You guys know Zombie Boy, right? Sure you do, he appeared on countless magazine covers, walked a slew of runways, and most notably, appeared in Lady Gaga’s “Born this Way” video. He’s practically a fashion icon. And now this fellow Montrealer can add a bitchin’ cameo to that list of stellar accomplishments. I sat down with Rick Genest, Zombie Boy, and pretty much stared at all his tattoos in utter amazement. I managed to ask him a few questions too.
Rick arrives slightly late at the BK set, but in good spirits and surprisingly amicable. I don’t know what I was expecting, but a smiling, laughing zombie wasn’t it. He is escorted into makeup for some touchups and I can’t help but wonder: what prompts one to cover their entire body with tattoos of bugs, rotting flesh, and well, bones? Are kids scared of him?
“If the parents are open and come up to you, and ask questions, then the kids will be curious but if parents are “Don’t look at him, be afraid” then the kids are gonna get that vibe off their folks.”
Rick Genest got his first tattoo at the young age of 16.
“It’s was a a skull and crossbones,” he says, “On my left shoulder.”
When he was 21 years old, he met Montreal tattoo artist Frank Lewis, who’s responsible for most of the art that now covers eighty percent of his body.
“It took about six years and a lot of money,” he says about getting the tattoos done.
When Genest left home and immersed himself in the punk rock scene and survived on the money he collected as a squeegee kid.
“The light changes every 45-60 seconds,” he says. “In two hours, depending on how many cars let you clean their windows, you can make forty to fifty bucks.”
It was during this time of living in abandoned buildings with friends of the same fate that he was dubbed “Zombie Boy.” Having spent a considerable amount on perfecting his full-body tattoo project, it’s clear that he’s not done yet.
“More bugs,” Genest boasts, when asked what additional tattoo he would get if he could only get one more. “Cockroaches, they’re the tastiest…”
He seems to dig cockroaches. In fact, I can count about six of them right now, as I try to picture what Rick looks like without all the tats. He’s had to wonder it himself, even regretted it at some point?
“No, never,” he admits. “I’m having too much fun. I’m a joker. It gives me a little bit of space to play with people.
And having fun he is. In fact, just head on over to his website and browse through the collection of media coverage he’s gotten lately.
“I was modeling for MUGLER, Fashion House, directed by Nicola Formichetti. I was catwalking for him,” Rick explains. “He styles for Lady Gaga and that’s how I got into the video. We work with the same people.”
Lady Gaga is, without a doubt, one of the biggest pop stars in the world right now. Genest, who was featured in “Born This Way” was amazed that Gaga herself was decked out in full zombie makeup.
“I was so surprised, “ he says, simply. “I was honored”
One thing is certain; we’ll be seeing more of Zombie Boy in the future.
“We’re in a recording studio in Paris with Universal, So hopefully putting out a cd in 2013,” he says. “We’re also going to NYC to design shades with Stevie Boy so can’t wait to see those.”
Music is definitely on the horizon, and we can’t wait. Will we be seeing more of him and Lady Gaga?
“You’ll have to wait and see.”
By Angelique Picanco