COVINGTON, Ga. – The “Hollywood of the South” tacked on another film credit when the Netflix original series “Queer Eye” reached out to the Covington Fire Department to make over the Pace Street station's kitchen and dayroom.
According to the production notes provided by Netflix, it has been 15 years since the Emmy Award-winning series “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” aired. The new “Queer Eye” brings a fresh look at the show with a brand new “Fab Five” team. Tan France (fashion), Jonathan Van Ness (grooming), Bobby Berk (interior design), Karamo Brown (culture) and Antoni Porowski (food and wine) let the diversity of the LGBT-community shine.
Covington fire Chief Stoney Bowles said he was in shock when the producers of the show initially reached out to him.
“We’re in the Bible Belt, this is the heart of, in fact, maybe even the buckle of the Bible Belt may be in Covington,” he said. “So I had that moment of ‘Wow, OK,’ but at the same time and this is the language I used with the producer: We are a city that is inclusive, not exclusive and we certainly are as people that make up the Covington Fire Department that’s inclusive and not exclusive and therefore, hey we certainly have some interest in this.”
Bowles said he had two initial concerns when it came to the show based on preference and principle.
“You know, preference is what you can compromise and principles are what you live by and the first one was the preference and it was about public perception. I had concern. You’re in the heart of the Bible Belt, what’s the public perception going to be? And then, of course, I had a principle that we could not have an interruption of service. No matter what they were doing, when people dial those three magic numbers ‘911,’ they want their problem handled and we’re the people that go handle that problem, so we could not have an interruption of our service. That was a principle that we were going to live by,” he said.
Bowles said when he brought the concerns to the Netflix producers, everything was handled with care and he knew the people working on the show and the firefighters in his department would be a good fit. He said, even if the public perception was going to be negative, he knows the hearts of the firefighters in his department.
The episode titled “Hose Before Bros” was released as the Season 1 finale on Feb. 7. It features the transformation of Jeremy Holmes, CFD training chief, and a complete renovation of the fire station’s kitchen and dayroom.
Bowles said CFD had budgeted $35,000 for a kitchen renovation, with the majority of the work being completed by CFD staff. He believes “Queer Eye” ended up spending an estimated $100,000 or more on the complete renovation.
“People don’t understand that our guys come in this morning at 7 and they’re going to get off tomorrow morning at 7. They’re going to eat breakfast in there; they’re going to each lunch in there; they’re going to eat dinner in there,” he said. “This is their home for 24 hours.
“That’s been a home over there since 1985, there’s a very good chance that will be a home over there in the year 2055, you know? For 70 years that has a chance to be a home over there and the next 35 years those guys will enjoy that for years and years.”
Bowles and Holmes said the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. They have even been recognized in public since its airing and other firefighters have been contacted by other shows, media outlets and brands.
Covington Mayor Ronnie Johnston said he was grateful for the show’s selection of the Covington Fire Department.
“I want to thank the ‘Queer Eye’ television show for thinking of Covington and selecting our fire department as the recipient of the renovations,” he said. “We are extremely proud of and thankful for our first responders and are delighted they now have a facility worthy of their high-caliber services. They deserve it.”