Windy City Times
Jack Mackenroth: Swimming to success
by Ross Forman
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 www.Livingpositivebydesign.com 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.”