Rick is turning himself into a zombie. So far, more than 24 hours of tattoos – costing over £4,075 Canadian – have got him halfway there and made him a minor celebrity on the internet, where people can’t decide if he’s a body modification visionary or mentally ill sicko.
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We caught up with Rick for an exclusive interview and photoshoot to see what life is like when you’re transforming yourself into the living dead.
What look are you trying to achieve with your tattoos?
They’re about the human body as a decomposing corpse – the art of a rotting cadaver. It’s also a tribute to horror movies, which I love.
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What influenced your tattoos?
When I was a kid I was a big fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and I wanted to be a ninja turtle and live in the sewers. But as I got older I fell in love with zombies and wanted to become one. Oh, and I love George A Romero’s Living Dead movies.
Anyway, the closest thing I could get to becoming a zombie was to get tattooed like one. I see my tattoos as celebrating the art of obscenity and the macabre.
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When did you decide you wanted to get your face and body tattooed?
I thought long and hard about what I really wanted, what my passion was. And I decided I wanted to be a fucking zombie. My first big move was getting my hands outlined as skeleton print. They say that once you get your hands tattooed it’s harder to find a job.
How do you feel about your tattoos now?
They’ve been a part of me forever – before I even got them done. They reveal how I feel on the inside. I’m so used to how I look now that I don’t see them anymore. It’s like if you met someone with purple hair – after ten minutes you’d think, “Oh yeah, they have purple hair. So what?”
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But it does look a little different to how I’d imagined. I expected some portions of my tattoos to look more bloody and gory. Probably because I’ve got an overactive imagination and I’d never be satisfied with the results.
What would you have changed?
I’d have a lot more blood in general, dripping and oozing everywhere. I’d have loved to have blood pouring out of my eyes and a few more bugs here and there. But it just didn’t happen like that.
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What do your friends think?
My friends think it’s cool. It’s punk rock, you know?
How about your mum?
Well, I don’t think this is what my mother had in mind for me. When I got my hands done it broke her heart. She said, “You’ve got your hands tattooed like a skeleton! You’re never going to get a decent job!” But once she saw I was determined about it she was like, “If that’s what you want to do, make sure you go all the way. Don’t just start it and then change your mind. If you’re going to be sure enough to tattoo your fucking face like that, then you’ve got to be sure enough to do the whole fucking thing.”
So she’s behind you now?
Yeah. At first, when it didn’t have the shading or anything, she was like, “You look like crap. You’re going to be a punk your whole life.” But now it’s starting to take shape and become more like an art piece, she gets it.
How do people react to your tattoos?
There’s all sorts of weird shit here in Montreal, so I kind of blend in with the culture. Some people come up to me and say, “Wow, nice tattoos.” Sometimes you get a smart-ass kid who yells “Hey, it’s Halloween!” Just about every day I get some kind of skeleton joke. The classic is “Why didn’t the skeleton cross the road? Because he didn’t have the guts.”
Do you worry about how you’re going to look when you’re older?
No, fuck it. Everybody ages – me too. Are you worried about what you’re going to look like when you’re 60? It’s just life – tattoos turn green. I joke that once the body suit’s done they’ll be so faded I’ll have to start again at the beginning.
So what other body modifications are you planning?
I still want to get my brain shaded in. I want to get it all nice and grey like hamburger meat. And then I want to get Frankenstein bolts sticking out of my head around the rim of where my scalp’s ‘cut off’.
And I’ve thought about getting my eyes blacked in. I’m thinking that in five years from now, if no one’s gone blind from it by then I’ll go and get my eyes tattooed black, so there’d just be big holes in my face.
As for tattoos, I’ve still got to get under my arms done, then I’ve got to finish the intestines and get a contour added to the demon on my chest. I’m going to get bones sticking out of my knees, my toes done in skeleton print, and have patches of muscle scattered around – with worms coming out of the wounds.
Have you ever thought about having the tip of your nose removed?
Yes, and I’ve seen it before on TV. This guy had a flesh-eating disease and he was able to get his nose cut off because they gave him a prosthetic replacement. I was so jealous. I wanted it so bad. If I get my eyes blacked in I’ll get my nose removed.
Would you have your ears removed?
Maybe just the one. I was thinking of having worms coming out of one ear and a spider’s web in the other. But I’m an extremist, so if I met someone who could remove my ear and get the right result, then that’d be cool as hell. If I saw someone walking around like that I’d shit myself.
Would you burn yourself with acid to get texture on your skin?
I don’t know. I’m not a pro. But it has nothing to do with pain. I like pushing the limits to see how much I can take. I’d get my tongue split, I’d get my teeth sharpened.
I wouldn’t cut off one of my fingers, because I want to play guitar. I’m not going to cut off my arms and legs to look cool. But there are no rules about how zombies look. My buddy has a tattoo where his throat’s slit and bugs are coming out with worms up the side. It looks fucking awesome.
What advice do you have for people who want the same kind of tattoos?
They’re fucking stupid and should get their own idea. You’ve got to be original. I hate copycats and idiots. But I’m up for the idea of more living deads. I think a whole crew of people who had their face tattooed as a skull would be awesome.
But you can’t rip off someone else’s personality. And I don’t want kids to go out there and ruin their lives because they think it’s cool – it’s got to be in you. You’ve got to know what you want. I sacrificed my whole future for this.
What effect has it had on your love life?
There are girls who dig it, but the kind of girls who dig it are usually trouble. Some people might look at you and think you’re mentally ill. They might do, but I’m not. I think I’m very on the ball.
There are a lot of people I meet who just don’t understand, but there really is nothing to understand. I’m realistic, sane and intelligent.
Is there any kind of body modification you wouldn’t have?
Cock-splitting. I’ve seen pictures of that and it’s not for me. But I’d tattoo my cock. I’m thinking of having reptile scales and cockroaches.
I’ve had different ideas that aren’t relevant to my body suit. One was quite sacrilegious. I thought about having my cock tattooed like a Cyclops Jesus ding-dong. There would be a crown of thorns around it, an eyeball and some scales. And there’d be a crucifix in the background, so my cock would be like Jesus on the cross. But in the end it just sounded completely wrong.
Do you think your life would be better or worse if you hadn’t had your tattoos done?
Actually, since having them done I’ve become a much happier and nicer person. Before, I hated pretty much everything and everybody. I just wanted to pass out in the gutter and swear at cars as they went by, shit like that. I wasn’t a happy person at all.
That’s why I got the skull tattooed on my face in the first place, I suppose – I wanted to fucking kill everybody. But then, as time went on, I started getting all this positive feedback – people would come up to me and say how cool they thought it looked. I started getting invited to parties and bars all the time. Strangers ask to have pictures taken with me.
I’ve been having so much fun with it that life has definitely changed for the better. I honestly wouldn’t change a thing... not that I have much choice in the matter.
How do you sum up your philosophy of life?
You’ve got to respect that everyone’s different and has to do what they’ve got to do. I can’t tell you what to do, you can’t tell me what to do – but we can still get along just great.