Extraordinary Gentlemen of the First World War: The Great Omi

2DA47A2A00000578-3283496-Born_to_be_wild_Zebraman_or_The_Gret_Omi_convinced_a_tattoo_arti-a-8_1445523529901If you were in New York sometime in 1939 you might have visited the World’s Fair out in Flushing Meadows. You might have wandered around its 1,000 acres of pavilions, sideshows, bandstands, and cultural attractions.

And you might have stopped in at a stand called John Hix’s Odditorium. It showcased strange humans, like the Anatomical Wonder and Marvello the Fingerless Pianist. A freak show, entrance 40 cents.

One of the Odditorium’s attractions was a 57-year-old Englishman whose body was tattooed in crude zebra stripes. He had bones through his nose and earlobes,  and called himself The Great Omi.

Omi told visitors he had been kidnapped by natives out in New Guinea and forcibly tattooed. Off stage, he told journalists stories about being the scion of a wealthy family who had won medals for bravery out in Mesopotamia during the war and lost his inheritance in playboy living.

No-one knew which story to believe.

Continue reading

Advertisements