We’ve all crushed hard on Jack Mackenroth since seeing him on Project Runway. Since his television appearance it’s been hard not to take notice and follow the stud. He’s taken on the modeling world, he’s stayed at the forefront of HIV activism and continues to challenge stigmas and misconceptions. In this exclusive interview we talk about reality television, his involvement in HIV activism, what each of us needs to know about HIV and AIDS and his next big challenge. Photos in today’s interview include shots by COLT Studio Group, Stan Madden, Sonny Tong, Rick Day and Ray John Pila, among others.
Man Crush: Let’s get into this interview with a few rapid fire random questions to make sure you’re all prepped and ready for us! We’re making our way through Pride season so in your opinion, what’s the best thing about being gay?
Jack Mackenroth: For me it’s the freedom to be non-confomists because as gay men we don’t fit the traditional mold so we don’t typically feel constrained by social expectations. We are more free to be ourselves, wacky and creative and fabulous.
If you could pull a Marty McFly and travel back in time to talk to your teenage self, what’s one thing you’d like to tell your younger self?
Don’t stress that everyone is teasing you for being different and effeminate. One day you will own it and that’s what will make you extraordinary.
Since you’re a fashion guru of sorts, what’s one fashion trend you see a lot of guys rockin’ right now that needs to actually stop?
Over-studded anything. You are not Lady Gaga from 2009.
Anyone that follows you on Twitter knows you’re big on humor. What’s the key to being amusing and witty and not crossing the line to being bitchy and offensive?
I think most people are funny in person but capturing that essence in 140 characters is a skill. I just try to pay attention to amusing things that happen during the day and rework them into a tweet. Stupid shit happens to all of us. If you make it relatable and self deprecating then its funny. Bitchy doesn’t work well on Twitter because you end up seeming like a bitter person. And I have no problem with offensive as long as you have no ill intent and you are clear about your point of view. I don’t mind an AIDS joke here or there but I’m HIV positive so I’m making fun of myself. I generally stay away from racist humor because those jokes have been done and they are generally more mean than funny. You can follow me on Twitter @jackmackenroth.
People know you from your involvement in the fourth season of Project Runway. If you could head up your own reality show right now, what would it be like?
I want to do a version of the A-list that is actually good. I was developing an actual pilot before the A-list went on LOGO. That show was a disaster. I wanted to do one called The Real Queens of New York, The G-List or The Gay-List and get some really colorful gay guys who lead really interesting lives–more than just getting drunk and fighting. Like a gay Real Housewives–but not hideous and with more plastic surgery.
You’re a man of many talents! You’ve been on television, you model, you’re an activist, an online personality … if someone completely unaware of who you are were to ask, “What is it you do?” how’d you describe your career or profession these days?
I get that a lot. It’s a hard question to answer because I have done so many things. At this moment I am concentrating on HIV activism. It’s really what is the most important to me. I have a strong voice in the HIV community and it’s desperately needed. Currently I am consulting for a non-profit HIV/AIDS organization called Housing Works which helps people living with HIV with special focus on the homeless population. I’m doing media and social media strategy for their Braking AIDS Ride (www.BrakingAIDSride.org). I’m also riding in the 3 day, 285 mile ride and forming a team called The Mack Pack. I have pledged to raise 50,000 dollars in the next 2 months. I’m about 10% of the way there in one week so I hope everyone will consider donating! If you follow me on Twitter and Instagram you know that I have said that I will write your Twitter or Insta name on my chest for every person that donates over 100 dollars, and on my ass for any donation over $1,000. I got my first $1,000 yesterday! So after I finish this interview I have to take a photo of my butt and post it on twitter!! It’s good advertising for anyone who donates as I have 106,000 Twitter followers and my bum gets a LOT of retweets! Naked selfies for charity! WOOT WOOT! [ You can donate here: http://bit.ly/1nrR5iN]
You’ve been very open about your status and have devoted a lot of time to informing and showing the world that being positive isn’t necessarily a negative thing or a death sentence. That being said, it seems like there’s still a lot of misinformation and stigma against HIV in both the homosexual and non-homosexual communities. What do we all need to know about HIV, getting tested and knowing your status?
Yes, the stigma is suffocating and paralyzing for many people. I think being out and visible like myself is an important part but that is really hard for a lot of people to do. I still advocate for poz people to reject the shame and stigma and be open about your status but I have also adopted a new approach. With the new information like the partner study and all the new data on PrEP (Truvada prophylaxis) everyone should know that if an HIV positive guy is undetectable it is virtually impossible to transmit HIV to another person. And if I was HIV negative, I would ABSOLUTELY be on PrEP to stay negative. Honestly, I know a lot of HIV negative guys who are not well educated and try to only have sex with guys who claim to be negative. Huge mistake. That’s how people become positive. Usually one of them doesn’t actually know they are positive and they are not on meds. HIV positive guys on treatment are ironically the safest bet. Undetectable poz guys know their status definitively and get checked for other STDs regularly. Just FYI.
The MOST important thing is that we should ALL be getting tested every 3 to 6 months. It’s so easy. It’s a mouth swab that takes 20 minutes and the sooner you get on treatment the better you will be. You can live a totally normal life if you treat it early. You are protecting yourself and others.
We seem to be at this crossroads with the adult entertainment industry where we’re all becoming obsessed with knowing performers’ status, the emergence of Truvada and the allure of going raw and bareback. I’m curious what you think about these recent trends and developments?
Honestly I don’t think you should ever even ask someone’s status. It may sound counterintuitive but you should just assume they are HIV positive. Unless they readily admit that they are positive how is the information useful? If someone tells you they are negative is that a free pass to have bareback sex? As I mentioned above–Truvada (PrEP) works. I think every sexually active, HIV negative gay man should be on it. I know a lot of people disagree but if this were 1990 everyone would be selling their belongings to get those pills. HIV has not changed since then. It’s still the same virus.
Ok so … a little birdie told me you maybe possibly have a collaboration coming up with COLT Studio Group? Care to tell us about this latest career move?
[Laughs] I am good friends with the owner of COLT, John Rutherford, and he has been courting me for a while now to do a NC-17 rated shoot. No frontal nudity. I considered it but the timing is not right at this moment. I love the COLT brand but I have to consider how it affects my work in the HIV field. We all love porn and I am not judging at all but some of the agencies I work with might raise an eyebrow if I become affiliated with a porn company. Naked selflies for charity is one thing but right now a COLT shoot is on hold. It’s not out of the question though. Stay tuned.
Ok, so … we have to talk about this crazy, sexy, cool body of yours. With modeling and I’d imagine with being into fashion, keeping up your appearance and your body has to be very important. What’s your workout and fitness routine like?
THANKS! Yes–I used to consider going to the gym to be part of my job. As I mentioned above I am currently cycling a lot to get my endurance up for the AIDS Ride. I’m also a competitive swimmer. I like to cross train because I hate cardio–like just running on the tread mill. I need an activity to motivate me. I’m not going to bore you with the specifics of my workout routine but I go a lot and lift heavy things.
I’d personally have to say your best asset is … well, your ass. Do you spend a lot of time working your glutes? What exercises would you recommend we do if we want a Jack Mackenroth butt?
You will hate me for this, but no. I just have a big bubble butt genetically. I know it was definitely augmented by swimming–which I have been doing since I was 6. I literally just started doing squats last year because I don’t want my ass to sag.
Is there a certain exercise or workout that you put yourself through that you actually dread having to do? How do you motivate yourself to charge through it?
Hmmmmm. Not really a specific one. Sometimes I don’t feel like working out but I try to remind myself that I will feel so much better afterward. I’m also a big guy and if I don’t watch it I can gain weight easily–not in a good way. I eat like a horse so I have to work out a lot or I would be two tons of fun.
What’s one piece of fitness or health advice that you’ve been given that everyone should hear and follow?
Fitness: Set small goals that are realistic and don’t seem overwhelming. Health: Know your HIV status.
I myself like to run and I use that Nike+ app that encourages you to add some songs to your “power playlist” for when you need a little motivation during your workout. What’d be the top song on your workout power playlist?
Yes! The apps are great! My boyfriend swears by them. They are a great source of motivation. I can’t be bothered with those but they work well for some people. I love to queen out at the gym and blast music. It’s horrifying to witness but I don’t care. Right now I am listening to a remix of “Chandelier” by Sia, the Blondie “Heart of Glass” remake by Gisele Bunchen, anything Iggy A or Ariana Grande. You know–the not gay stuff.
There’s that phrase, “It’s the clothes that make a man.” What makes you who and what you are?
What’s one misconception people have about you that you’d like to debunk?
I think people assume I’m wealthy. I’m not. I also think they assume I’m a party boy. I’m sober and I never go out. I was a mega club kid back in the day but i’m not very social anymore.
What would you describe as being the best time of your life so far? What’s been the worst?
Wow. That’s a tough one. I think the best time in my life is right now. I know I’m the most evolved and the happiest I’ve ever been. I’m in a really healthy relationship which makes a massive difference. I had a lot of amazing moments modeling in Europe and being on Project Runway and all the craziness after that but i’m most content now.
The worst time in my life was when my boyfriend died of AIDS in 1996. That was hell.
If you were given the chance to spend the night with any of your male crushes, who’d you choose and what would be the first question you’d ask them when meeting that night?
My celebrity crush is Jason Statham and I would ask him why he still has his clothes on.
You get the final words of the interview! What parting message or thought would you like to leave with the readers of this interview?
Be yourself. Own your flaws and try to embrace them. Don’t take things personally. Accentuate the positives and medicate the negatives. Unless you are HIV positive because you should totally medicate that. Laugh at your haters. Laugh at yourself. We are all ridiculous. This interview is crap and mostly lies.
Follow me on Twitter hookers and donate to HIV/AIDS http://bit.ly/1nrR5iN. I’ll write your name on my big ass. Hows that for a tax write off?!