Zombie Boy (a.k.a. “Rico the Zombie” and born Rick Stephan Genest) will challenge your sensibilities about what you believe to be beautiful. At his core he is a chiaroscuro of both light and dark—part gentle warrior, part anti-establishment artful dodger, and he has serendipitously become the ‘it’ muse for anyone who believes in a brave new world without judgment. His tattoos have equally intrigued and inspired a cult following and he has a growing following of millions of fans worldwide. He has sparked a revolution with fans who see beyond the visceral and want to know everything they can about the mysterious icon, model, muse, stage performer, singer and songwriter known as ‘Zombie Boy.’
Zombie Boy grew up in and about Montreal, Canada. He got his first tattoo (a jolly roger) at age 16 on his left shoulder.
‘Zombie’ (as aliased by the street community) was immersed in the underground punk rock scene in Montreal, and was living the street culture of tattoos, piercings, music and DIY fashion.
He lived as a “squeegee kid” and squatted mostly in abandoned buildings with his family of friends who gave him the moniker ‘Zombie’.
By 19 his bodysuit tattoo project was entrusted to Montreal artist Frank Lewis, who inked the majority of his body. To this day over 90% of his body is covered, including intricate designs of an entire skeleton (skull included) and is thematically, the depiction of a body decomposing—complete with flesh eating insects. To date Zombie Boy claims to have at least $20,000 of tattooing his body and will continue until his tapestry is finished.
By the age of 23, Zombie Boy had participated in various freak shows and sideshows with contemporary carnivals developing geek work, fire play, and various fakir stunts (bed of nails, iron maiden, play piercing, flesh pull techniques). He eventually amassed a group of performers together to create their own mini travelling freak show titled “Lucifer’s Blasphemous Mad Macabre Torture Carnage Carnival”. “Lucifer is our boa [constrictor] and we are the droids of death,” says Zombie Boy, explaining the idea behind the troupe. The performers also include The Executioner, the sexy Sedusa, as well as Dr. Kuttz the psychotic auto mutilator, and a bevy of other hellish characters.” The show is made up of action, gore, burlesque, and comedy. There is no dialog, and is choreographed along side different genre music scores for each performance.
The House of
His international thrust
into the spotlight is a true
rags to riches story
Nicola Formichetti, Lady Gaga’s personal stylist and the creative director of the legendary Paris based fashion house Mugler, was careering the web when he came across a photo of Zombie Boy that appeared in the magazine Dress to Kill.
Formichetti was instantly fascinated and contacted Zombie Boy through his Facebook account. In early January 2011, Formichetti flew to Montreal to meet Zombie Boy to complete an extensive photo and video shoot for Thierry Mugler’s fall 2011 campaign. The two clicked instantly and Formichetti invited Zombie Boy to Paris to model in the Mugler men’s fashion show. It was the first time he had ever travelled outside Canada. Acting as his mentor of sorts, Formichetti then cast Zombie Boy in his first significant international role; a pronounced cameo in Lady Gaga’s video ‘Born This Way’ filmed in New York City. It complimented the fastest single in music history to reach sales of 1,000,000 copies, days after its release.
In the video Gaga is in full ‘Zombie Boy’ makeup, as they play a rather provocative mother/son scenario—with Zombie Boy being birthed by the loins of Gaga herself. Of the experience Zombie Boy says,
In March 2011, Zombie Boy returned to Paris where he appeared along with Lady Gaga in the Mugler Women’s fashion show. He was subsequently introduced to famed photographer Steven Klein who shot him for 2011 Spring Edition of Arena Hommes Plus.
His relationship with Formichetti has clearly been a boom for his career, and has since seen him pose for such magazines as GQ, Vanity Fair and Vogue Hommes Japan, as well as a collaboration with the juggernaut of the fashion photography world – the renowned — L’Enfant terrible, Terry Richardson. 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.
In September 2011 Zombie Boy’s character was the face of Formichetti’s epic creation, an industry first - Digital rendition for the online fashion world launched at his $250,000 Pop-Up Store -- the centre piece of New York’s Fashion Week.
boy the brand
In the Spring 2011 Zombie Boy was awarded the Guinness World Book of Records for the most insects tattooed on a human body (178) as well as the most bones inked on a human body (138), and he then returned to his local Tattoo artist Lewis for additions to his live walking art project.
Zombie Boy collaborated with the Tonner Doll Company inc. for Comic Con San Diego 2012 creating a limited line of Zombie Boy Figures, painstakingly modeled in his likeness. The figures were so well received, they quickly sold out on site and due to high demand, were re-released to the public on Tonner's online boutique. Not surprisingly, the demand for the figures quickly led to sold out stock on the online boutique.
In October 2012, Zombie Boy became the pitchman for "Dermablend" by L’Oreal, an industry acclaimed cosmetic concealer in one of the most successful on-line advertising campaigns in the industry in 2012. The promotion video is industry acclaimed attracting more than 60M views on YouTube and led to an exclusive endorsement contract as the first-ever male spokesperson for L’Oreal.
"His international brand has exponentially grown to include modeling on the fashion runways of Paris, Milan, Berlin, Prague, Warsaw, Rio, New York and Toronto as well as an array of music and unique film projects[...]"
This was followed by a major cameo film role in the Christmas 2013 release of Universal Studios Film 47 Ronin starring Keanu Reeves and directed by Carl Reinch.
His international brand has exponentially grown to include modeling on the fashion runways of Paris, Milan, Berlin, Prague, Warsaw, Rio, New York and Toronto as well as an array of music and unique film projects (an appearance at the Cannes Film Festival to promote Arte’s Tracs feature film “Superheros”), and international guest appearances on Austria’s Next Top Model, Germany’s Next Top Model with Heidi Klum, appearances on the Food Network’s Bitchin Kitchen and the opening gala of the Montreal International Comedy Festival for the Francophone comic Jean Francois Mercier.
Despite his recent ascent onto the world stage, Zombie Boy believes in maintaining humbleness, thrift, simplicity and authenticity. Not unlike actor James Franco, it’s very apparent that Zombie Boy cannot be swayed or coerced into anything that doesn’t speak to him. He isn’t impressed by the fame machine and has a ‘IV drip of cool factor’ that lends to an almost aloof sense of composure. He has very little desire for material wealth and maintains that his biggest extravagance would be to buy a home so that he can give his immediate friends from the punk rock community of Montreal “a place to call their own”.
He believes in maintaining his strong relationships and hopes that one day he will be able to give back to charities and to friends back home all that they have given him.
From Montreal to cultural icon