Passion! Fashion! Trashin’!: the costumes of Times Square


In my last post, “Times Square and the dearth of denim,” I discussed the relative lack of denim worn by Pammy and Nicky as the main signpost of their unique costuming. I also argued that the idiosyncratic costumes by Robert DeMora are an important part of Times Square‘s look. The costuming was also an important aspect of the publicity for the film, with Robin Johnson and Trini Alvarado featuring in a “fashion spread” in New York magazine (3 Nov. 1980), wherein Catherine Milinaire described Nicky and Pammy’s fashion style as “a surreal New York-bag lady-goes-to-Disneyland amalgam of thrift-shop rejects, torn doilies, long johns, even belted plastic garbage bags. . . . the stars’ outré outfits often provoked remarks from prostitutes” (78).

DeMora, nominated for costuming Oscars for Cruising (1980) and Marathon Man (1976), has worked with Cher and as the longtime stage costumer for Bette Midler, so we could expect the Times Square costumes to be fabulous. Isabelle at Magazine Machine describes their “selection of bag lady reject, young punk and trashcan vintage . . . . I would love to time travel back to the days when vintage vintage wasn’t even a big deal, and steal it all. . . . Some of the fashion highlights include Pamela Pearl (the posh one) in a dress which reminds me of Madonna’s Material Girl video, Nicky Marotta (the loudmouth one) in an awesome fur epaulette embroidered jacket and some amazing club shots. Pamela also sports a really pretty turquoise collar with masses of brooches pinned onto it. Well nice.” (The embroidered fur jacket, pictured below, is the only costume Robin Johnson kept from Times Square. Interesting, huh?)

Apart from their theatrical costumes, there’s not a single outfit that Nicky and Pammy wear that wouldn’t look fabulous today on the streets of any major metropolis. Wait, for each there is a single outfit:
Nicky, as stunningly beautiful as you are, if you came towards me wearing a New York Neurological Hospital hat and this outfit,

I’d probably roll up my window, too. There are few careers outside of professional dominatrix where you make money by scaring people shitless. Sadly, windscreen washer is not one of them.

But it is Nicky and Pammy’s “everyday” wear that is most inspired, and especially the way in which they mix-and-match pieces into entirely different outfits and looks. Pussyrock Fanzine writes “Many of the girls’ costumes seem to echo Vivienne Westwood’s Buffalo Girls collection, which I believe came out a few years later.” I can certainly see similarities with Westwood’s “Nostalgia of Mud” collection, with its loose, multi-layered style, but Nicky and Pammy’s clothing choices do not share the neutrals (greys and browns) of Westwood’s collection. Their clothing is far more colourful; Nicky and Pammy seem to know what may be the sole lesson I learned while in Tanzania: don’t co-ordinate anything. (Despite being among the twenty poorest countries on earth, the women of Tanzania, with their various patterns that by Western sartorial standards would be considered to clash, are surely amongst the most splendidly-attired women in the world.)

Here are my two favourite outfits worn by Pammy and Nicky:


My second-favourite Pamela Pearl outfit

Fierce? Oh, yes! In this outfit, Trini Alvarado as Pammy Pearl should have been / should be the pin-up girl for the “New Wave” movement. Remember when New Wave was the (slightly more fashion conscious) offshoot of punk, but still designated an “anti-fashion” movement? This was about five minutes before it was co-opted by lazy corporate fashion-makers, and a few years before it morphed into the pastels of Miami Vice. This awesome look is proof that it (once briefly) existed.



My favourite Pamela Pearl outfit

Towards the end of Times Square, Pammy debuts this number. Jeans, butterfly collar shirt, woolen jumper, vest, poncho and beanie: Pammy looks fantastic in this ensemble. It’s as if she has finally stopped snaffling Nicky’s clothes, and developed her own style.


My second-favourite Nicky Marotta outfit

With this outfit at the beginning of Times Square, Robin Johnson as Nicky Marotta secured her status as iconic symbol of punk, of rock and roll, of teenage rebellion, as a dykon, and general fashion icon. We don’t see the black trousers, belt, padded leather biker jacket with badges, long-sleeve combed cotton shirt and zippered leather newsboy as a complete outift after this scene, as Pammy nicks most of it. But that’s OK, otherwise we wouldn’t get…

My favourite Nicky Marotta outfit


I love Nicky Marotta / Robin Johnson in this outfit. As with every damn thing she wears in the movie, Nicky looks divine in each permutation of her leopard-print jumpsuit. I suspect that she is so stylish, she even moves into Pier 56 just so she can pose outdoors in front of the gorgeous art deco Pier 57. Now that’s what I call style!

In the Vice “Fashion Issue,” Adriane Schramm writes “After watching Times Square one night, the image of Nicky Marotta (the cool half of the Sleez Sisters!) would hotly possess my brain as my first girl crush. She was such an authentic punk delinquent that I was convinced she was not acting. I hoped the cameras had just followed her day to day to document her incorrigible vitality and sexy sassafrass for this film. . . . I was a Weird Al Yankovic fan pining for Nicky’s style and confused how to obtain it.” I understand the dilemma: it’s thirty years since Times Square‘s release, but for the past five months, I have only bought clothing that I could imagine Nicky Marotta wearing. I’m pretty sure that if I ever had “sexy sassafras,” it’s long gone. But you know what? I think it’s working for me!

Let me know your favourite Nicky and Pammy outfits!

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About DefeatedandGifted

If you have any comments, anecdotes or images regarding Times Square fandom, please email me at defgif@gmail.com
This entry was posted in Cultural Studies, Fandom, Nicole "Nicky" Marotta, Pamela "Pammy" Pearl, Popular Culture, Queer Spectatorship, Robert DeMora, Robin Johnson, Times Square (1980) movie, Trini Alvarado. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Passion! Fashion! Trashin’!: the costumes of Times Square

  1. Maya says:

    Favourite Pammy outfit: The foxy Miss Pearl dance sequence

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