Flawless Sabrina

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Flawless Sabrina
Jack Doroshow

(1939-09-10)September 10, 1939
DiedNovember 18, 2017(2017-11-18) (aged 78)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Other namesMother Flawless Sabrina
OccupationActivist, actress, drag queen

Flawless Sabrina (September 10, 1939 – November 18, 2017), also known as Mother Flawless Sabrina, was an American LGBT activist, drag queen, performer, and actress, based in New York City.[1][2] Flawless Sabrina was a pioneer for transgender people and drag queens not only in the mainstream, heterosexual society, but within the gay society as well, where transgender people remained heavily stigmatized.[3] Sabrina lived in New York near Central Park from the 1960s until her death.

Early life[edit]

Born Jack Doroshow in Philadelphia,[2][4] Sabrina was a pioneer in the transgender and gay communities in the 1960s in New York.[5] In the 1960s, New York drag queens were very stigmatised, not only by the mainstream society, but even within the gay community as well. Sabrina was one of the first widely known drag queens in the United States. She became widely known partially for organizing various drag queen pageants all over the U.S. such as The Nationals, Miss Philadelphia or the Miss Nationals, which was sponsored by Sabrina Enterprises.[3]


During the filming of The Queen, one of Sabrina's most popular films, she took on the moniker of "The Mother" to assure the other participants in the pageants that she was not part of the competition. Very soon, what was a joke became a very personal title, and she became a mentor to several other transgender people living in New York City at the time. The Queen is one of Sabrina's most well-known films. It is a documentary-style piece about her last drag queen pageant in 1967 in New York City called "Miss All America Beauty Pageant".[6] It won an award at the Cannes Film Festival.[3]

Sabrina was arrested three times in 1968 while promoting her award-winning movie The Queen in Times Square, New York City. Because of the success of her film, she was invited to speak on numerous talk shows and made television appearances in drag. This caused a lot of discomfort not only with the heterosexual and conservative public, but the gay public as well.[3]

Despite Sabrina's confidence with herself in drag on television and her appearances, she remained quite mysterious within the gay community, as recounted by Thom Nickels, author of Gay and Lesbian in Philadelphia. Though she was not a huge part of the city night life, she hosted several mansion parties. These parties were grandiose, decadent and had a $2 entrance fee.[7]

Sabrina made a short cameo in Pink Flamingos (1972), John Waters' black comedy crime film focused on drag queens.[1]

In 2008 Flawless Sabrina appeared in the theatre in New York City, in La JohnJoseph's Notorious Beauty.[8]

Dorian, a 2009 four-channel video installation by Michelle Handelman, is a coming-of-age tale following the main character, Dorian, from birth to death.[9] Flawless Sabrina plays a vision Dorian has of a thin, ghostly, violin-playing old man during a night of clubbing, after having taken drugs.[9]

A multichannel video installation by Michelle Handelman, Irma Vep, The Last Night (2014), featured Sabrina.[10] The piece was influenced by Musidora, best known for playing Irma Vep in the 1915 film Les Vampires.[10][11]


Sabrina died on November 18, 2017, at the age of 78.[12]


Sabrina was also a mentor for Ceyenne Doroshow, now an author, public speaker and advocate for homeless youth.[1] They met at a midtown Manhattan club called Bentley's, and Sabrina helped her get control of her life, while she was a homeless teenager.[1]

In 2014, a Kickstarter crowdfunding fundraiser raised $20,000.00 to create an archive of her work for easy access and study, called the "Flawless Sabrina Archive".[13] The fundraiser was founded by Zackary Drucker and Diana Tourjee, two of Sabrina's mentees.[13] The archive was created as a thank-you to Sabrina for being inspirational to queer youth, as well as a way of raising money to protect her when she was almost evicted from her New York City apartment. The owner of the building had died, and once the ownership was returned to the bank they wished to increase the rent, or evict her. The archive money now funds a storage space where Tourjee archives Sabrina's possessions as they move them in.[1] Sabrina's mentees also state, as part of their reason for the creation of the Flawless Sabrina Archives, that Sabrina has been and continues to be an influential part of the transgender community.[1]


Film and video art Role Year
Gazelle: The Love Issue Actor/Himself 2015 [14]
Irma Vep, The Last Night (video installation) Actress 2014 [10]
Saint Bernard Actor 2013 [15]
She Gone Rogue Actress 2014 [16]
At least you know: you exist (short film by Zackary Drucker) Actress 2011 [17]
Dorian (video installation) Dorian's Dead Self 2009
Pink Flamingos Cameo 1972 [1]
The Anderson Tapes Cameo 1971 [18]
The Queen Actress/Director 1968 [18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Ryan, Hugh (2015-03-07). "Queen Sabrina, Flawless Mother". VICE. Retrieved 2016-11-01.
  2. ^ a b Steinhauer, Jillian (2014-12-05). "Preserving the Lifework of a Cross-Dressing Queer Legend". Hyperallergic. Retrieved 2017-04-30.
  3. ^ a b c d Balzer, Carsten (2005-01-01). "The Great Drag Queen Hype: Thoughts on Cultural Globalisation and Autochthony". Paideuma. 51: 111–131. JSTOR 40341889.
  4. ^ Musto, Michael (2016-04-19). "Glory in a Transitional Drag Moment With Jack Doroshow, a/k/a Flawless Sabrina". Village Voice. Village Voice, LLC. Retrieved 2017-05-03.
  5. ^ "Why Drag Icon Mother Flawless Sabrina Is a Hero". Out Magazine. 2015-01-13. Retrieved 2017-05-03.
  6. ^ Anderson, Melissa (2013-01-09). "Film Forum's NYC Celebration Contains Multitudes". Village Voice. Retrieved 2017-05-03.
  7. ^ Nickels, Thom (2002). Gay and Lesbian Philadelphia. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0738510009. Retrieved 2017-05-02.
  8. ^ Ashman, Angela (2008-07-02). "Gender-Bender". Village Voice. Retrieved 2017-05-03.
  9. ^ a b Johnson, Ken (2009-05-22). "Art in Review". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-04-30.
  10. ^ a b c "Irma Vep, the last breath". Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University. Retrieved 2017-05-03.
  11. ^ "Michelle Handelman's Irma Vep, The Last Breath Adds Gender Subversion and Class Critique to a 100-Year-Old Anagram". The Stranger. Retrieved 2017-05-03.
  12. ^ "Flawless Sabrina (1939–2017)". Artforum. November 19, 2017. ISSN 0004-3532.
  13. ^ a b "Flawless Sabrina Archive". Kickstarter. Retrieved 2017-05-02.
  14. ^ "See an excerpt from 'Gazelle: The Love Issue', which is at the Festival MixBrasil". Globo.com (in Portuguese). Globo Comunicação e Participações S.A. 2014-11-14. Retrieved 2017-04-30.
  15. ^ "First Look at Gabe Bartalos' Latest Film Saint Bernard". ComingSoon.net. 2013-07-10. Retrieved 2017-05-03.
  16. ^ "Interview: Flawless Sabrina, Zackary Drucker, and Elizabeth Sherman". Whitney Museum of American Art. Retrieved 30 April 2017.
  17. ^ "Zackary Drucker & Her Friends: Films & Conversation - Hammer Museum". The Hammer Museum. Retrieved 2017-05-03.
  18. ^ a b "Jack Doroshow". AFI. 2016. Retrieved 2017-05-03.