You may recognize Rick Genest, also known as Zombie Boy, from Lady Gaga‘s “Born This Way” video or those incredible Dermablend ads. He’s Nicola Formichetti‘s muse, and has covered several magazines. This guy has ink from his head (or, rather, exposed brain) to his toes, and the fashion industry industry is completely enamored with him.
WWD recently sat down with Genest to find out about the man behind the tats, and he told them all about getting inked and the origins of the body art that he calls his “project”. “I got my first tattoo, an outline of a skull and crossbones, when I was 16,” he said. “I’d always wanted tattoos. I’d see them on the bus or on TV or in movies.” He went on to say, “If I get a couple of weeks off I’ll go get more. I’ve got a couple of blank spots, I’ve got to finish my project. It develops, you know, with time.” He guesses that his body is about 80 percent covered so far, and he says that his ears, throat, nose, eyes, and pressure points were the most painful to get done.
He also spoke about how he lived on the streets with his friends before Formichetti discovered him, and about his love of the circus — he now has a traveling act with those same friends that he calls Lucifer’s Blasphemous Mad Macabre Torture Carnival. “I’ve got to learn how to do stilts,” he said. “I want to stilt walk.” Despite having been invited to fashion weeks around the world and posing in ad campaigns for both Thierry Mugler and Auslander, he knows that the circus is where he belongs: “When the fashion show is over, I want to go back to the circus.”
But Genest has also toyed with the idea of being a musician, and talked about his hopes to one day become a recording artist. “Music sounds great, I’d love to cut an album, but I’ve got to learn how to do the kind of music I like. I’ve got to figure it out.”