BEL AIR —Jack Mackenroth is a very talented and outspoken celebrity that uses his notoriety to help others and to be the face of those living with HIV in America. This week I caught up with my friend Jack and asked him to answer some questions so that readers could see that living with HIV isn’t always a death sentence. This well known personality lives with the disease and still accomplishes more in a month than most accomplish in a lifetime.
Q-You were very popular on Project Runway. Tell us what the experience was like for you?
A-“It was amazing and excruciating. We worked our asses off with no sleep and no days off. We filmed 14 weeks of TV in 4 weeks so every other day was a new challenge. We had no TV, no music, no reading material or outside contact. However, on the flip side, it was fabulous to work in a creative bubble with such amazing people. I loved it. I still am close friends with Christian, Kit and Kevin and I keep in touch with most of the other designers. Tim and all the judges were great. Reality TV is so bizarre.”
Q-You have been extremely honest and open about your HIV positive status. Why do you feel it a good thing to be so open and honest about it?
A-“Well so few people are open about their status because of the stigma of HIV. The HIV community needs to see someone living a happy, healthy life. Hopefully my being honest on an international TV show will inspire others to talk about it. As it normalizes in society it takes away the shame factor. Feeling shameful about being HIV positive prevents individuals from being honest with their partners, families and doctors and prevents them from getting the support and care they need. Not good. There shouldn’t be a moral judgment placed on being HIV positive.”
Q-Your background is in design. You’ve dressed some of the most successful and famous people around. Who did you really enjoy dressing most?
A-Hmmm. Working with Heather Tom from “The Bold and the Beautiful” was fun because the dress turned out beautifully and I actually got to attend the Emmys and walk the red carpet. Though it was about 105 degrees and I was sweating through my suit. It was a hot mess.”
Q-I see you remain very physically fit and active. Is it true you are a competitive swimmer?
A-“Yes. I have been competing since I was 6. I am currently training for the Gay Games in Cologne, Germany this summer.”
Q-Tell us about your latest venture with Merck Pharmaceuticals and what you are trying to achieve?
A- “I am partnering with Merck on an HIV and AIDS education campaign called Living Positive by Design. This amazing program aims to combat the stigma associated with HIV and highlights the importance for people living with HIV to have a positive outlook on life while effectively managing their disease. It’s especially important for people living with HIV to work with their doctor on an ongoing basis to select a treatment regimen that keeps viral load at an undetectable level and keeps medication side effects at a minimum. We hope to keep the dialogue going and educate HIV positive individuals. With me as a spokesperson, hopefully I can serve as a role model of what one person living with HIV can be. I travel all around the country speaking about the program. Information on the campaign and tour dates are available at LivingPositiveByDesign.com”
Q-On a day when you are not saving the planet or doing something exciting, what is a day of rest like for Jack?
A-“Well there is really no such thing for me right now since I have so many projects going on. Swimming is very relaxing for me and I am a bit addicted to twitter right now. You can follow me at twitter.com/jackmackenroth. I tweet the absurd. Be warned. I also do a radio show every Sunday evening at 9 EST called POZIAM. You can listen at blogtalkradio.com/poziam. In May we interview Kimberley Locke about her career and her work with the One Heartland organization along with many other amazing guests.”
Just after this interview, Jack reported that a TV show I am co-producing called “The Queens of Drag: NYC” just got picked up by Gay.com and the Here! network so I am very excited about that. It’s a bit like a “Real Housewives” show but with the top drag queens in New York with better wigs and real drama. The handsome star is also working on a book and possibly judging a fashion game show on Oxygen called “Who Wears it Best,” if it gets picked up. What else, I asked. “Tommy, I’m still designing for private clients and also currently making a dress for my mom to wear to my brother’s wedding. Talk about bossy!” Mackenroth concluded.
You can find out everything about Mackenroth at jackmackenroth.com.
Photograph Courtesy: BradWalsh.com
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