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 documentary Paris Is Burning.
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 in a Buffalo department store, Hengerer's, before moving to New York City to study art at Parsons.
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 further speculated that Worley was an abusive ex-lover of Corey's, 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 voguing events where her image and legacy are memorialized.
In the third episode ("Butterfly/Cocoon") of Pose 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. Producer and director Janet Mock confirmed on Twitter that writer Our Lady J based the anthology melodrama on Corey.