After half a century on this planet, Madonna has creative expression and power, intellectual curiosity, beautiful children, financial security (and then some), and a team of friends and colleagues who she can love and trust. Only one thing is missing.
Madonna needs a mensch. A good man, a stand-up guy with means and influence. “Mensch” is a Yiddish word meaning “a person of integrity and honor.” Yiddish lexicologist Leo Rosten says a mensch is “someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character. The key to being a real mensch is nothing less than a sense of what is right, responsible, decorous.”
I’m thinking that since Madonna got such a life-affirming boost from Kabbalah, maybe she would be equally inspired by a Jewish connection in her love life.
She may have gotten fleeting pleasure from guys like A-Rod (emphasis on the rod) and 22-year old Brazilian DJ Jesus Luz, but they can’t match her cerebral and artistic maturity. I know she’s drawn to Latino men. I know she is attracted to fiery figures. I know she’s got a libido that made her ex-boyfriend Warren Beatty look like a prude. But clearly this kind of Renaissance woman requires more than orgasms and mix tapes to fulfill her romantic needs.
Sean Penn may have been a soul mate, but he was not a mensch. Mensches don’t ball up their Versace suits and leave them on the floor. Mensches don’t tie their wives to chairs (without asking nicely first).
Warren Beatty may have been a Lothario, but he was not a mensch. Mensches don’t sleep with more than one woman at the same time. Mensches don’t worry about their younger girlfriends stealing their spotlight.
Carlos Leon may have been a good sperminator, but he was not a mensch. You’d never confuse a mensch with a personal trainer.
Guy Ritchie may have been a … well, as far as I can tell, he was pretty much just an asshole. Or an arsehole, if you prefer.
In my head, I picture Madonna with a guy her age or older. He’s been a success in life in both appearances (money, taste, looks, philanthropy) and on more subtle levels (intelligence, influence, self- confidence). He’s a man who has already had a wife and children and is not seeking more. A man who is not, I repeat, not in the entertainment business. He may find showbiz amusing, but his ego is not affected by media whims. His investment in the relationship isn’t about being attached to “Madonna,” the icon, but connecting to Madonna, the woman. The activist. The artist. The mother.
And he definitely needs to be a Jew.
Some of Madonna’s most successful relationships in life have been with Jewish men: Seymour Stein, who signed her to Warner Bros. Freddy DeMann, her pre-Maverick manager. Liz Rosenberg, her publicist and defender for decades (fine, she’s not a man, but she’s as tough as one). Guy Oseary, her longtime partner in crime. And Michael Berg, the rabbi who taught her Kabbalah.
I’m not talking about a neurotic Jew, like Woody Allen or Larry David, or a power-hungry Napoleon type, like Michael Bloomberg or Ron Perelman. I’m picturing a Thomas Friedman, a Rahm Emmanuel, a Guggenheim, an Annenberg—a thoughtful, strong-willed Jewish man who is more impressed by her brain than her resume or connections. A man who can offer her stability, security, and a nice pair of diamond studs. A man who makes reservations, vacations in Miami Beach, and respects his mother, God rest her soul. A father figure who is not her father.
I’m not saying that Madonna (or any woman) is incomplete without a man. Far from it. But since she’s always indicated that she wants a relationship, why not have one with a mensch? Granted, they’re in short supply. I’m in the mensch market myself, and I’m not exactly striking gold. I can tell you that when a Jewish girl gets serious about finding a real relationship and not just a fling, a b’sheart (meant-to-be) instead of a one-night stand, there’s only one place to go. So I hope she won’t mind, but I signed Madonna up on J-Date.
Believe me, Madonna wasn’t the first shiksa trolling the site. Plenty of non-Jewish women who want to strike gold with a NJB (Nice Jewish Boy) lurk around on there. No one knew it was Madonna who signed on, anyway. If they recognized her stats, they probably weren’t straight. I didn’t put pictures up, because everyone would identify Madonna. My point wasn’t to lure men in—even if someone tried to initiate contact based on her profile, I didn’t respond. I wasn’t trying to impersonate her, just profile her. Plus, it was probably illegal.
First I had to choose a sign-on name. Since she used it in Kabbalah, I went with “EstherC.” The “C” is for Ciccone, but I also thought it was a good play on Ester-C, the vitamin, because Madonna is such a health nut. Then I began to fill in the rest…
Your Birthdate: AUGUST 16, 1958
What is your current relationship status? DIVORCED
Do you have children? 3 OR MORE (Lourdes, Rocco, David & Mercy)
Your Zodiac sign: LEO (Very important in finding the right partner. We want a Leo — appreciative man, not a conflicting sign.)
Describe yourself and your personality. What are you passionate about? Are you a political junkie, a Ph.D. in archaeology, a tennis fanatic? We all have something that makes us unique; this is your chance to tell about yourself and the things that get you excited. Don’t be shy—dare to bare it all!
I thought I’d let Madonna handle that one herself. So I borrowed a few lines from her essay about her Kabbalah-inspired awakening from Israel’s leading paper, Yediot Ahronot:
“I had traveled the world many times over, performed in soccer stadiums, appeared in films, dined with state leaders, collaborated with great artists and achieved what most people would view as a high level of success but I still felt something was missing in my life. Suddenly Life no longer seemed like a series of Random events. I started to see patterns in life. I woke up. I began to be conscious of my words and my actions and to really see the results of them . . . I also began to see that being Rich and Famous wasn’t going to bring me lasting fulfillment and that it was not the end of the journey; that it was the beginning of the journey.”
Well said, Madonna. I moved on to physical information: Height? Five-foot-four (but debatable). Weight? Let’s say 102. Body style: Athletic? Muscular? Ripped? Yes, but I didn’t want to scare people. I went withFIRM & TONED. Hair BLONDE, eyes BLUE.
I grew up in… MICHIGAN
Languages you speak?
I wasn’t sure about that one. I checked off ENGLISH, ITALIAN, and OTHER in honor of Chichewa, the local dialect in Malawi.
Religious background? Catholic was clearly not an option on J-Date. So I checked off “CULTURALLY JEWISH BUT NOT PRACTICING.”
Education level? SOME COLLEGE (She never graduated from my alma mater, the University of Michigan. Hey, that might be a good gift for the girl who’s got everything—a college degree!).
Describe what you do: World dominator? Most famous woman on the planet? How about ENTERTAINER.
Off to the next section, “Personality and Interests.” I just clicked on boxes for this part.
My personality is best described as … Adventurous/Wild/Spontaneous, Argumentative, Artistic, Compulsive, Flamboyant, Flirtatious/Playful, High Energy, High Maintenance, Humorous/Witty, Intellectual, Sensitive/Nurturing/Loving, Outgoing, Practical, Romantic, Self-Confident, Serious/Responsible, Sophisticated/ Worldly, Spiritual, Stubborn, Talkative, Unconventional/Free-Spirited.
What didn’t make the list? Conservative. Easy-going. Procrastinator.
In my free time, I enjoy … Antiquing, Collecting, Dining Out, Entertaining, Hanging Out with Friends, Home Improvement/Decorating, Intimate Conversations, Investing, Listening to/Playing Music, Partying, People Watching, Photography, Reading/Writing, Shopping, Surfing the Web/Chatting Online, Traveling/Weekend Trips/Adventure Travel, Movies/TV.
What didn’t Madonna enjoy? I left out Board Games, Card Games, Video Games. The woman does not seem to enjoy activities where you have to sit down.
In my free time, I like to go to … Antique Stores/Flea Markets/Garage Sales, Art Galleries, Bars/ Nightclubs, Bookstores, Charity Events, Concerts, Dances (Line, Ballroom, Tango), Live Theater, Movies, Museums, Opera, Political Events, Raves/Underground Parties, Restaurants, Symphony, Volunteer Events.
Where didn’t Madonna like to go, in my estimation? I skipped Comedy Clubs, Shopping Malls, Sporting Events (her bullfighting era is over).
My favorite physical activities: Aerobics, Biking, Working Out/Weightlifting, Dancing, Hiking/Walking, Horseback Riding, Martial Arts, Yoga/Meditation.
I left out cricket, hunting, and rugby. Hey, Guy … snap!
My favorite food(s): Does she actually eat food? This is a stumper. I stuck with VEGETARIAN/ ORGANIC and VEGAN. And KOSHER, naturally.
My favorite music: All of ’em. I checked off every kind they offered.
Now this is where I really had to stop and think: the “Relationship” section. Again, I didn’t want to put words in her mouth, so I let Madonna speak for herself. I went back through those revealing 1991 Carrie Fisher interviews from Rolling Stone, along with a few other choice interview snippets, to compile the answers for this section.
My ideal relationship:
“I’m dying to meet someone who knows more than me. I keep meeting guys who know less. I suppose looks are important, but I’ve certainly found myself attracted to men who aren’t conventionally attractive. Painters are good, too. There are two things that I can’t do and wish I could—write and paint. Smart, confident, smells good, sense of humor, likes to write letters, likes antique jewelry.”
My past relationships:
“I’m not with any of the people I’m not with for a much larger reason: We just weren’t meant to be. If I had changed and given in, or what I conceived to be giving in, to certain concessions that people had asked of me, maybe the relationships would have been successful on the one hand, but then I would have had to give up other things in my career. And then I would have been miserable.”
I am looking for:
“A male image that I’m really moved by is somewhere between an Oscar Wilde type of a male: the fop, the long hair, the suits, too witty for his own good, incredibly smart, scathingly funny—all that. But then my other ideal is more like the Buddhist monk—the shaved head, actually someone who sublimates their sexuality. I am attracted to a thug. I like that quality, but I like the other side of it, too. Because all guys who go around behaving in macho ways are really scared little girls. So you have to look beneath the surface. There’s a difference between my ideal man and a man that I’m sexually attracted to, believe me. Therein lies the rub.”
My perfect first date:
“Dinner is really good. Where they have good margaritas.”
Done. Madonna’s J-Date profile was now complete. It was kind of creepy how much I knew about Madonna, but at the same time, it was totally fun to fill out. I finally understood why J-Date claims that 22 percent of their subscriptions are paid for by parents who want to marry off their kids. And why my married friends are always so anxious to help me with my dating search. It’s wish fulfillment for them. Though I still don’t understand why people push so hard for marriage when so many fall apart. Even Madonna told Carrie Fisher, post- Sean Penn, that she wouldn’t get married again. Yet she did. I guess love changes everything. Sigh.
Now, with that information set up in “EstherC’s” profile, I did a search to see who might be a good match for her. Ooh, 360 hits! One for every day of the year (not including Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and let’s say … Tu B’Shevat). One of the first selections: BIALYBOY247. A handsome sonovabitch, and he was wearing a tux, holding a violin. Sixty-three years old. Divorced, six-foot-two. He described himself this way:
“Played music all over the world (orchestral, festivals, Broadway, etc.), and would enjoy it even more with someone who adds fuel to the fire of the usual chemistry.”
A professional, worldly musician! That would be a nice fit for Madonna. He’s a Scorpio. Could be kind of devious, but they’re also pretty sexy. Plus, no kids of his own, so he could treasure Madonna’s children without any distraction! I added him to her J-Date “Hot List.”
Next in the search results: BONAPPETIT1. A native Frenchman! A brilliant cook! But he was only five-foot-five! Forget it. How about TAKEACHANCE? He was sixty-seven and divorced. His picture looked kind of dated, but the guy could write with tongue firmly in cheek:
“Seeking a rich, sexy dame with a mansion in Miami, an atelier in Paris, and a winter home in Monaco where we can snuggle in front of a roaring fire, gazing into each other’s eyes. Did I mention you should have blue eyes, blonde hair, and a perfect body? And it’s essential you be high maintenance. Very high maintenance.”
A rich, sexy, high-maintenance, blue-eyed blonde? This had Madge’s name all over it! TAKEACHANCE had a PhD and had studied psychology, philosophy, and comparative religion.
Here’s what he said about past relationships:
“What I want in a ‘Relationship Kit’: a sense of humor, to keep things in perspective; a shovel, to leave no stone unturned when trying to make a relationship work; and a towel to throw in when it really ain’t working.”
TAKEACHANCE was funny! Liked him! Put him on the Hot List!
Okay, back to the Search Results. MICHAELMAN. Wait—I knew that guy! He’d hit on a million of my friends. One girl who went home with him said he had a kinky side—based on Erotica, that’s not necessarily a bad thing for Madonna. His fetishes went unmentioned in his well-written (and grammatically correct, always a turn-on) profile. But he was looking for someone way younger than Madonna. Good luck with that, buddy. Same went for SPANKY. Whether his user name was a naughty thing or a goofy thing, I wasn’t feeling it.
YOUNGATHEART lived in Queens. Nope.
HAPPYHAROLD used a headshot. Nope.
MUSIKLOVE was watching TV in his photo. Nope.
321SHELDON had a photo so old it was probably taken with a Kodak Disc camera. Nope.
MATZO MAN . . . He was handsome, had kind of a Frank Langella look, but . . . an actor. Forget it.
DEEPWATERU. That guy was hot. Would never have guessed he was over fifty! Dirty blond hair, blue eyes, six-foot-four, looked like a surfer. Okay, so he meant “love at first sight” but spelled it “love at first site.” We all make mistakes when it comes to homonyms. He’d never been married, but said he had two kids—that’s interesting. A single dad? My babies are a pug (Luke) and a French bulldog (Leia). They are the best little people in the world.
“Star Wars” dogs as stand-ins for actual human children? Dealbreaker. We’re out.
Check this one out! MILESAWAY is a black dude! I knew there were non-Jewish women crawling around the site, but I’d never seen a black guy on J-Date … oh, he was a biracial Jew. Like Lenny Kravitz! He had kind of a jazzy, light-radio way of writing, and he used the phrase “my woman” with too much frequency. But on the plus side: My woman is intelligent, insightful, worldly, sexy, playful, mindful, and happy. She’s warm, romantic, emotionally stable, and spiritually evolved. Soft and talented lips are a plus.
Madonna always said she was a great kisser! Remember—kissing, thumbs up; hummers, thumbs down? What about HOLYHUNK212! Total man meat, he looked like that Italian guy from the first “Sex and the City” movie … wait, the picture wasn’t him. HOLYHUNK212 was actually a husky nerd, luring Jewesses in with a fake photo. But I found that hilarious. He wrote:
“I AM A FUN LOVING DIVORCED MAN WHO WAS MARRIED FOR TWENTY SIX YEARS AND HAVE HAD A CRAZY TIME MEETING MANY WOMEN BUT AM NOW READY TO SETTLE DOWN AND FIND THE RIGHT WOMEN WHO WILL MAKE ME FEEL WHOLE AND SOMEONE I CAN SETTLE DOWN WITH AND ENJOY THE INTAMACY I HAD WITH MY FIRST WIFE.”
Okay, he had a caps issue and a run-on sentence problem, plus he lived in Jersey, but at least HOLYHUNK212 spoke from the heart. Too bad he was looking for a thirty-year old. Oy! Lots of guys avail- able, but where were the sleek and sophisticated professionals? Did they not go on J-Date? Did they have their own boutique site, CEO- Date? Hey, was this one? Nah, he spelled ENTERPRENER wrong, so forget it.
All this made me wonder why hunting down men on J-Date was so much fun when I was doing it for Madonna, but so agonizing when I did it for myself. I guess it’s that strange phenomenon where you can look so ugly to yourself in a picture, but in someone else’s eyes, you’re beautiful. Or how you can fix other people’s problems so easily when your own seem impossible to solve. When it comes to finding true love, everyone can tell you how it’s supposed to be done, but you don’t really know until you get your heart broken yourself.
But … one final scan … Look! NYCMENSCH! An actual mensch by name! He wrote:
“I was the youngest son of nine in a loving, orthodox Moroccan family. I have a master’s of law in economics, I consider myself a businessman with a lawyer’s edge. Several years ago a tragedy struck my life, when I lost the three most important women a man could ever love in a one-year period: my wife, my mother, and most importantly, my daughter. Nonetheless, I am a very happy person. I have tried to go on with my life, by giving back to the Jewish community and by living life as fully as possible.”
Heartbreaking, genuine, and so sweet. We’ve found our man, Madonna: NYCMENSCH. Let me know if you want your password.
This essay, officially titled “Mad Mensch,” was reprinted with permission from the new book Madonna & Me: Women Writers on the Queen of Pop, edited by Laura Barcella” © Soft Skull Press, 2012 ￼