Rick Genest, better known as Zombie Boy, has always drawn people’s attention. His body art aesthetics encompass it all; they are all at once significant, inspiring, and shocking. But how did he first capture the attention of the fashion industry? Nicola Formichetti, accomplished fashion director, editor, and frequent stylist for Lady Gaga, noticed Genest and brought him to the extraordinary fashion house of Thierry Mugler, which is where the fascination really took hold.
Genest is one of the most celebrated models working the current fashion circuit. Nevertheless, he is sincere and extremely down to earth while discussing his success. He enjoys life and everything it grants. We caught up with Genest by telephone in Zurich, Switzerland, and talked with the notorious Zombie Boy during the wee hours of the morning about his fame, his fortune, and his future.
Julija: How did your world change when you became famous?
Rick: Well, some things stayed the same. My nomadic lifestyle already had me living out of my backpack, working odd jobs, meeting cool people, as well as often [being] stopped and photographed. That has not changed. What changed was [how] the masses reacted to me. Prior, I had my place among those who understood me; I had the luxury of privacy. Now I often feel that every person either has a question or an opinion, [even] about the way I breathe.
Julija: Do you find great pleasure in your work?
Rick: I love and take pride in giving what comes from my heart. Like any job, some days are brighter than others, but I always count my blessings.
Julija: What are the downsides of your career?
Rick: None easily come to mind!
Julija: Where do you feel art is going? How do you see your role as an artist?
Rick: I am very happy to see art becoming more accepted, as well as other growing tolerances in many aspects of today’s society. I feel that my role is to help this generation think outside to box, to embrace bravery, and control their lives.
Julija: What forms of art do you like besides body art?
Rick: I’m in love with all positive forms of creativity. As a seed needs soil to beget fruit from a tree, a brush is needed to paint color on canvas to create a full picture.
Julija: If you had to start again, would you create the same tattoos?
Rick: It is difficult to see my life unfold differently.
Julija: When traveling to different countries, have you found any special places where you want to return? Tell us about them.
Rick: As beautiful as the world is, I always miss home [in Montreal, Canada] with my own, where I am [most] familiar and soulful.
Julija: What projects are you currently working on?
Rick: I just did my second guest appearance on the Food Network show, Bitchin’ Kitchen. I am currently in Zurich working on an endorsement contract. I also appear in Zurich at clubs where I give a hand to the DJs. DJ’ing is new for me, but I really enjoy it. I attended New York Fashion Week and appeared in and red carpeted some cool shows. I am also working on a new film project with director Steep Daniels for his NEON Americana series. Later this month I will be heading back to New York for a cover shoot with Rebel Ink. October is a really busy month with amazing projects that will take me to London, Vienna, St. Petersburg, Moscow, and Tel Aviv. Things are rockin’.
Julija: Could you mention a few projects that are slated for the near future?
Rick: I will be in Los Angeles in October for my first lead role in a live production called Hellbreak directed by Michael McQuarn. During some “dark days” I’ll be in Vienna for a guest appearance on Austria’s Next Top Model. In November I will be working with one of the greatest iconic rapper/hip hop artists to become the face of their brand in Europe, so I’m very excited.
Julija: Who has been most pleasurable to work with?
Rick: Recently Sean Ross, a model from New York was fun to work with on our cover shoot and in shows for Berlin Fashion Week. Recently we did a dope shoot styled by the iconic Ty-Ron Mayes, which was shot by my manager, Colin Singer. We are spreading the fun! And of course Lady Gaga, who despite her work schedule is fascinating and very cool. Nicola Formichetti is a class act.
Julija: What is an ordinary day like for you when you’re not flying anywhere or doing a photo shoot?
Rick: I enjoy sharing laughs with my friends around the fire or at shows. As well, I like watching movies, zipping out on my bike, designing and sewing, and listening to music.
Julija: What surprises you?
Rick: How often people can look too hard for answers when things can be so simple.
Julija: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Rick: I would love to be acting in movies, and after work, hanging among fellow misfits around a campfire.