An interview with “Project Runway” alum Jack Mackenroth
And so, heeeeeeere’s Jack!
Jack Mackenroth was a contestant on season 4, and if you recall his dramatic departure after contracting a staph infection, you’ll also remember his challenge win right before. Since Season 4, Jack has been busy, to say the least. He was kind enough to take the time to let me check in on his recent doings.
hometown: Bellevue, WA
current place of residence: Harlem, NY
favorite TV shows: “The Biggest Loser,” “So You Think You Can Dance,” “Glee”
favorite food: french fries
greatest inspirations/ designers: Alexander McQueen, Diane Von Furstenberg
greatest inspiration/person: my mom
favorite movie: Moulin Rouge, The Hunger
wardrobe essential: Levis
never leave home without: my iPhone
mantra: “Life is just an adventure. Live it.”
Full disclosure: We were in the same class in high school. Was high school as traumatic for you as it was for me? Taking the classic “cafeteria table” categories, which group would you sit with?
I think my high school experience was MUCH worse that yours. Being the only obviously gay guy in a class of 120 was brutal. I was pushed or punched in the halls virtually every day. I won’t name names but there was a group of guys that tormented me on a daily basis. They know who they are. Good times. Because of that I ended up siting with the “alternative kids.” We all wore black and had crazy haircuts and smoked in between classes.
Did you have design aspirations back in the day? What was your ’80s aesthetic?
Well, because I was an outcast I wore mostly black and considered myself “new wave”. I wore an oversized army jacket with “The Cure” and “Depeche Mode” written on the back in black marker. I can even recall the number of bad haircuts I sported back then.
You were a contestant on Season Four of “Project Runway,” and had to leave because of a staph infection. You had just won the menswear challenge. Does that still haunt you, or have you moved on?
I’ve totally moved on.
Are you still in touch with the Season Four gang? Tim Gunn? Judges?
Yeah, I still talk to Christian Siriano, and Kevin Christiana and Kit Pistol (now Scarbo) are two of my closest friends. I’m in touch with a few others tho not as close. There is a common misconception that we get to hang out with Tim and the judges. So not true. I see Tim at fashion shows and events but I don’t call him up and hang out on the weekends. They are all extremely kind when I do see them. During filming we were so busy working we didn’t really have time to get to know them that well.
Have you been watching this season? What’s your reaction? Favorites? Anyone you wanted to see punted off? Any fave garments this season? Ones you wanted to set fire to?
HAHA!! I still watch the show although Im not as addicted to it as I used to be. I find this season a bit boring. I think back to our season and there were so many amazing designers right from the beginning. No one designer really stands out this season. I think Irina is pretty good. I really liked Ra’mon Lawrence but he got the boot for that god awful lizard get-up. I think Logan was really not talented at all but they kept him around because he was handsome. Everyone else is sort of a snore.
You have a lot of projects going on right now–okay, that’s kind of an understatement. What career path are you on these days, and what’s closest to your heart?
You are right. My life is a hot mess in a good way. I’m working on 4 different TV shows. One design show pilot has already been shot and I start shooting two others on Thursday. The fourth is in pre-production talks. I host a radio show every Sunday at 9 EST on www.blogtalkradio.com/poziam. I also am the East Coast correspondent for Fashionnewslive.com so I cover all the fashion shows in New York. I write fashion commentary for Star magazine as well. I also work in partnership with Merck on an amazing HIV education campaign called Living Positive by Design. They are all important to me for different reasons. It’s all just part of life’s fabulous adventure.
I read that you won a Michael Phelps-like amount of medals in swimming at the recent OutGames in Denmark last summer. What events do you swim, and how often are you able to train?
Yeah. I won 8 medals, 2 gold, 4 silver and 2 bronze. Because of my crazy ass life I have to set aside blocks of time to train. I happened to have 3 fairly light months leading up to the games so I was able to swim about 2 hours a day. Plus I weight train every day anyway.
As an openly gay man with HIV, what is your biggest pet peeve about people’s misconceptions with HIV status?
My biggest pet peeve about the whole HIV situation is the stigma and moral judgement that accompany HIV+ status. The stigma prevents people from being open and honest and that leads to the spread of the disease because people are scared to get tested and are not honest with people around them.
Are you in a relationship? There was some buzz a while back that you were involved with “Top Chef” contestant Dale Levitski. Still on? Or is life too busy to be in a relationship right now?
Well I’m dating but my life is so busy right now anyone who would want to date me would have to understand that I’m really busy. Right now I have to put my work first.
How do you describe yourself: designer, model, activist, blogger, Jack of All Trades? What’s next, world domination? Where do you see yourself, your career taking you, ten years from now?
I am a fashion designer/HIV activist/TV and radio host and producer. I have no idea where I will be ten years from now. I would have never predicted all this for myself ten years ago. That’s for sure.
You’ve gotten to rub elbows with some serious celebrities since your “Project Runway” appearance. Most memorable or surprising? Do tell!
HMMMM. Well I got to sit in the front row of the Patricia Field fashion show with the entire cast of Ugly Betty. (except America–apparently no one likes her.) I was sandwiched between Vanessa Williams, Ana Ortiz, Becki Newton and Judith Light. The were all so amazing and fabulous. Judith is a legend. Also I was at Bravo’s A-list awards and Magaret Cho came up to me and told me she thought I was fabulous. I almost peed. I’ve had a couple run-ins with Janice Dickinson. She is a drunken, sloppy mess.
Do you think you’ll ever come to a high school reunion? Wouldn’t you just love to walk into the room and watch our classmates (I can think of a few specifically) react? I mean, come on. You’re like the David. We’re all pasty and lumpy, and you’re putting us to shame. You didn’t invent Post-Its, did you?
HAHAHAH!! I went to our 5 year reunion. At the time I had just come back from modeling in Milan and I wanted to rub it in their faces. Now I honestly couldn’t care less. However if I did attend I would fly in onto the quad in my private helicopter.
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