*Okay, Mondo didn't kiss me, but it was still a thrill.
I met Mondo Guerra last night for the second time. We met three years ago when he came to the open call for designers for our first runway competition Frock Out. He was already designing with panache and he was juried in as one of our twelve designers. I remember him as funny, self-effacing and joyful. Circumstances and life interfered and Mondo wasn't able to participate in Frock Out. I'm not sure if any of us knew then what we missed out on.
Last night, I attended a viewing party of Project Runway at Beauty Bar. Mondo has been hosting these viewing parties during the run of Season 8 (PR S8) and this night we were all going to find out if Mondo would be showing his collection at Fashion Week (I won't spoil it for you in case you haven't seen it yet). I'd found a place to lean (it was packed) and was waiting for the show to start, when I felt a tug on my sleeve. Standing next to me was Tran Wills, Denver's own fashion impresaria and one of the producers of this year's Frock Out. She said, "Chris, I'd like you to meet Mondo." Simple as that. Except it was like meeting Bette Davis, Judy Garland and Harvey Milk all rolled into one for me.
Mondo, looking every bit the natty-punk-nerd of PR S8, shook my hand and reminded me that we'd met before at the first Frock Out auditions. I tried to maintain some semblance of cool and commented on how terrific his designs were and said that I hoped he would take it all the way (I mean, it was really original fantalk). I'm not sure how any of this came out because I was so distracted by the thoughts of what I really wanted to tell him: That he made me proud to be in Denver. That he made me proud to be a gay man. That when I got home I was going to write a blog erroneously titled "The Night Mondo Guerra Kissed Me" because his compassion and integrity and three-story hairdos on Project Runway have charmed even a cynic like me.
And then with practiced grace, he gave me a little nod and started to move on; he was in high demand and Tran was ushering him through the crowd. As he drifted away, he turned back toward me and said, "I'll see you at Frock Out." It seems that the media glare and the attention of well-meaning (read overzealous) supporters has not changed Mondo much since we first met in 2007. Still approachable, still joyful, still haloed in style. He'll have his turn at Frock Out II -- as our guest judge. I'm certain he'll bring gentle, affable wisdom to the task. And a mile-high hairstyle.