ou’ve probably heard of Rick Genest, a fashion icon and artist better known as Zombie Boy and Rico the Zombie. He was found dead near his home on August 1, 2018 when he was 32 years old.
Despite his fame, he seemed more comfortable on the fringes of society, rejecting traditional norms of beauty and success. Yesterday is also the untold truth of Zombie Boy! 🧐
1) Integral Skeleton Tattoo
Throughout his life, Rick Genest has overcome all obstacles. The star dedicated his life to artistic expression after being diagnosed with brain cancer as a teenager. He then embarked on an unconventional path to fame that almost ended in his doom… His monumental career appears to have been built on a series of near misses and good luck. 🍀
Without knowing it, you may already know him. In 2010, he was spotted by Lady Gaga’s stylist Nicola Formichetti. It was even featured in the famous singer’s video for Born This Way! This highlighting made him an international star overnight. 🌏 Zombie Boy also served as the face of Jay-Z’s fashion brand Rocawear. He even landed a coveted campaign for L’Oréal and starred opposite Keanu Reeves in 47 Ronin.
2) Cause of Death of Zombie Boy
At the time of writing these lines, Rick Genest’s cause of death is still a matter of debate. On Wednesday August 1st, 2018 he was found dead in Montreal (Canada) at the age of only 32 years. It is known that he died after falling from a balcony from the third floor of the building at his girlfriend’s place in the Plateau-Mont-Royal neighborhood of Montreal. It is unknown whether the fall was accidental or intentional… 🤔
Initial reports were of « apparent suicide, » prompting Lady Gaga (a former Genest associate) to tweet that she was « beyond the devastation. » Gaga’s stylist Nicola Formichetti, who used Genest as a model when he was creative director at Thierry Mugler, said on the same social network that he was « absolutely torn ». However, Rick’s family and his manager (Karim Leduc) dismissed the thesis that the young man committed suicide.
Regardless of why Rick Genest died exactly, Zombie Boy had definitely implied that he knew he wasn’t going to grow old in this world! ⚰️ When he was asked in an interview for the fashion magazine FIV where he would see himself in 20 years, he replied: «
The logical reasoning leads me to believe that I then became fodder for the worms », Rick Genest.
About five months before Genest’s death, controversial artist Marc Quinn announced a new, ambitious commission: a « 3.5 meter tall bronze sculpture » of Zombie Boy’s likeness. 😱 Today you can actually see the statue of Rick Genest, which stands at the entrance of the new Medical Galleries in the Science Museum in London.
3) Between tattoos and cancer
A. Operation of the Gehirns 🧠🧠.
In his TEDx speech, Rick Genest admits that he began suffering from loss of consciousness as a teenager. He was later diagnosed with a brain tumor located behind the optic nerve.
He had two choices: an operation that would leave his face disfigured, or an operation that had only been successfully performed once in the world. Zombie Boy was destined to be a role model. Without hesitation, he opted for the risky operation and survived. 👊 You might not believe it, but according to the Daily Star, he’s had almost 50% of his brain removed!
B. Unique tattoos
He said the surgery made him think about the fragility of life and the kind of person he wanted to become. Shortly after treatment, on his 16th birthday, the model received his first tattoo: a pirate’s skull and crossbones . ☠️
You can also check out our « »temporary skull tattoos » » if you want to become a part of the big tattooed family without committing permanently!
He gradually ordered more tattoos until he met Frank Lewis, who helped him develop the idea of a full body tattoo of a decomposing corpse. At the age of 21, Rick Genest had this skull and crossbones inked on his face without any hesitation. 💀Psst: You can easily find all his tattoos on his Instagram. @zombieboyofficial !
« Everyone has a different idea of what is beautiful » – « It’s not like it’s a real corpse. It’s art. I’m a work in progress. I like being a monster. That is my ambition », Rick Genest.
4) Rick Genest’s nickname « Zombie Boy »
A. A strict and religious family
If you took a look at his TEDx talk, Genest admitted that he’s felt like an outsider for most of his life. He grew up in a strict, religious family that didn’t let him attend most school festivals. 😕 He wasn’t even allowed to carve pumpkins on Halloween because his parents saw it as a pagan ritual!
He fell out with the goth mob at school and eventually fell out with his father, prompting him to run away from home. He became a 17-year-old fugitive living in the squats and on the streets of Montreal. 🇨🇦 At that time, according to his own statements, he earned the nickname « Zombie » 🤩.
B. An atypical nickname
Rick Genest told the Evening Standard he got his nickname from street folk because of his brain surgery. It’s also rumored to have something to do with his taste in music.
He received the official nickname “Zombie Boy” in 2008 when the British magazine Bizarre found his pictures on MySpace. It then asked him for a photo shoot because of his atypical look 📸. According to the New York Times, the magazine printed the nickname « Zombie Boy » next to its pictures, and it haunted him throughout his career.
5) Homeless life for the mannequin
Even after his fame, Rick Genest maintained his nomadic lifestyle. In an interview, the star admitted that he lived with a backpack, did odd jobs, met cool people…
He lived like a pirate, or like one of the lost boys from Hook, whom he cites as an influence. He told the Evening Standard about his five years on the streets, dodging the cops and enjoying Montreal’s punk scene! 🤘
» It was great. We lived on the streets, slept on rooftops, hitchhiked from town to town and from party to party, » he said. « We were young and lived from one day to the next. »
To make ends meet, Genest had some unique jobs! He traded cars for money and also took part in a « traveling circus performance » called Le Carnaval Blasphématoire. As part of the performance, he had to lie down on a bed of nails.
6) Complicated entry into fashion
A. Heavy Fines
Rick Genest’s path to fame was unlikely. Without Lady Gaga’s stylist, Nicola Formichetti, Zombie Boy might never have left Montreal. In fact, it seems he couldn’t even have gotten a passport as he had been heavily fined! 💵 From around $10,000 to $20,000 for sleeping on the street when he was homeless.
B. Get off the street
In an interview with Hint, Formichetti admits he was a longtime fan of Genest. He found a picture of the model on Google and then happened to see it on Facebook. He then realized that her tattoos weren’t just makeup. As artistic director of French fashion house Mugler, Formichetti wanted Genest in his first men’s collection. He paid the heavy fines imposed on Genest to take him to Paris 🇫🇷 to the show. ection to reflect the model’s somber aesthetic.
After long, emotional conversations, Formichetti found Genest’s look and story very inspirational. He then decided to redesign the collection to reflect the model’s somber aesthetic.
7) Rick vs. American Horror Story
Facing a massive and expensive legal battle is perhaps what the creators of American Horror Story series fear most. Unfortunately, that was the case: Actor Evan Peters’ makeup looked a lot like Genest’s copyrighted tattoos. Even casual fans of « American Horror Story » probably remember Evan Peters’ striking look in Season 1. 🔎
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Fox reached an agreement with Genest to avoid an appearance-related lawsuit. This would have cost the network hundreds of thousands of dollars in copyright infringement! 💰 The two parties reached an undisclosed agreement in October 2012.
8) An atypical appearance for traffic 🚌.
Genest may have been a friend of Lady Gaga’s who turned heads in Vogue, but that didn’t stop him from being regularly disfigured in public. Not all reactions to his tattoos were nice! Because of this, he found it very difficult to use public transport.
« Not every taxi stops for me, even when the light is on. Sometimes it can be difficult to get driven » – « I don’t use transportation because everyone looks at me and their eyes loosen », Rick Genest.
Despite this, Genest explained that he only regrets one tattoo (he didn’t want to say which). 🤔 After all, his polarizing eyes were the reason for his success. He also wished for more body modifications to enhance his macabre looks! The model even explained that he hopes to tattoo his teeth like a reptile and his eyes green.
9) Rick Genest’s musical career
Genest may be best known for his notable work as a model, but he also launched a music career in 2015. 🎵 He met his co., Mike Riggs , former Rob Zombie guitarist , through an accident. And for that matter, this story will bring you to your knees!
Riggs admitted he was looking for an artist named » Zomboy » while working on Scum of the Earth’s next album. By mistake, he contacted the people responsible for « Zombie Boy » and the artist agreed to collaborate! 👏 But the thing is… he wasn’t actually talking to Zombie Boy – he was talking to Zombie Boy! Riggs noticed this, but decided to go anyway. Over the course of their partnership, Riggs claimed that working with Zombie Boy made his album darker than his usual music: « surreal » and « nightmarish ».
10) Guinness Book of Records
Genest’s eye-catching tattoos have not only landed him on the pages of numerous fashion magazines… but also in the Guinness Book of World Records! Zombie Boy currently holds two world records:
- The one with “the most tattooed insects on the body”: 176 tattoos in total.
- And « most tattooed bones on body »: 139 tattoos in total
Surprisingly, Genest doesn’t hold the record for the most tattooed man. This title belongs to Lucky Rich, another atypical character of the same style! 👍
Now that you know more about the secrets of this extraordinary personality, might you also want to get closer to his dark and unique look? Then you’ve come to the right place young student!
- Solid silver skull ring
- Bracelet skull
- Skull Perfecto
You can also choose Zombie Boy goodies with his likeness:
- Mural Zombie Boy
- Zombie Boy T-Shirts