The Remarkable Transformation of Ms. Stella D'Oro

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The Remarkable Transformation of

Ms. Stella D’Oro

By Urszula Pruchniewska


The Remarkable Transformation of Ms. Stella D’Oro by Urszula Pruchniewska, with Tim Johnson

This book is dedicated to Tim, my friend, with infinite thanks.



The Remarkable Transformation of Ms. Stella D’Oro

I met Stella D’Oro when she was 20 percent complete. That is, when Tim opened the door to let me in for our interview, he was in the process of transforming into Stella. He had on thick foundation, drawn-in eyebrows and some eyeshadow, but was without lipstick, eyelashes and hair; he was also still dressed as a man. I was meeting Stella and Tim simultaneously, but I did not know what either of them really looked like. Tim carried on doing his make-up and getting dressed during our interview, so I officially met Stella properly before I met Tim. Then, after three hours of photographs and outfit changes, Tim took Stella off completely and I finally met the man behind the woman. I adored them both. I say both, because Tim and Stella are two almost-separate beings inhabiting one body. They are, of course, fluid and interchangeable, but remain somehow distinct. It’s a strange concept to try to explain. It just is. This book is about the remarkable transformation of Tim into Stella, told in her own words. It shows a priceless behind-the-scenes look at a drag queen’s metamorphosis. But more than that, it is a fascinating, poignant, often funny story of a skinny scared Christian boy coming out as a gay man and in the process discovering the fabulous diva inside him. I feel very privileged to be able to share this story. Enjoy. Urszula Pruchniewska



The Remarkable Transformation of Ms. Stella D’Oro

The beginnings of a drag queen It’s a funny story. When I lived in the suburbs of Norristown, years before I moved into the city, I didn’t have that many friends really. I was out at this bar in Norristown, which was this neighborhood “Bar & Grill” and there was some kind of a trivia night going on. I went with some friends from work, and this girl walks in the bar, and I’m, like, “She is so pretty, I love the dress she has on.” And the guy who was with me said, “That’s a man” and I said “No it’s not!” He said “What sort of girl do you know that would dress up this much for a Tuesday night at a neighborhood bar?” And then I looked again – she had a matching headband, tons of sparkly jewelry, her hair was

really big, and I thought “I guess she is a little overdone but I don’t know…” So I went over to talk to her. I said, “Hi, my friends and I were just commenting on how much we like your dress” and she was like [puts on a deep voice] “Oh thanks, I’m glad you like it.” And I was, like, “Ooooooooooooh.” So we started chatting. Her name was Shelita Buffet. It turns out that she was new in town and she had done drag before, in Canada. She moved and she wanted to get some bookings, but she didn’t know how to make it happen - so she just went to some local bars in drag. She said, “I just talked the manager of this bar into letting me do a show here.” And I said “That’s great” and then she asked, “Do you wanna

be in it?” and I said, “What? Why would you even ask me that?” And she said, “I don’t know, it’d be fun, do you wanna dress up?” and I’m thinking “I’ve never done it before.” She had no idea what I would look like, but she said “I’ll help you, I’ll help you!” and I’m still thinkinng “I don’t know, I feel weird about this!” So we got together, she showed me: “this is how you do your makeup.” She gave me one lesson on makeup, and I’m, like, “How am I gonna get better at this?” “You’ll practice - you’ll practice and you’ll get better,” she said. “Here’s a wig, here’s a dress, let’s do this show!” And that’s how I ended up doing my first show.


Drag Queen, continued

The first show I ever did, I did a Britney Spears number and I did a Christina Aguilera number. I walked out on stage and hit the floor wrong with my heel and almost broke my ankle, but I kept going and it all worked out in the end. It ended up being a really good experience for me as far as a first show. And after that Shelita said, “I heard about this thing called Gay Bingo in Philadelphia, have you ever heard of it? I’m going to go volunteer at it. It’s like a themed bingo night in Center City. You have to dress in theme and then we just verify the bingos for whoever wins.” So we went.She helped me pick out my outfit. It was Halloween time, so she went as Elphaba and I went as Glinda [the evil and good witch characters from Wicked]. So I met all these fabulous drag queens at Gay Bingo and I’m, like,“You guys do this every month?!?” All the proceeds go to the Philly AIDS Fund and it’s a monthly fundraiser. And I went back the next month


and haven’t stopped going since. And that’s how I met the drag queens that perform in the city. They would say, “Hey, do you want to come do my show in the city? This will be fun!” So I started doing shows down here and it sort of snow-balled from there. A drag show isn’t always music. In fact, I kind of like how things are going in the Philly drag scene. The shows are becoming more like variety shows. I tend to think of myself as a bit of a comedian I guess. I haven’t done any standup comedy, but I’ll talk during the shows and make jokes and stuff. Sort of the thing that’s on the rise right now is live singing. Traditionally drag queens lipsync to diva songs, but now it’s who can really sing. It sort of brings it to a new level. I sing with the Phildelphia Gay Men’s Chorus, so I have a somewhat decent voice and I am happy to say that I’m one of the first to really start doing it regularly. And a friend of

The Remarkable Transformation of Ms. Stella D’Oro

mine who I do a lot of shows with, Anita Manhattan - I’ve convinced her to do it with me. So we download karaoke tracks from iTunes and it’s sort of like karaoke, but if you’re all dressed up in theme people eat it up. And that way you can change the words to be humorous or to be appropriate for a man that’s dressed as a woman, which I’ve done many times. Most of the bookings we get are for gay events. I like to think of us as the ambassadors for the gay community, because we’re the biggest, loudest, most flamboyant ones. So when people think of gay pride, they think of drag queens… I think that’s why we tend to get booked for a lot of gay events. We also get booked for a lot of charity events and we always enjoy doing the ones that are not for profit. I’ve done one for Philly AIDS Fund and Philly AIDS Thrift. I always have the most fun at those events.



I practice [doing makeup]a lot - every time I do it, I think I get better at it. In fact I’m really loving how this is turning out. I’ll look at pictures of other performers and compare them to pictures of myself. There’s all sorts of videos on YouTube on how to get makeup looking specific. The more time you do it, the better you get at it, and the less time it takes.


The Remarkable Transformation of Ms. Stella D’Oro


This color that I’m using is a dark brown blush. It looks odd right now, but I’m gonna blend it out and it will give a nice depth to the cheek bone. These are things that you learn from watching other people do their makeup. This is a little trick: it’s all about the contrast in the face, so what you want to do is make the cheekbones really prominent and you want the other things to sort of sink in. So if you make the top and bottom really dark the middle part will stick out a lot. If you follow the shape around your head, it will give your face a nice glow almost, it will look like there is a light shining on you. This is one of the first things that I learned when doing makeup: it’s all about the light. You want to simulate what light will look like when it hits your face. For example, you naturally have an indent in the crease of your eyes, so you darken that and you make the rest light to contrast. Whenever I do my makeup, I think about what my face will look like with light shining down on me. There is no wrong way to do makeup; you can use anything for anything. I’ve used eyeshadow for lipstick, I’ve used lipstick for fake blood marks, I’ve used eyeliner for lipliner. There’s no wrong way to do it. I always take a makeup kit with me just in case something happens during shows. Between songs, if I have a couple of songs, I’ll just check things. I usually sweat a lot, so I have to powder my face down or else I’ll be a dripping mess.


The Remarkable Transformation of Ms. Stella D’Oro



The Remarkable Transformation of Ms. Stella D’Oro


My beard comes in pretty full actually - I’m fair and so people think I don’t really have a beard, but I do - and it’s pretty full and red when it grows in. I have to shave no more than four hours before I’m doing something or I will start to get a 5 o’clock shadow during [the show]. You probably can’t see it, but I know it’s there and it starts to bug me.


Finishing Touches

The last thing you do is put a beauty mark on. I always do it right here. And the beauty mark, I learned from my friend Ms. Thunder Showers, who said, “A beauty mark means you’ve been places.”


The Remarkable Transformation of Ms. Stella D’Oro



The Remarkable Transformation of Ms. Stella D’Oro


I don’t wear expensive jewelry. I break it, it falls apart...I go hard on stuff, so I don’t like to spend a lot on jewelry. South Street is amazing for jewelry, because they have so many sparkly things and it’s all pretty cheap. So I find a lot of jewelry on South Street, or thrift stores - you never know what you can find in there.



There are some great wig stores up on Chestnut Street that I go to. They cater mostly to black women, because they love fabulous hair. And I go to these wig stores and you might think, you know, a skinny white kid walking in there would be weird, but the girls are always so nice. They ask, “What do you need a wig for?” And I say, “I’m doing a number, I have to be Madonna. Do you have


anything that will look like Madonna from the mid-90s?” And they’re, like, “Oh my god, we just got this one in, do you wanna try it on?” They’ll help you. They’re so nice. You can order stuff online too, but I like to see what I’m getting. I try not to order costume wigs, because they are cheap and tend to fall apart. So I get wigs that are meant for everyday use. They have elastic in them. I always get synthetic

The Remarkable Transformation of Ms. Stella D’Oro

ones, not human hair. You can spray them, but you can’t curl them easily - they burn because they’re plastic. But there’s a trick to that, I learned it from a friend. You can set the wig in rollers and then use a garment steamer to heat it up so that it melts a little bit and conforms to the shape of the roller. Then you take it out and the curls will stay. You can brush it out, you can tease it up, you can do whatever.


I had red hair when I was little so I like to wear this one. You know, you comb it up, you spray it a little‌this is one of my favorites right here.


The Remarkable Transformation of Ms. Stella D’Oro



The Remarkable Transformation of Ms. Stella D’Oro


This is one of my boobs. I’m a 36B. I don’t have huge boobs, I know, but huge boobs don’t fit in vintage clothing, so… What I do is, I go through pantyhose a lot, so I’ll take pantyhose and cut them off so it just leaves the foot. Then you take cotton batting and shove it all down into the toe so it makes this ball and then you just tie it and cut off the excess. Then you put another layer of pantyhose around it. And then you can just form it into a shape that fits a bra. I don’t know what other people use, but that’s how I’ve always made my boobs. You can make them as big as you want. And it’s funny too, when you’re doing a show or something and you hear grown men saying, “Has anyone seen my boob?”



You know, performers - we’re men in dresses. They were not made for men to wear them, so they don’t always fit correctly. But I’m fortunate to be a fairly standard female size, so I can buy clothes off the rack. The only problem is that I like really old things, vintage. I’ll find vintage stuff and be like, “How am I a size 16, but I have modern dresses where I’m a size 8 or 10?!?” So I’ve given up on sizes - I hold it up and if it looks like it 28

will fit, I’ll buy it. My good friend Anita Manhattan is a costume designer by trade, very talented on the sewing machine, and also an avid collector of vintage clothing and jewelry. She perpetually keeps an eye out for me for things that she thinks I might like. She has found amazing things for me, things that were donated to the theater that she worked at that they couldn’t use for some reason. Because of that, I ended up with a lot

The Remarkable Transformation of Ms. Stella D’Oro

of really amazing outfits. So a lot of the stuff that I have is from the 60s and 70s. I also have some stuff that’s a little bit older and a lot of stuff from the 80s. Anita’s sister was a sorority sister in the 80s and she had amazing taste in sorority dresses, so I got a lot of stuff from her because we’re the same size. I have a combination of old-timey vintage things and an amazing collection of 80s stuff. I love sequins and shoulder pads.

I’m a size 9 in women’s shoes so that’s pretty easy to find. I have a million pairs of shoes but I wear about four of them. Because I tend to move around a lot on stage, I like stuff that has straps - I don’t want to fall out of my shoes! Walking in heels – it’s just something you have to work at, but I fall in them regularly anyway.


Costume Changes

I occasionally do a couple of numbers as a flight attendant. My friend worked for Aer Lingus and gave me her old uniforms. For Halloween one year my flight attendant was in a plane crash and Anita and I distressed this to make it look like it was on fire. So I went as a zombie flight attendant.


The Remarkable Transformation of Ms. Stella D’Oro


Hiding Manhood

What do I do with my penis? One way around it is to wear poufy dresses and then you don’t have to do anything with it. But when I’m doing drag, I purposely wear unflattering underwear. A lot of gay guys will buy underwear that will make their junk look huge – I have underwear like that! But I will just find underwear that’s unflattering, like briefs that accentuate none of your maleness. I wear two or three pairs of pantyhose and a shaper on top of that, so it just goes away. I know some girls who wear leotards and bathing suits and stuff and I don’t know what they do I can’t wear stuff like that!


The Remarkable Transformation of Ms. Stella D’Oro



The Remarkable Transformation of Ms. Stella D’Oro

I’ve been seen in all states of undress so I’m not shy at all.


This dress is one of my favorites. It’s from the 1950s. It goes way out. I have a lovely light blue petticoat I wear underneath this and I then I put on my kitchen apron and do a little housewife. This is a dress you do housework in you know!


The Remarkable Transformation of Ms. Stella D’Oro



The Remarkable Transformation of Ms. Stella D’Oro



The Remarkable Transformation of Ms. Stella D’Oro



The Remarkable Transformation of Ms. Stella D’Oro


Coming Out I feel like I have a pretty interesting coming out story, in that I didn’t come out all the way until I was 25. I’m 28 now. I was performing in drag regularly when I finally came out. Not that that has anything to do with anything, there are straight drag queens out there, but it tends to go hand in hand. I came from a very conservative and religious background that did not accept gay people. I grew up in a home and in a culture where it was wrong, not just something we’d not chose for our family to have or for our children to have; this is something that’s wrong and you’re going to be punished for it, basically. I was a fundamental Baptist. It was very hard. I knew from a very young age, and I’m talking like five, six years old that there was something different about me and I didn’t know what the word was for it then. And because of the sort of sheltered lifestyle that I led, I didn’t know anything about being gay until I was in my late teens. Then I started working in a grocery store and I met other kids. I thought, “Oh wait, there are other kids like me? What is this all about?” You would think that would be a good thing, but it actually just made me really scared, because then I had to come to terms with it. Like it’s a real thing, there really is something different about me and there are other people like this too. I didn’t have a girlfriend when I was in highschool, but 44

I went to a private school and people don’t really date there, so it wasn’t a big deal. It wasn’t unusual as most people didn’t have significant others… And what is a boyfriend or girlfriend in highschool anyway? The worst thing about being gay, for me, is probably just the sense that I’m not totally accepted by my family. When I came out to them when I was 25 it was really hard. Partially because I was already an adult, I was on my own - why did I wait this long to tell them? But also because of my religious background. The first my mom said was, “You can’t be gay” – like I had chosen, and I had chosen wrongly. You can’t be gay. I said, “I’m not trying to hurt you, but I am. And I don’t mean this to sound nasty, but you’ve always had a gay son, you just didn’t know it.” It’s not like they threw me out, you know, I have friends and I’ve heard horror stories of people who come out to their parents and they say, “Get out of here, I never want to talk to you again”; they’re disowned. None of that happened to me. I never claimed to have the worst-case scenario, because I really don’t. But I think we can all hope for and strive for something better in terms of acceptance and my family doesn’t totally accept me. We’re in the position right now where they just don’t want to know what goes on. They don’t ask questions about my life. You know, I go out there for birthdays and holidays, but they don’t

The Remarkable Transformation of Ms. Stella D’Oro

want to know anything. They don’t ask, “What did you do last weekend?” Because I’d say, “Well, I went to the gay bar and we danced and I went to brunch with all my gay friends and then I did a show where I dressed up like a woman.” They don’t want to hear any of that. I don’t know what they know about me. But there’s a sense that I’m not totally supported. I want to be able to have conversations with them about what I did last weekend, about what’s important to me, and I feel like we’re not there yet. And it’s been three years and I know it takes time. It can take ten years… But I also didn’t want to, when I first got that reaction of: “You can’t be gay. This is what the Bible says about it,” I didn’t want to be like “Fine, you don’t accept me, I’m never speaking to you again.” Because I feel like that is just a step backward, not only for me, but for acceptance in general in the LGBT community. What if everybody did that and said “Fine, well, I’m not gonna talk to you either!” Then we’d never get anywhere. So even though it was really hard, I just made the effort consistently, starting the week after I came out to them. I’m going to be the one to say “What are you doing today? Can I come over for dinner? What’s going on this weekend? Is there anything I could come to?” So I was the one that was putting myself out there and I feel like that helped initially to at least soften things,

smooth things over. I know thing were a little bit tense I guess. But things are improving. I recently experienced a death in the family, my grandmother passed away in May and that, I feel, brought our family together. That was the first death we had, which is remarkable because most people lose parents and so on, we didn’t lose anyone. My grandmother was almost 99 - she was a month away from 99 when she died. So she was the first

person we lost and we all came together because of that. And it’s not like they suddenly forgot about everything else and started coming to my shows and all that stuff now, but I feel like that will happen eventually. And I don’t stop inviting them. At my last birthday, I asked if I could bring some of my friends and they came. I think it was important for them to meet the people I hang out with so they could see they are normal people. They

have jobs, they own properties, they have cars, they’re just like you are. And I feel that helped too. Every time I have an interaction with my family I feel like I have to do something to further this along, because I don’t know if there’s a whole lot of proactive things going on on their end. And I don’t know if there will be - so I’m gonna make the effort. If no one will, I’ll do it.



The college I went to was very anti-gay - they expelled gay students every year. It’s a private school, they can do whatever they want. I didn’t get expelled - I got my degree from there -but I was discriminated against there. It was a really hard four years. I got a great education and I do not regret that part of going there. I made good friends, even though they didn’t know everything about me. However, apart from friends, the social hierarchy there – everyone is straight – if there was even a hint that you weren’t straight, you were made fun of. I got picked on a lot to the point where… well, here’s a poignant story: 46

I was in a chapel service and after the service was over, I was talking to a friend of mine. They had theater-style seating, so all the chairs were stuck together, and I leaned over to talk to him and I had my arm around the chair. We were chatting, whatever, time to go to lunch so I get up to leave…And then, as I’m walking out the building some guy I don’t know walks up to me and says, “Excuse me, I need to speak with you.” So I said, “Okay?” And he said, “I’m really concerned about something I just witnessed you doing.” And I was, like,“What?!? What are you talking about? Wait, who are you? I don’t even know you!

The Remarkable Transformation of Ms. Stella D’Oro

What are you talking about?” And he said, “It’s not important who I am, the important thing is that I’m concerned about you.” And I said, “Why?” And he said, “Because I saw you sort of flirting with that guy you were sitting next to. You had your arm around him and it looked like something sensual was going on.” I said, “You’ve got to be out of your mind! I had my arm around the chair that he was sitting in. It’s one of my friends.” He repliled, “You know, I’m just saying, I don’t want anyone else to think anything bad about you.” And I said “Well, you don’t have to worry about anything,” and I walked away. I didn’t even

know who this kid was, he was a student. The next morning, the phone in my dorm rings. It was the Dean’s office. “Please report to the Dean’s office tomorrow morning.” I said, “I can’t. I’ve got class.” “You’ve been excused from your class. Don’t be late.” And they hung up. So I show up and this kid had reported me to the Dean’s office on “suspected homosexual behavior.” I was interrogated by the Dean for an hour. “Are you gay? Do ever have thoughts about men? Have you done anything with a man? Do you know what the Bible says about being gay?” I was a couple of semesters away from getting my diploma and I was not going to let all of this go to waste. And it’s one of the moments of my life where I look back and cringe at what I had to do, or what I thought I had to do at the time. I lied about everything. I totally denied who I was. I said “I’m not gay.” I said “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t know who this kid is. I don’t know why he said that. I don’t know why you’re believing him and not me.” I denied everything. The Dean was a nice man, but so misguided in the things he tried to fix in people. And they put me in counseling to make me not appear gay to other students. They put me in counseling with another student. They made me go to this kid once a week and focus on practical ways that I could work on that would make people think that I wasn’t gay. They would say, “What do you think you can do?”

I’m, like, “I don’t know?!?” And they’re, like, “Well, maybe if you didn’t cross your legs at the knee. Maybe if you didn’t gesture so flamboyantly. Maybe if you didn’t talk like that.” Like all this stuff, you think I’m making this up? This all happened. They made me a keep a journal of all this. It was crazy. That was the worst part of my college experience when they made me do that. I loved so much about that school. I loved the academics, the friends, I played sports, they had a fantastic arts program that you could go see. But that part… I was in a deep depression for those months. It was awful. But then I graduated, I got my diploma and everything worked out, but the discrimination was so powerful, it was crazy. And that’s just my story. There are tons of other people that have gone through similar things there. Some of them have never come out. They just bear that struggle on their own. What I did when I came out, I found out that there was a support group for people who went to this college, who were gay and who were discriminated against. They contacted me - they have a blog - and they asked if I wanted to write about my experience for them. And I told them the story I just told you. A lot of people commented on that post – some saying I was wrong, but most people were supportive. I just wanted people who were reading it to see that they were not alone if something like this had happened to them. So hopefully that blog post helped

people. I look at it in terms of where I’ve come to. I mean, I’m sitting here in front of you in full makeup and heels… I’ve come so far from that period in that very oppressed environment. And yes, I was there voluntarily, I could have left whenever I wanted to. And I don’t know why I stayed the whole time – I guess I felt a sense of some responsibility to my family or something. I did want to get my diploma. And I did all that. And the part of it that I regret is that I couldn’t remain true to myself through it all. But I think I’ve more than made up for it since I’ve been out of college. You know, I’ve been so involved in the LGBT community and in different fundraisers for different organizations. I feel like I hold a somewhat important place in the community. When I was doing the show on Saturday night, I was talking to a performer. I said, “Hi, I’m going to do a show with you, I’m…” and he said “I know how you are.” And I said, “You do?” He said, “Everyone knows who you are!” I asked, “Is that bad?” and he said “Nooooooo, that’s a good thing!” So I like to think of myself as an ambassador for the community. I do the AIDS walk and volunteer for Bingo and so on. I feel a responsibility to do those things too. It’s not just pretty dresses and fabulous heels, there’s something else behind it too. 47

A Cookie Heiress is Born

When I first started doing drag three years ago (I guess it was actually a little bit more than three years ago), I was working at Wagman’s, the grocery store. It was the day of my first show, when I was so scared and I did Britney and Christina. And my friend called me up to make sure I had everything that I needed, you know, “Do you want me to bring anything to the bar tonight? Do you have everything? Are you okay with your make-up?” and I said, “Yeah, I’m okay.” “Okay, how are we going to announce you?” “What do you mean how you’re going to announce me?” “Well, what’s your name?” And I’m, like, “I have to have a


name?!?” And she’s like “Yeah, what will we call you?” I said, “I don’t know, I didn’t think of it!” And she said, “Well, pick something out and call me back.” In the grocery store, I put pricetags on all the items - that was my job. I happened to be in the Italian section, putting the tag on the Stella D’Oro cookies, and I was like “Well, this will at least do for tonight. We’ll see if it sticks.” And lo and behold it did. It’s funny because the name really fits the persona that I have, I sort of grew into the name I guess. It’s an old-fashioned sounding name, you don’t hear of many Stella’s anymore and it’s very cute. I don’t know, it must be where I developed part of my

The Remarkable Transformation of Ms. Stella D’Oro

persona from – that name. And we turned it into this whole thing and my friends and I started calling me “The Cookie Heiress”, that I was the heiress to the Stella D’Oro cookie fortune. We had a Bingo night that was a beauty pageant theme and so I made a sash that said “cookie heiress” and I made it look like it was written in vanilla icing on a red velvet sash. So that’s where the name came from and it stuck. And it’s funny, you know, people say “Stella” and I answer to it, whether I’m in or out of drag. And a lot of people say “Stella D’Oro, like the cookies?” and I say “Yup, exactly like the cookies!”



The Remarkable Transformation of Ms. Stella D’Oro



The Remarkable Transformation of Ms. Stella D’Oro



The Remarkable Transformation of Ms. Stella D’Oro

The Best Thing About Being Gay

For me, personally, I feel like I just have such liberty for selfexpression, in any form that I want to express myself in. Whether it’s dressing up in drag and dancing for a crowd of people or… I don’t know. I think that’s what it is - I feel like my self-expression is unlimited. There are a lot of things that I do that even straight guys

who are very comfortable would never do. I’m sure they are straight people who feel equally liberated in expressing themselves, in not caring what people think. But at least for me, and for my development as a person, I always felt like when I was younger, [I’d think]“Oh you can’t do that because people will think you’re gay.

You can’t say that. You can’t wear that. You can’t like this. Because people will think you’re gay.” So when I came out I thought, “No, I don’t care what people think. I am gay.” I like jewelry and I like makeup and I know I look great in heels and dresses, so I don’t care. I can express myself however I want.


Is Philadelphia Gay-Friendly?

For the most part… It’s interesting, we have a gayborhood which is not just three gay bars - there are whole areas of shopping and restaurants that are owned and operated by people who are part of the LGBT community. It really is a community, not just a couple of random bars scattered around the city - it’s a neighborhood. But it’s a big city – and there are people who like that and there’s people who hate that. I’m very careful in what I do and where I go and how I appear when I go to certain places. So there are parts of the city where I won’t prance around in drag, but I’m more than happy to walk in


the Gayborhood in drag. So in that way it’s very gay-friendly. But there are always going to be people who are haters, who are going to pick a fight with you. I’ve really had a pretty easy time letting insults just run off my back, because I think deep down inside there must be something really conflicted within you… Well, I’m not saying that anyone who calls me a fag is truly gay themselves, but you’ve got to have something going on if you feel the need to lash out at a complete stranger. I mean, I might think something about someone else, but I’m not going to yell across the street at them. And that’s happened to me in this neighborhood.

The Remarkable Transformation of Ms. Stella D’Oro

I go running sometimes, and of course I go running out of drag (Stella does not do sports!), but it’s not like I wear anything provocative or tight or flamboyant while I’m out running and people still yell out fag. Maybe it’s cause I’m a skinny white kid and I probably have a little bit of a swish in my step. I really don’t care. But I always think to myself, “What happened to you that you are so hateful to a complete stranger? I feel like that’s way more your problem than it is mine.” So water off a duck’s back. I don’t have time for that. I have to go volunteer my time at Gay Bingo, you have to get out of my way!



The Remarkable Transformation of Ms. Stella D’Oro



The Remarkable Transformation of Ms. Stella D’Oro


I feel now, as opposed to five years ago, when I had no clue what my identity was, other than I was a scared kid who had graduated from college and stilled lived with his parents, I feel so much more in control of things. I feel like I know much more who I am.


The Remarkable Transformation of Ms. Stella D’Oro



The Remarkable Transformation of Ms. Stella D’Oro



The Remarkable Transformation of Ms. Stella D’Oro


Š Urszula Pruchniewska

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