As the coronavirus continues to capture most of our attention these days, it has slowed so many of us down in our everyday routine. There are those in the entertainment field who earn some or most of their income by performing for live audiences. Many have taken to social media to continue their craft and show their talents. It is still not the same; there is nothing like a live audience to perform in front of. The adrenaline and high that our local entertainers get from their audience fuels these performers. We are extremely fortunate to have so many talented individuals especially in the San Diego LGBTQ+ community, such as singers, dancers, Drag Queens, musicians, actors and even great event emcees. As the coronavirus begins to (hopefully) slow down and our cities, states and country in general starts to reopen, hopefully our entertainers will also get the opportunity to go back to work. I think so many of us miss live entertainment with an audience — we are waiting for their return to the stage. When that time comes again, make sure you get a seat, so you do not miss the show.
One entertainer who has made a name for himself here in San Diego and especially in the LGBTQ+ community is Marvin Garcia, (stage name Pho King), an incredibly talented and energetic dancer who has probably danced on every stage that has had a show or major event — you name it and he has danced on it. The first thing you see when Marvin approaches you is his big and bright smile on his handsome, attractive face. There is no way you can overlook his masculine, in-shape body and how he makes you feel so comfortable with his sincere kindness when you are with him. Marvin has a heart of gold and has used the last 13 years of his life teaching as a special education specialist. After graduating, Marvin — with his degrees in Liberal Studies and Dance (minor) — decided to go into the field of education because he loves working with kids. Marvin applied to various districts and got accepted into the San Diego Unified School District. His work and dedication to teaching and nurturing got him noticed and was honored with the Classified Employee of the Year Award from his current school, Lindbergh Schweitzer Elementary. This award meant so much to Marvin. He told me, “My true reward is knowing that I am a positive part of their lives, having the privilege to work so closely with my kids and getting them ready for the real world as much as I possibly can. I love all my kids; in fact, they make me the better person just from what I learn from them every day. I am very blessed to do what I love.”
Marvin has lived in San Diego for the last 25 years, so yeah, after 20 years he feels like a native. His father was in the Navy (thank you to your Dad for serving this great country) and was stationed in Norfolk, Virginia. Then his mother went to nursing school, worked, and studied hard to becoming a registered nurse (thank you to your Mom as a first responder.) Finally, he moved to San Diego, California, which he now calls his home.
One just never knows what our lives have to offer and what we’re willing to accept as we grow as human beings. We learn and meet so many people as we get comfortable in our surroundings and build friendships in the process. It is our friends sometimes that will include us in things and opportunities that could change our lives hopefully for the better. That is actually what happened with Marvin. A good friend of his needed new team members to play in the Ultimate Gay Frisbee League he was a member of and invited him to join, which Marvin did. The interesting part was that the league was in Los Angeles, not here in San Diego. The team he joined was called Yellow Fever and considered the most congenial of the all the teams in the league, because even though they were not the best, they were the most spirited. Marvin never thought in a million years he would meet his soul partner, Nelson, on this new adventure he had embarked on. Nelson and Marvin locked eyes on each other the entire day that they spent on and off the field. After that day, they continued to see each other by traveling to a location between the two of them since he lived in Los Angeles and Marvin lived in San Diego. Therefore, the best solution they came up with was to meet in Anaheim. Marvin got very clever because he really was falling for Nelson, so what better way to have an excuse to get to spend time together than to buy season passes to Disneyland, which included both parks. This began what has become so many fond memories they both have shared together. One trip he knew was a test of their new relationship was the time Nelson’s car broke down. They decided to spend the day at the park while his car was being fixed so he could get back to Los Angeles. Marvin told me, “I knew then we could battle through life together” and they have. Three years after being together as a couple, they decided to live together in San Diego. It was definitely a challenge for both of them to understand each other even more, they went through so many adversities that they were willing to confront them together head on and learn how to help each other in a more compassionate way. Now, eight years later, they are so synergistically connected far beyond what they ever expected and excited for new journeys together.
Marvin loves to dance and has put his college dance minor to exceptionally good use over the years. In fact, during his college years, he started as a hip-hop teacher at various dance studios in San Diego, including University California San Diego’s (UCSD) old Recreation, Intramural, and Athletic Complex (RIMAC) Arena. He was even part of a nonprofit hip-hop dance troupe called Urban FX. As Marvin would put it, he has dabbled in a little bit of burlesque when San Diego had its all-male boylesque troupe called The Tom Cats directed by Prince Charming. However, his burlesque career did not really take off until renowned Drag entertainers Kickxy Vixen Styles and Regina Styles started the House of Styles Show seven years ago at Club Numbers on Park Avenue. The group would backup dance for the Drag Queens and even get to perform their solos in front of an amazing crowd. Five years after the show, Kickxy started the all-male boylesque troupe Diamond Dogs at The Rail and Marvin even helped produced the show for two years when it was at the fabulous Merrow. Marvin currently is expanding his stage name Pho King to the world in hopes to help expand more Asian representation to the burlesque community.
It is not uncommon to see Marvin taking time out of his already busy schedule to work with the Imperial Court de San Diego, where he volunteers his time with the Drag Queens that are performing as backup dancers for certain causes around the community. It does not just stop there: He makes it a point to give his time to Sports for Exceptional Athletes, where he helps out athletes with capabilities that hinder them and is there to provide and service their performance level. On occasion, you will even find both Marvin and Nelson volunteering as a couple to many other causes as well.
I personally am so glad I met Marvin and Nelson at that Gay Pride so many years ago walking down the street after the parade had ended. Ever since, we have remained good friends. In fact, I have had the privilege of working with him on a few photoshoots over the last several years. He is always 100% professional and so easy and fun to work with. Marvin is very happy his family moved those many years ago to San Diego. As he puts it, “I love it here. It’s paradise, not just for the weather, but for the people I love and care for that are in my life, my work, and what I can do to give back to my community and the love I get to share with the man I love.” Those who know Marvin know and love how adventurous he is. He has become a staple in our LGBTQ+ community with his high energy, kindness, and willingness to be involved to better not only his own life but the world he lives in. So, thank you Marvin for making the rest of us feel like we also live in paradise by following your lead.
You can follow Marvin on his Instagram @PhoKing