I would think that by October of 1981, a year after its initial release in New York, and two or three months after its Thai release, Times Square would have long since closed in Thailand and become a distant memory. But that didn’t stop Filmstar magazine from running an article promoting Robin herself, very much like the interviews with Robin published during her publicity tour nine months previous.
A quick-witted likeable young lady
Do you still remember Nicky, a quick witted rebelliously likable young girl from Times Square? If you are also someone who fell in love with that Nicky, here is a tiny reminiscence that she is happy to share. Even though it is not going to be as exciting as in the film, I bet you wouldn’t mind learning from her.
Nicky is Robin Johnson, 17 year old teenager from Brooklyn. Her accent is clearly a unique and gravelly Brooklynese when she speaks. When we met her, Robin Johnson’s hair was still chopped in a shaggy cut. “It would be too expensive to go to a beauty shop and have it stripped out.” she says, “And it would take hours. I’ll just wait till it grows back in the real way.”
Robin still remembers the role of Nicky so well even though a year has passed by. She and Trini Alvarado are friends on and off screen. 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 remember the song called Damn Dog so well. 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.”
Robin starts to giggle when she thinks about one scene in the movie. “I’m really very wild-looking. I wear a mask like the Lone Ranger and a blue turtleneck sweater with blue glitter tights and a plastic-garbage-bag belt!”
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.’”
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.”
Robin remembered a casting scout, who arranged for Robin to go to an audition in Manhattan. That audition feels like it wrecks her brains. Back then, in her head she thought “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. “I had to fill out a sheet with height, weight, eye color, hair color—stuff like that. Then, they’re putting me on tape, inside the studio room I was sitting there like a dummy and read the script. I don’t know why they have chosen me but I got a part in Times Square.”
“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.”
I managed to have this article translated professionally by Joy Busai (whose website, www.thaienglishhq.com, unfortunately seems to be down at the moment), and she noticed that it seemed itself to be an almost word-for-word translation into Thai of Robin’s interview in Seventeen Magazine from October 1980. While it got me a discount on the translation, it was something of a disappointment to find that one of the last contemporary Times Square articles contained absolutely nothing new.
Photo roundup: Page 40 is cropped from the image used most prominently for a UK lobby card.
Bottom left on p. 41 is the shot published in Playboy, Vol. 28 No. 1, January 1981. Top to bottom at right: a shot of the final concert previously used on the UK soundtrack sampler; Nicky cutting Pammy’s hand, with a boom microphone front and center, as seen in the Japanese souvenir program book; a previously-unpublished, as far as I know, full frame from the film showing the extra empty space at the top; and a shot of Robin as Nicky that accompanied her October 1980 interview in Seventeen, which itself was translated into Thai in the issue of Filmstar three months before this one.
Page 41, top left, is the Yoram Kahana shot that first appeared, again as far as I know, in Movie 81 No. 2. Directly below is UK publicity still 21. Below that, captioned “ROBIN”, is TS-69-34A/4. To its right is a shot taken within seconds of the UK lobby card but itself seems to be making its first appearance here. To the right is TS-82-30/4, and finally at the bottom right is another frame from the film with extra space at the top and bottom.
Filmstar Vol. 1 No. 6, 1 October 1981, pp. 40-42 (magazine (periodical), AAT ID: 300215389)
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Tags: 1981, interview, magazine, promotion, Thailand