Q n A with Jack Mackenroth for Night Times Boston
By Michael Fontana/ Eileen Dover
Q: How are you Jack?
A: Doing good lady! You’re fabulous as usual. And by ‘fabulous I mean ‘hot tranny mess”.
Q: So where are you from originally?
A: Seattle, Washington. Pretty but dreary. The lesbians love it. Lots of fleece.
Q: What was it like for you growing up gay?
A: Well it was not so fun. I was very effeminate and I got picked on a lot and beat up in high school. But deep down I knew there was another life waiting for me. I just had to find it. Ugh that sounds so Wizard of OZ.
Q: How has life and your career been post project runway?
A: Really amazing. I think people have this misconception that if you go on a successful reality show that magically your life automatically becomes fabulous and you are a superstar. That couldn’t be more false. Viewers have about a 3-6 month memory and then they are onto the next show. Project Runway was really just a medium for exposure. Plus we had no control over how we were portrayed or received by the public. The real work comes after the show when people have forgotten about you. I could have easily gone back to being a designer at a very good job but I decided to run with the opportunities that came my way.
Q: Do you keep in touch with anyone from the show?
A:Yes. Most of them actually. My best friends are Christian Siriano, Kevin Christiana and Kit Scarbo, known as Kit Pistol on the show. I keep in touch with most of the others but we are not close friends. And I know several of the designers from the other seasons. I’m slated to be the official blogger for the upcoming season. We shall see…
Q: Any men in your life?
A: Not really. At least not for very long. (wink) I’m working on it. I am so busy and I travel so much that it would be hard to have a boyfriend right now. I want one but I have a feeling he would resent me for ignoring him. Anyone feel free to email me with a headshot and resume.
Q: What do you look for in potential love interest?
A: Good Credit.
Seriously, I am REALLY attracted to talent of any kind. He would also have to be totally cool with the HIV thing. It needs to be a non-issue whether he is + or -. My eyes tend to dart to tattooed, swarthy muscle-boys but none of my x-boyfriends look like that so go figure. I also have a shaved head fetish.
Q: If you weren’t doing fashion what other artistic medium would you like to do?
A: I do a lot of them. I throw pottery on the wheel, I paint, I knit, I make sculptures. Right now I’m REALLY interested in video editing. I can’t cook and I can’t do anything having to do with music. I sing like a screeching howler monkey.
Q: What do you think of drag as an art form?
A: I think it’s amazing. I’m a huge fan of drag performers. They are severely underappreciated. I’m currently producing a web series called The Queens of Drag: NYC. It’s like a Real Housewives format except the cast is actually talented. We have all the fiercest ‘girls’ from New York—Lady Bunny, Sherry Vine, Bianca Del Rio, Hedda Lettuce, Peppermint and on and on….It’s set to launch on June 21st.
Q: Would you ever do drag for fun or for show?
A:I used to do drag on occasion on Halloween or for Wigstock back in the 90’s. But as a designer I like to go big so I invest a lot of time in making my outfits. I just don’t have the time anymore. Plus I’m too muscular and I end up looking like a line backer in a tube top.
Q: I hear you’re quite the athlete… Care to elaborate?
A: HAHA. Yeah. I’ve been a competitive swimmer since I was 6. I train about 5 times a week in the pool and lift weights about 6 times a week. I just swam at Nationals in Atlanta last month and I am currently training for the Gay Games in Cologne, which starts at the end of July. I’m gonna come correct.
Q: Who is your dream client?
A: HMMMM. Its cliché to say Lady Gaga because everyone wants to design for her now, but she’s amazing because she wears art and she is not concerned with looking pretty like so many celebrities. I don’t have a dream client. Maybe Linda Evangelista just because I worship her. Or Alec Mapa because she’s just a wisp of a girl.
Q: What are you currently working on?
A: Well I’m still designing but on a commission only basis. I’m producing the drag show I mentioned before. I also just shot a pilot called “Who Wore It Best” for the Oxygen network so I’m waiting to hear about that. I’m writing a book that I hope to finish by Christmas. I do a radio show on Sunday nights at 9 PM EST on blogtalkradio.com/POZIAM where we talk about HIV issues. And I travel all over the country speaking at colleges and events about HIV education and my personal experience living with HIV for 20 years. I blog. I do photo shoots. Oh yeah. And I swim. A lot. There’s probably some more stuff in there somewhere. It’s a sketchpot that changes on a daily basis.
Q: What is the most important issue facing the LGBT community today in your opinion?
A: Equal rights. Though all issues are important.
Q: Do you think gay men have become apathetic about HIV?
A: I think it’s a generalization but in many cases yes. If you lived through the devastation of the 80’s and 90’s you tend not to be apathetic. But since the stigma of being HIV+ is so intense, many people will not disclose their status. We don’t hear about HIV like we used to. Since treatments are so much better than they used to be I think the fear factor has dissipated. It’s still a potentially fatal disease with no cure. There are people like me who are doing very well but there are also many people who really struggle and are still dying of AIDS.
Q: Do you think we need all the letters? Like LGBTQQIA Etc.? I’m confused maybe we should add a C for confused.
LOVE IT!! I have know idea what most of those letters stand for, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Androgynous? Just use the entire alphabet. It’s easier to remember because of the cute melody associated with it.
Q: Michael Kors… Brilliant designer: or sassy contest judge? I find his fashions to be…kinda scary SHHHH don’t tell him I said that!!
A: He’s fine. He was the best judge from a technical standpoint because he understands how difficult the garments are to make. Plus he is the queen of sassy sound bites and the producers LOVE that. I think he is a good designer. It’s ironic that Project Runway beats you over the head about innovation and Michael is so mass market. But his clothes are really beautiful.
Q: Do you see yourself as a role model?
A: Yes. I feel a responsibility now that I didn’t feel before. I know from facebook messages and emails that a lot of people really look up to me. So I’m quite conscious of that.
Q: What would you say to an aspiring artist of any orientation who feels they can’t achieve their dreams? So many artists face the scrutiny of naysayers. What say you?
Well my theory is that if you absolutely love something enough to sacrifice for it then you will probably be successful. Nothing comes easily like you see on TV. You have to work your ass off. But if you are willing to do that and persevere when countless people tell you “no” then you will achieve some degree of success—whatever that means.
Thanks Jack for “sitting down for a chat” and thank you for being a role model. I wish I had someone like you to look up to when I came out as a teenager and I’m so glad that we have amazing people like you to give the LGBT youth of today people they can not only be proud of but aspire to follow. You’re not just a handsome guy but also a dynamic artist and a brave man whose overcome challenges and adversity to follow your dreams and I personally want to thank you! You rock!
To contact Jack or find his fashions please go to Jackmackenroth.com.