|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 more than 150 hours of tattooing and several plastic surgeries (because certain areas of the human body don't take well to tattooing, such as the eye cavities and throat). In all, the process involved more than 500 sittings with the artist and a fee of more than $3,000 in the 1920s!
His wild scheme certainly paid off. He received some of the highest fees ever paid a tattooed man. Ripley even included him in his 1938 Broadway show. Omi also added nose rings, piercings, 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.