It was at the age of 19 that the now 26-year-old Rick Genest, known commonly as “Rico” and “Zombie Boy,” committed to his full-body tattoo project, putting his then pristinely pale skin in the hands of tattoo artist Frank Lewis to began transforming his body into a veritable piece art that depicts a decaying body. Strangely enough, it was the death-laden images inscribed onto his flesh that gave birth to Genest’s career as an icon, muse, circus act and high-end fashion model. Following his inking, Genest joined sideshows and contemporary carnivals, and even started his own traveling freak show titled Lucifer’s Blasphemous Mad Macabre Torture Carnival. Then one day, Thierry Mugler’s creative director, Nicola Formichetti, came calling, and in no time at all, Genest was walking the runways of Paris, starring in ad campaigns and globetrotting with the likes of Lady Gaga (Formichetti’s personal client). It seems this is just the beginning for Genest, who, despite a growing mainstream persona, longs only to give his punk rock cronies “a place to live” back in Montreal and return the favors they did for him.
Describe your personality in 10 words or less.
“Gonna end up a big ole pile a them bones.”
If you were reincarnated, who or what would you like to come back as?
Name your favorite …
Contemporary musician: Natalia Kills
Comfort food: three-day-old pizza, extra bugs
Wild animal: a crocodile with sunglasses
Founding Father: Big Ben
What is your greatest fear?
What do you consider your greatest professional accomplishment?
What are you pissed about right now?
Too many vampires. They suck.
What tunes would be on the five-song playlist to your life?
Jimi Hendrix — “Voodoo Child”, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins — “I Put a Spell On You”, Bessie Smith — “Electric Chair”, Tom Lehrer — “Masochism Tango”, Ray Charles — “Hit the Road Jack”, Bonus: George Thorogood — “Bad to the Bone”
Who is the most interesting person you have ever met (and why)?
Giovanni luliani — one of the remaining true relics of the old carnival world.
Name three things you cannot live without.
Air, love, pizza.
You get one wish …
I cannot say! Otherwise it won’t come true!
Photography by Colin Singer