Inside Jordan Mooney's Relationship With The Sex Pistols

There's a saying among fans of punk music: "punk snot dead." Or, as Impact explains, "punk's not dead," referring to a saying that punk fans tell each other, and the world at large, to drive home the notion that the genre is still thriving. Sure, punk may have peaked in the 1980s, so if punk were a human, it would be of an age where its doctor would be bugging it about scheduling a colonoscopy — but it's not dead. 

Considering that the genre has been around for nearly five decades, it should come as no surprise that some of the people associated with it have gone. For example, famed punk pioneer Sid Vicious died at the peak of his fame, his fondness for heroin having caught up with him. Similarly, the members of The Ramones have all passed away, although, unlike Sid, they lived comparatively longer lives and lived to see their band and the punk genre make a lasting impact on music.

Another person who made a profound impact on punk music, who has since passed on, was Jordan Mooney. She never recorded a song or indeed ever played a note, but her relationship with the genre, and in particular, the Sex Pistols, would put an indelible mark on punk forever.

Cultivating the punk look

Several musical genres have, or had, a signature "look" that accompanies the style. For example, in the 1980s acts like Run-DMC helped set the stage for other early rap performers, with high-top sneakers, gold chains, and other street-style fashions. Similarly, few self-respecting country musicians perform without tight jeans and a cowboy hat.

As punk was emerging in New York City and London, the clothes the performers wore were a sort of rebellion against the aesthetic of the hippies and the Summer of Love before it, as Marie Claire reports. Punk performers wanted to display aggression and hostility, and as such, turned to leather, ripped jeans, tight shirts, and later, outrageous makeup and hairstyles. Meanwhile, across the Pond, punk fans and performers were also cultivating their own look. And as it turns out, one particular London boutique, and one teenage girl who worked there, would help inform and create the look for multiple punk performers, including none other than the Sex Pistols.

a disaffected teen girl

Pamela Rooke was born in 1955, according to Sky News, but by the age of 14, she'd grown bored of her name and with life in the seaside English town where she lived. As she told Dazed Digital in 2016, she thought she had some version of "name dysmorphia." She changed her name to Jordan Mooney – and just as often she would go by just Jordan –- and set about finding a job in London.

Today, you wouldn't think that a shop that sold BDSM gear, fishnet stockings, and similar "intimate apparel" would not be the right job for a teen girl. But not long after Jordan walked into the London boutique SEX in her stiletto heels, ripped shirt, and outrageous hair and makeup, she was hired.

Jordan would come to be known not just for being an employee of the shop, but for being an icon herself, informing some of the looks of the people who shopped there. Perhaps most importantly, the Sex Pistols were the house band at SEX, and Jordan (and her employers at SEX) helped the band craft its look. Soon enough, Jordan herself was a figure associated with Sid Vicious and his band, often appearing at their shows.

Jordan's legacy

By the middle 1980s, Jordan/Pamela had soured a bit on punk rock and its attendant lifestyle. Sid Vicious had died of a drug overdose while out on bail from having been accused of murdering his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen. She told The Guardian, "I witnessed the unraveling of Sid –- and it hurt ... Can you imagine? A really good friend and suddenly they're dead. Drugs, murder, lurid headlines. What a nightmare," she said. Pamela, for her part, was also addicted to drugs at the time.

She returned home to the sea, went back to her birth name, and got the most un-punk job of all: a veterinary assistant. Still, she kept her punk aesthetic throughout; even in the final years and months of her life, and even well into her 60s, Jordan could be seen sporting purple hair and leather.

The Daily Mail reported Jordan died of bile duct cancer on April 3, 2022, according to her family. She was 66.