ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Extremely Modified People - The Great Omi

Updated on March 4, 2017

Horace Ridler

Horace Ridler was a professional freak and sideshow performer known as The Great Omi, or The Zebra Man. He was one of the great showmen of his time with zebra like striped tattoos covering his body. Shortly before his death in 1969 Horace insisted, "Underneath it all, I'm just an ordinary man."

Early Life

Horrace was born in Surrey, England to an upper class family in which he lead a relatively privileged life. He served twice in the British Army during World War I and after demobilization he left the military.

Why?

What motivates a person who has come from a privileged childhood filled with private schooling, travel, and comfort to becoming a sideshow performer after leaving the army? Horace left the army with a small pension, but very few prospects and was in need of a job. He was looking for something that would allow him to stand out a bit more after being a member of the rank and file in the military. He was willing to take chances so show business was the most promising prospect.

Transformation

In 1922 Horace got his first tattoos which weren't zebra patterns, but just a few pictorial tattoos. He began working in small sideshows, but it wasn't bringing in big profits like he had hoped. In order to earn more, he had to offer more to the audience so in 1927 he visited the famed tattoo artist George Burchett. George helped design and create a whole body look which would cover Horace's previous tattoos. The thick black zebra patterned stripes were created after 150 hours under the needle.

The physical transformation wasn't enough though. Horace needed a character, and so The Great Omi was born. He started touring France and England, but he needed even more than just tattoos to sustain and entertain audiences. He then added piercings and started stretching his ears with large jewelry. Still wanting to further entertain his audiences Horace's character evolved even further, and he created an elaborate story to go along with the tattoo's and piercings. He said he had been captured and tortured in New Guinea by a native tribe. Horace's wife, Gladys who changed her name to Omette used to introduce The Great Omi to audiences and describe his African ordeal.

Cost

Horace claimed to have spent $10,000 to have all the work done, however George Burchett said that the total cost was only $3,000 and that he was never actually paid the full amount.

Fame

In 1939 The Great Omi performed in the sideshow at the World's Fair in New York. From there Robert Ripley hired Horace as the headliner act for Ripley's Odditorium Theater. He performed there for 6 months before the Ringling Brothers and Barnum Bailey Circus hired him for one season where he performed under the name Omi the Zebra Man. He then traveled down under and toured New Zealand and Australia in 1941 and 1942. Before returning to England he worked at the World Fair Freaks show in Vancouver and several other traveling shows.

Horace tried to re join the army during World War II, but he was rejected due to his appearance. Instead he used his fame to sell war bonds, and he gave free performances to soldiers and charitable organizations.

A movie based on Horace Ridler's life called The Zebra Man was released in 1992.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)