The Cutting Edge

2.19.2009

By Parker Anderson

After winning the first season of Project Runway in 2004, Jay McCarroll hopped on a bus and moved to New York City, ready to receive the fame, fortune, and adulation bestowed upon big name fashion designers. But success doesn't come easy and it took McCaroll -- who turned down the $100,000 he won from the reality TV show to ensure he could do things exactly as he pleased -- until the spring of 2007 to finish his first independent collection. Brash, outspoken, and determined, he finally debuted the line at New York Fashion Week, and lucky for us, all of the chaos that ensued along the way was captured on film for his new documentary, 11 Minutes, in theaters February 20.

Out caught up with the designer to chat about the movie, the perils of reality TV stardom, and the adult website he managed before Project Runway changed his life.

Out:Has the excitement of starring in Eleven Minutes worn off at all?
Jay McCarroll: I've lived it once and I've watched it and it's different rough stages and final cuts, so it's been regurgitated in my brain so many times of course it lost some of its mystique. I'm just excited for people to see what I've been up to a little bit, and see that I'm not just capable of making a fucking dress out of aluminum foil, so that's good. I'm also really excited about staying in the SoHo Grand and my view across the street is some guy who walks around in his apartment naked.

Really? That's amazing. Maybe you should return the favor.
Ugh, I'm sure he would fucking close his blinds. 'Hey, I'm the...wait'are you closing your blinds?' Ugh -- story of my life. I'm just going to go out and get drunk by myself. Anyway, everybody's weird when they're nude aren't they? [Laughs]

Yes, unless they're drinking.
True.

Is there anything in the movie that's going to shock people?
Yeah, like all the fucking things that go wrong -- the balloon popping and all those bad things that happen. I think it's less about me. We did the film as kind of a reaction to my experience on Project Runway and the fact that people thought I could just whip up a wedding dress. I just wanted to show that there are a lot more steps that go into putting out a line of clothes. It's grueling, it's stressful, there are a lot of people that helped me get my name in the back of a shirt. I just think people think, 'Oh, you're on Project Runway you can do anything and you can just whip it up,' but it's not that easy.

Right. So you don't really think shows like Project Runway really capture the industries they're trying to imitate?
Well, I mean I love Project Runway. It falls under the category of reality TV, competitive reality TV. I made a documentary film, which is the real reality. There are shows, like Intervention, which are reality television, which are real situations, but there's also Rock of Love Bus with Bret Michaels, which is fucking reality television too. So, this is a documentary, this is the real reality. What do I think about those programs? I don't know -- I love them. I watch them but I think their title is not correct.

Do you still stay in contact with any of the people from Project Runway? Heidi or Tim maybe?
Yeah. I mean I don't have any of their numbers. I did have Tim Gunn's information, but I guess as soon as Season Two [of Project Runway] came he kind of moved on and is now on a Tide commercial or something. Heidi -- I never see her, and I don't think she gives a fuck about me. I'll talk to Nick Varios or Laura Bennett, and Austin Scarlett, I went to his Christmas party, so a couple of them. I mean we'll see each other at the [Project Runway] finale show and we'll chit chat, but basically everyone's competitive and weird.

I was on your website today and a lot of the clothes you're selling were in the movie. Is the site successful?
Oh, it's been good. We're always putting out new stuff. We have a new line that's in production now that will be up there in April. And the website is great because I don't have to like have a retail store or overhead or pay employees or any of that shit so it's actually kind of -- in this economy -- a really good place to be. And it gets tons of traffic. I don't want to be the next Marc Jacobs -- that's not my thing. I just want to put out clothes.

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