Jack: So Many Things

Jack Mackenroth get candid about his infection and choice to leave Project Runway early.

We called Jack this morning because we wanted to catch up with him before the rest of the interviewers got to him. Turns out, we woke him up. But like a trooper, he answered all of our nutty questions.

When you saw those models come to the runway, what did you think?
I kinda thought, "oh s*#t." Because there was such a variation of body types. If you're not an expert patternmaker and you can really just go off of measurements, you need to use dress forms, and we really didn't have - I mean there were a couple size 10s. Some were bigger than that and some were small, and I was like "Which one am I going to get?" So that was my first thought.

What is your take on "the everyday woman" as a design challenge?
I think it's really great. I think the majority of women in America are not a Size 2. I think most designers are going to have to face that at some point and there's a huge market for it so, I think it's smart. It's a smart way to go.


And then there's a staph infection. You'd had this before right?
Yeah - see that's the thing. They're not related. I think some people are more susceptible to these infections for some reason. I'm not really sure why. I think my doctor mentioned ... some people get them, regardless of any kind of HIV status. I had one about three or four years ago. They give you this stuff to put in your nose and all this crap.

I think it was just because we were really run down, and we're not eating right, and we're not sleeping. So, as soon as I got it, I kind of knew what it was. Once you have it one time, scarily enough -- it's getting to be really common. A lot of people have come up to me and said "Oh I had that" or "My friend has had that" and "Thats really awful" and so I kinda knew.

There's this moment in the episode where you're torn about it, and then you take Tim into the hall. What was that conversation like?
Well basically, I'm working on my outfit, and what happens with a bacterial infection is that it spreads really quickly, so initially it was just localized on my face. I was like, you know, looking ugly on TV isn't my number one dream, but I can deal with that. And I mean, I worked really hard to get to this point. I auditioned twice. I'm not a women's wear designer. I made a whole portfolio. I made all these dresses. I'm not going home if I can prevent it. But then I got to a certain point where ... I'm malformed for one, and two -- once the infection gets advanced enough, it gets systemic and then you start to feel bad.

So I'm in the challenge, I'm worried about my face, they're filming me. I can't concentrate on my outfit. Then you start to make stupid mistakes. I'm like, "I can't, this is not going well." And then I also had to take into consideration the rest of the cast. If it's contagious, is it safe? And so as much as I really didn't want to, I just, finally Tim came up to me and said ... he was reviewing, you know he comes by to review everyone's outfit, and he's like "So Jack, how's that going?" and I'm like "Listen, I'm gonna need to talk." And so we went into the lounge and obviously he can see by looking at me that I have some issues going on and I just think for the benefit of myself and the cast I have to withdraw 'cause I just, it's not a good place for me to be here right now. I need to take care of this and I don't think it's safe for me to be here. So, I was crying, and it was not cute, but had to go.

So, what were the next few days for you like? After you left?
I actually - I announced it to the cast. Everyone cried, and then I literally dropped my scissors and went to the hospital. I was in the hospital for five days, and I had to have an IV of a really hardcore antibiotic -- twice a day for five days. The good thing about this is that if you catch it quickly enough, it goes away as quickly as it comes. It was weird, as soon as they give you the antibiotic, you kinda feel fine.

I was kinda sitting in the hospital like "Ugh, I'm bored." And they did actually have to go in, and a plastic surgeon cut open the inside of my mouth because they had to drain all the stuff. It was really hardcore. For about a month afterwards I had a little bit of nerve damage actually. I could feel a little tingling in my face, but that's all gone now.

So then, I think I came back about a week later just to do my exit interview stuff. ... When you see me talking on the show, in the upcoming episode, when my face is not swollen, that's after I've already come back from the hospital. I kinda just want that to be clear just because I know a lot of people are saying, "I hope you're OK." I know a lot of people think the show happens in real time. But just so it's clear - I'm fine.

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