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Mondo Guerra Is Deep In Vogue

By Tony Peregrin in Arts & Entertainment on Dec 13, 2010 5:00PM

2010_12_mondog.jpg Armando “Mondo” Guerra didn’t quite sew up Project Runway last season (he came in second), but the knee-sock-clad, 32-year-old designer charmed audiences with his unique brand of charisma and bold sense of style. This week Guerra returns to the catwalk, this time as a judge for Vogue for Tots 4, a ball-style vogue-off to benefit Presented by Mint Male, Stardust, and Berlin, the event features various “houses” that werk their lewks and moves as they compete in categories such as Butch Royalty, Glossy Twink, Glamour Dyke, Tranny Realness and Vogue the House.

In a recent interview with Chicagoist, Guerra cut right through it to reveal what vogue-off category best describes him, his number-one fan pet-peeve, and why he hopes viewers are not giving Project Runway the kiss-off.

Chicagoist: You will be in Chicago for an event benefiting—what were some of your favorite toys as a child, and what are some of your favorite adult toys?

Mondo Guerra: Hungry Hungry Hippo as a kid. Adult toys?! No comment!

C: Are you excited to be judging a vogue-off, Mondo?

MG: I am excited and a little intimidated by the whole extravaganza! [Laughs] I’ve never judged one, but I've entered one. (Not.)

C: Which vogue-off category best describes you at the moment?

MG: I'm always kind of Glamour Dyke.

C: Which categories are you most excited to see performed?

MG: I’m very excited to see the Tranny Realness, and, of course, Butch Royalty. Overall, I’ll be looking for creativity, and how each performer takes their category to the next level, in terms of costume, attitude—you know.

C: Let’s talk Project Runway for a few minutes—what is the number one question you are asked about the show?

MG: Is Gretchen a bitch? And…I’ll leave it at that.

C: When you lost to Gretchen Jones in the finale, the world was extremely disheartened and basically said ‘I’m sorry Project Done-Way. That means you’re out. Kiss, kiss. Auf wiedersehen.’

MG: I would hope that people continue to watch the show—I mean, we all have dreams and artists really need the support.

C: How did it feel for Michael Kors to compare you to John Galliano?

MG: I am honored that he compared me to [Galliano], I mean, he’s a show that gives a show, you know?

C: Who are your dream celebrity-clients that you’d like to design for, Mondo?

MG: I would like to design for Rhianna, or maybe that little Willow [Smith]. She’s cute!

C: Talk a little about your decision to open up about your HIV+ status on Project Runway. At what point during that challenge did you decide to share your secret?

MG: I decided to open up about the subject right there on the runway—it wasn't planned. I had no intention about talking about my status. It was just the way it went down. I feel that was my moment.

C: You won the 20K challenge from L’Oreal in Episode 9. How have you invested the money? Do you have the advertorial from Marie Claire hanging in your office for inspiration?

MG: I keep all of my press stuff—I hope to share it with my kids someday. As far as the reward, I’ve been investing in my line, and I’m looking to launch for holiday 2011.

C: You’ve said that fashion design is just one of your creative outlets, and that you ‘eat, breathe, sleep creativity,’ and that even when you are washing the dishes, you’re thinking to yourself ‘How can I do this creatively, so I can get through it?’

MG: Have you ever seen Dancer in the Dark? I try to live my life like a musical. And by hearing music in the rhythm of my day.

C: Have you been to Chicago before? Do you pretty much get recognized wherever you go?

MG: I like meeting fans, and if they want a picture, and autograph I'm down—just know how to use your damn camera! [Laughs]. I've never been to Chicago—I’m not looking forward to the cold, but everything else I’m open to. Bring it on!

Vogue for Tots 4 is Thursday, December 16, at Berlin, 10 p.m., 21+. Discounted admission with a toy donation. A portion of the door proceeds are used to buy toys for