Rick Genest, a Canadian model and artist known as Zombie Boy because of his tattoos, died on Thursday at age 32.
Police sources told Radio-Canada that Genest was found dead in Montreal at around 5 p.m. ET. Police classified his death as a suicide.
"The suicide of friend Rick Genest, Zombie Boy is beyond devastating," musician Lady Gaga, who featured Genest in her "Born This Way" video, wrote 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."
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. pic.twitter.com/THz6x5JlpB— Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) August 3, 2018
Genest became a celebrity after he got tattoos to cover every single part of his body. He is included in the Guinness Book of World Records for "most insects tattooed on the body" after getting his 176th tattoo of an insect in April 2011. He also has the record for most human bone tattoos with 139.
Genest, who was born in Montreal's LaSalle borough, left home at 17, a year after getting his first tattoo. At 15, Genest was diagnosed with a brain tumor, which led to an obsession with the macabre.
"Aged 15, I found out I had a brain tumor. I was told I could die or be left disfigured; I guess this spiralled me into becoming obsessed with the morbid and macabre," Genest told the Mirror in 2016. "As it happened, the operation to remove the tumour went without a hitch, but since then, I've known life was too short to not fulfil my dreams of tattoos and body modifications."
He later attracted international attention, appearing in fashion shows in Paris and Berlin. British artist Marc Quinn even planned on making a bronze sculpture of him for the Science Museum in London.
"I don't find him scary at all," Quinn told The Guardian in March, when the statue was announced. "I find him rather amazing. He is an artist. His artwork is himself and let's face it, he does look pretty cool."
Aside from his appearance in a Lady Gaga music video, Genest's notoriety helped him nab a role in Keanu Reeves' 47 Ronin. He also had a role in the 2009 TV movie Carny.
In his interview with the Mirror, Genest said he reconnected with his mother, who was a "good sport" when it came to his looks.
"I still don't have any material possessions. I live in the same place I always lived by the train tracks, I don't have a washing machine or a car. I barely have lightbulbs. I'm happy with my bike, toaster and microwave. I'm a drifter and always will be. I have enough to tip my waitress and that's fine with me," Genest said. "I am so proud to be a freak. And yes, please do stare, I like it."0comments
If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Photo credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Relativity Media