This event was a Punk in the East fundraiser at Norwich Arts Centre which featured punk icon Jordan and Norfolk author Cathi Unsworth in coversation. The two of them have worked together to produce the recently published book Defying Gravity: Jordan’s Story. Punk in the East has one of the best punk archives in the country and is growing all the time, this super event should ensure its maintenance and funding for the next twelve months. It was deservedly sold out too with standing room only, nice as well to see so many familiar faces and genuine characters.
Jordan is sometimes referred to as the first Sex Pistol, one of the very first punks, travelling to London from her Seaford home she encountered many problems just for the way she looked: “I commuted for about two years. I had some real bad dos on the train. I had tourists trying to pay me for my photo…worse than that, mothers saying that I’m upsetting their children and debauching them and how dare I get on a train looking like that. Somebody tried to throw me off the train one day, literally out the door, so British Rail told me to go sit in first class, get out of trouble.” She worked at that time at SEX, the boutique on the King’s Road run bt Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren and of course this was where the Sex Pistols were borne, Johnny Rotten auditioning by miming to Alice Cooper’s Eighteen on the shop jukebox. She later went on to manage Adam and the Ants and worked as an actress, appearing in Derek Jarman’s Sebastiane and Jubilee as well as appearing in the Pistol’s biopic by Julien Temple, The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle. These days, if it was possible to love her even more, she works as a veterinary nurse and breeds Burmese cats.
In 1976 I was just 12 and a little too young to be fully immersed in the first wave of punk (not that this stopped some of my contemporaries living extraordinary punk adventures) and was more consumed by the post-punk era but always loved the music of the first explosion, so I knew the characters, bands and reference points even if I was not at the gigs. Which made this evening thoroughly fascinating, enlightening and hugely entertaining. Jordan and Cathi shared great stories during the chat, answered some questions from the floor and in the bar afterwards happily signed copies of the book and posed for photos. Both of them really nice people too. I cannot wait to get stuck into Defying Gravity, I purchased my copy on the night but a few signed copies may still be available at The Book Hive in Norwich.
This was a really good event, engaging, amusing, enlightening and insightful with good questions and a wonderful audience. Unsurprisingly, there was a sizable queue to buy the book and meet the authors. One day I hope we will also have a book by our own Norwich punk legend, Jonty Young! I’d love to hear more his stories.
“Few people can claim to be living icon’s, but Jordan certainly can. The first Sex Pistol, she embodied punk through her self-creation, working with Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood on London’s Kings Road to define a generation.
Her autobiography, written with Norfolk-born author Cathi Unsworth, was much anticipated. Now published, its tales of traffic accidents, sex pistols, Adam’s ants and impeccable style have been ecstatically received.
An evening with Jordan and Cathi will lift the lid on the book and the stories in contains, allowing audiences to ask the questions they’ve always wanted to ask a veritable living legend.”
The image of Jordan in her white shards of beehive and Mondrian make-up is one of the most iconic in pop history. But nobody knows what was really going on behind those watchful eyes when Anarchy hit the UK. How did a ballet-mad girl from sleepy Sussex make her way, via the clandestine gay clubs of Brighton and London, to 430 King’s Road and the eye of punk’s storm? How could she share hair-raising adventures with McLaren and Westwood, The Sex Pistols, Adam and his Ants, Derek Jarman and Andy Warhol, and then just disappear? With commentary from key players including Vivienne Westwood, Paul Cook, Marco Pirroni, Holly Johnson, and her partner behind the SEX/Seditionaries counter, Michael Collins, plus a wealth of never-before-seen images from Simon Barker, Sheila Rock, and Harri Peccinotti, Jordan finally reveals her outrageous life story.
Afterwards I headed over the road to The Reindeer where Piano and Pizza has relocated from Platform Twelve. I had missed Peter T and Selena Hawker who played earlier in the evening but caught beautiful piano playing from host Robyn Owen, cathartic, heartfelt songs from Slightly Offensive Steve and some spoken word from Peter Jay. A nice way to end the evening. Next up is Shane’s Shenanigans at The Reindeer on Thursday followed by the big one. Acid Mothers Temple with Our Quiet Friends at Norwich Arts Centre on Friday. AMT were one of Adam Gifford’s big favourites and we attended several of their Norwich gigs together, it falls on the day after what would have been his 49th birthday which feels significant and symbolic. It’s a guaranteed great gig and will have an added dimension thinking of a notable absentee in the audience for a band he described as “channeling” the music, which indeed they do.
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