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Going XXX: HIV-Positive Activist Jack Mackenroth Comes Into His Own

May 1, 2018

Jack Mackenroth

Jack Mackenroth (Credit: Selfie by Jack Mackenroth)

I was scrolling through Twitter the other day, and it was the same old stuff: political harangues, celebrity scandals, and reality TV rants. All of a sudden, a short video clip of delightfully graphic, XXX, scorching hot bareback male-on-male action came into view. Ooo, baby! I'm intrigued. As the video continued and my computer screen started to burn up, I realized: 'Hey, I know that guy!' Well, one of them.

That guy is internationally known HIV activist and advocate, Jack Mackenroth, who has recently entered the realm of adult entertainment. At the beginning of the year, he began showing his goodies on a personal page on OnlyFans, a site dedicated to providing exclusive content to users for a monthly fee. Forty-eight year old Jack has been taking to his Twitter page, which was formerly filled with witticisms and HIV advocacy, to advertise his new business venture, in all his humpy, fit glory.

Jack has never been known as a blushing flower, and God knows he's got a darling figure. He has been a competitive swimmer since his school days, and he's won gold medals at almost every Gay Games he's competed in. He's a fashion and fitness model (appearing in Men's Health, Men's Fitness, Genre, and L'Uomo Vogue, to name a few), so getting naked or close to naked has never been something he's shied away from.

Jack first gained national attention on Season 4 of the hit designer reality competition TV show, Project Runway. A favorite that season, just after winning a challenge, Jack was forced to leave the competition early when he developed a serious staph infection, made more complicated because of his HIV status. His bravery and honesty in disclosing his HIV status when making the decision to leave the show was heroic and inspiring to a lot of people nationwide, including me. Post Runway, Jack (who was diagnosed in 1990) emerged as a prominent HIV activist and advocate, partnering with Merck to create the national HIV/AIDS educational campaign, "Living Positive by Design." (This campaign was later taken on by fellow Project Runway alum Mondo Guerra.) Jack also created the anti-stigma campaign HIV Equal. He was a media strategist for Housing Works and personally raised over $100,000 for them through the Braking AIDS Rides.


Related: "HIV Equal" Campaign Fights Stigma Through Social Media



"I love being the sort of poster boy for HIV," he said in a recent phone call. "And I love that people can find me easily on the internet and ask me questions, that I'm really approachable and super accessible on social media."

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So, why did Jack recently make a foray into adult entertainment, showing his goodies while hanging in a sling, being buggered by a body builder? And what does this mean for his future?

Jack said that, after years of working in the non-profit world, he was tired of undertaking the challenges of fundraising for causes while struggling to make enough money to get by. He decided to go back to school to take an accelerated course in nursing. "I wanted a trade," he said. "I wanted to do something where I'm in demand, and I don't have to sort of hoof it all the time. I turn 49 soon," he continued, "and I didn't want to be scratching and clawing when I'm 60."

Jack was recently accepted into the Borough of Manhattan Community College to begin prerequisite courses in the fall, before applying for accelerated nursing programs. But nurse shmurse! What about these nudie movies and stuff on OnlyFans?

"Ever since I ... well, we all know I have no problems being naked," he explained. "After Project Runway, there was a lot of demand for me to be in quote-unquote 'photo shoots,' and some of the photographers were not very creative and just basically wanted you to take your clothes off. I'm a swimmer, and well, it's not a big deal." Jack continued: "[A]ll these people were like, 'Would you do porn, would you please do porn, would you please do porn?' and I was like, I'm not interested in doing porn, at all. I'm simply not. But then, OnlyFans happened. So, I said to myself, if I reach 100,000 followers on Instagram, I'll do OnlyFans."

"I mean, I've always been sort of porn adjacent, and everyone always assumed I did porn. And I've always been body positive and sex positive. Strangely, I grew up with John Rutherford, who's head director at Falcon [Studios, known for XXX porn], and I know Chi Chi [LaRue, legendary gay porn producer/director], and I know Steven Scarborough, who ran Hot House [Entertainment, gay pornography studio], so I knew all those people from when I was like, 19."

When it came time to find a way to pay for nursing school and other life expenses, these friends came in handy.

"I was just like, fuck it. I mean, literally, fuck it!" Jack giggled. "I started off with some friends I knew in the porn industry; I just wanted to be confident that I'm working with people that I can trust, and that it's all under my control."


Jack Mackenroth


Before he started posting on his OnlyFans page, he looked at other people's pages to see what they were like. Jack said, "A lot of people have a huge social media following, but they don't really do anything on OnlyFans. Like, they'll show their ass on Instagram, and they'll show their ass-hole on OnlyFans, you know what I mean? So, it's not much different, and fans get really bitter about that."

When deciding what to post on the site, "I had to decide what I was OK with," he said. When he began posting in mid-January, he was just posting naked photos and video that other people had shot. Then his popularity exploded, and the money started rolling in.

"I think it's crass when people tell you how much money they're making, but let me just say that, at this rate, I'll make more this year than I ever have," Jack said. In a little over three months, Jack's popularity on the site has generated over 17,000 "likes."

"Officially, I'm a porn star now, whatever the fuck that means," he said.

But what does this mean for Jack's work in the HIV field, and where do the two meet?

"Well, there's already been blog posts about what a disgusting AIDS whore I am, and how I'm a meth-head. But," Jack continued: "You can take the fucking activist out of activism, but you can't take the activist out of ... whatever the fuck I'm trying to say. [Laughter.] Because, the porn industry is really smart on HIV."

Jack's HIV status may stir up controversy in the social media realm, but so far, no one in the porn industry has had an issue with it. Whenever there's been any kind of attack about it on a blog or social media site, everyone in the business has had the right answers.

"They're all like: 'Fuck you, we're all on PrEP [pre-exposure prophylaxis] or we're undetectable, and you don't know your shit. Here's a website; educate yourself. And stop trolling my site.'" Jack said.

He continued, "I've educated a lot of people. It's like: 'Hi! U=U! I'm not transmitting anything.'"

It may be an unconventional way to enlighten people, but Jack Mackenroth going into porn could be a powerful way to subtly (or not-so-subtly) educate people about HIV and the reality of how sexual risks from HIV have changed in the modern world. In a blatant and sexy way, Jack is showing that people living and aging with HIV and on successful treatment pose no risk of transmission and can live full lives that include hot, incredibly hot, enviably hot sex. It's Jack putting his money where his mouth is.

"No honey," Jack corrected, "I'm putting my mouth where the money is!"

You can find Jack Mackenroth on OnlyFans, and follow him on Twitter (if you dare!) @jackmackenroth.

Charles Sanchez Charles Sanchez is an openly gay, openly poz writer/director/actor living in New York City. He has written for WritingRaw.com and HuffPost's Queer Voices. As a performer, musical director, and director, he has worked in venues ranging from Lincoln Center and off-Broadway to dinner theater in Arkansas. His award-winning musical comedy web series, Merce, is about an HIV-positive guy living in New York who isn't sad, sick, or dying.

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