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Model Rick Genest Of Lady Gaga's 'Born This Way' Video Dead At 32
Artists Lady Gaga and Nicola Formichetti, for whom Genest served as a muse, mourned the influential fashion figure on social media.
Rick "Zombie Boy" Genest, the gothic fashion icon who served as a muse for artists like Lady Gaga and Nicola Formichetti, has committed suicide.
The actor and model, known for his distinctive full body and face tattoos, was 32 years old.
Genest was found in his apartment in Montreal's Plateau-Mont-Royal neighborhood. Police confirmed that the death was a suicide, according to IHeartRadio.ca, but released no further details.
Both Gaga and Formichetti expressed their sorrow on social media over Genest's death.
"The suicide of friend Rick Genest, Zombie Boy is beyond devastating," wrote Gaga on Twitter. "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."
Formichetti, who booked Genest for some of his first fashion campaigns for Mugler, encouraged those struggling with mental health to reach out for help.
"Sending all my condolences and love to Rico’s family and friends. If you ever need help, reach out. 1-800-273-8255 is the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You’re not alone," he wrote.
Genest, who had been working on producing music with former Rob Zombie guitarist Mike Riggs before his death, first began making public appearances as the "Zombie Boy" in carnival sideshows and "freak shows" in Montreal after a period of homelessness. In 2010, Genest was scouted by Formichetti for several fashion campaigns and booked by the acclaimed stylist for a memorable appearance in Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" music video. In 2012, he was tapped by Jay Z for the re-launch of the Roc-A-Wear label in Europe.
A cult figure, Genest's aesthetic influence was far-reaching within the entertainment industry. His notable body art also served as an aesthetic inspiration for a plot in "American Horror Story: Murder House."British sculptor Marc Quinn had created a sculpture of Genest in 2011, according to The Guardian.
Genest also held the Guinness World Record for the greatest number of insects (176), and greatest number of bones (139) tattooed on one body.
Genest had discussed his unique look in a 2012 interview with Wonderland magazine.
“The zombie concept is also often used as a metaphor for runaway consumerism. Rebelling from this notion is the very meaning of punk," he said. "The origins of the zombie creature came about from stories of people being buried alive in times of plagues and such crises; that would come out the other side ‘transformed’. Zombies, to many, represent a pervasive xenophobia. As in my life, I was often out-casted, hated or misunderstood.”
Genest is survived by his parents, Roch Genest and Catheryne Chappelle, as well as two younger siblings.
[Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]