Nevermind Gaga walking for Mugler, who everyone seems to be raving about is Nicola Formichetti’s muse and model – the skeleton tattooed Rick Genest – also known as ‘zombie boy’ and ‘Rico’ – a lovely young man from Canada whom he found on Facebook.
Rick’s ambition was turning himself into a zombie and after countless hours of tattoos – and pain – and at a cost of over £4,075 he did it, becoming a minor celebrity on the internet in the process a couple of years ago. Now he is the latest toast in fashion town after starring next to Gaga at Nicola Formichetti’s Mugler show in Paris.
Everyone is smitten with the handsome tattooed model, maybe because behind the tough exterior, lies quite a cool, charming and down-to-earth man.
Here are some excerpts from an interview that Rico did a while ago for Bizarre.
-On the tattoos
They’re about the human body as a decomposing corpse – the art of a rotting cadaver. It’s also a tribute to horror movies, which I love.
-On his influences
When I was a kid I was a big fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and I wanted to be a ninja turtle and live in the sewers. But as I got older I fell in love with zombies and wanted to become one. Oh, and I love George A Romero’s Living Dead movies.
-On how he feels about them
They’ve been a part of me forever – before I even got them done. They reveal how I feel on the inside. I’m so used to how I look now that I don’t see them anymore. It’s like if you met someone with purple hair – after ten minutes you’d think, “Oh yeah, they have purple hair. So what?”
-On what his mum said about the tattoos
Well, I don’t think this is what my mother had in mind for me. When I got my hands done it broke her heart. She said, “You’ve got your hands tattooed like a skeleton! You’re never going to get a decent job!”
-On how people react to his tattoos
There’s all sorts of weird shit here in Montreal, so I kind of blend in with the culture. Some people come up to me and say, “Wow, nice tattoos.” Sometimes you get a smart-ass kid who yells “Hey, it’s Halloween!” Just about every day I get some kind of skeleton joke. The classic is “Why didn’t the skeleton cross the road? Because he didn’t have the guts.”
-On ageing with the tattoos
Everybody ages – me too. Are you worried about what you’re going to look like when you’re 60? It’s just life – tattoos turn green. I joke that once the body suit’s done they’ll be so faded I’ll have to start again at the beginning.
-On what the girls think
There are girls who dig it, but the kind of girls who dig it are usually trouble.
-On his philosophy of life
You’ve got to respect that everyone’s different and has to do what they’ve got to do. I can’t tell you what to do, you can’t tell me what to do – but we can still get along just great.
Look beyond the bones and the creepy crawlies and Rico makes quite a cute zombie, don’t you think? Not to mention a fashionable one, he does look quite cool modelling couture.