Atlanta gay firefighter gets makeover on ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars’

Atlanta firefighter Anaré Holmes learns to walk in heels during his Friday appearance on ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars.’ (Photo courtesy Anaré Holmes)

Atlanta Fire and Rescue firefighter Anaré Holmes will trade in his protective gear and heavy boots for a slinky dress, makeup and high heels when he appears Friday on “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars.”

Holmes has been with Atlanta Fire Rescue for more than a decade and is now a department spokesperson and its LGBTQ liaison. When he got the call last year to be on RuPaul’s show, he was ready for a new challenge. He had never done drag, and was a bit surprised about how challenging the experience was.

“I’ve been to a thousand drag shows and I’ve always thought it wasn’t that serious,” he said. “Learning how to dance in heels! You just take for granted because they make it look so effortless, but that [stuff] is no joke!”

For this Friday’s episode streaming on Paramount TV, RuPaul assigned the eight competing queens a makeover challenge — to turn four “courageous firefighters into smoking hot pop stars.”

Each firefighter was assigned two queens for their makeovers and coaching on how to walk and sing and dance. Jorgeous and Plastique Tiara were Holmes’ drag queen mentors.

“We [the firefighters] form a girl group. We write lyrics to a song, then we get together for rehearsals and learn the number, and then we perform it,” Holmes said. “Then the queens are judged on how well they did in preparing us.”

During one moment while filming the show, Plastique asked for a TV paint stick, a heavy foundation, to cover up Holmes’ eyebrows. There was none, so somebody offered the makeup RuPaul uses.

Plastique responded, “But, honey, that is not my technique!” Holmes said. He gave the OK for them to shave his eyebrows to ensure the makeup looked its best.

“I said it wouldn’t be a big deal and my hair would grow back,” he said. “The hair did grow back, but it took about three or four months — I didn’t know that part.”

Holmes said he was often asked at the firehouse and in the community if he was OK because he had no eyebrows. To be on the show, Holmes signed a non-disclosure agreement and could say nothing.

“So I would just tell people, yeah, yeah, I’m OK, I’m just kind of working on a project,” he said.

Working on the show did open Holmes’ eyes about what being a drag queen is. It’s not just catty banter and behind-the-scenes drama.

“There’s a desire to be excellent. There’s a desire to be professional. There’s a desire to really be a master of the craft,” he said. “This is their livelihood. People take it really seriously.”

“RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars” made a $1,000 donation to a nonprofit selected by Holmes. He chose ZAMI NOBLA, an organization committed to building a base of power for Black lesbians over the age of 40 living anywhere in the country.

A viewing party is being held Friday at 7 p.m. at the Atlanta Eagle, 1492 Piedmont Ave., and sponsored by the city of Atlanta’s Division of LGBTQ Affairs and Atlanta Fire Rescue.

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