What's Zombie Boy Like on the Inside?

September 21, 2012 1:35 PM

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

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