Project Runway’s Mackenroth to host Mr. Gay Philadelphia

by Matthew Ray

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday July 30, 2008

The dog days of August are about to heat up just a little bit more. On Aug. 8, Philadelphia will once again have an opportunity to crown a Mr. Gay Philadelphia. The young man picked will go on to represent the City of Brotherly Love in the national competition! The contest is Philadelphia's premier one day ultra-gay event-garnering more celebrity than any other event in the region. Last year's stable of stars included Will Wikle, Frank DeCaro, and hosted by the country's gay darling, Reichen Lehmkuhl.

Topping last year's talent wattage, the promoters have pulled out all the stops to deliver super-star judges of the finest caliber. Thirty-something Jack Mackenroth, a designer and famous contestant on Project Runway, is one of the people entrusted with ensuring Philadelphia doesn't get a skank as a boy-ambassador. Mackenroth hails from Seattle, and is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley with a double degree in Fine Arts and Sociology. Inspired by designers such as Diane von Furstenberg and Alexander McQueen, he moved to New York to attend Parsons School of Design. Upon completing his studies, he opened his self-titled menswear store in the West Village. He spent the last four years as the design director at Weatherproof Active Wear. Being open about his HIV positive status, Jack pulled our heartstrings when he left Project Runway Season Four for health reasons.

EDGE: You're a busy, busy man lately...
JACK MACKENROTH: Yes! I just finished making a dress for the red carpet for Heather Thom for the Daytime Emmy Award Show. I have a big thing coming up soon too: I am in contract to do my own show! I can't give you too many details - but it is a design/make-over type show with a twist. I co-host with Kevin Christianson from my season!

EDGE: So you didn't fall off the face of the earth when you left Project Runway...
JM: No, because of the internet I am fairly accessible. I have an agent and a publicist and right after the show a fair amount of opportunities came my way. Reality shows can be weird... if you want to parlay that television fame it into something else you have to work on it. You have to be aggressive. I could have gone back to the world of design and disappeared, but I figured what-the-hell, let's see where this takes me.

EDGE: I used to love on Runway when you would carry Christian around...
JM: I used to carry him like a backpack. I started carrying him the second day, he was like 98 pounds and I am over 200. He was like a little rag-doll I could carry around. You know, he has lost weight since the finale... He has been so busy and so stressed. Last time I saw him I told him he needed a big snack.

EDGE: Do you keep in touch with your former cast mates?
JM: Yeah... I was supposed to have dinner with Christian recently, but we had schedule conflicts. I see him a lot. Besides him, I am very close with Kevin, Victoria - who got raped in editing; she's really a lovely lovely person. I adore Kit and Sweetpea who [are] out in LA.

EDGE: You're based out of New York, right?
JM: Yes, and I love it here. I am here to stay. I ain't going anywhere. Well, unless I move to Arizona and get fat! I think New York is such a metropolis. We see every culture here, every walk of life. The subway is the great equalizer-you see celebrities and homeless people sitting on the subway. It's fantastic.

EDGE: And you're coming to Philly soon! For the Mr. Gay Contest!
JM: Yes, I am! I love Philadelphia. I used to swim there when I was on the competitive circuit. Now, I am returning as a judge! Who would have thought?

EDGE: So you're doing the judging instead of being judged...
JM: I love judging! I like being the one is who not judged. I am so excited. I have done a few things like this before and it is always fun..., but, I haven't judged boys! Its' an exciting new venture!

EDGE: What are you looking for in a Mr. Gay?
JM:Ummmmmm... That is a good question. A well rounded-ness, some social activism...What are they doing as a person? They should be more then a pretty face... like, what are they doing in regards to career and to better humanity? But, honestly-being beautiful helps! All contestants can come by my hotel room for a little one-on-one time if they have more questions... [Laughs]

EDGE: Sounds like you might be willing to take a bribe!
JM: I take bribes and sexual favors!

Philadelphia Mr. Gay 2008, Friday, Aug. 8
8:00pm - 10:00pm, $30 - $60 Univ. of the Art's Gershwin Hall - Levitt Auditorium
401 S. Broad St., Philadelphia, www.jackackmagenroth.com

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