When Jennifer Lopez slips, as she did during her performance at the 2009 American Music Awards, she gets right back up on her Louboutins. Despite a recent split from her record label, Epic, she plans to release her new album, Love?, this summer. Box-office flops like Gigli haven’t kept her from making more rom-coms like The Back-Up Plan, which hits theaters April 23. And her third marriage — to Marc Anthony, the father of her twins — seems to be the charm. Now, taking on her harshest critics and most discerning drag queen impersonators, the 40-year-old fly girl gets real about fashion missteps — but she clams up when it comes to questions about kissing girls.
The Advocate: When you last spoke to The Advocate in 2002, you were giving us a preview of your first lesbian role.
Jennifer Lopez: Oh, yeah? Which one was that?
Ricki in Gigli.
Oh, my God, that’s right! I totally forgot about that.
Understandable. So I’ve done some intensive research and concluded that “Louboutins” may be the gayest song ever.
[Laughs] I love that. I’m very happy to hear that, thank you.
Michael Patrick King would be crazy not to stick it on the Sex and the City 2 soundtrack.
I agree. He would be crazy.
Do you keep the gay audience in mind when working on a new album?
To be honest, yes, I really do. I love dance music and I know that’s very big in the club culture and in the gay community, so I feel like you can’t not think about them. I also think about whether or not they’ll want to impersonate me. [Laughs] I’ll be like, “Is this outfit any good? Would any drag queen want to put this on? No? Then forget it — it’s not worth it.”
Those Jennifer Lopez drag queens on SNL looked pretty rough. How should a drag impersonator best emulate you?
The best advice I can give is to really study your character. Like when I play a character, I really study.
Does it hurt your feelings when one of your outfits gets negative criticism?
Not really. I always wear something that I like, so whether or not other people like it isn’t that important to me. It’s always great when people say you look nice or you were one of the best dressed, but if you take that you have to also take it when they say, “Oh, we didn’t like that.” Either way, I liked it.
Your sparkly catsuit on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve got mixed reviews, but a lot of people weren’t feeling your white Versace at the 2010 Grammys.
Really? Oh, my God, that was so gorgeous. Some people have no taste.
Which track on Love? will your gay fans love?
There’s a song called “This Cannot Be Love,” and the musicality of it reminds me a little bit of “Waiting for Tonight,” so I think gay people are really going to respond to that one. It talks about the idea of getting lazy in love. You know how we do that? When you’re with somebody and you’re like, “Wait a minute — remember when we were so in love and obsessed with each other? What happened?”
Growing up in New York, did you ever go to gay clubs when you took the 6 train from the Bronx into Manhattan?
Yes. Escuelita — that’s the kind of Latin one, right? I’ve been connected with the gay community for a very long time.
Gay directors have helmed two of your most successful movies — Robert Luketic on Monster-in-Law and Adam Shankman on The Wedding Planner. Alan Poul, who directed The Back-Up Plan, is also gay. So that’s a good sign, right?
It’s true. I get along with the gays — what can I tell you? We click. Gay directors have a certain sensitivity when it comes to women’s issues; I don’t know if that makes any sense, but that’s what I feel. They also have a tremendous sense of humor about life, so they know romantic comedy. I love them.
In a recent interview, Shankman told The Advocate, “Did you see Wedding Planner? It’s full of pink, and look at Jennifer Lopez’s hair. It’s the gayest thing you’ve ever seen.” Were you aware of that film’s gayness at the time?
[Laughs] No, but now I see it. It’s totally clear.
Does The Back-Up Plan feature a “gay best friend” cliché — maybe the guy your character asks for sperm in the film’s trailer?
[Laughs] Everybody thinks he’s gay, but I don’t think he was intended to be. It’s not specified, but it’s funny that he’s coming off as that. No, there’s no gay best friend in this one, but out of all the romantic comedies I’ve done, I find this one to be the funniest.
Who’s your best gay friend in real life?
Oh, God, I have so many, but my closest is my manager, Benny [Medina]. He’s the godfather to my child, so he’s become a part of my family. We understand each other, we love each other, we have a certain type of chemistry, we have similar work ethics, and we can talk about everything.
More and more celebrities are supporting the gay community by vowing not to get married until all Americans can marry. I guess you didn’t get that memo, huh?
Yeah, I didn't get that memo three times. [Laughs] When it comes to gay marriage, I just believe in love. I believe that when two people find each other and love each other, they should be able to spend their lives together. Especially being married now and having been divorced twice — being younger, more immature, and making those kinds of mistakes — I don’t think marriage is to be taken lightly for anybody. You have to work at it.
On an episode of How I Met Your Mother you played Anita Appleby, a self-help author who trains men to have better behavior in relationships. How do you train your man?
Her theory is that she uses the power of no. A lot of women like to say yes a little too early, but you can get them to do whatever you want them to do if you say no. But that’s just on the show — I don’t know how good that works in real life.
Ever since you performed at Karen’s wedding on Will & Grace, it’s been a dream of mine for you to perform at my gay wedding someday. Are your rates reasonable?
They’re kind of high.
Do your gay fans behave like they did on Will & Grace — do they wear Glow and know every move of your intricately planned choreography?
Not all, but some. It’s so great, and I, of course, love it.
You made surprise appearances at the 2002 White Party in Palm Springs and at the 2006 Heritage of Pride Dance on the Pier in New York. What’s it like to perform for a sea of gay men?
It’s the best audience ever. You guys enjoy the music, you get into it, and you’re not afraid to let go and express yourself. That’s what I want from an audience. I recently did a show where the crowd was just standing there, staring at me with their camera phones up, YouTubing me or whatever the heck they do now. I was like, “This is crazy! I need vibe!” I’d so much rather have you guys jumping up and down, waving your arms in the air.
It helps that you always have the hottest backup dancers.
Of course, I’m no dummy. I get some good ones.
On Dancelife, the 2007 MTV reality series you created, one of your gay backup dancers at the New York pride event made amends with his estranged father. How would you react if one of your kids ever came to you and said, “Mom, I’m gay”?
Honestly, it wouldn’t bother me at all. I wouldn’t be shocked or anything. Marc even once asked me, “What if one of the babies is gay?” I said, “Who cares?” And he was like, “Yeah, I know. Who cares?” You just love your kids and want them to be happy, because it’s really about love. That’s what this is all about — I sing about it, I do movies about it, and that’s how I live my life.
Would you ever do a reality show about your life?
No, because it demystifies you as a musician, an actress, and an artist. I want to act and make music, but I want people to be able to interpret it on their own terms. I don’t want people to know too much about me. That’s the great thing about the old movie stars and singers: There was an air of mystery about them. Marc and I try to maintain as much of a private life in this public arena as we can.
Not to invade your privacy, but I’d like to address some recent rumors. Are you bisexual?
No, I am not bisexual.
Why would someone say that about you?
I don’t know.
Have you ever kissed a girl and liked it?
No, I’ve never kissed a girl.
The Advocate, May 2010; extended online version.