When Rick Genest was 15, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. After successful surgery, Rick got his first tattoo at the age of 16. It was, prophetically, a skull and cross-bones. He left home at 17 after graduating high school, and lived on the streets of Montreal for more than three years.
When Rick was 21, he met Frank Lewis (tattoo-artist extraordinaire), and spent $15,000 CDN and 9 years to have him cover 80% of his body with rotting corpse-like tissue, bones and tendons (a Guinness Book of World Record.)
How did this homeless kid afford this expense? He admits that it isn’t something one can do all at once. He made money using his unusual look and bizarre freak-show stunts like driving nails into his sinuses (blockhead), eating fire, brains, worms… and laying on beds of nails or coals. This allowed him to continue to pay for more tattoos– “fleshing” out his look. Rico (as he is named now) soon attracted the attention of the fashion industry, and celebrities such as Lady Gaga, and appears to be on his way to….
…that question still needs to be answered. He played a part in the bizarre over the top trailer for the Chinese video game called War of Zombie. He also had a small part in the Keanu Reeves 2013 movie 47 Ronin and is making his foray further into the fashion world.
Here is an candid interview with Rico (aka “Zombie Boy”) and Crane.tv. He discusses beauty, growing up in Montreal, tattoos, living in the slums, creativity and sideshows.
And here is a fascinating Dermablend makeup video commercial featuring Zombie Boy.