Say what you will about Lady Gaga (we have), she and stylist Nicola Formichetti have definitely been spot-on when it comes to imagery that grabs attention. From meat dresses (see our story on its designer here) to egg pods to tattoos. (Ok, those face weird protrusions didn’t exactly take off, thank god). We may have thought ”Born This Way” was shamelessly derivative sonically, but the video featuring Thierry Mugler model Rick Genest “aka Zombie Boy” (and Gaga in similar face paint) was undeniably fierce. It turned the Canadian circus performer into a pop culture icon after all.
When our pals at the hot new online fashion portal ODD (Bobby Webster and Judson Harmon) shot looks from chic LA designers including Ashton Michael, Skin.Graft and Olima for their site, nothing less than an edgy icon of Rick’s stature would do. And so, they flew in the alt model for whirlwind LA weekend that began with a photo shoot shot by revered photog Austin Young (and featuring NYC transgendered sexpot and nightlife princess Sophia Lamar in the women’s wear), followed by a raucous night of partying for the launch at West Hollywood hell-raiser Rasputin (from Mr. Black’s Luke Nero and Andres Rigal).
We were one of the privilieged few who got to hang out at PoptArt Gallery during the shoot, and score an exclusive chat with the Skelly fella. Pretty cool guy. We always try to ask people we interview questions that are different from the stuff they probably hear over and over, so the “working with Gaga” questions were out.
But we had to know about the face tats. Of course, here in LA they’re nothing new. They’re practically obligatory for gangsters and cons… and even celebs (Mike Tyson, Little Wayne, etc), but when you commit to ink yourself on the level Genest has –and especially with such dark and creepy designs– it begs the question: what do ya do when ya don’t want attention?
The answer it seems is an old trick: “Head phones and sunglasses.” (Just like we do at the gym so as to avoid sweaty dudes on the make! Ha!) Genest told us he loves music, so it’s not just about blocking out others. He’s a punker at heart it seems and ear buds allow him to escape into his own world. Of course, with a look like he’s got going on, one can only imagine the wicked wonderland his mind inhabits. While he digs his pal LG’s stuff, he says back in Canada you’ll find him at a lot of underground “hardcore” shows and hangouts.
And by the way, our pal James St. James interviewed Genest before we did & got a couple other questions we had out of the way: Gay or Straight? (Straight). Tatted everywhere… like um, down there? (Maybe).
He’s come a long way from the circus where he was discovered that’s for sure. He says he’s always been inspired by freaky performers like Jim Rose Circus Sideshow fave “The Enigma” (who currently lives in LA) and “Lizard Man.” Thanks to the exposure of the video and his continued success with the fashion industry (he’ll be seen at New York Fashion Week), he’s already more famous, we think. He’s gotten really good at posing too.
See our slideshow from the party at Rasputin on LAWeekly.com and shots from the photo shoot below. Also, last shot is from Gaga’s Record release party last year, illustrating just how much the Zombie influenced her aesthetic. Check out Rick’s website for up to date info on his projects and activities.