Naked muse who made the Sex Pistols look tame! An interview with punk queen Jordan Mooney

The outfits varied according to the season. So during the chilly, dark winter months, 20-year-old Jordan Mooney’s ensemble was likely to have been a leather suspender belt, sheer knickers, latex stockings and a (very) loose-knit mohair jumper with bra-less bosoms bouncing beneath.

In the summer, perhaps a leather corset, stiletto boots and a gauzy net skirt without underwear so nothing was left to the imagination — all topped off with her trademark beehive hair, fierce Cubist-inspired face paint and terrifying ‘don’t mess with me’ attitude.

‘I just wore whatever made me feel good,’ she says, now 65 and still causing a stir on Seaford beach with her purple and blue hair and T-shirt depicting two big bare breasts, leather cuffs and ‘UP YOURS! badge.’

Maybe, but for her fellow British Rail commuters on the 8.15am from the Sussex town to London, it was all a bit much. Some asked to be moved to another carriage. Others asked for Jordan to be moved.

Occasionally, the guard put her in First Class for her own safety. This was the early 1970s, for goodness sake. ‘The women were the worst. Some were apoplectic, particularly if they had children with them,’ she says blithely. ‘The men mostly just sat there…’

Not that Jordan cared. Though it was sometimes tricky biking to the station on her trusty old Raleigh in the more challenging outfits. ‘I’ve always felt completely relaxed about nudity. Showing a boob, a nipple. Anything.’

Blonde ambition: Topless Jordan Mooney on stage with Pistols’ Johnny Rotten in the 1970s

Blonde ambition: Topless Jordan Mooney on stage with Pistols’ Johnny Rotten in the 1970s

Blonde ambition: Topless Jordan Mooney on stage with Pistols’ Johnny Rotten in the 1970s

Rather more so, it turns out, than Maisie Williams, the Game Of Thrones actress who, 40 years on, is playing Jordan in a new six-part U.S. TV drama about the Sex Pistols, directed by Danny Boyle. ‘Oh she’s lovely and she’s diddy like me — very short,’ says Jordan, who is special fashion consultant for the series.

‘She’s been a bit startled by some of the things I wore. The lack of undies, particularly! But she’s really immersed herself in it.’ Indeed, this week Maisie, 23, was pictured on set in London in transparent yellow mac, rubber pants, suspender belt, latex stockings — that, apparently, took three people to get her into — full Jordan-esque hair and make-up inspired by the geometric art of Piet Mondrian. 

‘Yes! That is one of my exact outfits. I’d wear that on the train to work, and, of course, I’d wear no bra.’

Jordan — real name Pamela Rooke — was the original punk icon, pal of everyone from singer Chrissie Hynde and fashion designer Vivienne Westwood (‘absolutely darling’) to on-off lover Stewart Goddard/Adam Ant (‘still a great friend’) — as well as muse and mayhem maker for the Sex Pistols.

She was barely 5ft tall, but she’d look scary and spit beer. She’d swear and throw chairs. She was showered with love letters by Adam Ant. ‘Some were quite embarrassing — “I’m not fit to lick your feet” sort of thing,’ she says.

And sometimes she’d appear on stage with the Pistols and whip her top off to perk things up a bit.

She was also the rather daunting gate-keeper of SEX, the cult shop created by Malcolm McLaren (who became The Pistols’ manager) and Westwood in 1974 at 430 King’s Road which specialised in latex and bondage gear and became, as Jordan puts it, ‘like a meeting house of philosophers in Paris or Prague’.

Albeit a meeting house once described by former punk and writer Julie Burchill as ‘a cross between a kinky brothel and an art-school happening, where you could have any colour as long as it was rubber’.

For several years, SEX was the epicentre of cool, the hub of the punk revolution and the launch pad of the Sex Pistols. In 1975, 19-year-old John Lydon auditioned for the group in front of McLaren by singing along to Alice Cooper on the shop’s jukebox.

It was only open to those Jordan liked the look of. She banned Bianca Jagger because she was ‘all haughty and airs and graces’, intimidated poor Boy George — who visited SEX in his school uniform — so much he was almost too scared to go in, and refused to sell clothes to anyone she thought wasn’t cool enough and was just buying ‘The Look’. ‘I’d just say: “No, no, no! You can’t buy that. You look awful in it,”’ she says today.

For ages, she refused to let Hynde — the coolest rock chick in the world, now a great pal — join the SEX gang, despite her increasingly desperate entreaties. ‘We didn’t let her in for a while because she thought she was so cool,’ she giggles.

But she adored ITV newsreader Reginald Bosanquet, who’d apparently pop in every so often for a pair of rubber pants to wear under his suits. ‘That’s all he ever bought, bless him!’ she says. ‘He was such a dear.’

Jordan, the youngest of three children to Linda, a seamstress and Stanley a WWII veteran, was never one to run with the crowd. ‘I had a very happy childhood and a close family but I was always a bit stand-offish,’ she says. ‘I was picking my own clothes from the age of seven.’

Which, when it was pinks and frills, was fine. But later, when she embraced a Mohican hairdo and discarded her undies, became more troublesome for her poor mum.

Punk shocker: Maisie Williams as Jordan in new Sex Pistols drama

Punk shocker: Maisie Williams as Jordan in new Sex Pistols drama

Punk shocker: Maisie Williams as Jordan in new Sex Pistols drama

Particularly because she was the sort of girl who could have done anything — bright, sharp, driven, a great athlete, captain of the hockey team and very talented ballet dancer with her sights firmly on Sadler’s Wells.

‘It’s where I get my great deportment,’ she says. ‘I keep saying to Maisie: “It’s all about deportment.” ’

A car accident when she was 14 put an end to the dancing and, after three months in traction and buried in music magazines NME and Sounds, she emerged with a renewed determination to really live her life.

So when hero David Bowie appeared locally as Ziggy Stardust, she and best mate Jill stormed the stage and showered him with four shopping bags of apple blossom they’d collected earlier that day.

When Bowie took her hand and asked if he could have the earring she’d made from half a dozen starling’s feathers and some fake pearls — she refused. ‘Of course I said no!’

By 18 she’d changed her name to Jordan Baker — after the androgynous golfer in The Great Gatsby — and was being applauded for her extraordinary dress sense when she walked into clubs.

Naturally, Seaford was never going to be enough. Her initial escape route was a job at Harrods’ youth department. ‘My mum took one look at my outfit when I set off to the interview and said: “Why are you even bothering?”’

But she got the job and soon moved on to SEX where everyone on the scene embraced her style. ‘My hair and make-up didn’t take nearly as long as you’d think,’ she says. ‘An hour from scratch, with a Dior pencil and a very steady hand.

‘Though mostly she’d eke it out for days — ‘l learned how to sleep very carefully’ — just topping up and tweaking the hair each morning. Latex takes some wearing, too. ‘Freezing cold in winter and so hot in summer my feet would be sloshing about in sweat.’

But for a while, life was everything she’d dreamt of back in Seaford. Punk was exploding in both music and art and she was at the heart of it. ‘It wasn’t about being male or female, or sexual, it was about being empowered and inclusive, no one had to conform to a certain size, shape, sex or look,’ she says. ‘It was brilliant.’

She briefly managed Adam/Stewart after seeing him perform in a tiny pub on the King’s Road. ‘His look was quite frightening back then,’ she said. ‘He came on in a leather mask with a zip undone across the mouth so he could sing.’

They ended up dating on and off, though Adam was hardly exclusive in those days — ‘it wasn’t another woman, more likely another hundred women!’ she laughs.

She sang, modelled for Andy Warhol, popped up in a couple of Derek Jarman films — he said she put the sex into the Sex Pistols — and met everyone and anyone.

Some, like model Jerry Hall, were ‘great fun’ — though her feet were far too big for any of SEX’s shoes.

Pictured: Jordan (real name Pamela Rooke), former punk and actress, now a veterinary nurse and breeder of Burmese cats pictured in Seaford, Sussex

Pictured: Jordan (real name Pamela Rooke), former punk and actress, now a veterinary nurse and breeder of Burmese cats pictured in Seaford, Sussex

Pictured: Jordan (real name Pamela Rooke), former punk and actress, now a veterinary nurse and breeder of Burmese cats pictured in Seaford, Sussex

Others, like Bryan Ferry were not. ‘I sat next to him at a dinner and he was so boring I wanted to slit my throat. Really dreary.’ She loathed The Clash — ‘they look like painter decorators and were always preaching on about this and that’ — and once gave Janet Street-Porter a mustard-flavoured toffee during an interview because she felt she was trying to pigeonhole her.

‘I just got the devil in me, but she ate it and I liked her after that.’ And the Pistols themselves? ‘The irony of course was that while everyone joins a band to get laid, the way they looked, no girls ever came anywhere near them!’ she says.

‘Other than Steve [Jones, guitarist], that is. He was the lothario, up for anything. The others hardly got any action.’ Johnny Rotten [Lydon] ‘was always John to us. He gave this aura of being so cool, but he was strangely waifish-looking and vulnerable, like something out of Dickens — particularly on stage’, she says.

‘He was very insular, always very difficult to get on with. ‘Sid [Vicious] was sexually naive. He had a very bad childhood and was still very raw from it,’ she adds, ‘But we had such a laugh together. He was a great mate.’

It was when she married Kevin Mooney, the teenage bassist with Adam and the Ants — in the Honey Magazine Wedding of the Year, on her 26th birthday — that things started going wrong. Westwood fired her for selling out and being bourgeois. Jordan and Kevin ditched Adam for throwing away his gimp mask and becoming a massive mainstream success.

Then the drugs started ramping up. And up. To start with, it had been amphetamines. Now, though, it was heroin. Every day.

Initially paid for with a recording advance, then by selling Jordan’s clothes and jewellery. There were three abortions, the marriage unravelled and when Kevin hit her precious Burmese cat so hard he gave it brain damage, she just snapped.

She headed home to Seaford, shut herself in her bedroom — and went cold turkey. ‘I felt dreadful! My mum had no idea — I told her it was the flu. She wouldn’t even have known what it was, but I was so ashamed. I didn’t want to disappoint her. I was determined. Never again. Nothing. And I never did take drugs again.’

She never moved back to London. She was 28 years old. Her old mad life was over in barely a decade and suddenly she was back in her childhood bedroom and loving it. Some might have wailed and wept over huge dreams shattered into teeny bits.

But not Jordan. Not about the babies, nor the drugs — ‘you have to take responsibility for what you do — I have no one to blame but myself’. And particularly not about all those scandalised mums and children faced with her on full display on the 8.15 each morning. ‘I don’t regret it, no. I never went completely naked down below — there’d always be something gauzy you had to peer past!’

Instead, she helped with lambing on her sister’s farm and trained as a veterinary nurse. She has been working at her local surgery since 1993 — where she goes by Pamela and adores her job — and breeds and shows Burmese cats with her old cherry blossom pal Jill.

While she is very happy with her own company, there has been the odd relationship and she goes a bit pink and girly when she tells me of a lovely chap she’s seeing right now who she met gigging — and she is thrilled to be involved in the Pistols series.

‘Of course I jumped at it! I’m just hoping they’ll do my life story sometime soon,’ she says.

Let’s hope so, because terrifying as she clearly was back in the day, now she’s had 40-odd years to mellow a bit, Jordan/Pamela is a total delight — warm, funny, determinedly without regrets and still dressing exactly as she pleases. 


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