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Alexis Stone
courtesy of Instagram/@thealexisstone

Alexis Stone is the shapeshifting artist in a constant state of reinvention

We speak to the make-up artist and drag queen on his relationship with beauty and how he deals with criticism

Elliot Joseph Rentz, AKA Alexis Stone, is a master chameleon. The make-up artist and drag queen first became known for his incredible celebrity metamorphosises that see him transform himself into everyone from the Pope, to Billie Eilish, to the new royal baby – all with an uncanny likeness.

But it has been the work he’s done transforming his own image and identity that has been the most interesting to watch. Earlier this year, Rentz made headlines when he revealed that the extreme, Jocelyn Wildenstein-inspired surgery that followers thought he had undergone months prior was actually an elaborate ruse in a dramatic video in which he pulled off half his face. While that drastic surgery turned out to be a Mrs Doubtfire-esque stunt, Rentz has been very honest about work that he has undergone – openly sharing with his followers his $30,000-worth of procedures including cheek fillers, rhinoplasty, hair transplants and Botox. It’s been a process he refers to as “art directing my own face.” “My face is my canvas and I wanted to stretch it,” he says.

In the aftermath of the reveal, Rentz’s Bride of Wildenstein stunt shone a harsh spotlight on the pressures our social media-centred society puts on people to fit unrealistic beauty standards while at the same time levelling intense criticism at those who try too hard to achieve them. At a time when we as a society are so obsessed with exposing who has had what done and making sure those in the public eye are held accountable for the procedures they undergo, Rentz’s cosmetic journey – both real and performance – acts as an interesting counterpoint. Rather than hiding the changes, waiting to be exposed by others, Rentz has opened it up, turning his continually transforming face and identity into his art.

Opening yourself up on the internet, however, comes with inevitable backlash and Rentz has faced criticism over his cosmetic procedures as well as some of his celebrity transformations which often cross gender and race lines. It’s a topic that Rentz is keen to address. “Often people aren’t able to fully understand the difference between paying homage to POC with a respectful execution and historical racial mocking,” Rentz says. “As a white man, I really understand the privileges I have and I am not completing these transformations as a costume, they are simply make-up transformations which I have proven can be done without darkening my foundation.”   

We caught up with Rentz to find out more about his relationship with beauty growing up, dealing with negative comments and how he navigates the potential minefield of celeb transformations.

Tell us about yourself and where you grew up.
Alexis Stone:
I’m originally from Brighton, however, I moved out of home at 16 to live in London. Leaving the nest at a young age came with its pros and a lot of cons which evidently landed me in rehab as a late teenager. Going through the ups and downs of life at a young age shaped me into who I am today and when you throw in some gay acceptance and cross-dressing as a child it has created Mrs Doubtfire 2.0

When did you first become aware of your appearance?
Alexis Stone:
I always asked for wigs and dresses as a child, dressing up and hiding behind a character was the life goal for sure. I remember asking for highlights in my hair when I was around 11 which I was allowed but my appearance was never something I thought about until recently since I now have the ability to be anyone.

What’s your earliest beauty related memory?
Alexis Stone:
Breaking into our local farm store dressed as a woman with a red curly wig and Cinderella hoop skirt dress. Then running home after being clocked by the owners! I was living my fantasy.

Growing up, how did make-up inform your identity?
Alexis Stone:
Not much personally, make-up is my job which has of course taken over my life as of right now and for the last couple of years defined me in the eyes of strangers. It has 100 per cent allowed me to showcase some of my creativity and explore self-expression when it comes to identity but it’s questionable if that is my own personal identity as Elliot.  

What does make-up mean to you on an emotional level?
Alexis Stone:
Money. Security. Relax. Shopping.

How has your relationship with beauty evolved?
Alexis Stone:
Fine-tuned, broadened, more understanding. I play the devil's advocate in understanding other people’s choices and will always be attracted to ‘unconventional beauty.’ Constant reinvention and understanding of the constantly changing beauty standards.

Who is Alexis Stone? What is it you convey through her that you might not be able to through Elliot?
Alexis Stone:
I am Alexis Stone. The references, the commitment, the investments. The fantasy I gravitated towards watching movies as a child from Basic Instinct, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, Single White Female, Sleeping with the Enemy. I wanted to create a beautiful, intimidating, cold woman – and I have. This doesn’t mean I’m cold as a person it’s purely a decoration.

How would you describe her beauty aesthetic?
Alexis Stone:
Lifted, committed, evolving, illusion.

You built up a reputation of recreating celebrity faces, did you learn anything about yourself by transforming into others?
Alexis Stone:
I’ve noticed differences between the human faces, however, I was always very familiar with my face which is why I’m able to change it so quickly. I am, of course, a man with a large man head which people quickly forget due to the makeup transformations I do and I am aware of the masculine features.

How has transforming into others affected your perception of beauty?
Alexis Stone:
You’ll never be the prettiest, you’ll never be symmetrical, but ownership of self-directing your own face is beautiful.

You’ve spoken openly about getting fillers. How did they change the way you viewed yourself?
Alexis Stone:
I wanted to enhance and build features. As wanky as it sounds, my face is my canvas and I wanted to stretch it. I’m the most confident I’ve been currently when I see myself in the mirror, however, as an artist, I feel more comfortable art directing my own face.

There’s so much pressure now to ‘love the skin you’re in.’ Do you ever feel judged for opting to change how you look?
Alexis Stone:
Plastic surgery has always been viewed as unattainable unless rich and from Hollywood so there is a level of un-relatability from viewers. Make-up, hair styling, and clothing are all designed to conceal, enhance, hide what we don’t like or do love to please ourselves and others so the idea of cosmetic work being less than doesn’t make sense.

How does receiving negative comments about your appearance that make you feel?
Alexis Stone:
I’ve received negative comments for 10 years online it’s normal to me now. Some people think I’m Voldemort, some people cum looking at me... can’t please everyone!

Tell us about your recent project: transforming yourself into the Bride of Wildenstein? What did you want to achieve with it?
Alexis Stone:
I wanted to live my Mrs Doubtfire fantasy. It wasn’t a social media experiment to expose bullying, that was and will always be there. I needed to distract myself when entering sobriety and thought to do that by being creative. I rung my friend David Marti, an Oscar award-winning make-up artist, and we began the lengthy project of casting, sculpting, painting and applying the prosthetics before I then planted the seed to those who already viewed me as botched and unstable and turned the narrative around.

In the caption for your Kanye West transformation, you wrote: "Due to the fact I am white and Kayne is black I have not darkened my foundation to avoid offending anyone which I do with all my race change celebrity transformations". Why did you feel it was important to emphasise this and what has the reaction been?
Alexis Stone:
With social media and the current ‘cancellation’ culture it doesn’t take much for the millenniums to be offended. We live in a very politically incorrect time which has encouraged and made everyone very politically correct to the point where anything remotely sensitive becomes a witch hunt. In order to stick to my integrity as an artist and continue showcasing my skills, I demonstrate my celebrity transformations without using blackface and I am sensitive to the feelings of those that matter when it comes to my race change transformations. I’m called racist if I don’t transform into POC. Racist if I do transform into POC. Racist if I match my foundation shade, racist if I don’t and get accused of whitewashing. You can’t please everyone so I’m standing my ground and paying respectful homage to some of the greatest artists and humans on planet Earth. It’s a big conversation which I encourage those of all races and ages to have and educate each other about.  

When do you feel most beautiful?
Alexis Stone:
When I’m making love.

What are you working on at the moment?
Alexis Stone:
A fresh batch of psychotic lies.