Let’s Discuss Rick Genest, A.K.A. the Zombie Boy
You’ve probably seen or heard of him before—the man so covered with ink that his distinct tattoos have landed him fashion shoots and even a Lady Gaga music video. But you might not know his story, and it’s one worth telling.
At age 15, Rick Genest discovered that he had a brain tumor so severe that the doctors told him he would likely die or be permanently disfigured. He spent six months stuck on a waiting list before undergoing a surgery that was luckily successful. After the surgery, he decided life was too short to ignore his dreams of body modifications.
He got his first tattoo, a very fitting skull and crossbones, right after his surgery. He spent most of his teenage years as a goth and an outcast, and after one particularly bad fight with his parents, he ran away from home. He began living “an anarchistic lifestyle” of living on rooftops and under bridges, hitchhiking to get himself around.
After getting his face tattooed to resemble a living skeleton, he started picking up media attention. His iconic tattoos were complete in 2008. At the time Rick was working various sideshows and carnivals, primarily as a freak show act. He claims he isn’t offended by people calling him a freak, because that’s what he wants to be. He’s always wanted to look different.
In 2010, a fan created a Facebook page dedicated to Zombie Boy, which soon caught the attention of Lady Gaga’s fashion director. He was featured in her “Born This Way” music video, in which Gaga wore makeup to replicate his tattoos. From there he was launched further into the media, landing interviews for GQ and even scoring a spot in a killer Dermablend professional makeup ad.
After the ad he signed a 2-year contract with L’Oreal as their first ever male spokesperson. He appeared in some more music videos, and even inspired a limited edition action figure in his likeness. He became the face of the Jay-Z music fashion label in Europe, was cast in some film roles, and even collaborated with British solo artist KAV. As of now, he’s still working on collaborative albums, this time with the ex-Rob Zombie guitarist.
He prefers that people call him Zombie because the notion comes from his love of punk and skulls. Rick says his full body suit and facial tattoo suit his journey perfectly; his ultimate goal in life is to become what people would call a “freak.” He wouldn’t have it any other way, and that’s why people love him—he’s unapologetically himself, and he’s comfortable in his own ink.