THE HIGH POWERED HUSTLE OF JENNIFER LOPEZ
GLAMOUR South Africa|January/February 2020
As a movie star, global pop sensation, and an internet-melting fashion icon, nobody owned 2019 like Jennifer Lopez.

First of all, Jennifer Lopez’s apartment looks exactly as you’d imagine: a penthouse in the sky, replete with tasteful floral arrangements, flickering Le Labo candles, and sofas in shades of ecru, cream, and white that, while cosy, appear remarkably unsullied by the debris of human life. The most surprising thing about the place is its location: it’s in the middle of a busy part of New York, and yet, at the same time, it’s private. Looking out from her terrace, you can see thousands of people bustling about, but no one can see you.

This was where Jennifer was sitting on a recent Sunday. She’d just finished working out – because of course she had – and was sipping a cappuccino in makeup-less splendour. That’s when a late-season bee, perhaps mistaking her famous skin for actual honey, suddenly dive-bombed her face. I must’ve made a sound like NOT HER FACE, MOTHERFUCKER because Jennifer said, “It’s just a bee,” and waved it away. Because, of course. She can handle a bee. She’s Jennifer Lopez.

When Jennifer first signed on to produce and star in Hustlers, a movie inspired by an article I wrote for New York magazine, I was as familiar with her work as anyone else on planet Earth. Which is to say, I was familiar with it in the way that I was familiar with, say, air.

Movies like The Wedding Planner and songs like ‘Waiting for Tonight’ were things I’d ingested and enjoyed my entire life and essentially considered a basic human right. But it’s fair to say that I didn’t fully appreciate Jennifer’s work – as in, the extraordinary amount of labour she puts into making these works of art and being Jennifer Lopez – until I created a Google Alert for the movie, which had the side benefit of giving me a daily digest of Jennifer’s activities for over a year. It was like watching Carmen Sandiego or something. Every time I opened my emails, she was somewhere, doing something.

For Hustlers, in which she plays Ramona, a tough-as-nails, career-stripper turned-criminal, Jennifer learned to pole dance, enduring numerous bruises to her thighs to deliver what will go down as the most iconic pole-dancing scene in cinematic history. After the movie was shot, she took offon her ‘It’s My Party’ tour, singing and dancing and jumping out of cakes for sold-out audiences. At one point, I saw a photo of her hanging from a giant sparkling ring on stage, which reminded me that sometime before she’d also gotten engaged to Alex Rodriguez. Then, during winter, she turned 50, a milestone she celebrated as one should – with a massive blowout at Gloria Estefan’s house in Miami. Then, a week after Hustlers came out in September, while the entire internet was demanding she be given an Oscar right now, she created a wholly new iconic moment, at Donatella Versace’s show in Milan, when she appeared in an updated version of the green dress that broke the internet the last time she wore it, nearly 20 years ago. Then she popped back to New York to start work with Owen Wilson and Maluma on Marry Me.

Given the year she’s had – which will spill into next year, with awards season and her Super Bowl performance with Shakira just around the corner – it’s tempting to frame this as a moment. A Lopezaissance, if you will. But is it?

Someone, after seeing Hustlers, tweeted, ‘Jennifer Lopez is a bad bitch’, which I understood to be a compliment but did not realise was a lyric from ‘I’m Real’, until I came across an oral history of the song, which talks about how you wrote the line in the studio and beckoned Puffy to sing it.

[laughs] That’s true! [sings] I’m a bad, bad bitch. That was a long time ago.

It was 2001. Are you a bad bitch?

I think, growing up in the Bronx, there’s a little bit of a, you know, urban gangster quality. That ‘Jenny from the Block’ side. With my Timberlands and my hoops. ’Cause we came from such a hard background, growing up on those types of streets. I used to see girls fighting. I grew up with that. And it affects you. It makes you a tough, badass-type character. When I went to LA, everybody seemed so soft.

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