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—Pray Tell

Pray Tell, or familially known as Prayerful, is an emcee in the Ball scene, a member of the Masters of Ceremony Council, and a father figure to the children of ballroom, alongside a guidance for the House of Evangelista. A man that witnessed the repeated tolls of the HIV epidemic, he soon learns that he is diagnosed as HIV-positive, having to adjust his life while mourning his lovers' passings and getting support from his sister Blanca Rodriguez.

He finds a new hope through activism, brought to an ACT UP gathering by nurse Judy Kubrak. Pray Tell also loses himself in an unusual affair with a younger man after supporting him through his newest revelation of being HIV-positive.


This article or section should be expanded.

Early Life

Pray Tell, or Prayerful, was born and raised in Pittsburgh by his mother Charlene and her first husband. During his development, he was physically abused by his father for his effeminate demeanor in an effort to "fix" him. After his death and his mother's marriage to a second man, Pray suffered from sexual molestations from his stepfather Ernest at night despite his efforts to find help from Charlene.[3]

Into his teenhood, he sung in the local church his family regularly attended. He meets and falls for another young man named Vernon Jackson, the two sharing an intimate kiss unknowingly in the presence of his aunt Latrice. In his early adulthood, he snuck out at night to visit the New York City ballroom scene before returning in the dawn. During one night, he chose to leave his hometown for good to stay in the bigger city. Pray also attempted to persuade Vernon to join him in his escape to be with him over the church but was abandoned at the bus stop.[4]

Blanca's Diagnosis

to be added[5]

Christmas Dinner

Invited to Apartment 306 for the holiday dinner, Pray questioned Lil Papi's intentions with the wrapped gifts under the tree, requesting that he dropped it from his hand. A moment later, he, alongside the other boys, ran to the kitchen, seeing Blanca and Angel toss a burning turkey out the window and laughed the situation away.

House Evangelista decided to take to an open Chinese restaurant for their dinner. The group chose to open their presents first before eating, Pray gifted a camera from Blanca.[6]

Family Intervention

During the balls, Pray had the DJ repeatedly play Love Is The Message between categories, which prompted Blanca to invite him for dinner with the House. Notably drunk, he presented aggressively, attacking and insulting the children before being intervened by Blanca; he soon explained his grief over Costas Perez's condition in the hospital, informing them that he was dying of the virus before barking that they leave him alone.[7]

Costas' Final Wishes

A Promise

to be added[7]

A Change in Tune

to be added[7]

House Showdown

to be added[8]

Lovers' Quarrel and Memorial

This article or section is in need of a rewrite.

After a time, Pray Tell and Keenan Howard grew apart, ending their relationship. Learning of his passing from pneumonia by others within the community, he, accompanied by Blanca Evangelista, visited Hart Island where his body was buried. The two view a potter's field that was being created for a mass grave of other victims of the virus before walking to wooded area, Pray placing a stone marked with Keenan's name, among the thousands, and saying a prayer.[9]



to be added[9]

Public Shame

Pray Tell emceed the balls, the category being French Revolution. After witnessing Candy and Lulu's display as French maiden peasants, his eyes, with the judges and the audience, gazed their eyes on House Evangelista's Elektra dubbed as a high class French queen who mistreats her servants and is sent to the guillotine. Growing upset as the display went on, Pray Tell announces for the music to shut off and the audience to silence themselves, the emcee questioning Elektra's lack of atendance at a recent protest at St. Patrick's.[9]

Friend Intervention

to be added[10]

Grievances and Revelations

Missing Candy

to be added[10]

Funeral Service

to be added[10]

Dinner and Change of Heart

to be added[10]


Jarring Collapse

Pushing through another ball, Pray Tell stood at the stage, critiquing the participants of the category. As he announced plans for the annual AIDS cabaret, he continued to sweat, experienced dizziness, and ultimately passed out onto the stage, Blanca Evangelista and others rushing to his side to aid him. He was rushed to Roosevelt Hospital.[3]


To be added[3]

Third Cabaret

To be added[3]

Vogue Nails Protest

To be added[3]

Deep Alcoholism and Rehabilitation

to be added[11]

Forgiveness at Home

to be added[4]

Final Moments

Ballroom Performance

to be added[2]

Death and Legacy

to be added[2]


to be added



In his early childhood, Pray Tell suffered physical abuse from his biological father for his homosexuality and interests in expressing femininity. When his mother remarried, he experienced an incestuous sexual assault under the cover of night by his stepfather Ernest.

  • Charlene: to be added
  • Latrice and Jada: Pray's relationship to his aunts are strained respectively. For Latrice, Pray's sexuality was heavily criticized and disregarded, treated as a sin that she wished to pray away in the Church. For Jada, he held limited resentment towards her, though she apologizes for her inactions during his childhood molestation by his stepfather. After his relevation of his HIV-status and the time spent in Pittsburgh, he forgives them, expresses his love for them each, and, with Jada's help, prepares a will in which he is cremated and has his ashes placed in lockets for his loved ones to keep and wear in his moment, the remainder of the ashes placed in a urn for Blanca Evangelista.


Pray Tell has mentioned that he has been unable to become romantically invested in his boyfriends, as every one has become a victim of the virus and passed.

  • Vernon Jackson: In his early youth, Pray struck a romantic venture with Vernon, a member in his church, though his Aunt Latrice greatly disproved. The two engaged in secret of the community but soon drifted apart when he made the decision to move to New York City. Thuogh Vernon has since renounced his homosexuality and is married to their long-time mutual friend Ebony, with whom he had children, he pushes to be with Pray despite the protests but does not go through with abandoning his new life for the remaining time with Pray.
  • Corey: Pray mentions previously dating Corey some time before his passing due to AIDS complications.
  • Costas Perez: In his final hour of his life, Pray promised Perez that he would pour out all his grief for his boyfriend before pursuing the remainder of his life searching for new love and being happy in his memory. Having his body cremated, Pray planned to have Perez's ashes placed around the city, as he had enjoyed window shopping.
  • Keenan Howard: After the passing of Perez, Pray tries to enter a new relationship post-diagnosis of his positive status. During the date, he confesses this detail to his partner, who requested to know of any inquiries that could be done to aid him. Pray and Keenan hold a budding, romantic connection. After a year together, the two men separated. Pray Tell, with Blanca by his side, would visit a potter's field where Keenan's body is presumed to have been buried. Pray expressed sadness about Keenan's death, especially about how he died alone in his apartment and no one found him for weeks.
  • Ricky Wintour: Unlike many of his previous lovers, Pray Tell was wooed by Ricky after learning of his status and attempting to teach him how to manage his illness. After one night of intimacy, the two initiate a relationship. When he becomes public about the relationship between the Emcee Council, they expressed support, but when it is revealed to Blanca and Elektra, he is given great ridicule and demands to end the relationship due to morals and fears of manipulating the young man's feelings. Although they did remain together, their relationship becomes increasingly toxic due to Pray's alcoholism with Ricky ending up leaving Pray and moving in with Elektra. When Ricky develops a wound on his chest due to AIDS, Pray covertly gives Ricky his medication from the medical trial he was participating in, ultimately leading to Pray's death.


  • Ebony Jackson: Pray Tell established a close relationship with Ebony in their teenhood, regularly gossipping to her about his endeavors with Vernon Jackson. Years later, he learns that she and Vernon are married with three daughters. Despite knowing of her husband's past relations, she confesses that she has been unable to engage him sexually and pleads for Pray to teach her in pleasuring him.
  • Blanca Rodriguez: Pray Tell tends to Blanca in a maturing and often fatherly manner. Since meeting with her, the two have shared their fare of secrets and try to guide one another through their respective livelihoods.
  • Elektra Evangelista: Pray and Elektra's relationship is particularly complicated. Although rooted in mutual respect for one another, they are both critical of one another and often butt heads. Pray frequently accosts and shames Elektra's behavior like not showing up to Act Up's church protest. When talking to his aunt Jada about his will, he makes it clear to his aunt that the "tall, bossy bitch" named Elektra will get nothing for being a pain in his ass for all these years although Blanca remarks that "he was just kidding" and gives Elektra a necklace filled with some of his ashes.
  • Damon Richards and Lil Papi: Between the two boys in the House of Evangelista, Pray Tell, like much of the ballroom community, acts as a paternal figure to them, providing advice and support for each of them.
  • Judy Kubrak: During his final visits to Costas Perez at Roosevelt Hospital, Pray, though initially nasty and emotional, struck an acquintance with the ward nurse Judy. The two construct a caberat for the HIV/AIDS patients that rested in the wing, with help from Blanca.
  • Lemar Khan: While their relationship was not explored prior to the establishment of the House of Khan beyond Pray's remarks about Lemar and Cubby being house-hoppers, their relationship became extremely negative in the wake of Cubby's death when Pray punches Lemar in response to Lemar's seeming indifference to his own brother's death. However, they patched up their relationship for Angel and Papi's wedding, presumably also because of Pray's prognosis.
  • Cubby Wintour: Even though their relationship was not explored much beyond Pray's remarks about Cubby and Lemar's frequent hopping between houses, Pray was devastated at Cubby's death and angrily accosted Lemar for not being with Cubby during his last days.


  • Candy Ferocity: Pray Tell and Candy have held an antagonistic relationship between them since her failed attempt at walking a body category. The interactions between the two continued to fester whenever Candy walked a new category, Pray Tell ridiculing her attempts at performing in categories from body to dancing and voguing categories. During one incident, a judge and Candy came to a physical confrontation, while another came after rejecting to add a lip sync category for the balls. In death, he explained that he projected his envies of being a free and brave Black femme queen onto Candy, who was able to express herself more than he could.



Behind the Scenes

  • Due to Billy Porter's audition tape for his role in the series, Ryan Murphy made changes to the character to fit the actor; according to the casting director Alexa L. Fogel, Porter's character was originally a costume designer based on a person from the documentary Paris is Burning before being rewritten into an emcee of the balls.[14]