First of all, Jennifer Lopez’s apartment looks exactly as you’d imagined, 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 cozy, appear remarkably unsullied by the debris of human life. The most surprising thing about the place is the location: It’s smack in the middle of a busy part of Manhattan, and yet, at the same time, it’s very private. Looking out from her terrace, you can see thousands of people bustling about, but no one can see you.
This was where Lopez was sitting on a recent Sunday. She had just finished working out, because of course she had, and was sipping a cappuccino in makeup-less splendor. That’s when a late-season bee, perhaps mistaking her famous skin for actual honey, suddenly dive-bombed her face. I must have made a sound like NOT HER FACE, MOTHERFUCKER because Lopez said, “It’s just a bee,” and waved it away. Because of course. She can handle a bee. She’s Jennifer Lopez.
When Lopez 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 Lopez’s work—as in, the extraordinary amount of labor 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 Lopez’s activities for over a year. It was like watching Carmen Sandiego or something. Every time I opened my email, she was somewhere, doing something.
For Hustlers, in which she plays Ramona, a tough-as-nails career stripper turned criminal, Lopez 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—over 29 days this spring—she took off on 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 sparkly ring onstage, which reminded me that sometime before she’d also gotten engaged to Alex Rodriguez. Then, over the summer, she turned 50, a milestone she celebrated as one should—with a massive blowout at Gloria Estefan’s house in Miami. Then, like a week after Hustlers came out in September, while the entire internet was obsessing about her performance and 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, which she describes as “a mix of a rom-com and The Bodyguard.” She distracted people from herself with herself.
Given the year she’s had—which will spill into next, 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? At one point during our conversation on her terrace, Lopez refers to “the busiest year of her life,” and it turns out she’s talking about a different year. And looking back, one discovers an embarrassment of headlines proclaiming past years to be Her Year, Her Moment, or Her Comeback. To which Jennifer Lopez tosses her head back and yells the only sane response: “Don’t call it a comeback—I been here for years!”