Windy City Media Group Frontpage News Home
CELEBRATING 29+ YEARS OF Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender NEWS

Search Gay News Articles
Advanced Search
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2015-03-25
Download Issue
  News Index   About WCMG    Publications    Bars & Clubs     Calendar   Videos   Advertisers    OUT! Guide    Classifieds     AIDS @ 32       Marriage
 Local | National | World | Politics | Obits | Profiles | Views | Entertainment | Theater | Dance | Music | Film | Art | Books | TV/Gossip
 Travel | History | Marriage | Youth | Trans | Lesbian | Celebrations | Food | Nightlife | Sports | Health | Real Estate | Autos | Pets | Crime

The Mecca Tales
At: Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago Ave. Tickets: 312-633-0630;; $18-$40. Runs ...

Browse Gay News Index   Browse Gay News Archives
  Windy City Times

Jack Mackenroth talks about being 'Positive'
Special to the Online Edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis

facebook twitter pin it stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email

Jack Mackenroth is many things: model, actor, athlete, designer and TV star ( having been on the reality show Project Runway ) . However, he is also an HIV/AIDS activist who has started Living Positive By Design ( ) , an educational program about the disease that also emphasizes the importance of having an optimistic outlook on life while managing the illness.

While in Chicago recently ( where, among other things, he attended the AIDS Foundation of Chicago Junior Board's "Design for a Cure" May 7 ) , Mackenroth met with Windy City Times at the W Hotel, 644 N. Lake Shore. He talked about the event, Living Positive By Design, his own seropositivity—and former America's Next Top Model winner Jaslene Gonzalez wearing chocolate.

Windy City Times: How did the connection with "Design for a Cure" come about?

Jack Mackenroth: Well, we reached out to them. Actually, the more interesting story—just to backtrack a little—is how the whole Living Design partnership with [ pharmaceutical company ] Merck came about.

Basically, after I was on Project Runway and was open about my HIV status, I did an article in The Advocate and they asked me about being a role model for HIV-positive people. I've always done things like AIDS walks or swimming to raise money. Merck read the article— [ where ] I said I wanted to do more work in HIV—and the partners said, "Let's talk to this Jack Mackenroth guy." So we worked together to form Living Positive By Design.

The basic infrastructure is sort of similar to how I got to where I am; it's for HIV-positive people. Part of what we do is come to cities like Chicago and meet with service organizations, like CALOR, TPAN [ Test Positive Aware Network ] and Howard Brown [ Health Center ] during this visit. So you meet on a grassroots level and talk to people, and talk about Living Positive By Design. We put our face out there—not that I'm the face of HIV, but I'm a face of HIV and I'm doing well; I'm [ also ] open about it and am trying to fight the stigma by just being out there.

And when we come to cities, we like to tie [ the program ] to events that are happening—and [ Design for a Cure ] is a perfect fit because I'm a fashion designer. I wish I could attend every fundraiser but you have to pick the ones that fit. If I didn't have to sleep, I'd be doing it all the time. [ Laughs ]

WCT: It seems that [ Living Positive By Design ] hits the larger cities. Will you go to smaller cities as well? In a sense, by going to the larger cities, you're preaching to the choir.

JM: I think the issue is that we launched last year and we go the cities with the highest HIV infection rates. You are preaching to the choir but, even listening to the organizations, the message still isn't out there. We still need to keep telling people. It's great to go to smaller cities but I'm only one person. For me to go to Podunk, Somewhere, would be great—but we're trying to reach as many people as we can.

WCT: So do you feel that people have gotten complacent?

JM: Oh, yeah. We talked about this a lot last night at CALOR because there were a lot of young people there. [ According to ] a recent survey, opinions of the disease have gone down, which goes hand in hand. It's a double-edged sword because, with healthcare, there's a lot of treatment regimens to make the disease more tolerable; but you don't see people dying like they did when I was diagnosed in the late '80s. We were really seriously about protection, activism and all that stuff. I think that's why Living Positive By Design is important; you have to let people know that it's still a serious illness and that there are other things you can contract, and there are side effects from medication so it's by no means a picnic.

WCT: Can you take me back to the day you found out you were HIV-positive?

JM: I was in New York City; it was my first year there, in 1991. I developed ulcers down my throat, and I couldn't even swallow water; I couldn't eat. So I went to a regular [ gastrointestinal ] doctor, and he said, "It's really weird for someone your age to have this." I said, "I'm going to school at Parsons, I'm really stressed and I'm not sleeping." So he suggested an HIV test and I said "OK." [ Shrugs shoulders ] I was 20; it wasn't like I had been around the block.

Two weeks later, the doctor said, "Your results came out positive"—and I was just shocked. I quickly thought it could've been a false positive; then, [ a second test ] came back positive. I just remember having that "Oh, my God" moment. At that time, [ because people were dying ] I was hoping I'd make it to 25. My main concern was for my family.

WCT: How did your family react?

JM: I told my mom in 1994, I think. I had a boyfriend who passed away; he died when he was 33. I needed support—and my mom's a nurse, so she's not stupid, obviously. I called her and we had a conversation right after the memorial service. She, of course, cried and freaked out, but I was still doing really well with my health. I had an open discourse with my doctor, I was going to the gym—and we advocate [ things like that ] with Living Positive By Design. It's [ about ] empowering yourself and getting the knowledge so you know what to ask the doctor.

WCT: I want to switch to something a bit lighter: fashion. I was advised to ask you about top spring fashion picks.

JM: Oh, God; I hate this question. [ Laughs ] Let's see—I'll talk about what not to wear anymore. I'm veering away from the Ed Hardy, overdone, bling-bling. No more rhinestones on your outfits. In L.A., everything is shiny and sparkle-y; they're easily distracted there by shiny things. [ Laughs ] I just think that dressing simpler—less True Religion and all that crap—is my thinking.

WCT: Is it true that you designed a Wonder Woman costume out of chocolate?

JM: I think I have photos of it on, and if you Google "The Chocolate Show" [ you'll find it ] . It's like a car show for chocolate. They opened it with this big, huge fashion show—the theme was "Superheroes"—and our model was Jaslene Gonzalez from America's Next Top Model, and she worked it. She had this white-chocolate invisible jet in her hair, and they played the Wonder Woman theme song; it was like a gay dream come true. It was literally a hot mess; backstage, her big star earrings were melting. By the time she went onto the runway, we had to keep mopping her down.

WCT: I have a basic question: What does fashion mean to you?

JM: A drag queen said to me once [ that ] " [ e ] very day what we put on is drag." It's just a representation of who you want to project to the world. That's kind of what fashion is to me: It's art with clothes, and it's representing yourself to the world with how you adorn yourself.

See .

facebook twitter pin it stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.

NUNN ON ONE: TELEVISION Taryn Manning dishes on new music, 'Orange Is the New Black' 2015-03-25
Entertainment: Madonna; Matt Bomer; Billie Jean film; Josh Groban 2015-03-17
TELEVISION Kevin Bacon talks 'The Following' and kissing James Purefoy 2015-03-11
'Empire' actor: 'There's never been a closet' 2015-03-11
Entertainment: Kerry Washington; Alexander McQueen;'The Fosters'; Mario Lopez 2015-03-11
TELEVISION New Kids' Jonathan Knight competes on 'The Amazing Race' 2015-03-04
Entertainment: Wanda Sykes; Gaga; Mo'Nique; Eddie Redmayne 2015-03-03
RuPaul's 'Battle' tour comes to Chicago 2015-02-24
Entertainment: Darren Criss; Kelly Clarkson; chef Art Smith; Tom Ford 2015-02-24
NUNN ON ONE Vicki Lawrence takes 'Mama' on a road trip 2015-02-17
NUNN ON ONE: TV Miss Fame journeys from the farm to 'RuPaul's Drag Race' 2015-02-17
Laverne Cox to co-star on CBS pilot 2015-02-11
Jada Pinkett Smith brings her edge to 'Gotham' 2015-02-11
Rosie O'Donnell exiting 'The View' again 2015-02-06
NUNN ON ONE: TELEVISION Trai Byers talks about 'Empire' and the film 'Selma' 2015-02-04
Ovation TV airing "The Art of: Drag" Feb. 4 2015-02-02
PBS series includes 'Limited Partnership' and 'Homestretch' 2015-01-28
'Orange' nabs SAG awards 2015-01-28
Neil deGrasse Tyson talks science, truth, LGBTs, Kinky Boots 2015-01-14
Entertainment: 'Queer as Folk' reunion; Sam Smith; Forbes' lists 2015-01-13
Producer Jonathan Murray takes us inside 'The Real World' 2015-01-13
'Transparent' very visible at Golden Globes 2015-01-11
HBO's 'Looking'; 'Dudes' releases first season 2015-01-06
TV Denis O'Hare: Out gay actor helps tell a 'Horror Story' 2015-01-06
TV 'Love Boat' actress Jill Whelan sets sail, talks Cosby 2015-01-06
'Facts of Life' box set out on Jan. 13 2015-01-06
TLC documentary suggests faith and authenticity are incompatible 2015-01-06
World news: Burger King kiss-in; British poll; 'Doctor Who' 2014-12-30
VIEWS: Why Laverne Cox should be fifth 'View' co-host 2014-12-30
Entertainment: Sir Ian's 'Street' moves; Audra on HBO; FCKH8 calendar 2014-12-23
NUNN ON ONE Kathy Bates has hairy good time on 'Horror Story' 2014-12-17
Golden Globe nods: 'Transparent' in, 'Modern Family' out 2014-12-11
WTTW to air @home; Moraine presents 'Humbug!' 2014-12-10
TELEVISION Graham Moore talks 'The Imitation Game' 2014-12-10
TELEVISION The Kevins of 'Marry Me,' Tim Meadows and Dan Bucatinsky 2014-12-09
Whitney film premieres Jan. 17, 2015 2014-12-05
Orman leaves; Midler talks gays; Gyllenhaal's 'trick' 2014-12-02
WTTW to premiere @home with social media campaign 2014-11-26
TV veteran Verica to direct film in Chicago area 2014-11-26
John Ritter's son plays gay character on CBS' 'The McCarthys' 2014-11-19

Copyright © 2015 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
the online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.





ALMA names recipients of Young Latino Leaders for Creating Change scholarship
New BYC location among Howard Brown meeting announcements
Ald. Emma Mitts videotaped making anti-LGBT comments
Accepting HIV status is 'strength' for Chicago athlete
Transgender community members demonstrate, demand recognition
Windy City Times Current DownloadNightspots Current DownloadQueercast Current Download
Windy City Media Group BlogsJoin Our Email List!Donate Now

  News Index   About WCMG    Publications    Bars & Clubs     Calendar   Videos   Advertisers    OUT! Guide    Classifieds     AIDS @ 32       Marriage
 Local | National | World | Politics | Obits | Profiles | Views | Entertainment | Theater | Dance | Music | Film | Art | Books | TV/Gossip
 Travel | History | Marriage | Youth | Trans | Lesbian | Celebrations | Food | Nightlife | Sports | Health | Real Estate | Autos | Pets | Crime

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.