Jay McCarroll may be forever known as Project Runway's first winner. But you can't blame a guy for trying for something more.
For the 27th Annual Reeling Film Festival, Jay has Eleven Minutes ( the film ) to change everyone's minds. He took a few minutes to bring us all up to date on himself and the world of reality.
Windy City Times: Hi, Jay. How is life in the fast lane right now?
Jay McCarroll: I am teaching drawing at Philadelphia University. I wouldn't necessarily say my life is in the fast lane on purpose, because I kind of like not living my life that way. I like taking my time and living slowly.
WCT: So you are living in Philadelphia right now?
JM: Yes, I moved here last year. I was not really interested in the pace of New York, which is fucking Crazyville. I love Philadelphia; it's my favorite city. I went to school here before. I am a big driver and always took the subway in New York.
WCT: I took the train here in Chicago for 14 years but I love having a car.
JM: I like to have control, and when it's two in the morning I can drive and get pancakes. I don't have to take the train to the Lower East Side, where I have to stand in line for 45 minutes. Fuck that shit!
WCT: How did you get involved with movie Eleven Minutes?
JM: After Project Runway, I did Project Jay. Where they follow me around and it's this jam-packed one-hour thing. The producers of that, Michael Selditch and Rob Tate, followed me around very loosely for a year or so. They collected the footage and packaged it into a nice little film.
WCT: How is Eleven Minutes different from Project Runway?
JM: It's a much grittier film. What I set out to do was a reaction to Project Runway. After I got that show, everyone thought I could make a fucking wedding dress in a day and half. [ In a mocking tone ] 'It must be easy.' I wanted to show them the process of things. Here are the steps and it's not just me making clothes. There's a bunch of people working behind the scenes on this shit. There's a publicists, jewelry designers, shoe people, etc. It's educational for people that don't know about the industry. 'Cause a lot of people don't, including myself … .
WCT: So you are going out and promoting the movie now?
JM: Yeah, we have spent the whole summer at film festivals. Which was super-duper fun. And we have been all over the place like Toronto, Palm Springs and LA. It got picked up and the premiere will be in February. It will be in smaller theatres, and a DVD release party will follow.
WCT: Do you still keep in touch with anyone from Project Runway?
JM: Well, I talk to Nick Verreos from the second season.
WCT: He's great! I have hung out with him at a fundraiser before.
JM: He's great for gossip. Everyone is very busy. It's kind of like summer camp. You might find someone that you get along with and hang out with them while you are with them. But I am not going to call up Jack Mackenroth and get a drink or anything.
WCT: Are you still fighting with Tim Gunn or is that old news?
JM: We weren't really fighting. It was me just trying to be real. I am not saying he's not real but he definitely has his own interests. I am not one of them so …
WCT: I understand. He's busy with his own reality show.
JM: People think it's a happy little family. The reality of the reality is that it's a job. It's a business. It's Harvey Weinstein's business. It's Tim Gunn's business. It's a shame because people really have hopes and dreams intertwined with that business. It's hard when you are young and dumb and you get sucked in to this world of entertainment. You get into this world and people are like, [ imitates big voice ] 'Here's how it is and you are a star.' 'Put your name here.' And you do and then you are like, 'Oh fuck, what do you mean that I have to pay for this shit?' [ Chuckles ]
WCT: I had a friend that turned down the first season of Project Runway down because she didn't want to be the Kelly Clarkson of fashion.
JM: Well, she is not being interviewed by you right now so she should have taken the opportunity. I didn't even think that far in advance. I was just owning a vintage shop at that time. I was bored and thought I would be perfect for TV. I didn't think, [ sarcastic voice ] 'I am going to be famous. I am going to be rich. Everyone is going to want to fuck me now.' I did it because I had nothing going on. The people that do it now are a whole different thing. Christian Siriano definitely knew what he was getting into. And they definitely knew what they were getting into with him, which is what I am talking about.
WCT: It's always different after the first season of any show.
JM: The first season was very special. It had a lot of good energy and it was very fresh. As it is with Survivor and everything else, I am sure.
WCT: You have a line on QVC, correct?
JM: I have a line on QVC currently and new one starting in summer or fall. It takes a long time because there are lots of people to go through and you need time to produce the stuff. We are designing the next line now.
It has been a really pleasant experience on QVC just because they are really nice and it's not all exclusive. I find the exclusivity in fashion is really alienating.
WCT: Then what's next for you?
JM: I actually just launched a line a fabrics in Houston last week. I design the fabrics into cute prints. Then turn they turn them into other products such as a Jay McCarroll umbrella or something like that. I did it through Free Spirit Fabric. I love the idea of people making their own clothes out of my fabrics.
WCT: That's very innovative. Where did this idea come from?
JM: It was one the first things that I was interested as a child. I liked fabric and color. I went to fashion school and it was fun. But collecting fabric is not a job.
I love the feel of textures as opposed to making women feel sexy. I think that's a big push in the fashion world to make women feel rich and luxurious. I could care less because I love sweatpants.
WCT: People can find out more about you on www.jaymccarroll.com . I really like your T-shirts on there.
JM: Those are old. We are working on new stuff now. I am actually working on apparel for the Web site—scarves, hats and stuff. That will be out for the holidays. There are some charity items on there also.
WCT: Well, you are keeping busy until your trip to Chicago. See ya at the afterparty!
On Sunday, Nov. 16, Jay McCarroll's film, Eleven Minutes, will be shown at Pipers Alley, 1608 N. Wells, and he will attend the afterparty at Salon 1800 across the street. For more of this interview, read Nightspots magazine or online at www.windycitymediagroup.com .