Bromley Contingent

The Bromley Contingent is a label invented by journalist Caroline Coon about a group of followers and fans of the Sex Pistols. They owed their name to Bromley, a suburb of London, where some of them lived. They helped popularise the fashion of the early UK punk movement. Most of them were fans of David Bowie.

The group included Siouxsie Sioux, Jordan, Soo Catwoman, Simon 'Boy' Barker, Debbie Juvenile (née Wilson), Linda Ashby, Philip Salon, Alan Salisbury, Simone Thomas, Bertie 'Berlin' Marshall, Tracie O'Keefe, Steve Severin, Billy Idol, and Sharon Hayman.

The Bromley Contingent attained a degree of notoriety in December 1976 when Siouxsie, Severin, Thomas and Barker appeared on ITV with the Sex Pistols on Thames Television's early evening television programme Today. Interviewed by television journalist Bill Grundy, Sex Pistols singer Johnny Rotten used the word "shit". Siouxsie then teased the presenter by telling him "I've always wanted to meet you", to which he replied; "Did you really? We'll meet afterwards, shall we?". This comment provoked guitarist Steve Jones to call Grundy a "dirty sod", a "dirty old man", a "dirty bastard", a "dirty fucker" and a "fucking rotter". That was the first time in the history of UK television that viewers had heard swearing at this hour of the day. Although the programme was only seen in the Thames Television region, the ensuing furore occupied the tabloid newspapers for days and shortly after the Sex Pistols were dropped by their record label, EMI. This episode changed the face of music in Britain. Up until December 1976, punk rock was a relative low-key fashion, apart from appearing from time to time in small parts in music papers.

In the following week, Siouxsie appeared on the front page of the Daily Mirror with the legend "Siouxsie a punk shocker". In February 1977, she stopped attending Pistols concerts and started to tour with her friend Severin under the name of Siouxsie and the Banshees.

The notoriety of the Bromley Contingent in the press continued in June 1977, when Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren rented a boat for the band and fans to sail down the River Thames during Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee anniversary celebration. When the police forced the boat to dock, several Pistols fans were arrested and injured in the melee. Bromley Contingent members Debbie Juvenile and Tracie O'Keefe (both employees of McLaren in his Kings Road clothing boutique Seditionaries) were charged with obstruction and assaulting a police officer. While Juvenile was acquitted of the charges, O'Keefe was sentenced to one month's imprisonment, although later acquitted on appeal. O'Keefe died unexpectedly in early 1978 of bone marrow cancer at the age of 18.

Many of the Bromley Contingent went on to form bands themselves including The Banshees and Generation X. Arguably they had greater influence than Malcolm McLaren's shops and Vivienne Westwood's designs in shaping the development and look of the early UK punk movement. The fashion statements made by Siouxsie, in particular, incorporating fetish and bondage clothing, and her innovative style of makeup, continue to live on.

Simon Barker became a photographer, using the nickname 'Six'. Bertie 'Berlin' Marshall became a writer, publishing a novel, Psychoboys in 1999 and a memoir Berlin Bromley in 2001 which received favourable reviews from The Guardian and Time Out London magazine. Philip Salon became a fixture of the British New Romantic club scene in the early 1980s alongside the likes of Steve Strange and Boy George.

Sid Vicious, the bassist who replaced Glen Matlock in the Sex Pistols, claimed he despised the Bromley Contingent, despite having played drums for the Banshees' debut live appearance at the 100 Club Punk Festival in 1976. In a 1977 interview for BBC Wales, Vicious claimed to have invented the Pogo as a means to knock them over at the 100 Club.

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Soo Catwoman - History
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