You Don't Know Jack

Project Runway's Jack Mackenroth opens up about HIV/AIDS activism, beauty buys, and men in makeup.


I remember a few years back when Project Runway was the best thing going on television. I watched it religiously every week—and then there came contestant Jack Mackenroth. I not only watched, I DVR'd.


I was not star struck, I was gorgeous and talent struck. I never thought that years later, I would be on the phone with him for hours, just chatting like we were old friends. If I had to choose three words to describe Jack, they would be activist, honorable, and humble. Once the season ended, Jack took the road of going back to helping those living with HIV and AIDS, and left the path of stardom to the side. He spends these days bringing awareness to a global cause and saving peoples lives. One thing for sure is that no matter what path Jack has gone down or goes down in the future, he does it with the body of an Adonis, full of passion, and a heart made of gold. I had to know what keeps him so freaking gorgeous. Whether you are gay or straight these days, even metrosexual, we all want to look our best. This is a man who does it effortlessly.



I had to find out what is in his bag of tricks...I may never have a body like that, but I sure do want my face to look that great. He works out five days a week and swims 300 miles. Once I picked myself up off the ground from hearing that, I continued to ask questions. Jack uses a lot of vitamin C at night to counteract sun damage that he endured growing up with his sister and swimming in the '70s. Back then, sunblock was not important—iodine and baby oil were the go-tos for the perfect tan.  



I asked him about makeup and men, and what his thoughts were on it. He admitted that during the '80s, he sported the black eyeliner, and I could not help cringe with pleasure. Flashbacks of Nirvana and so many other rockers I grew up with did the same thing. I believe every man, gay or straight, could use a little congealer to hide a late night out and also to look fresher and younger. Jack prefers Dermacolor—it lasts all day, and you can't even tell that it's there. I immediately ordered some. He also revealed to me his biggest secret is Just For Men hair color to hide the grays, I said ditto to that and jumped in my car and headed to Rite Aid. 


His favorite product to use in the shower is good ole St. Ives Apricot Scrub, which I know we have all used. These days, with all of the biking and sports Jack does, he opts for spray-on sunscreen and bronzer. I promised to send him my favorite spray SPF 50 from local brand Luca. His favorite fragrances are Bulgari Black and Hermes—the man has great (and expensive) style. Bothe of these fragrances are as classic and unique as Jack.



Now, I had to as Jack about Project Runway: What was it like? Who did you love? As it turns out, they worked 24/7 with very few breaks.



AP: Who was your favorite judge?

JM: Nina Garcia. She really cared and wanted to help. Her input was fantastic, and she wanted us all to be the best that we could be.

AP:  What was Heidi Klum like to work with?
JM:  Very sweet, but all business. This is a lady who knows what she is doing.
AP:  Who was your favorite guest judge?
JM:  Sarah Jessica Parker. (Need he say more.)
While the long work hours and lack of sleep could certainly get to contestants, it was an experience that Jack would not change.
All I can say as a writer is that I cannot wait for my next trip to New York so that I can have the chance to meet this wonderful human being in person. Thank you, Jack, for taking the time, for opening up, and for being such a spectacular soul!
XOXO Andrew C. Petersen