Being independent is power and we got to find the power in ourselves.
The Origin of ‘Zombie Boy’
Born 7th August 1985, Rick Genest (‘Rico’) grew up in a working class family in Châteauguay (Quebec, Canada). Diagnosed with a life-threatening benign brain tumor, Rick Genest at the age of 15 underwent a surgery that many had not survived in the past. and he got his first tattoo (a skull and crossbones) at age 16 on his left shoulder. He left home at 17 and became a member of the underground punk rock scene in Montreal. It was then when his friends gave him the moniker ‘Zombie Boy’ and initiated him into the street culture of tattoos, piercings, music and DIY fashion.
By 19 he was decided to develope his full body tattoo project and trusted the now retired Montreal artist Frank Lewis; over the next six years 80% of Rico’s body was tattooed (he has spent close to $20,000 to date).
Freak Show Time!
Sideshows became the next parade for Rico, who learnt geek work in contemporary carnivals: disciplines as clowning, fire play, lying on a bed of nails and flesh pull techniques.
Inspired by the resurgence of sideshows (think Jim Rose Circus) and body modification artists (like Lizardman and The Enigma), Rico aimed to gather and direct a group of performers together to create his own travelling freak show: Lucifer’s Blasphemous Mad Macabre Torture Carnival.
Becoming Alt Model
Are you wondering how did Rico begin to grab international headlines? It all started with Nicola Formichetti.
Lady Gaga’s personal stylist and Creative Director of the fashion house Mugler, Nicola Formichetti happened to find a photo of Zombie Boy that appeared in the magazine Dressed to Kill. After a first contact via Internet, Formichetti flew to Montreal in 2011 in order to meet Rico. The result of this was a powerful photo and video shoot for Thierry Mugler’s fall 2011 campaign, and Formichetti invited Rico to Paris to model in the Mugler men’s fashion show.
Rico’s cameo in Lady Gaga’s video ‘Born This Way’, filmed in New York City, became a new milestone in Zombie Boy’s career, followed by his return to Paris in March 2011 where he appeared along with Lady Gaga in the Mugler Women’s fashion show.
Famed photographer Steven Klein shot him for 2011 Spring Edition of Arena Hommes Plus. Since then, he has posed for a plethora of magazines, including GQ, Vanity Fair and Vogue Hommes Japan, as well as a collaboration with the renowned Terry Richardson.
In fact, he returned to LA in early 2012 to participate with Richardson and Gaga in the promotion of Lady Gaga’s 2012/2013 Born This Way Tour.
Zombie Boy: the Brand
With the invaluable assistance of his business manager, Colin Singer, Rico has no time to waste in the building process of his emerging brand.
In the Spring 2011 Rico was awarded the Guinness World Book of Records for:
- The most insects tattooed on a human body (178).
- The most bones inked on a human body (138).
Since 2011, his international brand has exponentially grown to include modeling on the fashion runways of Paris, Milan, Berlin, Warsaw, New York and Toronto as well as an array of music and film projects. He also currently headlines internationally at tattoo conventions, collaborates with a bevy of well-known performers in the circus side shows industry and guest appears and DJ’s at Clubs around the globe.
We have chosen Zombie Boy as our second Ambassador of Singularity because using his skin as canvas, he transforms himself into a living work of art. He seems totally resolved to seize the day and become who he wants to become, making the most of his uniqueness whatever the cost. No effort spared, no worry about what other people might say. In addition, Rico dares to remind us that beauty is not always evident… in his own words ‘Tout le monde a sa propre opinion et ses propres idées de ce qu’est la beauté’ (‘Everyone has his own opinion and ideas of what beauty is’).
Rick Genest aka Rico the Zombie – Embrace Everything That Is Different from The Avant/Garde Diaries on Vimeo.
Disclaimer.- All images belong to their original authors.
‘Ambassadors of Singularity by Decimononic’ is a series of blog posts dedicated to individuals who have made the most of their singularity, embracing it to unveil their true and unique potential. As Mr. George Bernard Shaw said, ‘Life is not about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself’. Count on us in your path of self-empowerment: be Singular.
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