With her Mondrian-inspired makeup, outlandish hairstyles and shocking signature dress, Pamela Rooke, aka Jordan, described herself as “a walking work of art.” For the public, however, the fearless provocateur who traveled by early morning train from the Sussex coast to central London in the mid-1970s has become the face of the most important youth movement of modern times: punk.

Jordan’s stunning look, which took two hours a day to create, came from a deep desire to reinvent himself. Ricocheting between tight latex rubber and translucent clothing, often exposing breasts, buttocks and pubic hair, this naturally shy babe offended her fellow commuters. Describing their reaction decades later as “apoplectic”, she was seated in a first class carriage by British Rail staff for her own safety.

Jordan’s daily destination was 430 King’s Road. There she met Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, where their shop Let It Rock made the transition to SEX. It was a clear case of serendipity. The perfect visual companion, Jordan was already into fetishism and became their salesman. With a clientele made up of sex workers, dominatrixes and the simply curious, McLaren’s dream was to see rubber clothes in the office.

Jordan quickly became a source of fascination, gathering fans including Andy Warhol whom she met four times. “Warhol was disappointed when he met me,” Westwood recalls in his memoir, co-written with Ian Kelly, “because he thought I was Jordan or rather had seen pictures of Jordan and assumed I was Jordan. was me.”

Pamela Rooke was born in Seaford on June 26, 1955. Her father, Stanley James Rooke was from Tottenham. His mother, Rosalind Jean Needham, was a professional seamstress from Islington. The fourth of four children, Jordan had a sister Jeannie, a brother Roger and another, Michael, who died at 18 months of scarlet fever.

In late May 1973, she had a life-changing experience when she saw David Bowie, appearing as Ziggy Stardust. By June she had left school and started clubbing, calling herself “Jipper” and frequenting underground gay bars including Tricky Dicky nightclub in Brighton and then Louise’s in London.

In 1977, the year punk reached its crescendo, Jordan was at the center. She had already witnessed firsthand the formation of the Sex Pistols. In their first television appearance on So, how are you Jordan is seen dancing sideways with a beehive of peroxide and a swastika on his arm. Jordan was at the infamous Thames boat party where police raided the Sex Pistols show on Jubilee night.

Jordan’s role as a saleswoman at SEX made her a source of fascination

(Getty)

Fulfilling her childhood dream of being a ballet dancer, Jordan made an unforgettable appearance in 1978 in Derek Jarman’s Jubilee, both a ballerina and a character called Amyl Nitrate singing “Rule Britannia”. Three years later, on Jordan’s 26th birthday, she performed an unlikely conventional act when she married musician Kevin Mooney at the Marylebone Registry Office wearing pieces from Westwood’s Pirate collection. The afterparty at artist Andrew Logan’s warehouse was filmed by Derek Jarman.

In 1984 Jordan, now divorced from Mooney, turned her back on London life and returned to Seaford to work as a veterinary nurse and be with her family. “If I hadn’t returned to Seaford then, I might have missed my parents’ final years – and my mother’s end in 1987,” she wrote in her autobiography. Defying Gravity: Jordan’s Story. His father lived to be 91.

Jordan rarely surfaced on the London scene following his move to Seaford. She attended the launch of Julien Temple’s film The Dirt and the Fury in 2000, what Jordan described as “a moving reassessment of the madness of those heady days…it was the start of a massive revival of interest in punk on all sides”.

The next meeting was Malcolm McLaren’s funeral in April 2010 where Jordan was invited by Vivienne Westwood’s son, Joe Corre. According to Jordan, punk had undergone a startling transformation “becoming the subject of college lectures, symposia, and huge retrospective exhibitions around the world”.

On June 23, 2015, at Kerry Taylor Auctions, Jordan sold her entire collection of clothing she acquired during the punk era and beyond. The most infamous piece, the Venus studded shirt, sold for £27,500 and is now part of fashion designer Kim Jones’ archives.

“Before the auction I spent around £3.75 on refurbishing my clothes,” Jordan recalled. “It was spent on a J-Cloth, water – which I won’t count – and two pots of very cheap leather restorer. I dared not wash anything.

The auction, titled “Passion for Fashion,” combined Jordan’s wardrobe with the Ossie Clark collections of Celia Birtwell, textile designer and muse of artist David Hockney. Birtwell had witnessed the Jordan Effect at its peak. “She was wonderful. The real thing. She was the star of it all. He was a very calm person. A kind of hero of this movement. The quintessence of punk.

Jordan was, until his untimely death at the age of 66 from a rare form of cancer, one of the world’s true originals. “People have always mistaken me for being brave,” she told musician and writer John Robb. “But for me it was normal and comfortable. Nobody tried to copy me, which I find incredible.

Pamela Rooke, model, actress and veterinary nurse, born June 23, 1955, died April 3, 2022