In addition to painting Wendy Williams to perfection every day for her talk show (how you doin?!), Merrell Hollis has worked with Naomi Campbell, Mary J. Blige, Vivica A. Fox, Usher, Monica, Faith Evans and P. Diddy.
He first heard about the job with Wendy when a friend of a friend found out Williams was looking for a makeup artist for her then-new talk show. She threw Merrell’s hat in the ring. “Wendy was trying out different people,” Hollis says. “We ended up kiki-ing on the first day, and I ultimately got the job.”
It wasn’t long before he became Wendy’s favorite gay and an official member of her glam squad. The squad goes everywhere with Wendy, but last weekend she joined Hollis, walking with him at AIDS Walk New York.
Wendy has been giving you plenty of shout-outs on the air lately. How did you feel when she wished you a happy birthday and held up your headshot?
Like any gay man over 30, I hate celebrating my birthday. Everyone in the studio kept it a secret from me all day, so I was totally taken back, but honored and in tears. It was a huge surprise!
She considers you her “gay.”
She calls me her “pocket gay.” It’s kind of funny, everyone I work with puts that title on me now. I guess that makes me really gay, huh?
No gayer than you doing runway in Wendy’s pumps on a recent “After the Show” webisode.
Yes, Wendy and I do kiki like that all the time. I sometimes forget that she’s my boss because we have so much fun with each other. She loves to hear about all my shenanigans: the guys I meet, the drama that’s always going down. She is truly the big sister I always wanted.
We love that Wendy is such a strong supporter of the gay community.
Wendy is a huge supporter of the gay community. That’s one of the many things I love about her, too. She attended the OUT 100 with me this year. We had a great time, plus the open bar was a definite plus.
You guys also did the AIDS Walk New York together last weekend.
I walk every year I can, and in years I cannot, I always raise money for it. This year was the first time Wendy and I walked together, and it was so much fun for a great cause!
Is it hard to maintain a normal life when you work and hang out with TV’s hottest talk show hostess?
Not really. I’ve always worked with high-profile celebs, so at this point, I’m kinda used to it. The difference with Wendy is that she is a gay icon, so I can’t be as bad as I used to be. And because I’m on the show, people are starting to recognize me. Oy!
Does Wendy allow you total creative control of her look?
For the most part, I have complete creative control, which I love. Wendy knows that I’ve been in this game for a while, and she trusts that I have her best interest at heart. Sometimes I do try to sneak in a few runway looks on her, but she doesn’t mind.
How long does it take to get her made up for the show?
It takes me about 30 minutes usually, but there are days I have her face completely beat out in 10 minutes, lashes and all. I have her down to a science.
Tell us something about Wendy that we would be surprised to know.
She is truly a 1950s traditional wife. She bakes and crafts. She is active in the PTA. I think if Wendy were not in the limelight, she would be perfectly happy being a housewife and soccer mom.
Gotta ask – are you single?
I’m actually not dating anyone, but I’m totally game! Do you have anyone in mind for me?
– By Marc Appel
Photos by: www.wendyshow.com