Without his tattoos, Ricky Genest photographs like your average white guy. Handsome, sure. But nothing compared to the majestic allure Rico the Zombie flaunts with his record-breaking macabre full body art – he owns two Guinness World Records; one for the most insect tattoos at 176, and one for the most human bone tattoos at 139.
Today’s fashion industry celebrates the “weird” if it’s unique, artistic and well articulated; and so drop dead gorgeous Rico has become one of our hottest icons and hangs with Gaga. Lucky. His latest spot in Dermablend Professional‘s new ad campaign “Go Beyond the Cover,” which promotes the brand’s full coverage body foundation, racked up over 2 million views in less than a week, and is still trending right now on YouTube. I had a chat with Tuxedo Agency‘s Creative Director Ludwig Ciupka – who, BTW, was the first to put the spotlight on Rico – and here’s what he had to say about the successful campaign:
LF: How did you discover Zombie Boy?
LC: I kept seeing him walking down the street in my neighborhood, about two and a half years ago. One day he was crossing the street and, he being so ‘fleeting’, I didn’t want to miss my opportunity to finally talk to him, so I ran after him. I told him “I know this might sound weird or awkward, but I really like your style. I think you have guts and I love the energy you give off. I have a studio near here if you’d like to do a small shoot.” I paid him out of my own pocket to get him. He pulled out his pack of cigarettes and wrote my number down; I thought he would never call me. Two days later, he called me from a pay phone! He had told me that he’d taken photos with 2-3 friends of his, but that turned out to be his first time in a studio.
LF: How did you convince him to star in this campaign?
LC: Two things. #1, he was in total confidence with us – we’ve always been totally up front with him so he said yes without even really knowing what we were doing. Second is, he also really wanted to show his appreciation for the fallback from the photo shoot (the photos which Formichetti ended up finding on his Facebook page).
Three products were actually used to cover Zombie Boy’s tattoos – the Leg and Body Tattoo primer; Leg and Body Cover and a Loose Setting Powder. Dermablend‘s products are used not only to hide tattoos, but also to cover strech marks, veins, bruises, scars and burns.
LF: how did he react to seeing himself without tattoos again…
LC: We expected him to be surprised to his image without tattoos, but actually, he couldn’t be bothered. He told us that this is the way he sees himself everyday. That was a really profound moment “ah-ha” moment for us.
LF: How did the team react?
LC: The whole agency was in shock, everyone was peeking through the studio doors to catch the ‘bare’ Zombie Boy. It was amazing to witness. But the craziest thing is since the shoot whenever we see Rico, we see him “without tattoos,” we see past them. The tattoos are like makeup to us now. We recognize the face under the art.
LF: What was your biggest challenge during this shoot?
LC: We had only one chance to do this right. We couldn’t do it twice. Rico was taking a flight out the next day, the client had flown in for the day, the makeup artists too. And the sequence itself was a one-shot thing; we’d have to deal with whatever could have gone wrong. It was all in Rico’s hands after the makeup. He had to understand the timing, the direction, the intent and then pull it all off in one take. He was awesome; it went off perfectly.