Sunday, September 11, 2011

Alexis Vogel: Make-Up Artist To The Stars

All Photos:  Alan Mercer   Make-up & Hair: Alexis Vogel  Styling: Bree Kiel  Lighting: Eric V.

The first thing I notice upon meeting Alexis Vogel is how beautiful she is!  She is more striking and more exotic than any photos taken of her.  The next realization comes after spending time talking with her.  She is a total Artist who eats, sleeps, drinks, thinks and breathes "ART."  She has a passion for life and she "feels her way" through it!  The best thing I can say about Alexis is she is authentic. 

Today's hottest celebrities call upon Alexis to create their unforgettable looks. For the past several decades, Alexis has been doing makeup for television, movies, videos, magazines, billboards, and more.  She has worked on countless stars and celebrities, from the top super models to the most famous and glamorous of actors and actresses.

Many would argue that she IS the best. Exotic beauties like Carmen Electra, Bo Derek, and Paula Abdul all rave, "There's no one like Alexis!"

Alexis also does hair styling, which she has also been praised for. By having the skill and talent to do both, Alexis possesses the power to create and achieve an entire, unforgettable makeover on her clients. She says, "It is a wonderful and magical feeling when I finish, 100% of the time, for both me and the person I am working on."

People who've been lucky enough to have Alexis do their makeup have said she has the hands of an angel. She also has the hands and the eyes of an awesome artist. Harper's Bazaar magazine called her "The Svengali-like" makeup artist credited with giving Pam Anderson her trademark sex-kitten look.
As a child she was obsessed with sitting in front of her drawing board and painting her days away. With a father who was a magnificent oil painter and a Mother that won countless beauty contests, she had no choice but to absorb all of the art and beauty that surrounded her from a very young age.

At the age of three her family moved to the country where another one of her passions was discovered. Riding and raising horses. Alexis became one of the top National Champion Horseback Riders, not only in English Jumping, but Western too. She won over 500 Championships and 1st Place Trophies, as well as a National Championship Gold Medal. She made the Olympic Equestrian team in 1975.

How did Alexis get her start? She studied makeup at the Joe Blasco Makeup Academy, in Hollywood, the best school in the world for makeup. She also attended UCLA to become an Emergency Medical Technician. By the time she graduated from the Academy, she was already a full-fledged working makeup artist, and the rest is history. She has been working ever since.

Alexis directed all makeup for the hit television show, American Idol. She and her handpicked team created “the looks” for the entire cast of this blockbuster show, including the host and judges. In fact, Alexis treated one of the judges, Paula Abdul, to a delicious glamour-girl makeover for the show. In addition, Alexis gave contestants such as Kelly Clarkson, the confidence to go out on stage knowing they looked their very best.

Alexis was "Playboy Magazine's Secret Weapon" for over a decade. As the Head Makeup Artist she has done it all. Makeup, hair, clothing, styling, entire makeovers that leave people, and the subjects breathless. She's done the makeup for more covers and centerfolds than anyone else. Alexis truly enjoys her work.

The fashion and magazine world covets Alexis too. She's done makeup for hundreds of covers, including Elle, Rolling Stone and Cigar Aficionado. Faces she's made up make up an elite list which includes: Linda Evangelista, Sharon Stone, Jack Nicholson, Arnold Schwartzenegger, Claudia Schiffer, Rosie O'Donnell, Anna Nicole Smith, Nancy Sinatra, Denzel Washington,...too many to list here.

Eric V. and I went to Alexis's home to take these shots.  We had a great time working with Alexis and Bree Kiel.  As you can see Alexis is as beautiful as any of the women she applies make-up on. 

AM:  Why don't you tell me where you're from...

AV:  I'm from outside the box!  (laughing) 

AM:  Are you from Southern California?

AV:  I actually am a local lassie!  I was born on Sunset Blvd. at Kaiser Hospital and it's still there.  I lived in Hollywood with my parents until I was two and a half and we moved to Calabasas.  My parents got a big home there and I went to a private school.

AM:  Tell me about your father.

AV:  My father is an incredible oil painter and engineer.  He is brilliant.  He's also a world famous photographer.  He used to do all the Max Factor ads.  He was one of the first people to shoot Marilyn Monroe.  He was also a staff photographer at Playboy for many years when it was still a young publication. 

AM:  He had it going on.

AV:  He used to paint for hours and I would emulate him with my crayons.  He had a glass of red wine and I had a glass of grape juice!  I was only about three and I was obsessed with his palette.  He could have been a master painter.

AM:  How did he get to photograph Marilyn?

AV:  She came knocking on his door as Norma Jean with brown hair.  She was looking for work. 

AM:  Did your Mom work as well?

AV:  She was the president of my dad's business.  They were best friends with Hugh Hefner my whole life growing up.  I was always wondering what we would get from Hef at Christmas.  It was very cool having Hefner as their best friend and to me it was just the norm. 

AM:  So you grew up in a Celebrity World..

AV:  Oh totally.  I went to a private school that catered to children of many Celebrity families near Malibu. I don't get star struck.  I have never been start struck in my life until I met Bill Clinton.  I have met everybody, like Sir Paul McCartney. 

AM: How did you meet Mr. Clinton?

AV:  I got to attend a very special dinner with him when he was getting ready to leave the presidency. 

AM:  Where was this?

AV:  It was at Paramount Studios.  He was getting some awards.  I always wanted to meet him out of fascination. Little did I know it would give me the feeling that I saw in other people when they would meet a famous person.  Anyway this couple who I am friends with was also good long time friends with Mr. Clinton and the husband couldn't make it to the dinner because he was stuck in an airport.

AM:  Did you just happen to be available?

AV:  I was working at Playboy that day and needed to leave early in order to make it to the dinner.  I didn't ask.  I just told them I was leaving.  I had to go through all sorts of security.  They really do a number on you.  So I met up with my girlfriend and she took me and we sat at the table with him having dinner. 

AM:  So you finally got to feel what star struck is like.

AV:  It was absolutely amazing.  I was wondering what was I going to say to him.  For the 1st time in my life, I was really nervous.  He was just staring at me and he would not let go of my hand.  There were dozens of photographers and all of a sudden I was his girlfriend in front of Barbra Streisand!  All in all we had a great evening.  A couple of days later FED EX arrives with a package from the President of the United States.

AM:  What was it?

AV:  He took the menu from that night and wrote a beautiful note to me.  I've never experienced anything like that with anyone before.

AM:  Were you all about make-up from day one?

AV:  Yes from day one I was all about make-up.  My Mother was gorgeous.  She was a combination of Marilyn Monroe and Madonna at their best...and this is without make-up!  Both my parents are brilliant hard workers.

AM:  You come from a family of over-achievers.

AV:  Totally...very much so.

AM:  Did you feel a pressure to over-achieve?

AV:  I started training for the Olympics when I was seven years old.  I was one of the   most famous child prodigies of jumpers from some of the most famous trainers in the world.  Most people didn't start training until they were about eighteen and I was already top in my events at twelve.  I made the United States Equestrian Olympics Team when I was seventeen years old. I trained for ten years about eight hours a day.  I had five to eight horses all the time.  I could have three trainers in any one period.

AM:  If you were doing all this training for the Olympics, how did you end up in make-up?

AV:  My father worked out of his house just like I do.  He shot at least twenty Centerfold’s for Playboy over a long period of time.  I saw so many beautiful naked women and I once come out nude with my long curly red hair down to my butt.  I crawled up on the fireplace one day and told my dad he could shoot me now.  I am three and a half years old at this time.   The picture still exists.  I gave it to Hef on his 75th birthday framed & autographed.  Anyway I started doing make-up because my Mom had a lot of make-up and I just studied and watched everything going on.  It was natural and instinctual for me.  It came to me like nothing, as easy as breathing. 

AM:  When did you officially start doing make-up on women?

AV:  By the time I was thirteen I was putting make-up on the test models for my Dad.  By the time I was fifteen I was rocking it!  By the time I was eighteen I was making bank working full-time on everything including movies.  The rest is history.

AM:  So you never had to struggle to make it.  Do you understand that struggle for others?

AV:  Absolutely!  I'm very real.  During this whole period I'm still riding horses.  I thought I was going to continue to be famous as a horse champion Trainer. I did win and I still hold all the records for the Los Angeles County Horse Show Exhibitors Association.  Nobody has broken my records for jumping yet.  I won twelve championships & 1 reserve championships just in one year.  I have over 500 first place awards.  I've always been very creative with my hands.  It's all inclusive for me.  I write all the time too.  I don't sleep more than five hours a night.  There's too much life to live!

AM:  What are your sleeping hours?

AV:  I try to go to bed by three and I always get up by nine, unless I have an early call.  I travel all over the world with different celebrities so I have no inner clock. 

AM:  So you don't know day from night or Monday from Friday?

AV:  Nothing, I never know what day it is or the date.  I have no clue! 

AM: I think you're best known today for working with Pamela Anderson.

AV:  I've been working with her for eighteen years. 

AM:  How did you meet Pamela?

AV:  I was working at Playboy and she was on 'Tool Time.' She was a still a newbie, just a cute blonde on TV.  She was a nice girl and we got along.  I kept staring at her face and 'the look' just came into my head.  I did a Baby Bardot look on her.  No one had taken her to that place yet.  She was pretty simple, clean and fresh from Canada.  She looked at herself in the mirror and couldn't believe it.  She completely freaked out and almost started crying.  She told me, "I want you everyday for the rest of my life." 

AM:  How do you have time for other people then?  Is she your priority?

AV:  We both get really busy sometimes, but pretty much yes she's been a priority. 

AM:  Has she had to get by without you at times?

AV:  Yes, but she always comes right back.  People have tried to do this hollow imitation but it never works.  We became a power team! 

AM: Can you tell me about the new Alexis make-up?

AV:  I created this make-up line from my heart.  I want to empower women to have a signature image for themselves.  There is no reason why an average American woman cannot look like a celebrity for a quarter of the cost.  I've made the make-up with the same quality I use but it's a little more user friendly so they can work with it.  I had a very successful make-up line years ago.  I'm bringing a whole new line out now but it's for me now instead of some other company. 

AM:  What do you think of the new trend of airbrushing make-up?

AV:  I don't care for airbrush make-up at all!  I am hands on.  I need to feel and touch and blend.  When I learned to apply make-up I remember this very famous make-up artist telling me you have to make love to the face and I never forgot that.  Would you want to make love with an airbrush?  Airbrush is a joke.  It will be gone soon.  You can't do any manipulation or transformational detail work, with something that sprays. 

AM:  When will the make-up line be out?

AV:  We will be Launching by the end of the Year.

AM:  You must receive hundreds of questions from your fans.  Do you respond ?

AV:  The wonderful thing about my line is the demographics are double what they used to be because I did that infomercial and the kids that were ten are now twenty.  They saw their mothers transform themselves by bringing their sexy back and they want to learn to do the same thing. By now we have automatic answers to some of the routine questions that get asked over and over.

AM:  You do respond then?

AV:  Always.... I can't not answer them.  I have people who help me keep up with all this.  It's so encouraging to me to be able to help women be all that they can be without having to spend so much money.  I've designed all kinds of tools and techniques that have never been exposed to the public.  I'm coming up with more universal colors and kits that are designed to help the public look better.  They can get better results from the first time they try it.  They won't need anything else that isn't in the kit.  There is an Instructional Book full of color photos! A step by step manual they can follow and in an hour they can look fabulous!  Do you know how good that makes them feel?  It almost blows me away.  I have this cult following.  I really care about people.  I don't have any children so I feel that everyone is my child.  I raised Pamela!      

AM:  What is your advice for keeping relationships healthy?

AV:  Always try to be THE OTHER WOMAN or man, in your partner or husbands life....this is something you should do not only for them but for yourself.  Always keep yourself up!  It helps to feed the esteem issues and it can be very exciting for them and yourself!!!  Nobody will ever have a wandering eye if you make sure of it, by being all you can be at all times.  Be Red Carpet and Camera Ready every waking and sleeping moment!  That in itself can be the fountain of youth!!!! 

To learn more about Alexis Vogel visit her web sites &


  1. Alexis Vogel, in my eyes, is the blog of the year! I don't personally know this beautiful woman, but really sense her exhilirating spirit! Thankyou Alan, for sharing this incredible ladies history.
    The photos a exceptional, and the subject is truly what I see as (all Woman)! x

  2. Alan, these photos are absolutely gorgeous!! It's very obvious that Alexis knows her craft! The interview is very entertaining. I enjoyed this one a lot!!

  3. Alan, You did a wonderful job on this blog. Having such an exceptional subject surely puts it over the top. Alexis, my friend, you are beautiful!!!

  4. I just wanted to say thank you so much Alan for spending such quality time with me... !! You are such a quality person it was too much fun~ your team and your work speak volumes. I would do it all over again. You are a supreme person and talent! Love you , AV ;) xo

  5. Alexis doesn't get enough credit for her contributions to the field. Everyone is all moonie about "smokey eyes" and " soft lips" and "the feline look" as though Alexis wasn't doing it 20 years ago.

  6. How incredible and fascinating! I think I would share her nervousness around Bill Clinton -- how amazing that he sent her the menu!

    Alan -- these photos are stunning and as always, your conversations just flow so naturally - what a talent and wonder you are! They should make a movie about her life -- it would be a totally riveting film! What an inspiring lady!


  7. Alexis is one of the most incredible women in the world. Woman of the Year in my opinion. She is an incredible make-up artist who understands beauty from both outside and in. She sees beauty in everyone and everything. She inspires women to embrace their beauty and to embrace the beauty in others as well. Her inspiration makes me strive to be the strong, powerful and beautiful woman that she is. - Cathryn Marlowe

  8. Alexis is by far the most strikingly gorgeous, genuine, incredible, and honest women I've ever had the pleasure of meeting or spending time with. Alexis has been a family friend my whole life(she was my dads first girlfriend and vice versa) Alexis is the hardest working and most incredible women, PERIOD. There is no one more driven and in love with what they do than Alexis. While most people are driven by money, Alexis is driven by the happiness of others. I LOVE YOU LEXI! <3

  9. Alexis is the salt of the earth who has moved me in many ways i wish her all the best but of course she is the best and i hope one day she finds her prince cause she deserves to be happy and taken care of, She works very hard and im and honered to have crossed her path,shes has the world at her feet and my heart as well take care miss alexis i hope all your dreams come true Sincerly D-Rock Deeds

  10. FABULOUS INTERVIEW and a most fabulous human being she is...Now if I could just get 5 minutes with her and Pamela,that would be a dream come true.....Bobby Elkins