Nicky and Pammy’s blood oath: NYC, pre-HIV

In my previous post, I alluded — again! — to one of the many sites of loss in Times Square. Pamela (Trini Alvarado) has awoken to find Nicky (Robin Johnson) gone. The shot reverses to reveal Pamela’s viewpoint: Nicky’s now-empty bed, and through the window behind it, the World Trade Center towers.

Contemporary analyses of Times Square frequently note that the film presages the loss of a city. This loss of buildings and neighbourhoods extends beyond “mere” architecture — as if architecture ever designates material structures alone — to a cultural geography that maps absence.

But the loss that I feel most sharply when I now watch the film can be evoked by a single image:

Nicky and Pammy’s blood oath, with Nicky’s assurance that she will not hurt Pammy, the drawing of (first) blood, the frenzied yet desperate calling of each others’ names, functions as a cinematic coding for loss of virginity / sexual activity. But it is the literal mingling of fluid in the blood oath that now makes me shiver: at the moment of filming, at Times’s Square‘s release (1979-80), New York City was about to become one of the epicenters of the AIDS epidemic. As Joseph F. Lovett’s remarkable documentary Gay Sex in the Seventies (2005) demonstrates, a culture was about to be devastated. Such an image could never be viewed innocently again.

In memory of those “not lost, but gone before,” on World AIDS Day.

About DefeatedandGifted

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

1 Response to Nicky and Pammy’s blood oath: NYC, pre-HIV

  1. Joe Wegesa says:

    Sorry i haven’t been here in a while. I’m a very forgetful person.
    Great observation there. In this incident, infection can definitely occur but many people are still paranoid over blood even when they don’t have a cut on them.

Got somethin' t'say?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s