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Intimate Portraits of Britain’s Aging Rebels and Mavericks

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Mick and Peggy Warner, Mick: “We was all in the Isle of Wight when we saw a Ted with two girls in a cafe. I pointed him out to my son and said, ‘that’s what you want to be my boy’. So he did didn’t he. We didn’t force him like. He liked it and started bopping. But he don’t no more though. Even though we always got our hair in and wear all the gear we’re too old to bop now. I used to do the smooch with Peg but I can’t even do that anymore now. It makes my blooming back ache. So that put the Kibosh on that.”

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John G. Byrne: “I’m an original skinhead from 1969, however like most gay skins I still see myself as being young. I like to knock around with younger people and get used to the new things. All the young guys I know now are always talking about ‘poonani’. It makes me feel up to date and younger to keep up with new slang. I suppose in 10 or 20 years people will stop saying ‘poonani’.”

British photographer Muir Vidler’s series Rebels Without A Pause was born out of a chance encounter. While working as a staff photographer for a gay scene magazine, he met Adrian Delgoffe, a man in his early 60’s, wearing leather pants and harness, dancing alone at a club. Instead of sitting at home, falling asleep in front of the TV, like most men that age were likely doing at that precise moment, Delgoffe was out, enjoying life, on his own terms. The scene sparked an idea. There are people out there, if you look hard enough, who defy stereotypes. Those who don’t let their age define who they are, what they wear or how they act. Vidler began actively seeking out these aging rebels and mavericks for a portrait series that celebrates their life and vitality.

As it turns out, not one of the encounter’s Vidler had with his subjects could be classified as ‘ordinary’. Soon after he met Delgoffe at the club, he visited him at home for a portrait shoot, where he happily played dress up in different fetish gear for the camera. The two later went to the skate park, after learning that Delgoffe is an avid skateboarder, for more portraits. Vidler began frequenting alternative bars and clubs around London, trying to strike up conversations with people he found interesting. Many of these impromptu meetings led to intimate portraits shoots later on.

Each subject has their own unique story and history. Paul ‘Elvis’ Chan used to own Gracelands Palace Chinese Restaurant on the Old Kent Rd in Peckham, which is known as the ‘Las Vegas of London’. He used to perform there most nights, but the Elvis lifestyle took it’s toll on him, so now he’s retired and the restaurant is closed down.

Vilder met Sid Ellis at the infamous FIST club in London. As Vidler recalls, “the club was full of amazing people to photograph, but it wasn’t the kind of place you could just walk up to someone, tap on the shoulder and ask him if he wanted to meet up to shoot a portrait. But after a bit of confusing, shouted conversation with Sid we managed to arrange something, so I turned up at his house a few days later to shoot a portrait in his garden.”

For more of Muir Vidler’s work, follow him on Instagram.

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Sid Ellis: “In my spare time I either go to fetish clubs or do needlepoint. I like medieval tapestries.”

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Steve ‘Bell Boy’ Bell – The Odd Mod Squad: “Every few years they talk of a Mod revival. That means nothing to us. We’ve never gone away.”

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Isobel Varley: “I first got tattooed when I was 48. I liked it so much I just kept going for it. I’ve also got piercings. I’ve pierced my ears, nose, nipples, bellybutton, clitoris and everywhere else. I’ve done some wild things in my life but I’ve no regrets. I love my tattoos and I’m really glad I’ve had them done.”

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Frankie ‘Knuckles’ Lacy: “I’ve been a Ted since 1958. Rock and Roll gets in your blood and you can’t just get rid of it. I’ve been rockin’ since the 50’s and I’m still rockin’ through my 50’s.”

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Ray Cook and Steve Howard, Steve: “They call me Jurassic Mod ’cause I’m the oldest one in the club now.”

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Adrian Delgoffe: “For me it’s fantastic to be in the company of younger people. I find my contemporaries dreadfully boring. Sometimes they shout at me to grow up but I think they’re just jealous. I didn’t have much of a youth. I was always either ill or with old people. I think I’m reverting back to a childhood I didn’t have.”

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Ruairidh Clarke, Member of the Freedom to be Yourself Campaign; a group of naked protesters campaigning for legalized non–sexual public nudity.

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Paul Elvis Chan: “When I sing I feel the spirit of Elvis flowing through me. What I do is very serious.”

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Danny Lynch – the Great Stromboli: “I’m 45 plus VAT now and I’ll be breathing fire even after they bury me, the bastards.”

All images © Muir Vidler

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