Rick “Zombie Boy” Genest has led an unconventional life, to say the least. We caught up with Lady Gaga’s comrade-in-arms to talk about being the new face of Rocawear and his philosophy on life.
Since you have become famous, have people’s reactions to you on the street changed?
Well, first some things stayed the same. My life style was already nomadic, living out of my backpack; working odd jobs, meeting cool people, as well as often being stopped and photographed. This hasn’t changed. What changed was the masses’ reaction to me. Prior, I had my place amongst those who understood me and had the luxury of privacy. Now I often feel that every walk of life either has a question or an opinion about the way I breathe air – although I do seize this opportunity to raise awareness for tolerance, acceptance and embracing our differences.
What’s the philosophy behind your tattoos?
The zombie concept is also often used as a metaphor for runaway consumerism. Rebelling from this notion is the very meaning of punk. The origins of the zombie creature came about from stories of people being buried alive in times of plagues and such crises; that would come out the other side ‘transformed’. Zombies, to many, represent a pervasive xenophobia. As in my life, I was often out-casted, hated or misunderstood.
You’ve just become the face of Rocawear. Can you tell us more about that?
Growing up in the city as a teenager, I have always embraced urban culture and style. It is a great honor to represent what I live, breathe, and bleed for as long as I have. I’m excited to be involved with Rocawear’s re-launch across Europe for Spring Summer ’13.
You and your art have become synonymous with Lady Gaga. How do you feel about that?
I would defiantly have to say that we both share love for art, the love for revolution, and fearlessness of self-expression.
You’ve recently filmed a part in 47 Ronin with Keanu Reeves, is acting something you have always wanted to do?
Since my childhood, I had a profound interest in pirates. I recall in particular the movie Hook, starring Robin Williams, as well as pirate LEGO. As life went on, I had spent the greater part of my time living in likeness to the lost boys and pirates.
What would be your ideal film role?
I’ve had a chance to play as a punk rocker, a carnie and a pirate. My ideal film role yet would be as a deranged psycho in a horror picture.
Are you planning on any more tattoos?
I’m still working on my tattoo project. As well as finishing my bodysuit, I soon wish to sharpen my teeth, with likeness to those of a reptile.
What do you have planned for 2013?
In 2013, I will be starting to work on a music project, but more details would ruin the surprise!
Words: Siobhan Frew
Rick "Zombie Boy" Genest drops by The Ric & Suzanne Show!
Posted By: CJAD 800 · 11/30/2012 11:37:00 AM
Actor, artist and model Rick "Zombie Boy" Genest, best known for performing with Lady Gaga, joined Ric & Suzanne today for a chat about bullying and tolerance.
Rick is tattooed over 80% of his body, and the ink is made to have him look like a corpse. Earlier this week, the Montrealer spoke to Marymount High School students about being comfortable in their own skin.
photo: Terry Richardson
MONTREAL — Sounding younger than his 27 years, Zombie Boy, a.k.a. Rick Genest from Châteauguay, told Marymount Academy students Tuesday that it is “not very nice” to make fun of each other for being different. “We’re all different,” said Genest, who was at the English School Board of Montreal high school to urge students to stand up to bullying.
“Being pushed around is not cool, whether it’s at school, on the street or at work,” said the heavily tattooed model who appeared last year in Lady Gaga’s video Born This Way. Zombie Boy was also on hand to film an anti-bullying commercial.
In a classroom at the N.D.G. school that had more media present than students, Genest was asked several times if he had taken up the cause of combating bullying because he himself had been bullied in school. Genest replied by saying: “I’m kind of different and I feel like I’m in a good place to tell people not to judge others because of their appearance.” He said even before his tattoos, he was always “different,” and his mother could attest to that.
Marymount students Nicolas Trotman, 17, Massimo Di Iorio, 16, and Shakeira Bernicky, also 16, said they liked having Genest speak out against bullying. “He’s really cool, he’s really original,” said Trotman, a Grade 11 student. The three students said bullying was not a problem at their school. “We’re a close-knit family,” said Bernicky. Di Iorio added: “The school has a good program in place against bullying.”
Marymount Academy’s progress against bullying makes it a bright light in an otherwise grim provincial picture. A Léger Marketing poll published last week found that close to 40 per cent of the 652 adult Quebecers surveyed feel that bullying is on the rise. The Nov. 5-8 poll was conducted for Association for Canadian Studies and the organization ENSEMBLE, whose anti-bullying program is presented yearly in 80 schools across the province. Anne Lagacé Dowson, head of the not-for-profit group, said: “What is most alarming is our discovery that bullying leaves victims feeling paralyzed. Most people who report being bullied also report that they did nothing about the incident.”
Among young people, age 18 to 24, more than one in four reported being bullied frequently, the study found. Women were three times more likely to be insulted over their physical appearance than men. Lagacé Dowson said that among schoolchildren, many say they already know that bullying is a bad thing, but what they lack are tools to deal with it.
In Ottawa on Nov. 22, meanwhile, the Harper government defeated an anti-bullying motion from NDP backbencher Dany Morin, 26, the openly gay MP for Chicoutimi-Le Fjord. A Canadian study in 2009 found that gay and lesbian students are far more frequently bullied than heterosexual students, both verbally and physically.
After last week’s vote, Morin said the government had “missed an opportunity to take a leadership role in the fight against bullying.” Morin’s motion called for the creation of a national anti-bullying strategy. The federal government is holding hearings on cyber-bullying, said Lagacé Dowson, adding that her group has accepted an invitation to take part in the hearings. Telecommunications, including the Internet, fall under federal jurisdiction.
Provinces are adopting anti-bullying legislation, with Quebec’s law to prevent and combat bullying and violence in school among the most recent. The bill, which became law in June, requires every school to draw up a plan of action to combat violence and bullying. Schools must also draft a code of conduct.
British Columbia has moved quickly to introduce an anti-bullying program in its schools after the Oct. 10 suicide of 17-year-old Amanda Todd, a Vancouver student who had endured five years of mainly Internet-based bullying.