Born in Janet Field on December 20, 1943, Rusty Skuse was nicknamed that way because of her hair coloring, and from 1970 to 1990 she retained the “Guinness World Record” as the most tattooed woman in the United Kingdom.

Skuse, a driver in the Women’s Royal Army Corps based at Aldershot in Hampshire, had her first tattoo aged 17 in 1961, which resulted in her being put on a charge. By 1964 she had 62 tattoos and was becoming widely known. Soon she was spending more than half her Army pay on getting more tattoos at the studio of her future husband, Bill Skuse, at his studio in the amusement arcade in Aldershot’s Hig Street. She turned down an offer from a showman in Glasgow, Scotland to become a tattooed attraction; however, the offer convinced her to get tattooed completely. Using £100 given to her by her mother as a 21st birthday present, Skuse spent the money on more tattoos, much to her mother’s consternation.

In 1970 Rusty gained an entry into the Guinness Book Of Records as Britain’s most tattooed woman. Before Rusty’s time in the Guinness Book, the world’s most tattooed lady was Japan’s Mrs G. Ohwada, the wife of the tattooing legend Mr. Mitsuaki Ohwada (Horikin), the chairman of the very exclusive “Tattoo Club Of Japan“. Rusty appeared in the Guinness Book Of Records for over two decades and the tattooists who have engraved her skin over the years are: Bill and Les Skuse, Ron Ackers, Chris Connett, Lyle Tuttle, George Bone, Cash Cooper, Dennis Cockell and Bob Maddison to name a few. At one time there was a life-sized waxwork of her displayed outside the Guinness’ exhibition at the Trocadero in Piccadilly, London.

Bill Skuse, watercolour by Pepe
Bill Skuse, watercolour by Pepe

After leaving the army Rusty became a tattoo artist herself. Working at Bill’s tattoo studio, she learned the art of tattooing and eventually became his wife. Bill himself learned the profession from his father Les Skuse (declared Britain’s champion tattooist in 1955). Bill’s history includes eight and a half years in the Merchant Marine, work in his father’s studio, and the construction of a mobile tattoo kit he could take down to the docks and even aboard ships. Bill and Rusty were also famous for they did most of the tattoos on George Bone’s body, helping him to get into the Guinness Book of Records as the Britain’s most tattooed man.

On retirement Bill and Rusty opened a boarding kennel and stray dog’s home. She did however return to tattooing part-time, running a private tattooing studio for a while at Bushy Cottage, Litcham Road, Gressenhall Nr. Dereham in Norfolk, England.

Bill Skuse died in 1995. Rusty Skuse passed away in 2007.