A real-life Ken doll has died after losing a five-month battle against leukaemia. Brazilian Celso Santebanes, 20, spent £30,000, N9.1m on surgery to turn himself into a human version of Barbie’s boyfriend. He started his transformation after winning a modelling contest at the age of 16.
He was catapulted to fame after being spotted by a talk show in his native Sao Paulo and began to charge up to £10,000 for a VIP appearance. He even launched his own line of Celso Dolls in Los Angeles shortly before falling ill.
Celso died at a university hospital in Uberlandia in the state of Minais Gerais on Thursday after
contracting pneumonia. MirrorUK reports he had been admitted to the hospital on May 26 for chemotherapy sessions.
He was buried yesterday. His dad Celio Borges said:
“When he was starting to fulfil his dreams, he discovered his illness and his dreams were interrupted. He had plans but God had others.”
Celio discovered he had cancer after going to hospital to treat infections caused by hydrogel fillers injected into his legs four years ago. The former miner had four operations on his nose, chin and jaw – plus silicone implants in his chest – after friends told him he looked like a puppet.
“This is so magical. My life has changed. I feel like the whole of Brazil is supporting me. People are sometimes frightened by the way I look, and stop me to say how much I look like a doll. I do suffer a lot of prejudice. But the world is full of judgemental people, I don’t care.”
Celio allegedly charged up to £10,000 for appearances at party houses, clubs, weddings and children’s plays and was negotiating an “advertising campaign for a huge fashion house”. But despite his success, he said he wasn’t entirely happy.
“I think I’m 90% of what I want to be,” he said last year. “I intend to do more surgeries, but do not know what. For now my investment is being in the gym, for Ken is strong and I am skinny. As I work with my aesthetic, I must take care of my body.”