Pour l'ami de Madonna, renommée par association: interview de Jesus Luz.
Jesus Luz, best known as the 22-year-old Brazilian model who is dating Madonna, is making the most of being in the spotlight.
For Madonna’s Boyfriend, Fame by Association
By ALLEN SALKIN
Published: November 27, 2009
THROUGH the penthouse windows, New York City, foggy and soft-looking, was spread out in every direction. Jesus Luz, best known as the 22-year-old Brazilian model who is dating Madonna, was about to step up to the D.J. station in a club atop a Lower East Side hotel.
Young models in sheer cocktail dresses shimmied near chrome buckets holding bottles of the vodka brand sponsoring the party.
A freelance reporter for Life & Style magazine prepared to sidle up for a quick interview. “I’m here because I’m supposed to ask him questions about dating Madonna,” she said.
Asked if she knew how to say Mr. Luz’s first name, she ventured, “Hay-soos? Or maybe Gee-zus?”
Life has changed so fast for Mr. Luz, it is not surprising that not everyone in his orbit knows how to pronounce Jesus in the proper Portuguese way. Matt Levine, a club owner who had organized the party and refers to Mr. Luz as a friend, was going with “Hay-soos.” Josh Holland, who has been his personal trainer for several months, after the two met through a Madonna connection, was snapping photos and calling him “J.”
A year ago, Mr. Luz was earning about $500 a day as a model in Rio de Janeiro, said Sérgio Mattos, his agent at the time. Then in December 2008 he landed a shoot with Madonna for W magazine in which the two played lovers in a Rio hotel.
“At the moment he met Madonna, I never see him after that,” said Mr. Mattos in a telephone interview. “I sent him to the job and after that he changed phone numbers and I never see him again.”
The months since have been a study in ascension. Mr. Luz signed with Ford Models in New York, escorted Madonna to the Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute Ball in the spring and appeared on the runway for Dolce & Gabbana in Milan.
He enrolled at a D.J. school in Manhattan and in no time has landed high-profile gigs. For the 90-minute set he was spinning Nov. 12, only his second professional D.J. outing in the city, he was being paid around $15,000, said Matthew Isaacs, a promoter who had booked him, at a lower cost, to spin two nights later at Hiro in the meatpacking district.
Mr. Luz is hot, and he is enjoying it.
“I love the energy of the crowd,” he said, stepping away from the D.J. stand to pose for photos with admiring female fans. “It’s good to have two careers going on, modeling and D.J.ing. I feel good.”
Before Mr. Luz, muscular and curly haired with piercing blue eyes, returned to the laptop and mixing board, he explained the proper way to say his first and last names: “Zhay-ZOOSE. Loose.”
If dating Madonna were enough to make it big in New York, Carlos Leon, the personal trainer who fathered her first child, might own a citywide chain of Get Cut with Carlos gyms. Jellybean Benitez, the D.J. who remixed songs for her when they were a couple in the 1980s, might be a judge on “American Idol.”
Mr. Luz, the son of a hospital clerical worker and a hairdresser, is charming, friendly, sincere and hard-working. As his star has rocketed upward, he has shown one of the qualities of a great New York: the ability to use the opportunities presented to their fullest.
If you want to say he owes it all to Madonna, go ahead. He isn’t concerned with responding to those who say he’d be nothing without the singer, who included Mr. Luz at her 51st birthday party aboard a boat in Italy in August, with her children and the designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana.
“I don’t talk about my girlfriend,” Mr. Luz said. “Let them come to their own conclusions.” (Through a spokeswoman, Madonna declined to comment for this article.)
Jesus Pinto na Luz, who has two younger brothers, moved frequently as a child, especially after his parents split when he was almost 5 years old.
“I grew up with many ups and downs,” he said. “I also saw the beauty of people who were living an intellectual life and also people who were humble and had nothing.”
As a teenager he pursued modeling and acting, working odd jobs, including as a salesman at a surf shop in Ipanema.
“When I was a teenager, I thought I couldn’t do nothing in my life,” he said. “I felt very hopeless. And then something started to happen.”
He studied Buddhism and yoga and an ex-girlfriend introduced him to kabbalah. “I’m just looking for something to make me strong, and kabbalah has given me that,” he said. “I’m looking for something to make me comfortable and happy in my life.”
In 2006, he spent six months in New York, living with an aunt and learning English.
When he met Madonna, also a kabbalah devotee, last December, she had been divorced from the filmmaker Guy Ritchie for one month.
Once back in Manhattan, things happened very quickly for Mr. Luz. He became friendly with Mr. Holland, the personal trainer, who was an assistant to Madonna’s trainer, Tracy Anderson. “I was helping Tracy train Madonna,” Mr. Holland said. “And that’s how I met him, because he was always there.”
Mr. Luz works out five or six days a week, Mr. Holland said.
He also began studying at Dubspot, a D.J. school. “I like music,” Mr. Luz explained. “I like electronic music. I’m learning how to produce. It’s great to be a channel of music. It’s great to have the energy of the people going through you.”
Although some gossip Web sites have reported that Madonna pays Mr. Luz an “allowance,” he said that was ridiculous. “I’m laughing so loud,” he said.
He has landed paying jobs, whether by association with the singer the British newspapers call “Madge,” or not. He walked the runway in Milan in June for Dolce & Gabbana and appeared in an ad campaign for the company this fall. He is in campaigns for the winter collection of Pepe Jeans and the spring-summer collection of the Argentine fashion label Ona Saez.
In May, he and Madonna attended the 30th birthday party of Lorenzo Martone, a Brazilian publicist for models who is the boyfriend of the designer Marc Jacobs. Mr. Martone and Mr. Luz became friends.
At the party, attended by about 150 people including Amanda Setton from the cast of “Gossip Girl” and the artist Terence Koh, Mr. Martone gave Mr. Luz a turn as D.J. Photos appeared on the W magazine blog and other Web sites.
“Of course being with someone high-profile helps,” Mr. Martone said, “but if you don’t work hard, that doesn’t last more than a couple of months in New York.”
New York has been good to him, Mr. Luz allowed. “I like the strong energy of the people in the city and how they work and run behind your ideals here,” he said. “It is very contagious in a good way. Sometimes when I look at the Statue of Liberty, I feel a sensation similar to when I look at the statue of Christ in Rio.”
About six weeks ago, a D.J. agent for Mr. Luz began spreading word that he was available for parties. It didn’t hurt his prospects that Madonna attended his first significant gig in New York, a Nov. 3 party at the Boom Boom Room at the Standard Hotel to promote the documentary “Valentino: The Last Emperor.”
“Every club person in the city, including me, jumped on it in the hopes of having her at the party as well,” said Mr. Isaacs, the promoter for the club Hiro. “There’s a lot of media hype around him. Girls seem to be interested in him.”
Mr. Isaacs said he had tried to help book Mr. Luz for a party at a club in Las Vegas, but the club balked at the fee Mr. Luz’s representatives were requesting, $30,000.
It is a lot of money for a D.J. who has not worked enough nights to find his own voice, said D.J. Manero, who followed Mr. Luz one night. But, D.J. Manero added, “He had an opportunity and he took full advantage of it.”
At Hiro last Saturday, Karl Templer, the creative director of Interview magazine, stepped onto the D.J. platform to pat Mr. Luz on the back. Mr. Luz danced to the rumbling electronic music he played, stamping his right foot, throwing out his rear end and, occasionally, throwing an arm in the air like a rodeo rider.
After climbing down, Mr. Templer said he had come to offer support as a friend, following a shoot Mr. Luz had done that day for Interview.
When did Mr. Templer first meet his friend?
“Today,” Mr. Templer said.
Will it last? Can it last? Should it last?
Hard work is helpful, but there is a lot of competition at the top. After the Lower East Side penthouse show, Marie Cuccurullo, a publicist with Think PR, which had been hired by the promoters, was bemoaning the lack of A-list turnout. Christian Siriano, of “Project Runway,” was arguably the most famous person there — besides Mr. Luz.
“We were hired to get celebrities, but we were competing with the ‘Twilight’ premiere and after-party, the Victoria’s Secret show and after-party, and P. Diddy’s 40th birthday,” she said. “Every prospect was like ‘Are you kidding?’ ”
Mr. Luz is not quite ready to fly solo in such a universe.
He has mixed two of his own songs so far, one called “Sweet Mystery” and another called “We Come From Light.” (In Portuguese, luz means light.)
He finished his sets last weekend by mashing together “We Come From Light” with a Madonna hit.
“Revolver,” he explained. “I mix it with my song. You can hear my voice and her voice together.”
Source: New York Times.
SPIN MASTER Madonna’s name helps Jesus Luz get jobs as a D.J.
Photo: Ariel Marinkovic/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images.
FELLOW TRAVELER Visiting a Jewish mystic's tomb in Israel.
Photo: Jini/Associated Press.
HIS OWN GIG Mr. Luz worked as a D.J. at the Hiro ballroom in Chelsea last weekend.
Photo: Nicholas Roberts for The New York Times.