Today’s NY Post/Auf wiedersehen Project Runway

“After a long process of weighing the pros and cons of returning to Project Runway Season 5, I have decided not to audition again. Though I loved my experience on the show and hope to continue working with Bravo in the future, I really feel that it’s time to start the next chapter of my life. During my short stint on season 4, I was never in the bottom three and I won the menswear challenge, which is my field of expertise, so I feel like I accomplished most of what I started.

I do, however, want to thank all the viewers and vocal fans who have continually voiced their desire to see me back on Season 5. I hope that I haven’t let anyone down, but in the end I came to realize that I could not give up another year of my life. Even my short stint on Project Runway has presented me with so many opportunities ranging from design to television and an area that is closest to my heart, HIV activism. I really couldn’t have asked for more.

I especially want to give thanks to the HIV community, which has been so supportive over the last year. If anything, I hope that I have shown you that it is possible to live successfully with HIV. You have not seen the last of me!

To the next batch of designers on Season 5…sew your hearts out!”

Here’s the article in the Post:

OFF THE ‘RUNWAY’

CONTESTANT WHO LEFT FOR HEALTH REASONS WON’T RETURN

By DEBORAH STARR SEIBEL

May 18, 2008 — Season five of “Project Runway” – coming in July – will be its last on the New York catwalks before the show gets an overhaul by changing networks (Bravo to Lifetime) and locale (New York to Los Angeles). And what will make this last season even more bittersweet is that the one contestant everyone hoped would return – Jack Mackenroth – won’t be on board.

The Harlem-based designer had to exit the “Runway” early last season due to a potentially deadly staff infection. “Bravo said, ‘You certainly can audition again, but there are no promises,'” says Mackenroth, 39, who was hospitalized for five days after leaving in the middle of the fifth challenge.

“To re-audition, I couldn’t have brought the same [clothes]. I would’ve had to make new pieces, which is a huge investment in time and money. In the end, I decided I just couldn’t give up another year of my life.”Bravo hasn’t released the names of the new designers, which begins filming in June. But Mackenroth’s absence will probably be a big disappointment for passionate “Runway” fans.

His story has to be one of the most poignant in the show’s history: After showing great promise by winning the menswear design challenge, Mackenroth entered the sewing room with Tim Gunn and announced that he had a MRSA infection in his nose and would have to quit.

“It was just so scary,” says another season four contestant, Mackenroth’s friend Kit Pistol, recalling his sudden illness. Mackenroth was recently in Los Angeles visiting Pistol, who is the stylist for “Dancing With The Stars” co-host Samantha Harris.

“You’re in this crazy world where you don’t have your cell phone to call home,” says Pistol. “You don’t have your family or close friends and you’re not feeling well. And there’s all this pressure. I know Jack had auditioned [for] season three and then to be accepted [for] season four and not make it through due to health reasons was just crushing.”

But Mackenroth, who is HIV positive, knew he couldn’t take chances. He says, “I’d had this once before, in my leg, and it’s really resistant to antibiotics,” adding that a staff infection is something anyone can get and has no relation to HIV.

“The larger issue,” says Mackenroth, “is that it’s a really contagious bacteria. The producers were trying to make it work. They were going to have a special sewing machine that only I would use. But I was like, ‘Am I going to be selfish and just hope that no one else will get this?'”

So he decided to put his scissors down. “I remember we were standing by the elevators, just before we went in, and Tim was trying to comfort me because I was crying,” says Mackenroth. “And he said, ‘Listen, you’re very talented. Everything happens for a reason.’ And at the time I thought, ‘That’s a load of crap.’ Because at that moment, it didn’t feel that way. But things do happen for a reason. There was an outpouring of support. And a lot of opportunities have come my way.”

Mackenroth has a cameo in the new “Sex & The City” movie. He’s designing a red carpet dress for Heather Tom, a cast member of the soap “The Bold and the Beautiful.” And he’s up for a job with a booming, Tokyo-based, Gap-like company called Uniqlo. “The show was amazing for me,” he says. “For one thing, people answer my phone calls.”

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6 Responses to “Today’s NY Post/Auf wiedersehen Project Runway”

  1. Good luck, Jack! You’ll be fine. Your talent and personality will certainly move you along in life!

  2. Christopher Says:

    Too bad you won’t be back but I think everyone can understand. Stay visible and keep doing what you do, Jack…you rock!!!

  3. Best of luck to you Jack. Though your heart is in the right place, I was really hoping to see more of your (fantastic) work this season 😦

  4. Larry Darrell Says:

    he was one of my favorites from that season. so sad when he had to leave. what a tumultuous episode.

  5. IT’S GOOD TO SEE THAT YOU HAVE SUCH A GREAT, POSITIVE ATTITUDE…HERE’S HOPING THAT MUCH LUCK AND GOOD FORTUNE COMES YOUR WAY,IN ALL OF YOUR TRAVELS, AND IN WHATEVER CHALLENGES YOU FACE IN THE FUTURE…KEEP ON SWIMMIN’ BRO’…MUCH LOVE, AND PEACE, CLIFF.

  6. quiquedeniro Says:

    Good luck Jack Well done. http://quiquedeniro.wordpress.com/

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