Posts tagged hedda lettuce
We first interviewed Project Runway’s Jack Mackenroth in 2008 when he came to Atlanta for the Living Positively by Design tour. When we finally met him at a GLAAD event in New York City, he told us that he actually used to live in Atlanta.
For Pride, we thought we’d revisit our interview with Jack about his time in Atlanta, his obsession with drag queens, and of course, ‘Project Runway‘…
I lived in Atlanta for a year in 1999 off Ponce behind the Kroger in a converted high school. It was a really cool apartment. I dated a guy named Fred Dilger who was Elton John’s interior decorator so we had some fun adventures with Elton. It was a fun year but Fred eventually went bonkers and became a monk. I’m not kidding.
How did you get involved with the ‘Queens of Drag: NYC’?
I was working on developing a show called the ‘gAy-List’ – basically a version of the ‘A-List: New York‘ show on LOGO – and we found that our most interesting cast members were the two drag queens we were considering, Lady Bunny and Hedda Lettuce. So we changed the focus of the show.
I’m one of three executive producers. I’ve pitched about 10 different shows to various outlets since I left ‘Project Runway’ and filmed three pilots as on-camera talent. None of them went anywhere so I decided to take control and start producing.
Why do you think gay men are fascinated with drag queens?
I don’t know if all of us are to be honest. But I am fascinated because I think its a totally under-appreciated art form. New York Drag is very different than Atlanta drag. Here it’s all about shtick and camp and performance rather that realism.
Have you ever dressed in drag?
Yeah. About 15 times! I used to dress up for Halloween and Wigstock which was a huge drag festival that ran for 20 years. But I always did crazy drag. Never pretty. My costumes we always really over the top.
What do you think of ‘Project Runway’s’ move to Lifetime?
I think it was bad timing. The producers are doing an OK job but I just think viewers are sort of over the show. The talent has never been the same and I know the ratings are suffering.
Do you keep in touch with Christian Siriano?
I do. His life is so ridiculous. I mean my life is ridiculous right now; I can only imagine what his is like. We had a long time between filming the show and when the finale aired, so we hung out and went out all the time. But when he won his life totally transformed; he just doesn’t have any time right now. Our entire cast was really great. I’m still close with a lot of them.
I didn’t have a problem with it. He’s really objective and doesn’t really get close to anyone until after the show is over. We only see him during filming. Apparently, J-Lo canceled like 25 minutes before she was supposed to show up. She claimed it was her ankle but then ran a triathlon a few days later!
I just don’t think they had a back up plan. When Heidi came out it was clear she was really irritated. She’s one of the executive producers so I’m sure she was pissed.
Tell me about this condom dress you designed?
It was for this event in San Francisco called Project Inform. They wanted to spice it up by having a fashion show, so everyone had to make an outfit out of condoms. I don’t know what I was thinking – I was glue gunning for like two and a half days! I’m also allergic to latex; I use polyurethane condoms in case anyone wants to know.
They had to send the dress from New York City to San Francisco, but no one thought about the fact that the condoms were lubricated. They ended up looking like a huge mess of cherry flavored lube! It was hilarious; the most ridiculous undertaking. I was like, “I don’t ever want to see a glue gun or a condom again!”
Why is the Living Positive by Design program so important?
I was openly HIV positive on ‘Project Runway,’ so that kind of drew the partnership between myself and Merck. Unfortunately, there are so few people in the media who are open about their HIV status. It’s a personal choice and that’s great, but I’m trying to be open and honest about it.
It’s just a disease, so we’re trying to fight the stigma of being judgmental about it. We’re advocating people taking appropriate steps to actively and proactively manage the disease by partnering with a doctor they feel comfortable with and getting blood work done on a regular basis. Maintaining an undetectable viral load is crucial.
What should HIV patients watch out for when it comes to treatment?
Everyone responds different to medication. You need to be aware of how you’re feeling and that’s why the relationship with your doctor is so crucial. I’ve been really lucky, but I’ve heard horrible stories about side effects. Just know that there are tons of different treatment options so that shouldn’t keep people from seeking treatment.
Why is this program relevant to Atlanta?
It’s relevant to people everywhere, not just Atlanta. There is a huge African American population in Atlanta, and that is one of the fastest growing HIV populations. But HIV infects everyone.
What advice do you have for HIV patients living in Atlanta?
If you’re newly diagnosed, don’t freak out. Everyone goes through the experience of ‘what does this mean for my life?’ Realize that there are a lot of treatment options out there. Talk to an HIV specialist who knows what he or she is talking about. As you get more comfortable, talk to people like friends and family about it because that’s how you’ll get support.
What are you working on now?
I speak all over the country on HIV issues. This October I’m going to Atlanta for Pride, DC, LA, Indianapolis, and Kansas City. I’m also trying to finish a memoir by the end of the year. I just swam in the Gay Games in Cologne, Germany where I won seven medals. And I’ve been doing a bunch of photoshoots with different photographers as well.
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