Atlantaboy interview. Good times

Jack Mackenroth

We sat down to talk with Project Runway: Season 4’s Jack Mackenroth about Wednesday night’s Project Runway: Season 5 finale, making a dress out of condoms, and his upcoming Living Positive by Design event in Atlanta.

What did you think of the Project Runway finale last night?

I was doing an event in San Francisco, so I didn’t get to see the whole thing. But I was in the tents at Bryant Park for the finale, and I thought it was great. I knew Leanne would win before the show aired; it was clear. I’m not sure how they edited it, but it was clear throughout the whole show that she would win. If she hadn’t won I would have been like, “are you kidding me?” But I also kind of think they knew who they wanted to win. I mean it’s reality TV.

Do you keep in touch with Christian Siriano? You two seemed close on the show.

I do — Victoria showed her collection in New York recently and we were there for that. His life is so ridiculous. I mean my life is ridiculous right now; I can only imagine what his is like. We had a long time between filming last season and when the finale aired, so we hung out and went out all the time. But when he won his life totally transformed; he just doesn’t have any time right now. Our entire cast was really great. I’m still close with a lot of them.

Do you think it was fair that Tim Gunn filled in for guest judge Jennifer Lopez?

I didn’t have a problem with it. He’s really objective and doesn’t really get close to anyone until after the show is over. We only see him during filming. Apparently J-Lo canceled like 25 minutes before she was supposed to show up. She claimed it was her ankle but then ran a triathlon a few days later! I just don’t think they had a back up plan. When Heidi came out it was clear she was really irritated. She’s one of the executive producers so I’m sure she was pissed.

Tell us about this condom dress you recently designed?

It was for this event in San Francisco I’m at called Project Inform. They wanted to spice it up this year by having a fashion show, so everyone had to make an outfit out of condoms. I don’t know what I was thinking — I was glue gunning for like two and a half days! I’m also allergic to latex; I use polyurethane condoms in case anyone wants to know. They had to send the dress from New York City to San Francisco — but no one thought about the fact that the condoms were lubricated — they ended up looking like a huge mess of cherry flavored lube! It was hilarious; the most ridiculous undertaking. I was like, “I don’t ever want to see a glue gun or a condom again!”

Jack Mackenroth What are you going to Atlanta for?

It’s going to be super fun! This is the second leg of my Living Positively by Design tour. I’m flying to Atlanta today then tomorrow at the W Atlanta-Midtown we’re having a fun cocktail party with a DJ and open bar on Friday from 7 – 9 p.m (October 17th). We launched the program at the U.S. Conference on AIDS in Ft. Lauderdale, so we’re meeting new people at different events. It’s light and informal but we’re also having Dr. Jeffrey Stephens from Mercer University speak — we’re talking about fighting the stigma of HIV and AIDS. Then on Sunday I’m leading the Living Positive by Design team for AIDS Walk Atlanta with a group of community supporters.

Have you been to Atlanta before?

I actually lived in Atlanta in 1999 for a year, right behind the Kroger on Ponce! My ex-boyfriend at the time is now a monk in a monastery. I’m not kidding. We lived in a restored high school. People talk about how bad Ponce is, but it was actually a lot of fun. I have a lot of friends in Atlanta and can’t wait to get back.

Jack Mackenroth Why is the Living Positive by Design program so important?

I was openly HIV positive on Project Runway, so that kind of drew the partnership between myself and Merck. Unfortunately, there are so few people in the media who are open about their HIV status. It’s a personal choice and that’s great, but I’m trying to be open and honest about it. It’s just a disease, so we’re trying to fight the stigma of being judgmental about it. We’re advocating people taking appropriate steps to actively and proactively manage the disease by partnering with a doctor they feel comfortable with and getting blood work done on a regular basis. Maintaining an undetectable viral load is crucial.

What are some things that HIV patients should watch out for when it comes to treatment?

Everyone responds different to medication. You need to be aware of how you’re feeling and that’s why the relationship with your doctor is so crucial. I’ve been really lucky, but I’ve heard horrible stories about side effects. Just know that there are tons of different treatment options so that shouldn’t keep people from seeking treatment.

Jack Mackenroth Why is this program so relevant to Atlanta?

It’s relevant to people everywhere, not just Atlanta. There is a huge African American population in Atlanta, and that is one of the fastest growing HIV populations. But HIV infects everyone.

What advice do you have for HIV patients living in Atlanta?

If you’re newly diagnosed, don’t freak out. Everyone goes through the experience of “what does this mean for my life?” Realize that there are a lot of treatment options out there. Talk to an HIV specialist who knows what he or she is talking about. As you get more comfortable, talk to people like friends and family about it because that’s how you’ll get support.

What are you working on now?

I’m pitching a new show with Kevin Christiana from my season — he was the only straight guy — to some networks in LA and New York. Then I’m doing an event called the Chocolate Show and the theme is superheroes, so I have to make a Wonder Woman costume out of over 40% chocolate. Jaslene Gonzalez from Next Top Model is my model. She’s truly fierce, so it’s going to be fabulous!

before chocolate

before chocolate

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