Heavily tattooed model ‘Zombie Boy’ Rock Genest from Lady Gaga’s ‘Born This Way’ video has died from an apparent suicide. We’ve got the sad details and her heartbreaking reaction.
Update: Montreal law enforcement sources tell TMZ that Rick jumped from a fourth floor balcony around 5 PM local time. Paramedics reportedly rushed to the scene and performed CPR, but couldn’t revive him. Though the death has been reported a suicide, Rick’s family suspects it was more of an accident. He would smoke on his balcony, often leaning back on the railing, and his family thinks he fell by accident.
Rick’s love of the written word – he loved to write and articulate his feelings through his work – is also why his family think it was an accident, as Rick’s manager, Karim Leduc, said there wasn’t a suicide note.
Original: Rick “Zombie Boy” Genest from Lady Gaga‘s “Born This Way” video has sadly taken his own life. The singer reacted to the tragic news that was first reported by iHeartRadio Canada. Rick was found dead inside his Montreal home on August 2, and the 32-year-old singer mourned the heavily tattooed model via her Twitter account. “The suicide of friend Rick Genest, Zombie Boy is beyond devastating. 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,” Gaga wrote.
She added that: “Science tells us that it takes 21 days to form a habit, if you are suffering from Mental Health issue I beckon for today to be your first day or a continuation of the work you’ve been doing. Reach out if you’re in pain, and if you know someone who is, reach out to them too.”
Genest was known for having the tattoos of a living skeleton throughout his body. He held the Guinness World Record for the most number of human bone tattoos with 139. He also held the record most insect tattoos with 176 on his body. Before he started getting tattoos at the age of 16, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor and said he contemplated suicide. Fortunately he underwent a successful surgery then went on to work in freak shows across Canada as an “illustrated man” with his head to toe inkings. He rocked to fame in 2010 when a Facebook fan page devoted to his tattoos was created. Within 18 months it garnered 1.5 million followers and caught the attention of Lady Gaga’s fashion director Nicola Formichetti.
In Feb. of 2011, he was featured in Gaga’s “Born This Way” video where the singer replicated his facial tattoos. Genest went on to be featured as a model for designer Thierry Mugler and appeared in GQ UK as well as Vogue Hommes Japan. In 2012, JAY-Z used Zombie Boy as the face of his music fashion label Roc-A-Wear when it relaunched in Europe. Genest and Formichetti remained close, hanging out at Paris Fashion week this past January.
In his last Instagram post the even before his death, he posted a circle of white light against a black background with a dark poem he wrote. The Aug. 1 message said:
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