Meet the Corby drag queen making waves aged 11
Corby schoolboy Leo Noakes knows he doesn't fit the norm.
But what the 11-year-old does know is exactly what he wants to be.
The youngster, who is set to start at Lodge Park Academy next month, is making waves in the world of drag after a documentary about his alter-ego ‘Violet Vixen’ was watched almost one million times.
His persona’s Instagram account has more than 5,000 followers, and he has no qualms about being the centre of attention having been on ITV’s Loose Women.
But Leo admitted leaving the house dressed as Violet gave him the jitters at first.
He said: “I was kind of nervous to see what people thought about it.
“But at the same time I was extremely excited to finally put myself out there.”
Leo had always enjoyed playing with fancy dress and his mum’s make up, but after stumbling across RuPaul’s Drag Race while searching for drag racing videos he was hooked.
He became noticeably sassier and experimented with make up more and more, spending up to two hours transforming himself into Violet.
Mum Lauren Noakes, 29, said she struggled at first but soon realised she couldn’t stand in his way.
She said: “I imagined him to grow up loving dinosaurs instead but that was because I knew nothing about it [drag].
“It just made sense to let him go with it. It makes him happy so why not?
“For me that is more important than what anyone else has got to say about it.”
Leo and his alter ego shot to fame after up-and-coming director Leanne Rogers, 26, spent a year filming him for a 25-minute documentary commissioned by Little Dot Studios.
The video has been watched almost 70,000 times on Youtube with a shortened version viewed almost 900,000 times on the ‘Real Stories’ Facebook page.
Leanne, who grew up in Corby and went to Kingswood School, wanted her first documentary to be about her home town and says she’s been blown away by the response.
She said: “We’ve all been on this journey together and I’ve noticed how much Leo has changed.
“It just went absolutely crazy, we all got so many messages.
“Violet Vixen got so much support.”
The documentary features Leo’s surprise trip to Brighton to meet his drag queen hero Courtney Act.
The contrast between Corby and progressive Brighton blew his mind and Leo said it was “the best day ever”.
He said: “There were a lot of people [in Brighton] who were in drag or something different but there’s nobody else in Corby.
“It was way more accepting and I didn’t look like the odd one out.”
Despite hundreds of messages of support both Leo and his mum have faced online abuse.
Leo dressed as Violet on mufti days and at school discos at his primary school, Rockingham Primary, and said he was teased by other children.
But Lauren says the effect the positives have on her son far outweigh the negatives.
She said: “I think some of the kids just don’t get it.
“Some make fun of him and make remarks about being gay as if that should be an insult.
“Leo doesn’t seem to let it bother him at all.
“For every bad comment there are hundreds of positive ones.”