On Valentine’s Day, Project Runway All Stars winner Mondo Guerra is coming to Philly to host a mix-and-mingle in support of ActionAIDS’ Dining Out For Life, a group he’s been involved with since his emotional revelation on national TV that he was HIV-positive. This week, he gave me a ring from New York, where he is in town for Fashion Week, and we had a nice chat about his involvement with the organization. I found him to be a refreshingly down-to-earth, kind-hearted guy — nowhere near as sassy as he looks in that photo to the right. He was even open to answering some of my more-probing questions about life post-Project Runway, including what he and Jay McCarroll will be doing when he’s in Philly and why he still has beef with Michael Kors.
G Philly: Are you excited to come to Philly for this event?
Mondo Guerra: I’m so excited. I hear it’s going to be “Mondo-centric.” I’m a little vain, so of course I’m excited about seeing myself all over the place. (laughs).
GP: How did you get involved with Dining Out For Life?
MG: This is my first year with the fundraiser. I’ve always participated in the event by going to a restaurant in my community … so when they approached me and asked if I wanted to participate as a spokesperson, I thought it was a perfect fit.
GP: On Project Runway season 8, you revealed that you were HIV positive. Is that one of the best decisions you’ve ever made?
MG: Oh my God, it changed my life. I can’t even tell you how much the secret was destroying me — not only as an individual, but as a creative person. I lost sight of so many goals because I couldn’t talk about it. So when I talked about it, I felt reborn again. It has triggered so many beautiful relationships, and so many that I’ve been pushing away for so many years, including my mom and my dad. It’s a brand new life. It really is.
GP: You didn’t win that season, but you went on to win All Stars soon after. How has your life changed since then?
MG: Now I’m getting a consistent, steady amount of work and I enjoy it. The best thing is that there are projects that I can say no to. I can choose my projects now.
GP: What are you working on?
MG: I had the opportunity to design a collection for Neiman Marcus, which comes out in 2013. I also have a line of eyewear coming out this summer at seeeyewear.com. I’m really excited about that, because: (a) I wear glasses, and (b) I’m going to have an arsenal of really dope frames.
GP: Who are some of the neatest celebs you’ve gotten to know since you won?
MG: Obviously, I know Heidi and Tim, and Nina is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. I know she gets a bad rap because she’s so brutally honest about what she likes and doesn’t like, but she’s so cool. Other than that … I don’t know. I’m not really starstruck. I don’t think about people that are in the public eye as “celebrities.” I meet people and that’s that.
GP: You didn’t mention Michael Kors. You don’t like him?
MG: I didn’t say that! (laughs) I don’t think Michael and I have had an opportunity to talk. [After I lost season 8], I saw Nina at a party and she came up and explained what her thinking was. She said she was sorry it didn’t work out, and I really respected that. I think there’s a little bit of tension still between Michael and I, because I haven’t had the opportunity to talk to him.
GP: Let’s talk about what you’ll be doing in Philly. Have you been here before?
MG: Oh my God, I love Philadelphia. It’s so cute. It’s kind of like New York, but it’s quieter. It’s a little smaller. I feel like it’s a little bit more loved to tell you the truth.
GP: I saw you in a photo with Jay McCarroll during Fashion Week. Will you guys hang out when you’re in Philly?
MG: I love Jay. Every time I’m in Philly I always make it a point to see him and his partner.
GP: Will he take you out on the town?
MG: You know what, Jay has his agenda. I just say come pick me up and we go. I don’t know where he takes me. Of course we’re going to hit up the gay bars.
GP: I can’t let you go without talking a little fashion. G Philly’s Spring Style Issue is coming out in March. What are some of your tips on what we should buy for spring?
MG: Sloppy silhouettes are in — kind of loose-fitted, shapeless silhouettes. It’s going to be major.
GP: What about colors?
MG: I think color comes down to personality, so whatever you feel comfortable in. If you’re a victim of wearing black or neutrals all the time, you should change it up and do something unexpected.
OTHER GIRL TALK GAB SESSIONS:
- RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Jinkx Monsoon
- RuPaul’s Drag Race‘s Alaska Thunderfuck
- The Biggest Loser‘s Jackson Carter
- Johnny Anastacio from Kimora: House of Fab
- Casey Donegan from What Not to Wear
- Matt McWilliams from Temple web series One of the Guys
- Risk! poscaster and The State Alum Kevin Allison