Dorian Corey was a drag performer featured in the 1990 documentary Paris is Burning. After Corey’s death, police discovered the body of Robert Whorley among his belongings.
Buddy, this body’s rotten outside in. Man, the stink! Who could’ve forgotten it, mummied-up in shrink wrap and a garment bag in the walk-in closet of New York’s oldest drag queen, where someone tossed it? The detectives were sent to look for a vampire suit, claiming they never meant to rummage into a fire sale of the slum’s faux gaud and fab gowns, self-fashioned shifts and trappings, the haut couture and flaming, smashing spools of tulle. They uncovered this secret of a sacred monster (scam artist, lover, pimp?) sundered wholly naked of most identifying tags: a cocoon that’s mothballed all but the barest tat, as the innards dissolved and even the bone-hard core had been eaten out by more than just its heart. Shadows beyond a doubt, I’ve now unpeeled a print as fragile as a damsel- fly wing. The evidence of nervous fascicles has been stripped, slowly teased from subcutaneous tissue in this case. Greased, with practiced ease, I press the rolled pinpricks across my own gloved fingertips I’ve swathed with inky gloss: such whorls as I’ve encrypted. The details of my technique, you understand, I can’t reveal; they might be leaked and give some thief a hand. Following the slightest threads discovering who’d been the perp, any light I shed saves my skin by thickening the plot. Who doesn’t burn for justice—one swift cut into the flesh, I’ll turn this body open, shut; the mask we all affect comes off in death and if we murder to dissect, to dress well is to live