Hes not the typical, media-friendly gay man, with a buff body and perfect haircut. Oh, but his acerbic wit! Jay McCarroll, 29, is talented, vulgar, and has a potty mouth that would make a sailor blush. But hes also Americas next great fashion designer, having been given the title on Bravos fashion design reality series Project Runway. For his fashion-forward, rock and roll collection, displayed in the final round of competition at the Olympus Fashion Week earlier this month, McCarroll won $100,000 to start his own line, a spread in Elle, and a mentorship with the Banana Republic design team.
First of all, congratulations!
Ari, this has to be interesting because this is my 900th interview and Im so fucking bored.
OK, well lets make it interesting. I thought it was really fascinating that Bravo didnt talk about peoples sexuality. So are you a proud, out gay man?
Hell, no. I hate fags. [Laughs] Other than when Im getting blown by themIm sorry. [Laughs again] I dont really identify with the gay community much. Up to this point, people havent been welcoming to me. Maybe thats because I live in a small town, but people have always treated me like shit because Im a weirdo and I dont look like Brad Pitt. And Im obnoxious. I dont understand how, for a community that celebrates diversity, its like the most cloned fucking community ever.
Do you think the fashion world is ready for the scandal that is Jay?
I think theyre really eating it up. I think Im refreshing for them because Im so gritty and realistic. Its hard for them to handle because its such a fucking pretentious, shallow industry. Honestly, we talked about sexuality in general on the show. People still think Im straight. I just wish gay people just acted like people. Its so sad that they feel the need to be so easily identifiable by other gay people that they all end up looking the same, talking the same, listening to the same music. I understand people want to fit in, but I knew I was gay at 8 and adjusted by 12, so by 14 or 16 I was over it already. Thank God for this program! Gay people like me dont get exposed. Im dirty and sloppy and vulgar and colorful and bizarre. I think Im one of the first of my kind to be exposed.
Have things already started rolling with Banana Republic and Elle? What is the first line going to be?
I dont want to jump into this too quick. I want to learn how this whole business thing works for the next six months, then really get in on an intense line for men and women, of course. I love menswear; thats something we couldnt showcase on the show.
Whats your relationship like with Wendy Pepper now?
Were having a child together! I dont know. I dont have much of a relationship with her. We have an understanding, probably. She adores me and is jealous of me. Wendys an interesting person. Shes educated and was in the Peace Corps and lived in Tibet. Shes very witty and has this disgusting, weird, strategic, psychotic, bipolar, messed-up side too.
When did you decide you had a real winning shot?
I knew while I made my collection I was going to be strong. But probably when I saw how smoothly it was going during fittings and model castings. I didnt really know [that I would win], you know? Kara Saun and I were on equal ground.
You looked so nervous.
Why does everyone keep saying that?
At the very end when you were sitting there and [final episode judge] Parker Posey was talking to you, you looked like you couldnt speak.
Wouldnt you be nervous? It was like someone telling you your fate for the next couple of years.
We saw some pictures from your youth on the show. Were you a nerd in high school?
No, not at all. I was in band, but I wasnt a nerd by any means. I was in Key Club and student council and in plays and environmental club. I was voted Best Dressed. Fuckin-A, man, I was 14who was cool? I was a fuckin fat ass like I am now.
Speaking of which, your sister said you needed liposuction. One of the models called you Buddha. Does that give you a complex?
Im over it. Ive been husky my whole life. My mom took me to that weird section in Sears. Its genetics. At the end of the day, Ive learned its not whats on the outside. When Im trying to find a man, its totally whats on the outside, but for them trying to find me, its whats on the inside. Double standard. But now I can pay for sex!