Montreal model and artist known as Zombie Boy dead at 32

Rick Genest rose to fame after appearing in a Lady Gaga music video

IMage: Felipe Dana/Associated Press


Montreal model and artist Rick Genest, also known as Zombie Boy, has died, police sources have told Radio-Canada. Genest was 32.

Genest came to the public’s attention after tattooing his body from head to toe, including images of a skull and brain on his head. He holds a Guinness World Record for most insect tattoos (176) and another for most human bone tattoos (139).

His body-art attracted fashion designers and he modelled at high-end shows in Paris and Berlin. In 2011, he appeared in Lady Gaga’s music video for the song Born This Way.

Police sources told Radio-Canada that ​Genest died in Montreal’s Plateau–Mont Royal borough around 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday. They are classifying his death as a suicide.

Lady Gaga tweeted Thursday night that the news is “beyond devastating.”

From the streets, to worldwide fame

Genest grew up in the Montreal borough of LaSalle and spent part of his life living on the streets.

He got his first tattoo at 16 and left home the following year.

About 90 per cent of his body was eventually tattooed, and most of it is by Montreal tattoo artist Frank Lewis, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

… and in every demon, an angel strides

A post shared by Zombie Boy (@zombieboyofficial) on

The extensiveness of Genest’s tattoos led him to work in sideshows and then garner an online following.

“He was someone who was a prisoner of that image,” said Pénélope McQuade, host of Radio-Canada’s Les échangistes, who interviewed Genest in 2016.

The British artist Marc Quinn is slated to create a 3.5-metre bronze sculpture of Genest for London’s Science Museum next year.

“I find him rather amazing. He is an artist. His artwork is himself,” Quinn told the Guardian newspaper in March.

The last post on Genest’s official Facebook page, which has almost one million followers, is a poem called The Well.

Fans have posted an outpouring of grief in the comments.

—THE WELL—o Damballalo we howl upon stars hung above we soul cast down the well of stone as fire laid betwixt two…

Posted by Zombie Boy on Thursday, August 2, 2018

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