Dorian Corey (June 6, 1937 – August 29, 1993) was an American drag performer and fashion designer. She appeared in Wigstock and was featured in Jennie Livingston's 1990 documentary Paris Is Burning.

Dorian Corey
Dorian Corey in Paris Is Burning
Frederick Legg

June 6, 1937
DiedAugust 29, 1993 (aged 56)
Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S.
Alma materParsons School of Design
Occupation(s)Drag queen, fashion designer

Early life and education edit

Corey was born in Buffalo, New York to Franklin Legg and Mary Fox Clark out of wedlock, though they later married on October 18, 1947.[1][2] Dorian was born male, but later realized that she was a trans woman.[3] Raised on a farm in Buffalo, Dorian began performing in drag when leaving the city of Buffalo.

In the 1950s, Corey worked as a window dresser at Hengerer's, then moved to New York City to study art at Parsons.[4]

Career edit

In the 1960s, Corey toured as a snake dancer in the Pearl Box Revue, a cabaret drag act.[4][5] She was one of four performers who appeared on the 1972 Pearl Box Revue LP Call Me MISSter.[6][7][8]

Corey founded the House of Corey, which holds over 50 grand prizes from vogue balls. She was a mother to Angie Xtravaganza who is featured in the film Paris Is Burning, (1990).[9]

Corey also ran and designed a clothing label called Corey Design.[10] At one point, Corey's act involved her wearing a 30 ft × 40 ft (9.1 m × 12.2 m) feather cape. Once she shed her costume down to a sequined body stocking, two attendants raised the cape up on poles to produce a feathered tent that covered half the audience.[5]

Death and legacy edit

On August 29, 1993, Corey died of AIDS-related complications at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in Manhattan at the age of 56.[10] Corey's cremated remains were scattered in the waters off City Island, New York.[11]

Corey's legacy remains one of importance to the drag and ballroom communities, and her particular importance in the development of voguing as a cornerstone of New York ballroom culture is venerated and memorialized in the modern day. Corey is remembered by fans, friends and family for her simple philosophy that "[e]verybody wants to make an impression, some mark upon the world. [...] You don't have to bend the whole world. I think it's better just to enjoy it. Pay your dues, and just enjoy it. If you shoot an arrow and it goes real high, hooray for you."[12]

Robert Worley controversy edit

After Corey's death, the preserved body of Robert Worley (also known as Robert Wells) was found amongst her belongings; it appeared that he had died from a gunshot wound to the head.[13] He was last seen by his family in 1968.

Investigators determined the body to have been dead for approximately 25 years, with speculation that Worley had potentially been an abusive ex-lover of Corey, that Corey may have shot him in self defense during a lovers' quarrel, or that he may have been shot during an attempted burglary; abuse perpetrated against transgender people by their partners was a common occurrence among New York's trans community of the time.[14]

In Pose, transgender house mother Elektra, who secretly works as a dominatrix in a BDSM club, discovers one of her clients has died from an overdose in her private dungeon. She enlists the aid of other characters to transport, mummify, and hide the body in a trunk. Producer and director Janet Mock confirmed on Twitter that writer Our Lady J based the anthology melodrama on Corey.[15]

References edit

  1. ^ Browning, Barbara (2013). Infectious Rhythm: Metaphors of Contagion and the Spread of African Culture. Routledge. p. 228. ISBN 978-1-136-05182-1.
  2. ^ Smith, Tim (July 23, 2016). "Murder-mystery musical 'Dorian's Closet' begins to take shape". Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on November 27, 2017. Retrieved April 25, 2017.
  3. ^ Deb Miller (September 13, 2013). "A gay history murder mystery is finally solved in 'Case Closed: The Dorian Corey Story' at the Gene Frankel Theatre". DC Theater Arts. Archived from the original on May 22, 2022. Retrieved June 9, 2022.
  4. ^ a b Russell Kasindorf, Jeannie (May 2, 1994). "The Drag Queen Had a Mummy In Her Closet". New York Magazine. Vol. 27, no. 18. New York Media, LLC. p. 55. ISSN 0028-7369.
  5. ^ a b Cunningham, Michael (May 1998). "The Slap of Love". Open City. Vol. 6.
  6. ^ "Pearl Box Revue". Retrieved May 2, 2023.
  7. ^ "Pearl Box Revue – Call Me MISSter". 1972. Retrieved October 23, 2014.
  8. ^ Doyle, JD (June 2017). "Pearl Box Revue". Queer Music Heritage. JD Doyle. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  9. ^ "A Gender Variance Who's Who: Dorian Corey (1937–1993) performer". August 5, 2010. Retrieved March 24, 2016.
  10. ^ a b "Dorian Corey Is Dead; A Drag Film Star, 56". The New York Times. August 31, 1993.
  11. ^ New York Magazine. New York Media, LLC. May 2, 1994.
  12. ^ "Murder-mystery musical 'Dorian's Closet' begins to take shape". July 23, 2016.
  13. ^ Conlon, Edward (1995). "The Drag Queen and the Mummy". Transition. No. 65. pp. 4–24. JSTOR 2935316.
  14. ^ "A Gender Variance Who's Who: Dorian Corey (1937–1993) performer". August 5, 2010. Retrieved March 24, 2016.
  15. ^ @janetmock (June 25, 2019). "Titled BUTTERFLY/COCOON, episode 3 of #PoseFX is inspired by the lived experiences of two ballroom legends -- DORIAN COREY and TRACEY AFRICA NORMAN. One ascends to unprecedented success, another descends into a dark dark place" (Tweet) – via Twitter.

External links edit