Dorian Corey

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Dorian Corey
Dorian Corey.jpg
Dorian Corey in Paris is Burning
Bornc. 1937
DiedAugust 29, 1993 (aged 56)
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
Cause of deathAIDS-related complications
Alma materParsons School of Design
OccupationDrag queen, fashion designer

Dorian Corey (born c. 1937 – August 29, 1993) was a trans woman, drag performer, and fashion designer. She appeared in Wigstock and was featured in Jennie Livingston's 1990 film documentary about ball culture of New York City, Paris Is Burning.

Early life and education[edit]

Corey was born as Frederick Legg (circa 1937) in Buffalo, New York to Franklin Legg and Mary Fox Clark out of wedlock though they later married October 18, 1947.[1][2] Raised on a farm in Buffalo, she began performing in drag, and later transitioned into a woman when leaving the city.

In the 1950s, she worked as a window dresser in a Buffalo department store, Hengerer's, before moving to New York City to study art at Parsons The New School for Design.[3]


In the 1960s, she toured as a snake dancer in the Pearl Box Revue, a cabaret drag act.[3][4] She was one of four performers who appeared on the 1972 Pearl Box Revue LP Call Me MISSter.[5][6]

Corey was also the founder of the voguing "House of Corey". She held over fifty grand prizes from the voguing balls. She was also "house mother" to Angie Xtravaganza, who later became a mother of her own house, and was also in Paris Is Burning.[7]

Corey also ran and designed a clothing label called Corey Design.[8] At one point, Corey's act involved her wearing a 30-by-40-foot 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.[4]

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.[8]

After her death, the preserved body of Robert Worley (aka Robert Wells) was found in Corey's belongings with a gunshot wound to the head.[9] Investigators determined the body had been dead for approximately fifteen years. It is further speculated that Worley was an abusive ex-lover of Corey's, or that Corey may have murdered him in self-defense, romantic quarrel, or during a potential burglary, as such type of abuses were common at the time.[10] After death, her cremated remains were sent back to Buffalo, New York but were unclaimed and later disposed of. Nevertheless, an image of Corey is sometimes found in Voguing events where her image and legacy are memorialized.

In fiction[edit]

In the third episode, "Butterfly/Cocoon", of Pose's season two, 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 room. She enlists the aid of other characters to transport, mummify, and hide the body in a trunk and conceal it in her closet. Producer and director Janet Mock confirmed on Twitter that writer Our Lady J based the anthology melodrama on Corey.[11]


  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. Retrieved April 25, 2017.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ a b Cunningham, Michael (May 1998). "The Slap of Love". Open City. Vol. 6.
  5. ^ "Pearl Box Revue – Call Me MISSter". Retrieved October 23, 2014.
  6. ^ Doyle, JD (June 2017). "Pearl Box Revue". Queer Music Heritage. JD Doyle. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  7. ^ "A Gender Variance Who's Who: Dorian Corey (1937–1993) performer". August 5, 2010. Retrieved March 24, 2016.
  8. ^ a b "Dorian Corey Is Dead; A Drag Film Star, 56". The New York Times. August 31, 1993.
  9. ^ Conlon, Edward (1995). "The Drag Queen and the Mummy". Transition. No. 65. pp. 4–24. JSTOR 2935316.
  10. ^ "A Gender Variance Who's Who: Dorian Corey (1937–1993) performer". August 5, 2010. Retrieved March 24, 2016.
  11. ^ @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]