clear that because she's missing a lot of school, ma got clearance from the principal and lavishes her with lots of homework. At the moment, however, she just wants to learn Cockney rhyming slang.  As we're going through the basics, we arrive at the theatre showing 'Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat' and out she gets. So much to do and see during a short promotional visit... ROADRUNNER TWICE. Robin and her manager / ma have gone on to a whistlestop tour of the provinces. Birmingham. Manchester and Glasgow are all in the past. She's just arrived in Newcastle, and New York seems a long way away.  How were you enlisted for 'Times Square'? I wonder, courtesy of the GPO.  "Enlisted!?" she shrieks down the phone into my Notting Hill pad "yeah, I guess that's it. I was drafted! Really! One day after school I was hanging out across the street with some friends and a guy came up and said 'are you 16?' I said -yeah, why?' so he tells me there's an ad in the Village Voice requiring someone like me for a film." she rasps, sounding like one of the Jets gang from West Side Story'.  "He told me the storyline, assured me there was no sexual exploitation and gave me a number to ring. Well," she goes on barking, "the summer vacation was coming up, I had nothing to do so I called it up just for a goof."  Goofing or otherwise, she'd made contact with the mighty Stigwood empire, went on to pass the audition and got signed for the major role in the first of three films. In the next, she stars opposite Andy Gibb in 'Grease 2'.  'The funny thing is," she prattles amiably, "no-one knew who the guy was or have seen or heard from him since. God must have sent an angel from Heaven!"  Scarcely an overstatement, if you think about it. in the course of the film, Robin comes out with some fairly choice language. Did this come naturally? "Oh, I've been known to curse in my time," is the riposte. "Actually, the voice and mannerisms are pretty much me. For the third movie I do, the script will actually be tailored with me  in mind. That's the best kind you can do."  I point out that the script in 'Times Square' was pretty naff. In fact, st ruined the film.  "Yeah," she agrees, "and it was edited pretty badly, too. I actually found it disorientating because there's stuff said which pertains to earlier scenes that were cut. But I was happy with my performance even if the film in general could have done with being better.  "In America," she admits, "it hasn't done as well as expected, with some major distributors pulling out. Maybe the time and market weren't felt to be right," she continues sensibly, giving the impression that she's spent a lifetime in the game.  A bright spot, however, is the 'Times Square' soundtrack, featuring, amongst others, delicacies by Talking Heads, The Ramones, Lou Reed and The Pretenders. Is that your sort of music?  "Oh yeah," she enthuses, "that's what I listen to all the time. New wave, The Clash, Blondie, Roxy Music ... I saw Bryan Ferry in Manchester after their show there. He seems like a nice fellow. I thanked him for the song on the soundtrack ('Same Old Scene'} which I like very much. Hey! I'd have told him if I didn't!"  How was the Roxy gig?  "Oh it was great and it was nice to see the local teenagers."  It was nice talking to Robin Johnson, a bright star on the ascendant, totally without phoney airs and pretentions. The lil' gurl's gonna be huge. Remember where you read it first. (The Daily Mail? — Ed).

ROBIN JOHNSON MEETS BRYAN FERRY
(and Mike Nicholls!)

ROADRUNNER ONCE, sipping cocktails in the hyper-high-rent confines of Mayfair’s Inn On The Park hotel. A Daimler limousine purrs up to the entrance and I’m ushered into it. Inside sits a dark, diminutive, refined looking girl and her ma. The former is 16-year-old Robin Johnson, star of trash epic ‘Times Square’. Not that anyone who’s seen the film could possibly guess.

The amoral urchin with the matted hair has been transformed into a veritable princess. Only the scratchy, street-wise Brooklyn larynx remains the same. So what’s all this nonsense? I gesture, referring to incongruity between our present surroundings and those of the film.

“That was only a movie and this is real life,” she replies matter-of-a factly, “though I don’t travel everywhere like this. For longer journeys we use trains.”

A quick-witted likeable young lady, seemingly unaffected by success. Both her feet are square on the ground and she makes clear that because she’s missing a lot of school, ma got clearance from the principal and lavishes her with lots of homework. At the moment, however, she just wants to learn Cockney rhyming slang.

As we’re going through the basics, we arrive at the theatre showing ‘Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ and out she gets. So much to do and see during a short promotional visit…

ROADRUNNER TWICE. Robin and her manager / ma have gone on to a whistlestop tour of the provinces. Birmingham. Manchester and Glasgow are all in the past. She’s just arrived in Newcastle, and New York seems a long way away.

How were you enlisted for ‘Times Square’? I wonder, courtesy of the GPO.

“Enlisted!?” she shrieks down the phone into my Notting Hill pad “yeah, I guess that’s it. I was drafted! Really! One day after school I was hanging out across the street with some friends and a guy came up and said ‘are you 16?’ I said ‘yeah, why?’ so he tells me there’s an ad in the Village Voice requiring someone like me for a film.” she rasps, sounding like one of the Jets gang from West Side Story’.

“He told me the storyline, assured me there was no sexual exploitation and gave me a number to ring. Well,” she goes on barking, “the summer vacation was coming up, I had nothing to do so I called it up just for a goof.”

Goofing or otherwise, she’d made contact with the mighty Stigwood empire, went on to pass the audition and got signed for the major role in the first of three films. In the next, she stars opposite Andy Gibb in ‘Grease 2’.

‘The funny thing is,” she prattles amiably, “no-one knew who the guy was or have seen or heard from him since. God must have sent an angel from Heaven!”

Scarcely an overstatement, if you think about it. in the course of the film, Robin comes out with some fairly choice language. Did this come naturally? “Oh, I’ve been known to curse in my time,” is the riposte. “Actually, the voice and mannerisms are pretty much me. For the third movie I do, the script will actually be tailored with me in mind. That’s the best kind you can do.”

I point out that the script in ‘Times Square’ was pretty naff. In fact, it ruined the film.

“Yeah,” she agrees, “and it was edited pretty badly, too. I actually found it disorientating because there’s stuff said which pertains to earlier scenes that were cut. But I was happy with my performance even if the film in general could have done with being better.

“In America,” she admits, “it hasn’t done as well as expected, with some major distributors pulling out. Maybe the time and market weren’t felt to be right,” she continues sensibly, giving the impression that she’s spent a lifetime in the game.

A bright spot, however, is the ‘Times Square’ soundtrack, featuring, amongst others, delicacies by Talking Heads, The Ramones, Lou Reed and The Pretenders. Is that your sort of music?

“Oh yeah,” she enthuses, “that’s what I listen to all the time. New wave, The Clash, Blondie, Roxy Music … I saw Bryan Ferry in Manchester after their show there. He seems like a nice fellow. I thanked him for the song on the soundtrack (‘Same Old Scene’} which I like very much. Hey! I’d have told him if I didn’t!”

How was the Roxy gig?

“Oh it was great and it was nice to see the local teenagers.”

It was nice talking to Robin Johnson, a bright star on the ascendant, totally without phoney airs and pretentions. The lil’ gurl’s gonna be huge. Remember where you read it first. (The Daily Mail? — Ed).

Still of Robin Johnson as Nicky from "Times Square"  with caption, from Record Mirror, 31 Jan. 1981, p. 7 -  Image digitized for ROBINJOHNSON.NET

ROBIN JOHNSON ponders becoming the next Chrissie Hynde as well as Liza Minelli.

 

This is the second mention of her next project being Grease 2 (the first was in the January 1981 Film Review), although it’s the first mention of her starring opposite Andy Gibb. It’s also the first mention of the third film of her three-picture-deal being a movie written specifically for her to star in.

She lists The Clash among the bands she listens to “all the time.” In an interview she’d done months before for Seventeen, she mentioned them as a band she hated, along with all punk rock (as distinguished from New Wave). I don’t believe she ever was the kind of person who would soften her artistic opinion to protect someone else’s feelings, so I’m guessing she’d never really listened to any punk rock until after Times Square was finished shooting, and then decided it was pretty good.

The photo is TS-69-34A/4 from the US Press Material folder, which was also printed for use by ITC to promote Times Square in the UK, and at some point in a full-bleed version, with no white border, numbered 69-34A-4. My copy of that one isn’t technically in mint condition. There was also a version numbered “6” which I believe was printed for use in the UK Press Kit.
 

 

Mike Nicholls, “ROBIN JOHNSON MEETS BRYAN FERRY (and Mike Nicholls!)” (article, AAT ID: 300048715)
Record Mirror, January 31, 1981, p. 7 (magazine (periodical), AAT ID: 300215389)
16 in (H) x 11 in (W) (work);
Record_Mirror_19810131_p1_1080px.jpg (cover)
1080 px (H) x 811 px (W), 96 dpi, 605 kb
Record_Mirror_19810131_p7_1080px.jpg (full page)
1080 px (H) x 809 px (W), 96 dpi, 557 kb
RJ_TS_Record_Mirror_19810131p7_1080px.jpg (detail of article)
1080 px (W) x 1009 px (H), 96 dpi, 659 kb
RJ_TS_Record_Mirror_19810131p7_photo_800px.jpg (detail of photograph accompanying article)
800 px (H) x 685 px (W), 96 dpi, 301 kb (images)

 

©1980 Spotlight Publications Ltd

 

Interview, Vol. X No. 12, December 1980

Posted on 30th June 2016 in "Times Square"
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Photo of Robin Johnson by Peter Strongwater  Text:  ROBIN JOHNSON  A native New York skeptic, ROBIN JOHNSON thought she was being handed another line when a talent scout for ROBERT STIGWOOD’s TIMES SQUARE approached her on the steps of Brooklyn Technological High School and said, “Hey kid, ya wanna be in pictures?” Winning the role away from hundreds of professionals, Robin was instantly immersed in twelve weeks of movie star training—all singing, all dancing, all talking. Now, Robin and co-stars TIM CURRY and TRINI ALVARADO have hit it big as TIMES SQUARE draws rave reviews and long lines. ... Photograph by PETER STRONGWATER. . . .Hair by STEPHANE LEMPIRE. . Makeup by MARIA MACHEDA.. . Clothes by MARIO VALENTINO. . . Earring by ROBERT LEE MORRIS/ARTWEAR. . . . Cuff by TED MUEHLING/ART- WEAR.. . Styling by GALE SMITH

Here, in the December issue of Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine, is Robin getting her fifteen minutes. A gorgeous glamor photo by photographer Peter Strongwater, and a stunningly non-realistic description of Times Square’s success… Robin was truly the toast of New York, for at least as long as it took to read the text on page 15:

 

ROBIN JOHNSON

A native New York skeptic, ROBIN JOHNSON thought she was being handed another line when a talent scout for ROBERT STIGWOOD’s TIMES SQUARE approached her on the steps of Brooklyn Technological High School and said, “Hey kid, ya wanna be in pictures?” Winning the role away from hundreds of professionals, Robin was instantly immersed in twelve weeks of movie star training—all singing, all dancing, all talking. Now, Robin and co-stars TIM CURRY and TRINI ALVARADO have hit it big as TIMES SQUARE draws rave reviews and long lines. … Photograph by PETER STRONGWATER. . . .Hair by STEPHANE LEMPIRE. . Makeup by MARIA MACHEDA.. . Clothes by MARIO VALENTINO. . . Earring by ROBERT LEE MORRIS/ARTWEAR. . . . Cuff by TED MUEHLING/ART- WEAR.. . Styling by GALE SMITH

 

And, that’s all I have to say about this. The photo speaks for itself. Despite Times Square’s failure, she would have been one of the biggest stars of the 1980s had Robert Stigwood not put the brakes on her career just as it was getting started. Whether that would have been a good or bad thing for her, well, who’s to say, but it would have been terrific for Us Her Fans. But, I’m getting ahead of myself… Times Square has only just opened, and she still has a publicity tour to do.
Cover of Interview, Vol. 10 No. 12, December 1980

Photo of Robin Johnson by Peter Strongwater from Interview Vol. X No. 12, Dec, 1980, p. 15.  (Detail)

 

 

Interview, Vol X No 12
11 in (W) x 17 in (H) (work)

 

Robin Johnson – Photograph by Peter Strongwater
Interview, Vol X No 12, p. 15
11 in (W) x 17 in (H) (work)
1080 px (H) x 680 px (W), 96 dpi, 357 kb (image)

 

Detail of Robin Johnson – Photograph by Peter Strongwater
Interview, Vol X No 12, p. 15
601 px (W) x 800 px (H), 96 dpi, 256 kb (image)

 

Interview, Vol X No 12, p. 1 (cover)
11 in (W) x 17 in (H) (work)
1080 px (H) x 684 px (W), 96 dpi, 432 kb (image)

 

©1980 Interview Enterprises

 

Seventeen Magazine, Vol. 39 No. 10, October 1980

Posted on 11th February 2016 in "Times Square"
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Cover of Seventeen Magazine, Vol. 39 No. 10, October 1980

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again presuming that any magazine dated October probably came out in September before the movie opened, here’s an interview with Robin that appeared as two pages of Edwin Miller’s “Spotlight: Movies, records, personalities” column.

 

Edwin Miller's "Spotlight" column featured a "Close-up" on Robin Johnson on pages 98 and 100. Text: Spotlight Close-up Brooklyn teen-ager Robin Johnson shakes up “Times Square” Robin Johnson's hair, chopped in a shaggy cut. is still bright henna-red. even though she has finished making the movie it was dyed for. Times Square—her first- in which she plays a teen-age runaway. "It would be too expensive to go to a beauty shop and have it stripped out." she says, her words tumbling out in a blue streak of throaty Brooklynese. "And it would take hours. I'll just wait till it grows back in the real way—dirty blonde." In the movie, she and Trim Alvarado, as another teen runaway, arc befriended by actor-singer Tim Curry as an all-night disk jockey. Trini wants to be a song-writer. Robin, a rock singer—finally, she does give a street concert in Times Square. "I love rock." Robin says. "Van Halen. Led Zeppelin. Music makes you feel good —and sometimes sad. I used to like Black Sabbath. All their songs are doom. Now I only listen to them if I'm in a certain kind of mood—destructive. The song I sing is called Damn Dog [Ed. note:Recorded on the RSO sound-track album]. It's not punk. I hate punk music, the real punk that comes from England—The Clash. Sex Pistols. They're maniacs: they want to die. I don't mind New Wave so much. It has the same kind of roots, but it's mellower." In the movie, her backup band, the Blondells, is called "a criminal band." "I v/ear a mask like the Lone Ranger and a blue turtleneck sweater with blue glitter tights and a plastic-garbage- bag belt! I'm really wild-looking.” Robin concludes v/ith satisfaction, "but the movie's larger than life. Some things in it are unbelievable—but who would want to see an everyday, routine, normal life in a movie? I wouldn't." Acting in the film was the first job Robin ever had. "That matures you. learning how to work and deal with people. Being street-smart helps in making a movie. There are certain rules you pick up— when to keep your mouth shut, when to do certain things. It's like being in a different neighborhood—some people might give you a hassle, but if they do. you should keep your mouth shut, even if you get mad. and just walk the other way and get out of there. I learned responsibility. You become more considerate. I liked everybody I worked with except two out of a hundred. One woman really gave me a fit —she was such a big complainer. she must have gotten a B.A. in complaining! After a while. I just avoided her except when I absolutely had to work with her. 'What am I going to get upset for?' I asked myself. 'I'm the one you see on the screen.'" Born in Brooklyn sixteen years ago, Robin goes to Brooklyn Tech high school. "I never get along with my teachers.” she says. "I'm rebellious. I don't like people in authority. One day after class. I was hanging outside with my friends, and a skinny-looking guy comes up the block and says. 'Are you sixteen?' I asked, What do you want to know for?' He turned out to be a casting scout, who arranged for Robin to go to an audition in Manhattan the following week. "I went after taking a three-hour geometry test, where you rack your brains. I just wanted to go home to sleep (continued on page 100) Spotlight continued from page 98 but my friend Cindi was with me. and she says. ‘No. no. no. you've got to go. and I'll go with you.' So we went. I had to fill out a sheet with height, weight, eye color, hair color—stuff like that. Then a blond girl came out of the studio where they were videotaping, and I pulled her aside. 'What did they make you do?' I asked, and she said. 'They make you improvise.' I remembered we did that in school a couple of times. You read a scene from a play and then do it your way. Inside, sitting there like a dummy, at first I had nothing to say. and they're putting me on tape, but finally they gave me a situation. I was supposed to be sixteen, having been picked up in Times Square after leaving reform school and taken for observation to a small room in a hospital, where there's a two-way mirror. Then I get teed off." They liked Robin’s improvisation. There were three thousand girls interviewed for the part; Robin won it. "It's a nice feeling to be picked out of so many.” Robin says. "People call me a natural talent, but what I say to that is that the character I play is very close to me so that my actions are natural. It's easy to play someone like yourself.” Around her neck, she wears a couple of gold chains. One has her birth sign. Gemini, dangling from it; the other, a tiny round gold circle, contains a diamond chip. "Trimi and I were given diamonds by the crew at a party when the movie was finished," Robin explains, her eyes wide. "When I saw the Tiffany bag it came in. I said. 'My God!' I put it on, and I haven't taken it off since."

 

The full column led off on page 93 with a look at Breaking Glass and a picture of Hazel O’Connor, but that’s where the similarities with the Film Review article end. Where that article was edited from various pages of the Press Kit, this one looks to have been the product of a genuine one-on-one interview with Robin. She explains how she hates punk rock, the story of her “discovery” has a few details that I don’t think are repeated anywhere else, she describes her audition… but how reliable these details are is a little questionable, since she mentions encouragement from her friend Cindi, and I’m fairly certain that’s actually a reference to her sister Cindy.

The photo of Robin Johnson from page 98 of Seventeen Magazine Vol 39 No. 10, October 1980, that accompanied Edwin Miller's interview of her.
I also don’t think the accompanying picture ever appeared anywhere else.

 

Here’s the text:

Spotlight Close-up

Brooklyn teen-ager Robin Johnson shakes up “Times Square”

Robin Johnson’s hair, chopped in a shaggy cut. is still bright henna-red. even though she has finished making the movie it was dyed for. Times Square—her first- in which she plays a teen-age runaway. “It would be too expensive to go to a beauty shop and have it stripped out.” she says, her words tumbling out in a blue streak of throaty Brooklynese. “And it would take hours. I’ll just wait till it grows back in the real way—dirty blonde.”

In the movie, she and Trim Alvarado, as another teen runaway, arc befriended by actor-singer Tim Curry as an all-night disk jockey. Trini wants to be a song-writer. Robin, a rock singer — finally, she does give a street concert in Times Square.

“I love rock.” Robin says. “Van Halen. Led Zeppelin. Music makes you feel good — and sometimes sad. I used to like Black Sabbath. All their songs are doom. Now I only listen to them if I’m in a certain kind of mood — destructive. The song I sing is called Damn Dog [Ed. note: Recorded on the RSO sound-track album]. It’s not punk. I hate punk music, the real punk that comes from England—The Clash. Sex Pistols. They’re maniacs: they want to die. I don’t mind New Wave so much. It has the same kind of roots, but it’s mellower.” In the movie, her backup band, the Blondells, is called “a criminal band.” “I wear a mask like the Lone Ranger and a blue turtleneck sweater with blue glitter tights and a plastic-garbage- bag belt! I’m really wild-looking.” Robin concludes with satisfaction, “but the movie’s larger than life. Some things in it are unbelievable — but who would want to see an everyday, routine, normal life in a movie? I wouldn’t.”

Acting in the film was the first job Robin ever had. “That matures you. learning how to work and deal with people. Being street-smart helps in making a movie. There are certain rules you pick up— when to keep your mouth shut, when to do certain things. It’s like being in a different neighborhood — some people might give you a hassle, but if they do. you should keep your mouth shut, even if you get mad. and just walk the other way and get out of there. I learned responsibility. You become more considerate. I liked everybody I worked with except two out of a hundred. One woman really gave me a fit — she was such a big complainer. she must have gotten a B.A. in complaining! After a while. I just avoided her except when I absolutely had to work with her. ‘What am I going to get upset for?’ I asked myself. ‘I’m the one you see on the screen.'”

Born in Brooklyn sixteen years ago, Robin goes to Brooklyn Tech high school. “I never get along with my teachers,” she says. “I’m rebellious. I don’t like people in authority. One day after class. I was hanging outside with my friends, and a skinny-looking guy comes up the block and says. ‘Are you sixteen?’ I asked, What do you want to know for?’ He turned out to be a casting scout, who arranged for Robin to go to an audition in Manhattan the following week. “I went after taking a three-hour geometry test, where you rack your brains. I just wanted to go home to sleep but my friend Cindi was with me, and she says. ‘No. no. no. you’ve got to go. and I’ll go with you.’ So we went. I had to fill out a sheet with height, weight, eye color, hair color—stuff like that. Then a blond girl came out of the studio where they were videotaping, and I pulled her aside. ‘What did they make you do?’ I asked, and she said. ‘They make you improvise.’ I remembered we did that in school a couple of times. You read a scene from a play and then do it your way. Inside, sitting there like a dummy, at first I had nothing to say. and they’re putting me on tape, but finally they gave me a situation. I was supposed to be sixteen, having been picked up in Times Square after leaving reform school and taken for observation to a small room in a hospital, where there’s a two-way mirror. Then I get teed off.” They liked Robin’s improvisation. There were three thousand girls interviewed for the part; Robin won it.

“It’s a nice feeling to be picked out of so many.” Robin says. “People call me a natural talent, but what I say to that is that the character I play is very close to me so that my actions are natural. It’s easy to play someone like yourself.”

Around her neck, she wears a couple of gold chains. One has her birth sign. Gemini, dangling from it; the other, a tiny round gold circle, contains a diamond chip. “Trini and I were given diamonds by the crew at a party when the movie was finished,” Robin explains, her eyes wide. “When I saw the Tiffany bag it came in. I said. ‘My God!’ I put it on, and I haven’t taken it off since.”

"Times Square" Screenplay by Jacob Brackman, 1979, 129 pp, p. 10  Text:  10 CONTINUED PEARL You're still nervous about sitting up on the podium with me . . . Is that it? PAMELA looks away. Because if it makes you too anxious, you can just sit in the audience . . Decide once we're there. Now how about some shut eye? We'll talk tomorrow. He exits. Pamela turns out her light. EXT THE HOPKINS DETENTION CENTER, THE BRONX DAWN Establishing shot of a minimum security compound. In¬ stitutional buildings surrounded by playing fields, gardens and a frost fence. INT HOPKINS CENTER: A QUIET-ROOM DAWN A lightly padded quiet-room. NICKY's radio-cassette rests on the unslept-in cot. NICKY seems to be rehearsing something in front of the observation window on the door. A light brightens behind the window. We can see a figure there. NICKY pantomines crawling up the walls, partly to charm the observer. She ends up clawing at the glass. ROSIE HAUSE enters, wearing a bathrobe. She is a 40 year old staffer, a social worker of resilient humor. Tough and street smart, she comes from the same side of the tracks as most of her clients. She double locks the door behind her and smiles. ROSIE What were you trying to prove, Nicky? CONTINUED
The scene she says she was given to improvise for her audition, in the room with the two-way mirror, is in the script and may even have been shot (there’s a photo that looks like it, published in an article I haven’t got to yet), but doesn’t appear in the film.

 

 

This image above of the interview looks almost identical to the one Bernadette McCallion gave me years ago, which I posted and which has been floating around the Web since, but it’s not – it’s a new scan made by me. Although, in comparing the two, I probably needn’t have bothered; hers is almost identical. It turns out pasting the parts of the two pages together like that is the best way to display them.

 

 

Miller, Edwin. “Spotlight Close-up: Brooklyn teen-ager Robin Johnson shakes up ‘Times Square'”. Seventeen Magazine, Vol. 39 No. 10, October 1980, pp. 98, 100, 14 October 1980 (work); 1080 px (W) x 746 px (H), 96 dpi, 429 KB (image)

 

Photo of Robin Johnson, detail from p. 98 of Seventeen Magazine, Vol. 39 No. 10 (work); 800 px (W) x 792 px (H), 96 dpi, 287 KB (image)

 

TIMES SQUARE, p. 10
Screenplay by Jacob Brackman
1979