Rick Genest — otherwise known as Zombie Boy, the heavily tattooed Canadian model who served as a muse for Lady Gaga, British artist Marc Quinn, and various high-fashion designers — died on Wednesday (August 1st) of an apparent suicide, reports Radio-Canada. Genest was found dead at his apartment in Montreal; police sources later confirmed his passing to Radio-Canada. He was 32.
Born and raised in Montreal, Genest grew up in the city's underground punk scene; he got his first tattoo at the age of 16. By the time he turned 20, his body was practically covered with morbid, skeletal-inspired ink, giving him the appearance of a living corpse (hence the nickname "Zombie Boy").
After spending several years on the local freak show circuit, Genest was approached by Nicola Formichetti — creative director for fashion mogul Thierry Mugler, and Lady Gaga's stylist — who catapulted him to international fame: this time as a supermodel, as opposed to a side-show attraction. In addition to his starring role in Gaga's "Born This Way" video, Genest appeared in a Mugler ad campaign, modeled for GQ, Vanity Fair, and Vogue Hommes, made cameos in blockbuster films like 2013's 47 Ronin, collaborated with the British artist Marc Quinn, and was even immortalized with a wax statue at Montreal's Grevin Museum. Recently, Genest turned his focus to music; at the time of his death, he had been working on an original LP alongside Rob Zombie guitarist Mike Riggs.
Gaga was among the first to pay respects to Genest on social media. "The suicide of friend Rick Genest, Zombie Boy is beyond devastating," the popstar wrote on Twitter last night (August 2nd). "We have to work harder to change the culture, bring Mental Health to the forefront and erase the stigma that we can't talk about it. If you are suffering, call a friend or family today. We must save each other."
A poem penned by the late model has since been uploaded to the official "Zombie Boy" Instagram page. Find that below.
If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of resources.
—THE WELL— o Damballa lo we howl upon stars hung above we soul cast down the well of stone as fire laid betwixt two fates of most drear less dire straights each breath cuts ice as flesh is weighed in front of deaths old narrow gates where bold and brazen last rites crate lo heed our wish of madness deep from os our prayers we kissed so stern and cold on metal shells release by moonlight glow — Zombie Boy