EXCLUSIVE: How the superstar singer and Cuban-born gorgeous mogul found their way to each other—and hemp oil.
BY RICHARD PÉREZ-FERIA
My first thought when I learned that my dear friend—model/mogul/activist Daisy Fuentes—married that most definitive 1980s pop/rock superstar, Richard Marx, in 2015 was an unambiguous: “Yep, that makes sense.” Not unlike other celebrity couples who find each other a bit later in life yet feel as if they’ve always been together (think J.Lo/A-Rod), the Fuentes/Marx union is palpably electric. These aesthetically-gifted people are into each other in ways that transcend physical, mental and spiritual connection: They’re fiercely, unequivocally, loudly in perfect, blissful harmony and it’s a marvel to be around it.
I first heard of Richard Marx because my brother, Willy, instantly catapulted the singer to his Mount Rushmore of favorite adult contemporary male vocalists more than three decades ago that consisted of Billy Joel, Barry Manilow, Kenny Loggins, John Denver and Marx. Though I largely resisted Loggins, Manilow and Denver, I, too, fell for the obvious talent pouring out of, yes, Billy Joel as well as this ambitious upstart, Richard Marx. Upon first listen, how could you not?
Marx hasn’t only sold more than 30 million records worldwide; he’s also placed himself in the record books by being the first solo artist to have his first seven singles hit the Top 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. Ever.
I not only share a first name with Marx, but he’s almost exactly a year older than me and he’s a fellow Virgo, too. His indisputable talent as a songwriter for the likes of Luther Vandross, Barbra Streisand (whom he opened for in London’s Hyde Park last summer), ’NSync, Toni Braxton, Keith Urban, Daughtry, Jennifer Nettles, Celine Dion and on and on is almost surgical in its effectiveness. To experience a Richard Marx crafted song is to feel all the feels, but when Marx serves up the vocals himself, well, the unmistakable authenticity, the devastating heartbreak in his delivery seals the deal for millions of his devoted fans. So, yeah, Richard Marx is a singing stud.
Marx hasn’t only sold more than 30 million records worldwide; he’s also placed himself in the record books by being the first solo artist to have his first seven singles hit the Top 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. Ever. Unforgettable ear worms including “Right Here Waiting,” “Endless Summer Nights,” “Don’t Mean Nothing,” “Should’ve Known Better” and countless others filled many of our collective emotional memory banks. Recently, Marx released Repeat Offender Revisited, a fresh look at his smash 1989 album, and he’s dropping a new album later this year with its debut single, “Another One Down,” available now.
Fuentes, a fellow Cuban-American who possesses serious business chops, has had a wide-ranging, impressive career in her own right. Growing up in Secaucus, NJ, while still in college she landed a gig as weather presenter at the local Telemundo (Spanish-language) network before going to rival Univision’s New York City affiliate and getting promoted to field reporter. Shortly thereafter, Fuentes hosted MTV Internacional, a weekly video countdown show that made her a star in Latin America and the US Hispanic market. In quick succession Fuentes became the first Latina VJ in MTV history and went on to host the iconic fashion show, House Of Style. After numerous acting gigs including Loving, The Larry Sanders Show, Cybill and many more, Fuentes went on to become the first Latina to be selected as Revlon’s worldwide spokesperson and posed for numerous of international fashion and celebrity magazines, including a most memorable turn on People en Español’s 2004 award-winning “divas” cover for its “50 Most Beautiful” franchise while I served as the publication’s editor in chief.
Daisy Fuentes is no shrinking violet, friends, but quite simply, a force of nature to be reckoned with.
More recently, Fuentes has literally sold hundreds of millions of dollars on myriad products she’s designed, produced and endorsed—from Pilates to hair care; from ready-to-wear fashion to prescription eye glasses and everything in between—in a variety of retail and shopping outlets. Her success as a business mogul was as unexpected as it is unquestioned. And, now, Fuentes is the star of her hit NBC series, A New Leaf, presented by Ancestry, that, according to the network, will be “using family history, genealogy and sometimes DNA analysis to help guide them on their journey of selfdiscovery.”
So, yeah, Daisy Fuentes is no shrinking violet, friends, but quite simply, a force of nature to be reckoned with.
Fuentes and Marx share a lot of passions outside of their non-stop, respective careers, particularly their philanthropy for animal rights (especially recue pit bulls), their vegan nutritional choices as well as their physical lifestyle (follow them on Instagram for a steady barrage of challenging hiking trails, great music, cuddly dogs and beautiful vistas from exotic locations). Now, enter hemp.
I exclusively caught up with the photogenic superstars during a rare vacation in their new, glamorous Miami residence. As expected, candor and humor weren’t in short supply on this sunny South Florida afternoon.
Before we get into anything else, are you two really as blissfully happy as your social media global extravaganza shows? I mean, you two are in L-O-V-E, yes?
Richard: I can only speak for myself, but the social media version of our love affair is MUTED as far as I’m concerned. I never imagined I could be so in love. Daisy’s the most extraordinary being.
Daisy: We share a bit of our life on social media, and obviously life is never perfect. We all have our challenges to deal with. But when it comes to our love, that’s so much better than any photo could ever portray. Our love is next level. Truly, madly, deeply.
What’s that like to find your romantic and spiritual partner after 40? I did as well so I have some insight here.
Richard: There’s so much about it that’s amazing and I do think there’s a higher level of gratitude for finding love like this at an older age. The only downside is knowing we don’t have as much time together as we’d have liked. All the more reason to live longer!
Daisy: I didn’t think this kind of love existed, but I was not ever going to settle for anything less. I’ve learned from past relationships and experiences, mostly about myself. I’m always trying to be a better version of myself, always trying to evolve and learn. When Richard and I met I think we both realized we didn’t need anything at all from each other. We just loved being together, getting to know each other without judgement or the need to control or change anything. I know how special that is. We’re making up for lost time and grateful for every moment together.
You’re both unbelievably active as well: Richard seems to be on a perpetual global concert tour, but yet the two of you manage vigorous hikes, water activities, sweaty exercise and the like. Is it tough to maintain any discipline on the road all the time?
Richard: Daisy joins me on tour most of the time, and we’re very good about either getting out and walking or hiking or at least getting to the gym together. We also love days where we just stay in bed all morning.
Daisy: Yes! And we don’t always, being on the road can get very tiring. But we do make a conscious effort to to get out and move. Even if it’s just a long walk through whatever town or city we’re in. If you don’t use it, you lose it. And yes, that goes for everything. [Laughs]
And you’re both vegan. Dispel three annoying myths everyone still has about following a plant-based diet.
Richard: We get tons of protein. There are truly delicious plant-based alternatives to animal products. Humans becoming vegan will not mean animals will take over the world. That’s three.
Daisy: 1: We only eat tofu and salad or some different type of food that carnivores don’t eat (French fries & Oreos are vegan). 2: That it’s easy for us because we’ve always eaten this way or because we don’t like meat. It is easier today than ever for everyone. I was a carnivore until my late 40s and I really like the taste of meat. I just saw and learned too much. I believe with knowledge comes responsibility. So, I changed my lifestyle. If I can have all the same flavors and dishes, I’ve always loved without killing or harming any animals why would I choose taking the life of an animal so I can have lunch? I only wish I’d made the connection sooner. 3: That we eat fake food or that it’s super healthy. It’s actually very real, delicious food and can be very healthy since it’s the only diet proven to cure or reverse many chronic illnesses and diseases. But there’s a lot of plant-based junk food, too. Just like before, I still try to go for the healthy choice most of the time.
Daisy, as a fellow Cuban-American, do you ever miss the Cuban food we both grew up with that is decidedly not vegan?
Daisy: No, because there are plant-based versions of everything. I’ve lost my appetite for animal products but not for the flavors and textures. There are many plant proteins and dairy options and I still eat all of it—the rice and beans, picadillo, Cuban sandwich, pulled “pork” in garlic sauce. It’s been fun learning how to recreate all my favorite recipes with the same flavors. Plus, most restaurants now offer many plant-based options. Even a restaurant in Miami is offering picadillo made with “impossible plant-based beef” or animal beef. Why wouldn’t you choose the cruelty free, no cholesterol version?
Tell me about your recent journey to hemp oil. I understand some of your rescue pit bulls had an arthritis issue.
Daisy: Hemp oil is the future of wellness on many levels. I’ve done a lot of research and we can’t deny the benefits of hemp and cannabis oil. There are so many uses, and it has helped so many people. From joint pain and arthritis to anti-aging face oils and serums. I like to use a tincture occasionally for jet lag or sleepless nights (Gnome Serum’s Sandman cream is a favorite of mine). And a little drop of oil Gnome Serum’s Best Friend in my dog’s food helps ease anxiety when flying. With so many studies and so much research showing us the many benefits of hemp oil, more and more people are discovering its many uses.
Just because you’re both healthy, active and vegan doesn’t mean you can’t put away a few dirty martinis or tequila shots, right?
Richard: That’s definitely my “drug” of choice. I really enjoy an ice-cold martini or a great tequila on the rocks. I love the taste. I love the ceremony. Ask Daisy about her “martini rule.” [Laughs]
Daisy: Ha! Yes. Balance is nice. Vegan doesn’t mean boring. We enjoy the art and ceremony of making and sipping a good cocktail. We work hard and play well. Life is to be enjoyed.
As two people who’ve literally been in the public eye for decades, what’s your take on this hemp oil explosion our country is experiencing?
Richard: It’s great that it’s become mainstream, especially for its medicinal benefits. It’s about time.
Daisy: Like most natural things we’re learning more about it now. But just like veganism, hemp oil is perceived as a trend by those who haven’t really learned about it. But both have been around for many years and used in many cultures. And both are helping us live a healthier, longer life. Both are part of a very powerful movement providing us with a natural improved level of wellness and higher consciousness. Hemp is here to stay.
Career-wise, what’s left to accomplish? I know Richard, you have a brand-new album dropping. Daisy? You’ve conquered MTV, fashion, retail and so much more. Is there anything left to do?
Richard: It’s exciting to still be writing and recording new music and touring around the word but without a sense of needing to prove anything. I’m just having a blast, especially now with Daisy sharing it all with me. I’m deeply grateful.
Daisy: I’m sure there is. I’m always evolving and growing. Life is full of surprises. These days I’m looking for things and situations that take me out of my comfort zone a bit. I welcome a challenge. I want to learn more about myself, people and life.
Now, truth time: Hasn’t this been your favorite interview ever? [Laughs]
Daisy: Every interview with you, RPF, is delightful. Just like you.
Richard: I’ll never get over it.