St. Vincent's Annie Clark hopes against hope to make the poor, precocious subject matter of this song, "a real boy." She told NME that the tune is a, "love letter to a tragic character and the New York downtown freak, weirdo, queer scene."
The titular character hangs out in bathroom stalls and tries to affirm himself through having sex with famous people, but is safe in the city's embrace. "It's that kind of story you don't get from New York City when you're still clutching your purse on the subway," Clark told NME. "It's the kind you get when you've proven your devotion to the city. Then she lets you in her arms."
The best known song about New York's queer scene is undoubtedly Lou Reed's, "Walk On The Wild Side," which introduced us to Holly, Candy, Little Joe, Sugar Plum Fairy, and Jackie.
Clark told HMV.com that this song began with the lyrics, "then I just had to sort of step back and go 'OK, well, what does this short story sound like? What could this possibly be in a musical sense?'"
Clark described this to Q magazine as "a fairly literal story." She added: "We all have friends, we love dearly, who are charming and hopelessly self-destructive and you intersect at some point. Prince Johnny is a friend. It's about those fabulous New York nights you only get with the kind of people flee their home towns and come to this place and reinvent themselves."
Who writes a song about a name they found in a phone book? That's just one of the everyday things these guys find to sing about. Anything in their field of vision or general scope of knowledge is fair game. If you cross paths with them, so are you.