Obituary: Pamela Rooke, punk muse known as “Jordan” whose flashy clothing style influenced the Sex Pistols

Pamela Rooke, who died of cancer at the age of 66, rose to fame as “Jordan” during the punk era and has been called the “inventor” of punk rock by singer Adam Ant.

With her gravity-defying, voluminous or spiky multicolored hair, creepy Mondrian-inspired face paint, fetish and bondage catalog clothes, and “don’t mess with me” attitude, Jordan became a poster child for the 1970s Punk.

Her daring, nonconformist style caught the attention of Malcolm McLaren and his then-girlfriend, designer Vivienne Westwood, and in 1974 she became a salesperson and model in Sex, her boutique on King’s Road.

When McLaren started managing the Sex Pistols, who released Anarchy in the UK In 1976, she became part of her inner circle, influencing Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious and the others to adopt her spitting look.

McLaren recruited her to mess with the band at gigs, where she would prance around on stage, look scary, tumble and often bare her breasts. Andy Warhol photographed Jordan “with a lot of stuffed penguins” at his New York studio The Factory, and she landed a role as Amyl Nitrate anniversaryDerek Jarman’s 1978 film about punk life.

Jordan served as an early manager for Adam and the Ants and in 1981 married Kevin Mooney, the band’s bassist, with whom she became heavily involved in the drug scene – first amphetamines, then heroin.

Jordan decided to get out before it was too late and in 1984, after leaving her husband, she returned to her parents’ home in Seaford, East Sussex. There, after “cold turkey,” she trained as a veterinary assistant and settled down, taking a job at a local veterinary practice raising Burmese cats. “People were afraid of me,” she recalls of her punk days. “And the funny thing is, I was actually quite shy.”

Pamela Rooke was born in Seaford on June 23, 1955, the youngest of three children of Stanley Rooke, a World War II veteran, and his wife Linda, a seamstress.

She spent three months in traction in a car accident at age 14. She emerged with, as she put it, a determination to “do something different” from her peers, who just “wanted to get married and have babies.”

It was at this time that she took the name Jordan (a name she incongruously borrowed from Jordan Baker, the androgynous golfer in The Great Gatsby). Her rebellion centered on her looks: “I would go to thrift stores and find slingback stilettos and redesign other outfits. I wore boned basques and had red and pink hair.”

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In 1974, after leaving school, she saw an advertisement for the McLaren and Westwood boutique and decided to ask for a job, but there was no vacancy. Harrods surprisingly took her instead, but a few weeks later she got the job she wanted.

Over the next few years, Jordan commuted by train from Seaford to London in full punk gear: “Female passengers said I was obscene, told me to move, and one even tried to throw me off,” she said.

At the King’s Road boutique, she refused to serve those she considered uncool. She banned Bianca Jagger for her “haughty airs” and bullied a young Boy George.

Jordan never saw punk as a political movement: “I just wanted to be a living work of art.” But others saw it differently, and when she married Mooney, Westwood promptly fired her, complaining that she’d sold out and gone middle-class.

After her marriage ended, she trained as a veterinary assistant and worked at Beechwood Veterinary Surgery in Seaford for about three decades. But she remained a punk at heart, turning heads in Seaford well into the ’60s with her leather jackets and colorful hair: “I’ll always wear my Tits t-shirt,” she said. “I fill it in very nicely.”

© Telegraph Media Group Ltd. 2022

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022] Obituary: Pamela Rooke, punk muse known as “Jordan” whose flashy clothing style influenced the Sex Pistols

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