Tuesday, December 15, 2009

They Are Legend

The Great OMI

Horace Ridler was born a wealthy, upper-class aristocrat in Surrey, England in 1892. During World War I he joined the British Army and reached the rank of major. As a member of the Desert Mountain Corps, he was decorated for bravery. While a soldier traveling the world, he got a few small tattoos. When he returned home from the war, he came into an inheritance and promptly squandered it. After much deliberation, he hit on a course of action—become a self-made freak!

He finally found a tattoo artist who would provide the "look" he wanted; a man called George Burchett. The creation of the all-over striped look that Horace wanted took over 150 hours of tattooing and several plastic surgeries (due to the fact that certain areas of the human body don't take well to tattooing, such as the eye cavities and throat). In all, the process took over 500 sittings with the artist and a fee of over $3000 (this was in the 1920s)!

His wild scheme certainly paid off. He received some of the highest fees ever paid a tattooed man. He was even included in Ripley's 1938 Broadway show. He also added nose rings, piercing and other "decorations" to enhance his wild-man status. In his presentation, he claimed to have been captured by New Guinea "savages" and forcibly tattooed. Later, his similarly tattooed wife joined the act as "The Omette."

During World War II, Omi tried to reenlist, but was turned down due to his appearance (imagine). So, he made a movie and donated the proceeds to the war effort.

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