Interview: Cliff Joannou; Photography Mateusz Sitek; Fashion Joseph Kocharian
It’s easy to box Alexis Stone, real name Elliot Joseph Rentz, into the category of drag simply because she wears a wig and heels, but the truth is Alexis/Elliot transcends the mainstream definition of ‘drag’ popularised on TV to serve something far more fantastical.
The cult of Alexis Stone speaks to more than 900,000 followers on Instagram, eclipsing many of the most popular Drag Race girls on both sides of the pond.With such an awesome profile, Elliot’s creation is one of a handful of (drag) artists in the world to have achieved success without having to lipsync for her life or tackle Snatch Game.
One of Elliott's first internet-stopping moments was the ‘Plastic Surgery’ project, for which he spent three months living with prosthetics, convincing his followers he’d had botched facial surgery before later peeling the face off to make a point about social media and beauty standards.
"As an artist, the idea of art-directing my face and body through visuals, creatively challenging myself with bulks of work to simple cosmetic changes wasn’t ever something I thought I would be doing, but as my lifestyle has changed and I’ve gained access to more drastic self-expression, it’s something I’ve become fond of.
"I rebelled against my trophy-boy days. If having a big dick and a six-pack paid me nearly as much as what I made pursuing Alexis, trust me, I’d have done that, but alas, I’m paid to be a woman."
Despite excelling in the art of female impersonation, Alexis has managed to carve her own niche as a performer without the platform offered by the entertainment behemoth that is RuPaul's Drag Race; a series that can be thanked for propelling legions of queer entertainers to mainstream success.
Alexis wear underwear by Rufskin (Photography: Mateusz Sitek)
Asked whether she's happy she avoided entering that hallowed workroom, Alexis replies: "Yes. World of Wonder aren’t going to have me on their show to congratulate me for making it without them."
The cosmetics guru continues: "In fact, most people go on the show to achieve the route I have and often fall short after 12 months.
"Having longevity and becoming a TV reality star are two different things not often hand-in-hand. I produce myself and will not let someone else take my credit for my efforts."
Like many queer artists, Elliott's path to success hasn't been easy: After growing up around substance abuse issues, the now-27-year-old nearly lost it all himself as he battled alcohol and cociane addiction in his early 20s (he's now three years sober).
Alexis says that renouncing alcohol and drugs has helped her find a new balance in the 'body as a canvas' creative dichotomy between her girl and boys selves.
"Before sobriety it was very warped, but now I have a great relationship between the difference", she muses.
"I think it’s easy to get lost in paying homage to female characters we idolise and questioning our gender identity, which is why so many beautiful trans sisters of mine find themselves through the art of drag and performance."
Alexis wear corset by Jean Paul Gaultier x Marvin M'Toumo, JPG necklace by Jean Paul Gaultier (Photography: Mateusz Sitek)
She adds: "Being unapologetically yourself against all odds with confidence is beauty to me. Having a body type, facial struggle — all that shit means nothing.
"It’s funny people think because you explore cosmetic surgery that you’re insecure or hate yourself — I’ve always been beautiful and always will be beautiful; there is no other option.
"It’s a state of mind."
Read the full interview in the Attitude Body Issue, out now.