CANADIAN model Rick Genest, known as Zombie Boy, has died at the age 32 in an apparent suicide.
The heavily-tattooed star, who appeared in Lady Gaga’s 2011 music video Born This Way, was found in his apartment in Montreal, Canada, on Wednesday.
His death was confirmed on Facebook last night by his agency Dulcedo Management, who paid tribute to the “icon of the artistic scene”.
It said: “The whole dulcedo family is shocked and pained by this tragedy. Zombie boy, Rico, was loved by all those who had the chance to meet him and know him.
“Icon of the artistic scene and the fashion world, this innovator, against popular culture, has been able to charm all hearts.
“We received the unfortunate news at the beginning of the afternoon and members of the team have come to support his family and relatives in this dark and difficult moment.
“We want to present our deepest condolences and the legend will survive human. Thank you zb for these beautiful moments in your company and for your radiant smile.”
Lady Gaga also paid tribute to her pal as she urged those with mental health issues to seek help.
Writing on Twitter, she said: “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.”
Sharing a set of snaps of the pair together, she continued: “Science tells us that it takes 21 days to form a habit, if you are suffering from Mental Health issue I beckon for today to be your first day or a continuation of the work you’ve been doing.
“Reach out if you’re in pain, and if you know someone who is, reach out to them too.”
The model developed his love of the macabre after being diagnosed with a brain tumour at 15 and told he was unlikely to survive surgery.
But he did, and speaking to the Sun back in 2016, he said: “Even the doctors told me I got lucky.
“I blurred the lines between life and death and I’m still doing that now. My friends called me Zombie because of my past.”
A year later he began living on the streets, washing cars to get by and had his first tattoo – a skull and crossbones on his arm.
As his inkings grew so did his fame and he started working in freak shows – eating worms and pig intestines to go with his rotting corpse look.
Then in 2011 he caught the eye of Lady Gaga’s stylist, who got him to model in Paris, and he later starred in her music video before becoming the face of Jay Z’s Rocawear label.
He previously spoke about working with Lady Gaga, described her as “really fun and really professional”.
Rick said: “She gave me a big hug when I met her and she laughed at my jokes.
“A lot of people ask me about when I got my first tattoo but she asked me: ‘At what age did you first think about getting your first tattoo?’.
“My response was when I was about five or six years old. I liked that question.”
The model was so addicted to tattoos that almost his entire body, excluding his private parts, were inked as well as a full facial tattoo of a skeleton and a zombie brain on his head.
His 176 insect tattoos earned him a Guinness World Record.
If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article, please call the Samaritans (free) on 116 123.