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15.06.2019

Jordan with Cathi Unsworth

Defying Gravity – Jordan's Story

Anmeldt av Jens Nepper
(Omnibus Press, 2019)

Karakter: 5/6

Defying Gravity Jordans Story.jpg"Defying Gravity" by the multi-talented artist Jordan and author Cathi Unsworth is something else entirely. Not only is this superb piece of literature incredibly fascinating in that it offers a vivid account of the British punk rock movement and a compelling insight into its inner workings and how its main players operated and interacted with each other, but it also encompasses a myriad of different yet thought-provoking perspectives on what it meant to grow up in Britain in the 60s and 70s and what it was like to be an outsider back then. In short, it covers nearly every conceivable aspect of the punk milieu and how that particular scene exploded in the latter half of the 70s only to more or less implode a few years later, artistically and creatively speaking. Jordan was right there alongside such notable figures as Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious (and Nancy), Malcolm McLaren, Steve Jones, Adam and His Ants, and countless others, and her brilliantly conceived outfits as well as her way of presenting herself are iconic even today. Those white shards of beehive and Mondrian make-up speak for themselves! On top of that, she also appeared in documentaries and art house films back in the heydays of punk, and later on she even managed The Ants.

If anyone could be said to have defied the norms and transcended conventions in the 70s, it was most certainly the lady whose marvelous biography we are discussing here. The thing is that Jordan was without compromise and never did anything by half measures, which clearly shows throughout this comprehensive 446-page tome of hers. It is an inspired and inspiring read, and the book chronicles a thrilling journey through ups and downs in an honest, balanced, and reflective manner, which is a huge part of its charm. The chapters on her upbringing in quiet Sussex and how much she enjoyed her ballet lessons when she was a kid or how she got into music and eventually started experimenting with clothes and make-up are undoubtedly some of the highlights of "Defying Gravity". Yours truly also found it impossible to put the book down when it detailed her borderline surreal experiences while working at the legendary SEX in 430 King's Road (the famous London boutique owned by McLaren and Vivienne Westwood) and the wonderfully strange gallery of characters that she came into contact with there. Her memorable encounters with such renowned (not to say legendary) figures as David Bowie and Andy Warhol among others range from hilarious to disheartening, and her way of presenting those events make you feel that you were actually right there next to her experiencing the exact same thing as she did, which is testimony to how well-written the entire affair is. The most heartfelt and moving sections and passages to be found are the ones detailing her failed marriage, the drug abuse, the loss of her parents, the anxiety attacks, and her eventually leaving London in order to transform her life and embrace new challenges. The only thing that I miss are even more pages devoted to her life post-London as the last two or three chapters in particular feel slightly rushed and too damn short.

As intriguing as it is candid, "Defying Gravity" is a must-read for anyone with more than a passing interest in punk rock and/or fashion. Its warm tone reeks of emotional intensity, and there is plenty of depth and meaning to this touching narrative. Simply put, Jordan's story is unique and her admirable sense of honesty courses through this stellar piece from beginning to end. From her rebellious days with the Sex Pistols to a becoming a veterinary nurse later on in life, this book is just as unpredictable as one could have hoped for and it is highly recommended. Some call her punk rock's poster girl, but there is so much more to her than that. If you are on the lookout for a great biography to digest this summer, this one is it.
 


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