Dan Gross: 'Runway' designer due here for AIDS Walk

Mondo Guerra, who unpopularly was runner-up on "Project Runway," is scheduled to participate in the AIDS Walk here Sunday.
Mondo Guerra, who unpopularly was runner-up on "Project Runway," is scheduled to participate in the AIDS Walk here Sunday.
Posted: October 10, 2011

MONDO GUERRA usually wouldn't be caught dead in sweatpants, but the former "Project Runway" contestant says he might wear gray sweats and do a "Rocky" run up the Art Museum steps this weekend.

The HIV+ fashion designer spends most of his time these days speaking with college students and other groups on behalf of Merck's Living Positive by Design campaign. That's what brings Guerra, who spoke Friday at Philadelphia University, back to town Sunday for the AIDS Walk.

Guerra, 33, has been HIV+ since he was 22, but he didn't tell his family until just before a "Project Runway" episode two seasons ago in which he publicly revealed his status. "Coming off the show and revealing my HIV status, I felt I took on a responsibility to take on a role of advocacy," Guerra said.

Although he still designs, and sells some items on his website LoveMondoTrasho.com, Guerra says he's almost relieved he didn't win the season he was on because "I'm a fragile guy. If I had that pressure, I wouldn't have been ready for it."

Guerra lost to Gretchen Jones, a decision with which many fans, and even co-host Tim Gunn, publicly disagreed.

Guerra says that "every day, sometimes multiple times a day," someone approaches him on the street to say he got robbed.

"People think that I am very approachable," Guerra says of why he wanted to be an advocate for people with HIV.

Guerra will be joined at the AIDS Walk by another "Project Runway" alum, Jack Mackenroth, with whom Guerra tours in the Living Positive by Design campaign. These days Mackenroth, 42, is designing clothes for private clients, as well as releasing a 2012 calendar of himself in artful partially nude poses.

The designer, who has been HIV+ for more than 20 years, left "Project Runway" because he caught a staph infection in his nose.

He's working on a book about his life called "Making LemonAIDS," named after the Sarah Silverman joke that "When God gives you AIDS, make lemonAIDS." He says that he's generally an optimistic person and that "Statistically, I should be dead."

Mackenroth says progress in HIV/AIDS treatments have led some people to become cavalier about their chances of contracting the disease.

For more information, visit AIDSWalkPhilly.org or Living PositiveByDesign.com.

De Niro, Cooper movie

Robert De Niro was spotted in the elevator of 1818 Market St. the other day. The screen legend is in town shooting "The Silver Linings Playbook," along with Rydal native Bradley Cooper and "Winter's Bone" star Jennifer Lawrence.

It's a reunion for De Niro and Cooper, who worked together in Philadelphia last year on "Limitless," which initially was titled "The Dark Fields."

"Linings," based on the novel by La Salle graduate Matthew Quick, will shoot mainly in the suburbs, including Ridley Park, and, as we mentioned Thursday, it is also expected to shoot in Conshohocken.

OUT AND ABOUT

* A few hours after co-hosting "The View," Whoopi Goldberg was in Philadelphia Thursday, lunching with a party of 7 at Table 31 at the Comcast Center. The comedian/actress went for a chopped salad, hanger steak and chocolate cake.

Also in the restaurant at the time was Suzanne de Passe, a music and TV producer known for bringing the Jackson 5 to the attention of Motown's Berry Gordy. She was lunching with several friends.

* Hip-hop producer Pharrell Williams also stopped at Table 31 for lunch last week while in town to meet with Comcast about Karmaloop TV, a network designed to target the youth market that MTV captured in the early 1980s. Williams and associates toasted what they hope was a successful meeting before he flew back home to Miami Beach.

* Cardinals hurler Chris Carpenter stopped at Davio's (111 S. 17th) the night before pitching the elimination game against the Phillies Friday. Carpenter, who, you may have heard 75 times during the game telecast, is good friends with Roy Halladay, went for a mixed green salad, salmon and some sodas.

Baby boy for Bob Kelly

Congratulations to CBS 3/KYW 1060/WPHT 1210 traffic anchor Bob Kelly and wife, Carrie, on the birth of their son, Austin William, who arrived Wednesday and weighed 8 pounds, 8 ounces. He's the first child for the couple, though Bob has two daughters from his first marriage, and Carrie, who owns a marketing and PR firm, has two sons and a daughter from her first marriage.


Visit PhillyGossip.com for Dan's latest updates or follow PhillyGossip on Twitter. Have a tip? Call 215-854-5963, or email grossd@phillynews.com. For recent columns, visit www.philly.com/DanGross.

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