Profile: Dorian Corey (1937-1993)

Dorian Corey was a trans woman, drag performer, and fashion designer.

Early life and education

Corey was born in Buffalo, New York to Franklin Legg and Mary Fox Clark out of wedlock though they later married October 18, 1947.Raised on a farm in Buffalo, Dorian began performing in drag, and later transitioned into a woman when leaving the city.

In the 1950s, she worked as a window dresser at Hengerer’s, then moved to New York City to study art at Parsons.

Career

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

Corey was also the founder of the voguing House of Corey. She held over 50 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.

Corey also ran and designed a clothing label called Corey Design. 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.

Death and legacy

On August 29, 1993, Corey died of AIDS-related complications at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in Manhattan at the age of 56.

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. Investigators determined the body had been dead for approximately 15 years. It’s speculated that Worley was an abusive ex-lover of Corey, or that Corey may have murdered him in self-defense during a lovers’ quarrel or during an attempted burglary, as such types of abuse were common among New York’s trans community at the time. 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 voguingevents where her image and legacy are memorialized.

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