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Rick Genest | Rico the Zombie

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Rico the Zombie
24 Oct

Photograph by: Colin R. Singer

«Ne jugez pas un livre à sa couverture.» Le Canadien Rick Genest, au surnom bien mérité de Zombie Boy, est l’illustration vivante de ce dicton. Lorsqu’il se promène dans la rue, son look suscite généralement la stupéfaction, voire l’effroi. Pourtant, en dépit de ses centaines de tatouages assez morbides qui lui confèrent l’apparence d’un mort-vivant plutôt sexy, Genest est tout le contraire d’un chantre de la violence. Son approche est avant tout philosophique, motivée par une expérience douloureuse qui l’a marqué pour toujours.

Rick Genest a grandi dans la banlieue de Montréal. Durant son enfance, les médecins découvrent qu’il a une tumeur au cerveau; il sera opéré à15 ans. Cette confrontation avec la mort provoque un déclic, mais, par respect envers ses parents, il attendra ses 16 ans avant de franchir le pas, débuter sa métamorphose et rejoindre le monde particulier des artistes à l’ancienne, dans la lignée des cirques Freakshows du siècle dernier.

Tout change en 2010, lorsqu’il accède à la célébrité internationale en se faisant repérer sur Internet par Nicola Formichetti.Ce dernier, directeur artistique de la maison Thierry Mugler et styliste attitré de Lady Gaga, est séduit par cet artiste hors norme; il décide de le faire apparaître dans le vidéoclip Born this way de son extravagante collaboratrice.Les choses s’enchaîneront ensuite à une vitesse étourdissante pour ce jeune homme décalé, passionné de films d’horreur: mannequinat pour Mugler, plusieurs apparitions dans des magazines prestigieux comme Vogue et Vanity Fair, campagnes publicitaires…

Rick Genest (Rico pour les amis) a bien voulu répondre aux questions de NOUN dans le cadre d’un entretien exclusif. Il s’est dévoilé avec pudeur et simplicité, à partir de son hôtel à Zurich.

Vous êtes un mannequin et artiste célèbre dans le monde entier. Découvert par le styliste de Lady Gaga, Nicola Formichetti, vous vous êtes retrouvé en moins d’un an à défiler pour Thierry Mugler. Comment tout cela s’est-il passé?

Eh bien, je dois vous dire qu’à la base je n’étais pas complètement étranger au monde de la photographie. Mon look de squelette vivant m’a toujours permis de trouver facilement du travail, dans des bars, dans des spectacles (…). J’ai décroché de petits rôles à la télévision, posé pour des magazines de tatouages et fait une apparition dans une vidéo de mode, The Spirit and the Flesh par Gibran Ramos; j’ai joué dans un film, Carny, avec Lou Diamond Philips. National Geographic, Bizarre magazine et d’autres publications ont rédigé des articles sur moi. Et puis un beau jour, un homme prénommé Ludo m’a arrêté dans la rue et m’a proposé de poser pour un magazine de mode, Dressed to Kill. C’est cette séance de photo, précisément, qui a attiré l’attention de Nicola Formichetti. Il m’a embauché pour travailler avec la marque Thierry Mugler, puis m’a demandé de figurer dans Born this way de Lady Gaga.

Quelles sont les raisons précises qui vous ont poussé à choisir des tatouages d’une beauté si dramatique? Vos motivations découlent-elles de votre maladie quand vous étiez enfant?

Les tatouages que j’arbore sont les vecteurs d’un message exprimant ce que je ressens; en anglais, le terme précis est «transitive pictograph verbalization». Plusieurs raisons expliquent mon choix. En premier lieu, le mythe du zombie trouve son origine dans les histoires de gens enterrés vivants à l’époque des épidémies de peste; or, durant mon enfance, cela s’est quelque part avéré vrai pour moi. Je suis tombé gravement malade, j’étais affecté physiquement et mentalement, j’étais un peu comme un zombie (…). En outre, ces créatures sont souvent considérées dans l’art littéraire et cinématographique comme le symbole d’une xénophobie latente. Cela s’est également appliqué à moi: au cours de mon adolescence, j’étais souvent rejeté, détesté ou incompris. Enfin, le zombie incarne la rébellion: contre le consumérisme à outrance, contre les lois mêmes de la nature. À cet égard, je tiens à citer le philosophe William James Durant qui dit: «Une grande civilisation n’est conquise de l’extérieur que si elle est détruite de l’intérieur.»

Quelques années plus tard, et vous voilà donc en train de défiler pour les plus grands noms de la mode. Pouvez-vous nous raconter votre premier catwalk?

Je me rappelle que le podium était impressionnant et la musique assourdissante. J’avais un voile sur le visage, donc je ne voyais pas grand-chose, sans compter que les lumières étaient tamisées et qu’il y avait de la fumée partout! Mais je me suis beaucoup amusé, et le show a eu un succès retentissant.

Est-ce que le monde de la mode est aussi fou qu’on le prétend?

Laissez-moi vous dire que le monde du show-business dans son intégralité est généralement fou. Donc oui, des jargons bizarres, des habits dans lesquels j’ai du mal à rentrer!

Êtes-vous déjà allé au Moyen-Orient? Si oui, avez-vous des anecdotes à partager?

J’ai seulement transité une fois par l’aéroport de Doha, au Qatar. Mais je vous assure que, d’après ce que j’ai pu voir à l’atterrissage et au décollage, la ville m’a semblé incroyablement belle. C’est un paysage que je n’avais vu que dans les films.

Dalal Medawar

18 Oct

Photograph by: Dave Sidaway , THE GAZETTE

Photograph by: Dave Sidaway , THE GAZETTE

Lawyers for Rick Genest, best known as Zombie Boy, and 20th Century Fox Television have settled a legal dispute over copyright infringement of the tattooed Montrealer’s body art.

Genest, a local hero and model who has appeared in Lady Gaga’s Born This Way video and catwalks from Paris to Toronto, has copyrighted his skeletal body tattoos. Actor Evan Peters sports similar body makeup in FX’s American Horror Story and his character goes on a shooting rampage.

Copyrighting the body art was a process that began last year, said Genest’s Montreal legal counsel, Colin Singer. “When someone has an extensive creation, it is intellectual property. There is extensive intellectual property in Rick Genest’s persona,’’ he said, noting details of the settlement are under wraps.

“Horror Story has aired in dozens of countries, potentially exposing Fox to hundreds of thousands of dollars in copyright infringement damages and erasing or obscuring the Zombie Boy body art in future airings of the episode would have been extremely costly,’’ the Hollywood Reporter noted.

Source: http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Zombie+settle+body+copyright+dispute/7404556/story.html#ixzz29f0wD3Ce

16 Oct

Photograph by: Colin R. Singer

Twentieth Century Fox Television, producer of FX's American Horror Story, has settled an under-the-radar copyright fight with a model whose tattoo artwork was allegedly stolen for a key scene in the Emmy-winning series.

Rick Genest, a Canadian model who appeared in Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" video and has been called "Zombie Boy," is known for his distinctive skeletal body art, which he has copyrighted. An early episode of the first season of FX's hit series American Horror Story featured a scene in which a student played by Evan Peters dons extremely similar skeletal body makeup and goes on a shooting rampage in a high school before committing suicide.

(Genest also is a spokesperson for L’Oreal's Dermablend line of cosmetic products and recently helped relaunch the Paris-based Mugler Men’s fashion line.)

Sources say lawyers for Fox and Genest have been working out a settlement to avoid a lawsuit ever since. Horror Story has aired in dozens of countries, potentially exposing Fox to hundreds of thousands of dollars in copyright infringement damages, and erasing or obscuring the Zombie Boy body art in future airings of the episode would have been extremely costly. At the same time, a court could also have found the two pieces of body art dissimilar or ruled that the Horror Story scene was a protected fair use.

But now the two sides have now come to an agreement to end the dispute. Terms are not being released.

“For complete clarity, I was not approached by Fox to license what I consider to be the use of my likeness or my copyrighted body art in American Horror Story,” Genest tells The Hollywood Reporter in a statement. However, I understand that there was no intent to connect me with the character in their show and I am pleased that I have come to a resolution of this matter with Fox.”

Fox declined to comment.

If the case sounds familiar, that's because it echoes claims brought last spring by a Missouri tattoo artist who created boxer Mike Tyson's distinctive facial mark against Warner Bros. over a similar tattoo on a character in the studio's The Hangover Part II. That case settled after a judge denied an effort to halt the film's release but called the studio's legal defenses "silly." The dispute generated national headlines and questions about whether body art and tattoos should be subject to copyright protection.

American Horror Story was a hit in its first season on FX, was nominated for several Emmys and won for best supporting actress in a miniseries for Jessica Lange. Its second season premieres on Wednesday.

Genest was represented in the case by attorney Richard Dermer of RAM Management, as well as Dorothy Weber at Shukat Arrow Hafer Weber and Herbsman in New York and Mathieu Bouchard at Irving Mitchell Kalichman in Montreal.

Source: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/foxs-american-horror-story-zombie-379219

05 Oct

Photograph by: Colin R. Singer

Nicola Formichetti’s muse is a walking Mugler moodboard. To Mugler, rare is remarkable. And Genest is nothing if not a celebration of the rare. Decked out in leather and studs, with headphones swung around his neck, he never stops moving, grinning and posing to fully illustrate his ‘Rico the Zombie’ moniker. It’s obvious why Gaga had to have Genest in her ‘Born This Way’ video. Genest has a swagger that brings his tattoos to life.

The 27 year old has come a long way since the last fashion season. To hear to his agent Colin Singer list Genest’s upcoming work proves the tattoo god has found staying power beyond his shock value. The surprisngly affable kid from Canada with a knack for the unconventional turned the world’s fascination with his oddity into a career. His 2013 is chock full of zombie related work in showbiz and fashion, from blockbuster movie cameos to an independent clothing label venture.

But Genest won’t let his fame get in the way of an impromptu interview. Twelv caught up with Rick and his agent in between NYFW appearances to discuss his writing influences, the artful tattoo process, and why his mother approves of his ink.

TWELV: Would you describe yourself as an anarchist?

Rick: Yeah Absolutely. We are our own masters.

Your manager mentioned you’re really into writing? What kind?

It’s for an acquired audience (laugh). I like playing with words. But it’s not like you know, rainbows and puppy dogs.

Do you like being famous? Would you describe yourself as famous?

I seem to be getting attention. Depends what kind of attention though. Some days you wake up on the other side of the bed. Where you don’t want attention.

It’s a double-edged sword. How do regular people respond to you on the street?

Depends on a variety of factors: where you are—if we’re talking about on the bus or in a nightclub—it depends on the time of day or night. It also depends on the kind of person—if we’re talking about the police or a vendor or an old lady— I mean, everyone has a different approach.

So it’s all over the place?

Many different types of remarks. There’s many different types of people who don’t like me (laugh)… Or that do. Everybody has their own opinions.

What sort of music are you listening to these days? Any particular artists you would highlight?

Many many kinds of music. Rock and roll, hip-hop, the blues…. Immortal Technique, Jedi Mind Tricks, Keny Arkana.

Your tattoo artist is in Canada, did you guys come up with the design together?

Well he did all the drawing. It was a freehand project with markers and then you know, it’s like a little bit of draw, erase, repeat.

He’s already creative. Bones is a simple enough concept. Sometimes I got picky and said, ‘how about this instead.’ If I said, ‘oh, I would prefer…’ you know? then he’d adjust. See I got a tarantula in the armpit. Cause I thought of the hair like, tarantulas are hairy so it was a good spot for it.

So are you still doing the freak shows? Or are you too busy for that these days?

I’ve been doing mostly modeling and some DJ. I get the odd underground job. Depends on how much time I have for myself, what jobs have priority.

You committed to the full body tattoos at 19. Was it a progression that you went through?

When I was 19, I got my hands tattooed and that point is the point of no return. You can’t really get a job at Starbucks anymore you, know?

So did you do your arms and your chest first?

Yes I did my arms and chest first. It holds me back from some things but it drives my commitment to moving forward. There’s no stopping now. If you stop now you’re just a common punk.

How does your family feel about it?

I got a joke. So when I was a kid, when I was really young, my mother told me everything goes in one ear and out the other. So my whole life I listened to her. But they’re happy. My mom likes to see I’ve gained a little bit of stability in my life.

Do you get recognized a lot from the Born This Way video?

I’ve been mistaken for Lady Gaga before. People come up to me and they go ‘LADY GAGA!’ And well….I’m not.


Interviewed by Scott Dennen

Bio by Dawn Joyce

Source: http://twelvmag.com/people/whats-zombie-boy-inside


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