It was Our Lady of the Gaga who introduced him onto the scene, but it was Dermablend who showed us the man behind the tattoo-shielded face. Now Rick Genest, aka Zombie Boy—or “Rico the Zombie,” as he calls himself—has signed on as a spokesperson for the brand best known for its total-coverage foundation. We caught up with the 26-year-old Canadian yesterday, and talked to him about working on the “Born This Way” video, passing judgment on others, and whether makeup is more about concealing or revealing.
First of all, what was it like to work with Lady Gaga?
She’s great. I was ecstatic to be incorporated in with her team and be a part of her whole monster project.
Did you have any say in the creative direction of “Born This Way”?
Well, they let me be myself.
How did the connection with Dermablend come about?
I was back at home in Montreal. I was walking down the street and [their marketing director] walked up to me and offered me to come back to the studio to shoot with them.
So they just totally grabbed you off the street?
How long did it take for them to conceal all your tattoos?
About four or five hours.
Dermablend is mainly a brand about covering up skin issues. In your case, you don’t want to be covered up. How did you respond to a brand that wanted to conceal who you are?
I’d say it’s about covering up who you are in order to reveal yourself. Covering up is a way to express yourself. It’s not necessarily covering yourself; its showing yourself.
So you’re talking about makeup as a form of self-expression?
I have a background in circus and sideshow acts. Like with any job in the world, you need to dress for the occasion.
Prior to this experience, did you ever judge women who were totally made up? How do you feel about makeup and the cosmetics industry?
I work with a lot of different people—strong men, small people, old people, young people, all sorts of people. It’s who I work with. There are all sorts of people [who use makeup as part of their performance]. And some people have to cover up or put on makeup for their day job. But they go out at night [as themselves] and they’re still cool people.
Do you think people look at tattooed people a little differently now because of the Dermablend video?
What do you say about the classic sense of beauty versus what you aesthetically represent?
Who’s to say that what I represent isn’t beautiful?