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Flawless Sabrina (1939–2017)

Activist, actress, drag legend, and psychic Flawless Sabrina, also known as Jack Doroshow, “flew away to be with her angels” on November 18, according to artist Zackary Drucker. Sabrina was seventy-eight years old.

She was a central figure of the New York queer community. From 1959 to 1969, Sabrina organized a series of drag pageants across the United States. Frank Simon’s documentary The Queen (1968) captures her in the midst of one of these events, handling broken hearts and explosive tempers with the grace and aplomb of the chicest mother superior.

And, indeed, Sabrina was a superior Mother—a hard-earned honorific—as she was a guide and mentor to countless queer youths for decades, including Drucker. The artist, along with Rhys Ernst, featured her in their 2012 film She Gone Rogue, which was on view at the Whitney Biennial in 2014. Drucker and Ernst also arranged for Sabrina to give tarot readings from her Upper East Side sanctuary for the exhibition. Further, Drucker, along with writer Diana Tourjée, helped cofound the Flawless Sabrina Archive, a source that “will be used to incite intergenerational discourse for the benefit of current movements in the arts and politics,” as the Flawless Sabrina website states.

Sabrina was famous for many things, perhaps most of all her generosity, good humor, and warmth. Artforum’s Rhonda Lieberman paid her a visit during the Biennial for a tarot reading and noted in a Diary entry: “It was a lovefest as soon as I was ushered in by her attentive (thirtysomething?) boyfriend Curtis, who was heating up lunch, and within two minutes I wanted Sabrina to adopt me. ‘You’re a child!’ She held out her arms for a hug—and I loved the reading already—and the beneficent lighting. She sported the aforementioned psychedelic leggings, layered shirts, a metallic streak of gold on her scarf, and a fedora over her un-bewigged head. She looked frail, feisty, and focused. It was clear this was a warm person determined to leave me feeling good about myself: I'll take it!”