©2022 By Amy Haben
The punk rock stylist and fashion icon has passed away in her home in Seaford on Sunday. Jordan styled the Sex Pistols, managed Adam and the Ants, worked at Vivienne Westwood’s famous store, Sex and starred in the film Jubilee by Derek Jarman. The actress, model, artist and vet has been mourned by the masses on social media.
The beloved style icon, Jordan, has left this planet a little less cool. Jordan passed away at age 66, on April 3rd from a rare form of bile duct cancer in her home in Seaford right across from the ocean. If you’ve ever looked up photos of the British punk scene, you’ve probably come across a photo of Jordan, who was literally walking art. With her bouffant white hair and raccoon-shaped black eyeliner, she was hard to miss. Especially on the days she decided to wear a sheer tutu without panties underneath. Jordan worked at Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s King’s Road clothing store, Sex. She was an intimidating figure behind the counter. She wouldn’t say hello and most people were too intimidated to approach her for help. Even Mick Jagger famously peaked in the store but wouldn’t dare step in. If a customer who didn’t look good in the clothes asked for her opinion, she would say, “What do you think you look like?”
I was lucky enough to hang out with Jordan three years ago in London. She was promoting her new memoir, Defying Gravity, and invited me to a speaking engagement she had for the book at a private club in Soho. We chatted over lunch before the event and I found out that we were insanely similar. She adored animals which led her to becoming a vet and slow down after life in the fast lane. A drunk, speed addicted Lemmy once warned her to stay away from hard drugs, yet she still battled with heroin at one time. Jordan was quite honestly the most powerful woman I’d ever met. I’d looked up to her since I was a teen, always admiring her bold and unapologetic style and attitude.
Born Pamela Rooke in Seaford in 1955, Jordan adopted her name at age fourteen from the smart, driven and adrogynous character, Jordan Baker of The Great Gatsby. Ironically, this character was known as the “new woman” of the 1920’s: a woman that didn’t buy into the rules of femininity. Jordan silently told society to piss off with her bold, outrageous outfits. She hated when people called her brave because she always felt comfortable in how she looked, there was nothing to be embarrassed about or to overcome. Jordan was as authentic as one could be.
Jordan had managed the new wave hitmaker’s, Adam and the Ants, even singing on one of their songs. She eventually married the bass player but it didn’t last. She considered herself bi-sexual and found that dating men was particularly hard since men were often put off by an intelligent woman with a sense of humor. As a teen, she hung out in gay bars where she always felt safe and loved. One Halloween she won the costume contest at a gay pub while wearing fish hooks, seaweed, plastic lobsters, nets and seashells and naming herself, “The dyke of the deep.”
The wildly creative punk even made her own jewelry as well as adapting her own style out of thrift store finds. She had put together an earring made out of pearls and feathers. While wearing it to a David Bowie concert, Bowie himself bent down from the stage and asked if he could have it. Jordan quickly replied, “No.” Many teenage Bowie fans would’ve ripped off their shirts for him, but Jordan was a star herself. She never felt below anyone no matter what rank in life they had. Jordan would be photographed next to Bowie later on with her spiked hair and line-painted face which always reminded me of a Mondrian piece. In the photo, Bowie is making a shocked expression in a very tongue and cheek manner.
Director Derek Jarman, cast Jordan as the character Amyl Nitrate in his 1978 film, Jubilee, which is now a cult classic. The Slits and Siouxsie and the Banshees perform in the film and Brian Eno scored the soundtrack. Jordan can also be found onstage with the Sex Pistols during their first live televised performance of “Anarchy In The UK,” in 1976. She will be remembered for her contribution to creating the 1970’s British punk look along with Soo Catwoman, Siouxsie Sioux, and Johnny Rotten. The Sex Pistols Glen Matlock, and Captain Sensible of the Damned have posted tributes to her on social media among many other old friends and inspired artists who never had the chance to meet the “Queen of Punk.”
©2022 By Amy Haben