In March of 2019, 17-year-old Elliot Ceretti walked into his local convenience store with a couple of friends. He had been re-watching the 10th season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, and one of the show’s drag queens, Aquaria, had inspired an unfamiliar but exciting longing in Ceretti.
He loaded his basket with the cheapest makeup products he could find, and a glue stick to glue down his brows. When he got home that night, he waited until his mother and sister were asleep and locked himself in the bathroom, applying makeup like he had seen on the show. That night, he brought Ella Souflee, his drag persona, to life for the first time.
He went on like this for four months, sneaking into the bathroom after lights out to become Ella Souflee, until one day his mother walked into his room while he was in drag. She was surprised, but supportive,