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? Thats amazing. Maybe you should return the favor.
Ugh, I'm sure he would fucking close his blinds. Hey, I'm the...waitare 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 theyre drinking.
Is there anything in the movie thats 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 dont really think shows like Project Runway really capture the industries theyre 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 theres 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 dont 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.
Have you run into anyone worth mentioning since Project Runway?
I'm not friends with any celebrities, but I did like have an email exchange back and forth with Sarah Silverman for a little bit and she's awesome. And Amy Sedaris, even if I was just to look at her from across the room I'd be really excited because I love her to death. Like I love Amy Sedaris, I love Sarah Silverman, I love Alanis Morrisette, I don't love fucking Kate Winslet or you know Rihanna -- I don't care. I like the weirdoes of the world, and I just wish people would understand that.
You seem to reject the celebrity name game its obvious from the movie and from the fact that you turned down Project Runways prizes.
Yeah, I don't play that end of it. If I made gowns I would care about that stuff. I'd be like Ooh, I want Kate Winslet to wear my dresses because it's a lot of exposure for my work, but I want to make sweatshirts for fucking Amy Sedaris, or I want to make some one-of-a-kind weirdness for Sarah Silverman. Im like the off the beaten path designer.
I read somewhere that right before Project Runway you were designing web pages for adult websites. Is that true?
No, I wasn't designing web pages, I was working at a live sex website where girls masturbated on the internet for six dollars a minute. And, I was just like a manager and I trained them and I would take them to casting couch areas where I made them get naked and took Polaroid pictures of them. And then I would teach them how to masturbate and we'd order food and then I would teach them how to like clean their stations and chat to guys on the computer while masturbating.
It was funny. I did it for two years and there was a girl there who hid a pregnancy on camera, naked, for eight months and then she sold her baby on the black market. And then there was the other two girls who beat the shit out of each other with snow shovels, and then there was the girl who got run over by a truck, and then there was the girl who overdosed and passed out on camera and she started puking and having a seizure when she had a fucking dildo in her butt. And, yeah, it was hilarious.
That should be a reality show.
No shit, but that kind of came to a sour end because I was like, Wow, I bought my couch with money that like, was from the abuse of women. But it was an awesome experience, I learned a lot about humans, and then Project Runway happened.
And now the movie. What else do you have coming up?
The movie, and the website, and the fabric line, and then Ill show the next line of fabric in May. And then I think were developing a TV show, but thats all pre-production. There are two different TV shows that were kind of pulling around.
Do you know what networks?
No, stop being so nosy! [Laughs]
I know you left a boyfriend behind in New York. Do you have a new boyfriend? Any men in your life?
Super single. I dont know -- I kind of think that with my ex-boyfriend it was very intense. I tried to think that it could work, but I don't really get people. That's wrong. I don't make any effort. I meet tons of hot guys all the time, and I'll meet them and they'll be in love with me, but I don't want to return the favor. I just feel like people only like me for who I am no -- for what I am -- not who I am. Because I'm a fat freak, dude.
11 Minutes opens in select theaters on February 20.