'Zombie Boy' who found fame in Lady Gaga video dies tragically aged 32
Rick Genest, best known to the world by his nickname 'Zombie Boy,' has died at the age of 32. The artist, musician, and actor was well-known for his extensive tattoos, and his iconic appearance in Lady Gaga's Born This Way music video. He was found in his apartment in Montreal's Plateau-Mont-Royal neighbourhood, according to reports, and is believed to have taken his own life.
After Genest gained mainstream attention for the 2011 music video, he began to appear in more high-profile work in the fashion industry. He was part of the relaunch of Jay-Z's Roc-A-Wear in 2012, and modelled for the likes of GQ and Vanity Fair. In subsequent years, he has landed roles in film and television, including 2013's Ronin, along with Keanu Reeves, and Silent Witness last year.
His first tattoo came at the age of 16, and within three years Rick had covered almost his entire body with various designs. He soon got the nicknames 'Zombie Boy' and 'Rico Zombie' due to many of the designs' use of corpse imagery. Genest held the Guinness World Record for the most insect tattoos on his body (176 in total), in addition to the record for most human bone tattoos (139).
After he was discovered by Lady Gaga's stylist, Nicola Formichetti, in 2010, he was soon connected with various high-end fashion campaigns. Before his death, he was working on a musical project with Rob Zombie's guitarist Mike Riggs, and was also working with the Orange Door initiative to help organisations support young homeless people in Canada.
In a post on Facebook, Genest’s management team said:
"The whole Dulcedo family is shocked an pained by this tragedy. Zombie boy, Rico, was loved by all those who had the chance to meet him and know him.
"Icon of the artistic scene and the fashion world, this innovator, against popular culture, has been able to charm all hearts."
Previously, Genest had undergone an operation to treat a brain tumour, and has reportedly been struggling with mental illness throughout his life. In light of this, Lady Gaga took to Twitter to share her response to the tragic news, and implore those also suffering with similar problems to reach out to others:
"The suicide of friend Rick Genest, Zombie Boy is beyond devastating," she wrote. "We have to work harder to change the culture, bring Mental Health to the forefront and erase the stigma that we can’t talk about it."
"If you are suffering, call a friend or family today. We must save each other"
"Science tells us that it takes 21 days to form a habit, if you are suffering from Mental Health issue I beckon for today to be your first day or a continuation of the work you’ve been doing.
"Reach out if you’re in pain, and if you know someone who is, reach out to them too."
Our thoughts are with the family and others close to Rick in this difficult time.