Dorian Corey was a legendary drag queen who was featured in the documentary Paris is Burning. She passed away from complications due to AIDS On August 29th, 1993. Her caregiver, Lois Taylor, went to Dorian's apartment with two men to sell some of her items and they found a mummy inside a garment bag. The mummified remains belonged to Robert "Bobby" Worley.
Dorian Corey was born Fredrick Legg and lived on a farm in Buffalo, New York in 1937. She was witty, humorous, well-liked, and had the gift of gab. A friend of hers said that she just helped you laugh and forget your problems. She was everybody's Angel. People that knew her say that she was theatrical and could do anything. She worked as a window dresser in department stores and she started doing drag before moving to New York City to study at Parson School for Design. In the 60's, she traveled as a snake dancer, so she had a boa constrictor in the cabaret drag show. By the 80's she was an extremely popular drag queen in New York City Vogue Ball Scene. One of her friends said she was very talented and could paint her ass off, but she was an entertainer. She held over 50 grand prizes from voguing balls and she ran and designed a clothing label called Corey Design where she sold to the ball world and local community. She was also the house mother to her own house, the House of Corey.
Dorian had an act that involved her wearing a 30ft x 40 ft feather cape. When she took the cape off, it would be raised up on poles and it would be a tent that covered the audience. She was known for her extravagant and elaborate outfits. She had dresses like chandeliers, centaurs, wolf-women, and Marie Antoinette, complete with a guillotine. She performed most often at Sally's II which is a Times Square drag club. Sally's Hideaway had a serious fire in 1992, so Sally moved the club a few doors away and called it Sally's II. One of the things that Dorian Corey is most known for is her role in the film, Paris Is Burning. Here's the description from Wikipedia: This is a documentary that chronicles the ball culture of New York City and the African-American, Latino, gay, and transgender communities involved in it. The film explores the elaborately-structured ball competitions and explores how its subjects deal with issues such as AIDS, racism, poverty, violence and homophobia. It documents the origins of voguing which is a dance style where the competing ball-walkers pose and freeze in glamours positions and the film explains how words such as house, mother, shade, reading, and legendary gain new meaning to describe gay and drag subculture.
The apartment that Dorian lived in was on West 140th Street in Harlem. The neighborhood was actually a really bad part of town, there was a lot of riffraff going on. The apartment was filled to the brim with fabric, feathers, sequins, beads, headdresses, tailpieces, and elaborate gowns. Dorian Corey was the real deal, she was a legend. When filming began for Paris Is Burning in 1987, some of it was done at Dorian's apartment. During the first shoot, there was a gun battle outside and some of the crew members had to lay down in their van so they didn't catch a bullet. Dorian ended up moving about ten blocks down and she would have friends over for Scrabble and she always had a TV on.
Dorian died from Aids when she was only 56 years old and the New York Times ran a picture of her in drag which was the first time they had ever done something like that. Dorian went on one last tour, but was hospitalized during the 3 years leading up to her death. She slipped into a coma and died several days later on August 29th, 1993 at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in Manhattan. She was cremated and her remains were scattered in the waters off City Island, New York.
Dorian's friends had been been instructed to take whatever costumes they wanted after her death and then they could sell the rest or give them away. Her friend and caretaker, Lois Taylor, brought many people over to the apartment to buy things. She brought two men into the apartment who were looking for a Halloween costume. Lois was later interviewed for an article by Jeanie Russell Kasindorf and Lois said, “Child, it's what Dorian told me to do. Take the costumes I wanted and sell the rest. So I had customers. They was going to a Halloween show.” They asked Lois if this was a ball? And she replied, “No, no, no, it was straight people. They wanted Dorian's capes. She was one hell of a seamstress, honey. One time, she wore a gold cape that covered the whole ballroom floor”
The two men looked through the dresses and costumes, but couldn't really find anything that would work. They were looking for a black cape for a vampire costume. While the men were searching, they spotted a large garment bag and they asked if they could look inside. It was one of those old timey type cloth bags that you would put a suit in and fold it over and it was green plaid. Lois tried to pick it up, but couldn't. She told New York Magazine, “I only weigh 135 pounds. I couldn't lift that thing.” Remember, Dorian's outfits were extravagant and huge, so Lois thought there was something really good in that bag. Maybe even a heavy, beaded gown. She handed the men some scissors so they could cut the bag and one of them says, there's a scent! They all thought it was a dead dog and Lois says she ran like hell and they called the police. And Lois said, “Cause, honey, I wasn't chancing it.” She was asked if she saw how the body was wrapped and she said, “No, no, no, no, child. After the cops came, I didn't go back there. You look at something like that, honey, that's something you won't get over for the rest of your life.”
The body was halfway between mummified and decomposed because the body had been covered in baking soda and wrapped up in a fake leather type material and taped up. So, they had no idea who the person in the bag was, but this was now a murder investigation. There was also flip-tops that fell out when they pulled apart the layers of wrapping. It's little rings from old flip-top beer cans and they haven't been used since the 70's. Figueroa was asked if he thought the person who wrapped the body I leather was trying to copy the Egyptians and he said, “I don't think so. People just wrap a body in whatever's available. It's just spontaneous. You wrap it up. Then you put it in a suitcase. Then you put it in the closet. Then you just look at it periodically and wish it would go away.”
This is a quote from the article I ready in the New York Magazine from Forensic specialist, Raul Figueroa, “So I cut the fingers below the second joint, and then it took me several days to work on it because, technically, even though it says mummified he was in a mummified state, but in a soupy sort of mummified state. When you have all this wrapping, no air is getting to it. But it is still losing liquid out of its body. So the body sort of floats in its own soup.” “There was all this muck, many pounds of muck. You have to clean it off, but you gotta do it soft because you don't want to destroy it, it's a painstaking sort of process. The minute it gets destroyed, you do the wrong thing, it's gone forever, and then you got nothing to work with. So I was working on secondary skin, the lower one, beneath what you see. Secondary skin slippage-you've seen a floater come out of the water, you've seen the hand, like a glove, coming off? That's the slippage. The secondary skin, it's not as pronounced as your regular skin. It's a twin of what you might lose in a sunburn, or regular wear and tear.”
“So I had to come up with something to try to be able to deal with the fingers, because of the skin, it was- we all have microorganisms, that either were near the body when he was enclosed, or on the body itself. They will eat through the skin, leaving these micro-little holes, that you can't really see but where you can't inject anything becdause its gonna leak out. Very slowly, but it leaks out. So there's not much you can do. If you try to put ink on that it will not adhere to the skin. It was a problem, and I ended up—I can't give away secrets because, well, it's beneficial to us to keep it more or less secret. But I worked out something, and I was able to close those holes. Then drying, which is a common-known thing with acetone and a variety of other things, drying the skin, then using a little bit of heat. You might have to soften it, put it in special liquids to soften it. And I was able to secure the print.” When the body was examined, the skin was so thin that it would fall apart if you touched it. So, they spent 7 days treating the skin just so they would be able to take fingerprints. The skin had to be hardened into a leather.
Figuerora put the skin on his own fingers, like a glove, over his latex gloves, inked them, and rolled them for the print and he was able to get prints from all ten fingers with this method. A match was made and they discovered that the mummy in the closet was Robert “Bobby” Worley. He was a black man, born on December 18th, 1938. He had been arrested in 1963 for assaulting and raping a woman, so that's why his prints were in the system. According to the court documents, Robert forced a woman into a vacant store below his apartment and raped her. The woman lived right around the corner from him, so it's possible that they knew each other. Robert was arrested hours after the crime and was charged with kidnapping, assault, and having intercourse with a female, not his wife, against her will and without consent. Robert claimed that he was drinking wine with the woman and he just didn't know what happened. Three weeks later, he pleaded guilty to assault and was sentenced to 2-4 years in state prison. He served 3 years at Sing Sing.
Some of Dorian's friends believe that Dorian and Bobby were seeing each other. Maybe Bobby couldn't accept the fact that he was into Dorian because she was biologically male. Or Bobby may have believed that Dorian was born female and got angry when he found out the truth. So, it's a self-defense theory. In an interview with Bobby's brother, Fred, he said he wasn't that surprised to find out that Bobby was dead. The family hadn't heard from him in a long time, so they assumed something had happened. They didn't think murder, they actually thought it may be medical. He had complained about blood in his urine at one point. After they found out that his body had been discovered, the family let the city bury him in potter's field on Hart Island.
He actually confirmed that Bobby was a very heavy drinker and had massive rage issues, so it's possible that he got in a fight with Dorian and it ended with him being shot. Fred said that Bobby actually moved in with him and his family for a brief time after he was released from Sing Sing and he had changed his name to Robert Wells. One night, Bobby called the house, but clearly meant to call someone else. Fred says that his brother was drunk off his ass and he just listened to him talk for awhile, but he was able to gather that his brother was in a relationship with a trans woman and he says it was Dorian. Fred openly admitted that he would not be surprised if his brother beat Dorian up, he had a very macho attitude and could be very violent.
Bobby's brother did explain that he had a son that he abandoned and while he was living with Fred, he became infatuated with a woman next door and she refused his advances, so he roughed up her 7 year old son. The woman threatened to call the police, so he peaced out.
Many of Dorian's friends were interviewed about being in that apartment over the years and not one person could imagine her killing someone and they never smelled anything in her apartment. One of her exes used to stop by all the time and he said neither him or his German Shepard ever smelled a dead body. The person that had obviously been in the apartment the most, at least towards the end of Dorian's life, was Lois Taylor, the caretaker. She really wanted to distance herself from this. When Dorian was dying, Lois asked her if she should get in touch with her family and she said Hell no! After she died, Lois found old letters in a file cabinet that Dorian and her mother wrote to each other when Dorian first moved to New York. Her mother knew about her new life, but didn't tell the rest of the family. Lois found a phone number in the papers and she called it using the name Dorian was born with and Dorian's sister said she had been searching for her brother for 30 years.
Everyone that knew Dorian said that she was not a violent person, but she was someone you don't fuck with either. They felt that she would have really been provoked, like she was in danger to resort to murder. It was also rumored that she could have been framed.
-Maybe Dorian hid the body to keep someone else out of trouble, she could have been covering for someone.
-Someone framed her by placing the body in her closet after she got sick. No one ever smelled the body and that could explain it. This theory is mainly about Lois Taylor, the caregiver. People think that she planted the body in the apartment after Dorian died because Dorian obviously couldn't get in trouble for it. She was too small to lift the bag and she was present when the body was discovered.
-Lois Taylor, the caregiver, found a handwritten short story on old, yellow paper that she handed over to the police once the mummy was discovered. It was a story about a man who wanted to get a sex reassignment surgery to make their boyfriend happy, but the whole affair ended in revenge. Could it have been a real story? The police say they never received this, so it's another reason why people believe Lois Taylor is one who really killed Bobby.
-The body could have already been in the apartment. Dorian had moved 10 blocks to this new apartment and she may have just accepted her mummified roommate because she didn't want the police to assume she did it. The medical examiner said the body could have been dead for 1 to 25 years. Due to the varying states of mummification and decomposition, it was too difficult to pin down an actual timeframe.
-Some people wonder if Bobby tried to break in to Dorian's apartment and she shot him in self-defense. She lived in a rough area with lots of crime and it makes sense that she would have a gun for protection. One of Dorian's friends, Topaz, stated that Dorian had purchased a 22 pistol from her. This was an unlicensed gun that was used in a previous murder, they needed to get rid of the gun. Dorian was a black dragqueen, would the police buy a home invasion/self-defense story, even if it was true? Several sources say there was a note with the body that said, “This poor man broke into my home and was trying to rob me.” Investigators do not have this note, so someone made it disappear if that's the case. If Bobby was trying to break in, I'd be curious to know why he was only wearing boxers.
-A friend of Dorian's claimed that she confessed to the murder on her death bed, while she was heavily medicated. The police interviewed this friend and nothing came of it.
-Dorian Corey and Bobby Worley may have been in a relationship. Dorian's doorman said that the two of them were together, he saw him going to the apartment and he said that he abused Dorian. Maybe a fight broke out and she had to defend herself?
This case is unsolved.