“damn dog” – robin johnson (1980)


One of the finest pleasures anyone can experience are those few, rare moments where it feels like you’re the center of the universe; when everything has aligned perfectly and you can live free and uninhibited. I love these moments because I can forget everything else such as the mundane aspects of life like bills and work. It is within these wild moments of individual self-expression that we truly feel free, alive, and completely ourselves.

Two years ago, I picked up a double-LP soundtrack for a movie called “Times Square.” Two punk girls dominated the cover with a small image of Tim Curry appearing from the corner. I looked at the track listing and I was blown away. Talking Heads, Gary Numan, Roxy Music, Suzi Quatro, Joe Jackson, The Ramones, XTC, and more! It looked like a solid compilation of post-punk exuberance. And it was only $1.99.

I love this record and I listen to it frequently. Though there was an abundance of amazing tracks by recognizable artists, a few were unfamiliar to me. There were a few tracks by someone named Robin Johnson. Just who was this Robin Johnson”? Were they a he or a she? Was this someone from a band? What else has this person done? Upon listening, it turns out Robin Johnson was a gruff punk rock girl with a sexy. rough and tumble voice. As I researched “Times Square,” it turns out her tracks “You’re Daughter Is One” and “Damn Dog” were original songs for the film. Alright, I have to see this movie now!

Roughly a year later, I found a copy of the movie. It is fairly obscure and only one rental store in Chicago had a copy, an art-house theater that also boasted the largest rental library in the country. Tim Curry was the only star of the film, but he maintained his role supporting two young female leads, Trini Alvarado & Robin Johnson. The story follows Alvarado’s character, a daughter of a local New York politician. She’s been going through teenage anxieties on top of the scrutiny of being a politician’s daughter. Like all teenagers, she needs an escape. She runs away and ends up meeting Johnson, who plays a kickass punk street urchin. Johnson’s character lives in an abandoned warehouse, steals food and clothes, and suffers from depression. Despite coming from two different worlds, they become inseparable. Alvarado learns to let her insecurities go and becomes more wild, and Johnson finds the love and support that has been missing from her life. Alvarado supports Johnson’s dream of becoming a singer for a rock band and, with the help of Tim Curry playing a local rock DJ, the story of these two punk rock runaways takes New York.

Despite my unfamiliarity with the film, it apparently is a regular addition in many LGBT film festivals. The film has strong allusions to the girls being romantically linked. Apparently, there was more footage shot that emphasized the lesbian relationship, but that was left out of the final cut. However, it is still every apparent that “Times Square” is a teenage rock ‘n’ roll lesbian love story with awesome music to boot.

“Damn Dog” is one of a few original songs that appears on the soundtrack. In the movie, this is Johnson’s swan song; the one that validates her talent and serves as her ultimate form of self-expression and the inner peace that comes as a result. The track is fiery and the passion of Johnson’s gruff voice accentuates the anti-authority power of the song. I believe this song is a way for Johnson’s character to express affection and her insatiable lust and desires. For me, it serves as the romantic bond between Alvarado and herself. She see what she wants and it looks delicious. Beware because this bitch bites!

The movie is ok, but worth checking out. Unfortunately, it is one of those instances where the soundtrack overshadows the films. Though, I’m glad I experienced both. “Times Square” has a great story that teaches you to find what you want and to fight all the way for it. For those moments of pure oneness, they come so few if even at all.

Check out both versions!

Soundtrack version:

Movie version:


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