Rayceen Pendarvis is an emcee, entertainer, activist, SWERV magazine columnist, former ANC Commissioner, and lifelong Washingtonian. Over the years, Pendarvis has hosted numerous fundraisers, pride festivals, arts festivals, talent showcases, fashion shows, balls, and other events. Furhermore, the Queen of the Shameless Plug frequently moderates panels and appears as a panelist at various conferences dealing with social justice and LGBTQ equality. In addition to a regular column in SWERV, Pendarvis also has written articles for Tagg, Unite Virginia, and TUV magazines.
The Goddess of DC has been honored by the community many times over the past several years, including awards from NYC’s Latex Ball, The DC Center for the LGBT Community, Casa Ruby, Empowerment Liberation Cathedral Church, and the Community Church of Washington, DC. In 2016, Capital Pride selected Pendarvis to be a recipient of the Heroes Award and appear in the annual Capital Pride Parade.
Later that year, despite not being ordained or ministering in a traditional capacity, Pendarvis was voted Best Clergy in the Washington Blade’s 2016 Best of Gay DC Awards. A tireless advocate, promoter, and champion of various causes, Pendarvis has earned the monikers “Queen of the Shameless Plug” and the “Goddess of DC.”
Rayceen Pendarvis can be seen regularly as the host of The Ask Rayceen Show, a free, monthly, live event on first Wednesdays (March-November) in DC. In addition to live music, show segments include panel discussions, interviews, competitions, improv comedy, and audience participation games. All are welcome and admission is always FREE.
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The professional career of Rayceen Pendarvis is one that constantly grows and evolves with each new endeavor. Although well known as an openly gay emcee, activist, entertainer, writer, entrepreneur, and so much more, Pendarvis is never interested in limiting professional career boundaries or creative reach. Despite this, “the Earthmother of the Gays” is also very conscious of not abandoning the basic moral integrity that has become the foundation of a meaningful life's work. For this reason, the consciously minded equality advocate has repeatedly refused financially lucrative projects that did not uphold positive values for the LGBT community, or society at large. Only creative ventures that are deemed uplifting and non-stereotypical are given the green light from the Pendarvis camp. This ensures that each new undertaking and every new avenue explored will be represented in the most admirable way. It's especially important since most of the people and causes that Pendarvis is passionate about are greatly undeserved.
With a heartfelt mission and clearly defined goals on the agenda, Pendarvis looks back on a body of work that resonates with meaningful intent. With a strong moral compass to guide the way, and a genuine heartfelt sense of advocacy, Pendarvis declares “I think it's important that you make the time that you're born and the time that you die and the dash in between account for something.” Indeed, Pendarvis is continuously working to make his “dash” in life, a throughly meaningful one!
Below are highlights of the many career endeavors Pendarvis has proudly taken on during the course of an amazing career.
Rayceen Pendarvis is probably best known as a professional emcee more than all other career achievements combined. Throughout the past several decades the "Goddess of DC" has hosted a wide-variety of local and regional events (most notably The Ask Rayceen Show), and continues to remain an in-demand and extremely active emcee. Furthermore, Pendarvis is also frequently commissioned to serve as a panelist or judge for several community forums, balls, pageants, and more, throughout the metro Washington, DC, area and beyond.
Below are highlights of the many social gatherings the veteran master of ceremonies has had a prominent association with throughout a long and successful career.
DC BLACK PRIDE has the distinction of being the first “official” black gay pride event in the United States. Established in 1991, organizers have continuously worked hard to create events that uplift the lives of attendees and adequately acknowledge the progression of the black LGBT community. Each Memorial Day weekend, tens of thousands of people from the DC metropolitan area and beyond descend upon this annual event in order to enjoy the special celebrations, festivals and parties that take place throughout a good portion of the city. Rayceen Pendarvis has volunteered on the DC BLACK PRIDE Board of Directors, and also became a long standing on and off host of the festival's very popular “Health & Wellness” events and various other segments during the course of its long and thriving history.
The huge success of DC BLACK PRIDE eventually inspired the creation of several other black pride celebrations within major cities across the nation. Earl Fowlkes Jr., president and CEO of the Center for Black Equity, which organizes DC Black Pride, states that “there are 33 domestic and seven international Black LGBT Prides, with over 325,000 attending Black Pride events around the United States.” Yet, the concept of a “black” gay pride celebration officially got its start in Washington, DC, which continues to host the biggest, most elaborate and well-attended black pride event within the nation. This unique status is due in part to the DC metroplitan area's nationally recognized distinction as a “black gay mecca”. The large concentration of LGBT residents has also led to more liberal laws throughout the region, giving local gays a degree of freedom and liberty not found elsewhere. All this and more continue to allow DC BLACK PRIDE to reign high above all other black pride events.
This annual fun-filled festival had its genesis in a popular mid-70s community gathering space called the Club House. From 1975 until 1990, the venue became notable for its annual Memorial Day weekend celebrations called the Children's Hour (the word “children” is often used as slang and generally refers to “a gay person”). These events of course would go on for more than an hour, and in fact would usually last all night long. The Children's Hour quickly became an annual institution that could not be missed. Word of mouth spread up and down the East Coast and throughout the country, with people becoming eager to join in on everything happening in DC during Memorial Day weekend. What began as a local highlight, soon became an event attended by people from all over the region.
When the doors of the Club House finally closed in 1990, many feared that the Memorial Day tradition would be lost forever. Three men – Welmore Cook, Theodore Kirkland and Ernest Hopkins - envisioned creating a social event that would continue the long and festive tradition of their beloved Children's Hour. Additionally, the founders also hoped to raise much-needed funds for HIV/AIDS organizations that served the African-American community in Washington, DC and the surrounding areas. This enterprising idea quickly gave birth to the very first Black Gay and Lesbian Pride event. Working to achieve a common goal, the very first celebration was actually a mutual collaboration between the trio, and the DC Coalition of Black Lesbians and Gay Men, and the Inner City AIDS Network.
On May 25, 1991, the very first DC Black Pride (DCBP) day took place on the historic grounds of Banneker Field located on the campus of Howard University. Let's All Come Together" became the official theme for the inaugural festival. Accordingly, hundreds of people from the community and beyond came out to celebrate their unique culture, but this time they also joined forces to help benefit a relevant cause. Host for the event, Rayceen Pendarvis, reflects on the historic moment by stating, “I remember getting the call to emcee on Banneker Field for that [first] Memorial Day weekend. My heart was full because I believed in the vision and knew it was bigger than us.”
The following year, DC Black Pride increased in size and scope by expanding to a weekend-long festival. They also began creating a much larger line-up of events, including a midnight cruise on the Potomac River, a Sunday prayer breakfast and the first Washington film screening of Marlon T. Riggs groundbreaking film Tongues Untied.
More than two decades after the first DC Black Pride drew 800 people for a fun day of comradery and fellowship, an astonishing 100,000 LGBT people of African descent and their allies now celebrate the beauty of a shared community. Accordingly, the event continues to raise awareness and funding for HIV/AIDS prevention in the name and spirit of its founders original mission.Informative, sexy, outrageous, spiritual, and affirmative — DC Black Pride is a full-spectrum experience. Admission to various events will vary (several are free to the public), and special packages and discounts are available for officially sponsored DC Black Pride festivities. The 501(c)(3) organization that oversees the festival and all of its events is Black Lesbian and Gay Pride Day Inc..
SongMaster BGL Cruise is an annual excursion to an array of exotic ports of call throughout various exciting islands. Each year the professional staff of SongMaster Entertainment and Travel plan a variety of fun events that allow guests to experience the maximum enjoyment of a spectacular island vacation.
It's been said that the carefully crafted activities helped to make this the #1 HOTTEST CRUISE LINE for African-American LGBT vacationers. Previous fun-filled events include, a variety show, costume ball, men’s forum, women’s circle, seminars, cocktail parties, karaoke night, talent show and so much more! Yet, that's just the tip of the iceberg. There's still a plethora of activities waiting for travelers at multiple destination islands.
While the overall festivities are specifically catered to the “Same Gender Loving Community”, all friends, family and guests are welcomed to come and unite as one! Mark Harris, the chief organizer for SongMaster, insists that there will always be loads of entertainment for the whole family. Furthermore, these unique excursions are specifically billed as a place “where old friends reunite, new ones are made, love is found, and romance is cultivated.” Harris sums everything up by stating, “I will continue to provide the best cruise experience at competitive prices, utilizing the talent within our community as a clear indication of our rich heritage and pride.”
Topping the list of dynamic talent are the event's ongoing hosts Rayceen Pendarvis and ButtaFlySouL. Together, the “dynamic duo” make sure guests are well entertained. Their unique brand of comedy routinely leaves guests doubled over in laughter. The professional skills they bring help to ensure that everyone returns home with a “boatload” of wonderful memories. In fact, after one trip, Timothy Collins was excited to share his memories on Facebook when he wrote “I want to thank you Rayceen Pendarvis for another great vacation. ..I enjoyed every moment and most of all I ENJOYED YOU and your warmth and your charisma and all the laughter you brought to not only me but all of us on the cruise...LOVE YOU MUCH MOTHA LOVE.”
When you, your family, and friends are ready to ESCAPE TO A FARAWAY ISLAND, come join Rayceen Pendarvis and a ship filled with wonderful people for a one-of-a-kind vacation to remember. Click below or call to book your cruise today!
Phone: 415-922-2916 (Office) | 888-922-2916 (Toll)
Winter Meltdown was once an annual “one-of-a-kind” winter retreat that ultimately aimed to celebrate the tenacious strength and character of LGBTQ people of color. These exclusive getaways came on the heals of Winter Explosion, its hugely popular predecessor which enjoyed a successful 16 year run. Nestled in the heart of the majestic Catskill Mountains (approximately 90 minutes from New York City) organizers aimed to unite people with a wide variety of different backgrounds from within the U.S. and abroad. Their goal was to use this melting pot of cultures as a means that would allow guests to inevitably bridge any societal differences they harbored while also uplifting their professional and spiritual growth.
Conceived by a group of passionate individuals, this four-day weekend getaway typically organized programs that placed a strong emphasis on networking, advocacy, social consciousness, spiritual development, self-empowerment, entertainment, and camaraderie. Guests were treated to this and much more all in a safe and welcoming environment at an impressive Catskill Mountain Resort. According to event organizers, “each program provides a fun and engaging setting, allowing the Winter Meltdown crew to distribute important information while also having a GREAT TIME.” Ultimately, attendees were expected to come and melt away their winter blues within a welcoming and affirming atmosphere!
Traditionally held on Presidents' Day Weekend, event highlights include a beach party, hot body contest, urban talent showcase, poetry slam, card tournaments, pajama party, comedy night, as well as several workshops and seminars to top it all off. On hand to keep the event jumpin' were various performers, top-notch DJ’s, and the super talented co-hosts ButtaFlySouL (a noted author, activist, singer, writer, poet and powerhouse inspirational speaker) as well as the one and only “EARTHMOTHER TO THE GAYS!”, Rayceen Pendarvis!
The annual retreats were an exciting mid-winter party that regulars never wanted to miss and reviews were always raving. After the last Winter Meltdown concluded in 2015, co-organizer C Jay Bennett published a Facebook post which read “Entertainer ButtaFlySouL & Rayceen Pendarvis showed up and showed out! We are FOREVER grateful!” One day earlier, entertainer ButtaFlySouL posted “Thank you to the entire Winter Melt Down family. It was an honor to co-host with Rayceen Pendarvis!!! Thank you to ALL the organizers. C Jay Bennett you are the best!!!" A fitting end to a legacy that will live on in the memories of those who were fortunate to attend.