Archive for January, 2009

Windy City Times

Posted in The Fierceness on January 28, 2009 by jackmax2

Jack Mackenroth: Swimming to success
by Ross Forman

Gay Games Chicago

Gay Games Chicago


Project Runway’s Jack Mackenroth gears up for this year’s Outgames. Pictured at the 2006 Gay Games in Chicago; Mackenroth with Project Runway’s Christian Siriano ( left ) and Tim Gunn. Photo courtesy of Jack Mackenroth

Jack Mackenroth is set to make his Outgames debut this summer, and he fully intends to duplicate the success he’s had at the last five Gay Games, including the Chicago edition in 2006. He swam to golden memories in each of those Games.

“I really want to win a gold medal,” in Copenhagen, Denmark, said Mackenroth, who will celebrate his 40th birthday April 29.

He will participate in Copenhagen in multiple breaststroke events—his best stroke—including the 50-, 100- and 200-meter breaststroke, and the 50- and 100-meter freestyle.

The swimming competition in Copenhagen will be the biggest single event in the sports program at the 2009 World Outgames, according to organizers. The 2009 International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics ( IGLA ) Championships will be hosted together with the swimming competition at the Outgames. The tournament is arranged in cooperation with IGLA.

“I’m the kind of person who takes my medals and just throws them in a box, but I really want to win one in Copenhagen,” said Mackenroth, who will be competing in the Masters Division for competitors aged 40 to 45. “I feel, at my age, I have to be swimming at least five times per week to maintain good aerobic fitness.

“I’m really committed to the Gay Games because, when I was 20, that was my first experience. I’m very loyal to the Gay Games, but I’m very excited for the Outgames.”

Mackenroth made a name for himself worldwide on the TV show Project Runway. The hunky designer from New York City, who is HIV-positive, had to leave the show early due to a staph infection. But he still has fond memories of the TV spotlight.

“Life is good and I’m really glad I did [ Project Runway ] ,” said Mackenroth, who was a design director at a menswear company before the show. “I’m doing OK, as long as I can pay my mortgage. I don’t care about being a millionaire; that will come later.

“The show worked out OK. I don’t look back with regrets; there’s no point to that. I do wish I could have stayed on longer because I think I could have done well. But I’m totally glad I did it. I made some lifelong friends. I had dinner with [ winner ] Christian Siriano recently. ] I talk to Kevin Christiana almost every day. I talk to Kit [ Pistol ] all the time. I talk to Victorya often. About one-third of the cast, I’m still very friendly with.”

In fact, Mackenroth and Christiana, the lone straight male the season Mackenroth was on, recently pitched a TV show. Mackenroth wrote the concept and was one of the executive producers of the show. Mackenroth also lately has been busy writing for Star Magazine.

In addition, he is touring the nation on behalf of  Merck & Co., Inc., to help promote HIV education. ( Go to for more information on his tour schedule. )

Mackenroth also has had several major photo shoots lately, and acknowledges that naked photos of him are now rampant on the Internet.

“The whole thing about post-reality TV life is, it’s actually hard; you have to really facilitate a lot of your own [ work ] ; you have to make a lot of things happen for yourself,” he said. “If the TV show doesn’t happen, I’ll probably go back and get a regular design job.

“The economy kind of put a wrench in everything. All of my friends who were on the show have felt [ the economic crunch ] . But I’m busy, and I’m happy to be busy, so I cannot complain too much.”

Well, other than the fact he’s single, again. His most recent relationship, about five months long, ended in mid-January.

“You gotta keep going if you want to find the one,” he said. “I’ll be 40 this year, believe it or not. I’m very self-sufficient. I don’t need a boyfriend or a partner, whereas there are a lot of other people who have to have one just for whatever reason. But I’m very independent. Sure, it would be nice to have someone to come home to, to commiserate with, to collaborate with, but at this point in my life, I’m not going to compromise. When I find him, I find him … not that I’m not trying [ to find him ] .”

So who qualifies as Mr. Right?

“He has to have a job,” Mackenroth said, laughing. “I like to date someone around my age. I just like someone who is interesting, someone who has a talent that they are really passionate about. It doesn’t have to be a visual art talent; it could even be IT, just something that really gets them going. And if he has a good body too, that doesn’t hurt.”



Steven Meisel

Posted in The Fierceness on January 1, 2009 by jackmax2

Courtesy Of Italian Vogue

Italian Vogue had two outstanding issues this year. First, in July, came the amazing all-black issue.

And then, in November, one of the most beautiful editorials of the year, inspired by the Ingmar Bergman film Persona, a paranoid seaside lesbian vacation, with Susan Sontag.

Steven Meisel has an extraordinary relationship with Italian Vogue. He’s shot every cover of every issue for as long as I can remember. Meisel particularly loves to “discover” new models — and among the girls he rocketed to acclaim via Italian Vogue are models like Karen Elson, Sasha Pivovarova, and Coco Rocha. His signature style is a little desaturated, a little obsessed with doubling, mirroring, and repetition, a little moody, and perhaps ever so slightly off; the scenes he creates are often filled with a vague dread, like a David Lynch movie.

What do I love about Italian Vogue? Covers like this. Toni Garrn, 17-year-old Calvin Klein favorite, and her 21-year-old German compatriot, Katrin Thormann, looking lovely and peachy and perhaps just a little awkward, as though they’ve been disturbed in some moment of intimacy. “A New Look At Seasonal Dressing.” (There’s a cover line we could never improve.) What does that even mean? Italian Vogue is confident you’re going to want to find out.

The editorial inside, called Cottage In Riva Al Mare (“Cottage by the sea”) is the kind of 34-page spread that would’ve been reduced to an incoherent 12-page hackjob under Anna Wintour’s watch at American Vogue. Each image is its own best reason for existence; there isn’t exactly anything as didactic as a plot going on here, but the general idea is that two women have gone away to the coast for something more purposeful than a vacation. They play dominoes, they read, they face off with arms crossed, they make love, they weep. Their queasy friendship — if it is a friendship? — doesn’t seem likely to survive these intensities of feeling. The last image is of Katrin clutching her suitcase, her back to the ocean.

The obvious reference is to Ingmar Bergman’s film Persona, which is more or less about an actress named Elizabeth, played by Liv Ullman, who becomes an elective mute following a sort of psychic break during a performance of Electra. She goes to the seaside in the care of a psychiatric nurse named Alma (Bibi Andersson), and, over the course of the film, some sort of exchange occurs. It’s as if Alma can’t help but fall into the void created by Elizabeth’s silence, and in her willingness to fill the space left by Elizabeth’s withdrawal, Alma loses something of herself.

Susan Sontag loved Persona; in her 1969 book Styles of Radical Will, she called it “Bergman’s masterpiece.” In examining the contemporary critics’ general distaste for the movie, she wrote:

To be sure, some of the paltriness of the critics’ reaction may be more a response to the signature that Persona carries than to the film itself. That signature has come to mean a prodigal, tirelessly productive career; a rather facile, often merely beautiful, by now (it seemed) almost oversize body of work; a lavishly inventive, sensual, yet melodramatic talent, employed with what appeared to be a certain complacency, and prone to embarrassing displays of intellectual bad taste.

The strange thing is, most of that’s also a familiar vein of criticism in regards to Meisel’s work — a withering level of productivity, “often merely beautiful,” melodramatic, complacent, empty-headed. In looking over this editorial, which because of the simplicity of its mise en scène probably is going to divide opinion, Sontag’s words about its most direct filmic inspiration came to mind in an entirely different context. So, here we go, because I thought it would be fun: Steven Meisel, annotated by Susan Sontag.

Persona is constructed according to a form that resists being reduced to a story — say, the story about the relation (however ambiguous and abstract) between two women named Elizabeth and Alma, a patient and a nurse, a star and an ingénue, alma (soul) and persona (mask).”

“There might exist what could be called a dormant plot.”

“After we have seen Elizabeth enter Alma’s room and stand beside her and stroke her hair, we see Alma, pale, troubled, asking Elizabeth the next morning, ‘Did you come to my room last night?’ and Elizabeth, slightly quizzical, anxious, shakes her head no.”

“One tactic upheld by traditional narrative is to give ‘full’ information (by which I mean all that is needed, according to the standard of relevance set up in the ‘world’ proposed by the narrative), so that the ending of the viewing or reading experience coincides, ideally, with the full satisfaction of one’s desire to know, to understand what happened and why. (This is, of course, a highly manipulated quest for knowledge.)”

“There is, above all, the connection between the two women themselves, which, in its feverish proximity, its caresses, its sheer passionateness (avowed by Alma in word, gesture, and fantasy) could hardly fail, it would seem, to suggest a powerful, if largely inhibited, sexual involvement.”

“But, in fact, what might be sexual in feeling is largely transposed into something beyond sexuality, beyond eroticism even.”

“The business of the artist is to convince his audience that what they haven’t learned at the end they can’t know, or shouldn’t care about knowing.”

“My own view is that the temptation to invent more story ought to be resisted.”

“The viewer can only move toward, but never achieve, certainty about the action.”