Rick Genest (L), better known as ‘Zombie Boy’, and Lady Gaga in her ‘Born This Way’ music video in 2011. (Screen capture via YouTube)
Canadian officials have ruled that the death of Rick ‘Zombie Boy’ Genest, a model known for his head-to-toe skeletal tattoos, died of “accidental death”, rather than suicide as first suspected.
In 2018, the 32-year-old, also known for his appearance in Lady Gaga’s ‘Born This Way’ music video, died after he fell from an a building in Montreal, Canada.
Gaga and the model’s management disagreed on the cause of death, but it was on Monday confirmed the fall was unintentional, according to a coroner’s report.
City coroners concluded that “Genest did not seem to be in a state of psychosis or delirium when he went out on the balcony”.
Genest was better known among the industry as ‘Zombie Boy’ and ‘Rico the Zombie’ for his macabre tattoos.
Rick Genest was “intoxicated” at the time he fell from three-story building.
Genest was “highly intoxicated” as the time of death, toxicology results showed. His blood-alcohol level was almost triple the legal limit, in addition to cannabis.
Combined with analysis of video footage of the area where the death occurred, coroner Mélissa Gagnon of the Bureau du Coroner said: “Considering that habit and his very advanced state of inebriation, it is plausible that Mr Genest accidentally fell from the balcony.”
In the late afternoon of August 1, Genest fell from a third-story balcony in Le Plateau-Mont-Royal, a laid-back neighbourhood lined with townhouses, galleries and busy bars. He died of “head trauma”, the report stated.
No witnesses were around at the time and no suicide note was found.
Building surveillance cameras caught Genest lighting what appeared to be a cigarette in his mouth moments before his death, with the emergency third-floor balcony rising only just below Genest’s hips.
Moreover, “Some of Mr Genest’s relatives indicated that he used to sit on the balcony ramp outside the building when he went out to smoke,” Gagnon added.
Lady Gaga ‘spoke too soon’ when alleging Zombie Boy died by suicide.
Genest’s death proved devastating for loved ones after Dulcedo Management, which represented him, confirmed his death on its Facebook page. No details were immediately given at the time.
Gaga initially said that the cause was suicide, but later issued an apology: “I spoke too soon as there was no witnesses or evidence to support any conclusion for the cause of his death.
Out of respect for Rick’s family, Rick & his legacy I apologize if I spoke too soon as there was no witnesses or evidence to support any conclusion for the cause of his death. I in no way meant to draw an unjust conclusion My deepest condolences to his entire family and friends. pic.twitter.com/CJ9AdOJ22j
— Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) August 4, 2018
“I in no way meant to draw an unjust conclusion.”
Who was Zombie Boy?
Genest was not afraid of the camera.
Whether it was the flashing bulbs of runway photographers of those of mobile phones as people asked him to pose for pictures in the streets.
The Quebec local grew up fascinated in freak shows and tattoos, buying bubble gum that came with transfer tattoos as a kid, The Irish Mirror reported.
After years of being bullied as a goth in high-school, doctors told Genest he had a brain tumour and would need to have disfiguring surgery.
“I guess this spiralled me into becoming obsessed with the morbid and macabre,” he wrote in The Irish Mirror.
“I’ve spent 300 hours, give or take, to look like the living dead,” he wrote in the The New York Times in 2011. His first was a skull and crossbones on his left shoulder.
Days cleaning windshields for money after leaving home soon were replaced by photo opportunities in tattoo conventions and fashion shows.
Gaga approached him to star in one of her music videos where she wore make-up to recreate his impressive inked body.
“I am so proud to be a freak,” he wrote in The Irish Mirror.
“And yes, please do stare, I like it.”