I needed daisies. Thousands of daisies. And I needed them now.
When Daisy Fuentes entered my consciousness nearly—could it be?—a quarter century ago, she was the impossibly beautiful host of MTV Internacional, a weekly syndicated Spanish-language program that featured videos and celebrity interviews and aired all over Latin America and the US. I had never made a point of watching Spanish TV, but this show was the exception. I just couldn’t take my eyes off of the charismatic presence on the small screen smiling back at me, and I knew this woman, this Daisy Fuentes, was going to be huge. Huge.
Shortly thereafter, as editor of a Spanish language luxury magazine, I asked Fuentes to be among the first stars to appear on our publication’s cover. By now, the Cuban-born beauty had crossed over to become MTV’s first Hispanic VJ as well as the host of the network’s wildly popular fashion program, House of Style all the while continuing her Spanish language hosting duties.
Back to the daisies.
My genius—and admittedly somewhat obvious—idea for the Fuentes cover story I was working on was to photograph her nude surrounded by thousands of daisies, revealing just enough of her impressive body. But before I could make this happen, I had to convince the star herself. When I first met Fuentes as she bounded into a Miami Beach photo studio all those years ago, she asked, with a wide smile on her face, “Where’s Richard? I need to see Richard!” and went on to give me the biggest hug I had ever received. Ever. Oh, yes, this was going to be a great day. And it was.
When I brought up this decades-old memory to Fuentes as we prepared for the HudsonMOD cover story, she jumped out of her chair and said, “Of course I remember that shoot! I loved that cover. Richard, you were the first person to ever shoot me with daisies. God, that was a long time ago.”
Daisy Fuentes was born in Havana, Cuba, 45 years ago to a Cuban father and a Spanish mother. At the age of three, Fuentes’ family fled Fidel Castro’s tyrannical dictatorship and moved to Madrid for a few years before settling in Harrison, NJ, where Fuentes spent her happy childhood, culminating in becoming Homecoming Queen at Harrison High School. At 17, she became a model and later enrolled in cosmetology school and soon thereafter was asked to become the weather person for New York City’s Spanish language Telemundo affiliate before moving to rival Univision as weather anchor and reporter.
It was from the Univision gig that Fuentes jumped to MTV and has never really looked back in a career that has included scores of high-profile hosting jobs—America’s Funniest Home Videos, Miss Universe Pageant, Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve, World Music Awards—as well as massively lucrative business ventures, not the least of which is her current success at Kohl’s department stores selling her Daisy Fuentes-branded clothes and accessories. Her financial relationship with Kohl’s brings in revenue in the many, many millions of dollars.
On the relationship front, Fuentes has had a couple of long-term romances with high-voltage men, most notably Mexican superstar singer Luis Miguel—arguably the most famous Spanish speaking celebrity on the planet—whom she dated seriously more than a decade ago. Fuentes has also been engaged to Sinatra-esque singer Matt Goss, who’s currently headlining in Las Vegas to great critical fanfare.
But the Daisy Fuentes I speak to today is not the same Daisy Fuentes I knew from the MTV days. Secure in her skin, confident in her choices, happy in her life, the 2012 Fuentes has never been more beautiful, more fully realized. But how did she get here? And where is she going? I wanted to know: What’s driving this Daisy? This sexy television star/millionaire business mogul/potty-mouthed Jersey girl is clearly, buoyantly in full bloom. And, lucky us, she’s just getting started.
How would you describe Daisy Fuentes? What’s the elevator pitch?
She’s a fucking goddess! [Laughs]. That’s a funny question because some people do seem to have a hard time with that. But if I had to pinpoint it, it would be television personality. It’s because of television I have everything I have. TV is my home.
Tell me about New Jersey.
Jersey means everything that’s real to me. There’s a real grittiness to New Jersey. Jersey is a big part of who I am, even on Twitter, the first thing in my public bio says “Jersey girl.” I grew up on the streets of Jersey with a real strong sense of toughness. You become stronger in Jersey and you curse—a lot [Laughs]! Jersey represents the best of everything and the most real of everything. So, yeah, Jersey matters to me.
Whenever I see you on television or on a red carpet or even hanging out with friends, the term “effortless” always comes to mind, particularly in front of the camera. Are you just a natural born talent?
Maybe a little. But, I’ll tell you something, I had an executive producer at MTV who critiqued me something harsh and I got better.
Here’s what I always thought was incredible about your TV work: How completely fluent and at ease you equally are in both English and Spanish. Gloria Estefan—another Cuban-born star and our great mutual friend—is the only other person I know who has that same ability to fully inhabit both languages without a hitch on camera.
You’re right; it’s not something you see every day. Most bilingual people on television speak one language better than the other. I refer to my English/Spanish combo hosting abilities as “apple pie meets frijoles negros.” I love it. [Laughs].
If you could change one thing in your life, what would that be?
Oh, God, I would’ve stopped aging externally at least ten years ago! I would definitely continue growing internally, but the external aging has got to stop [Laughs]!
When was the last time you cried?
Honestly, it was the last time I saw that ASPCA commercial about adopting those puppies and kittens. My God that’s sad. You know, the other day I saw a homeless woman who I speak to sometimes near my home and as I drove away I started to cry thinking about how hard her life is. Any kind of suffering makes me crazy. Abuse of the elderly, women, children or animals fills me with rage.
Who was your first love?
Oh, who remembers! I’ll tell you someone who I used to love, love, love, Richard—John Travolta. Oh my God! How dreamy was he? And still is. Vinnie Barbarino? Tony Manero? Danny Zuko? Are you kidding me? Sexy doesn’t begin to cover it [Laughs].
When did you first realize you were actually wealthy?
You know, I started modeling when I was 17 so I’ve always had my own money. I was always independent so the whole wealth thing happened slowly, organically for me. Money has never, ever been my driving force. Money doesn’t motivate me. I’ll tell you what real wealth means to me. The fact that I can take my entire family on a beautiful weeks-long vacation and I can cover everything so all we’re worrying about is creating lifelong memories; that’s having real wealth. Sharing times with the ones you love.
Tell me about being Cuban.
I definitely feel Cuban; Cuba is in my blood. But you know I also feel very Spanish because my mom is from Spain.
I feel so Cuban in every way even though I’ve never set foot in Cuba. Strange doesn’t begin to cover it.
Cuba is different for all of us who have been denied our homeland, our country. I’ve had a lifelong love affair with a country I can’t have.
Describe a defining crossroad.
I’ve had a few important crossroads in my life but the single most important decision I ever made was the day I decided to choose peace over anger. I became overtly spiritual and tamed my anger. Today, very few things can ruin my buzz. Being on this spiritual path and choosing peace, has helped me in immeasurable ways. Spirituality is always searching for answers and I need teachers in my life.
Describe a perfect day.
Today is always a perfect day.
What was your first luxury purchase?
My very first car I bought in Jersey, a Fiero GT. That was a sweet car until I spun out on an icy road because the car’s engine was in the back. I sometimes miss that car.
Are you in love now?
Yes, I’m always in love [Laughs]. You know me Richard; it’s always really nice to have a couple of men hanging around [Laughs].
Define what luxury means to you.
The term “luxury” is relative to me. Yes, luxury literally means having the better things in life but I like the paradox luxury conjures up—wearing a couture dress and walking around barefoot or boarding a private jet in an old T-shirt. But true luxury is being able to do exactly what you want. That’s luxury.
What do you feel passionate about?
Well, I’m a Scorpio so there’s a lot of passion right there.
And you’re Cuban.
Right! But I feel passion for helping people; I really have passion for that. I think that’s a big part of who I am.
Do you think you’ll ever want children?
Not really. I chose not to have children. It’s not something I want right now, but the truth is, I don’t really know for sure. I’m very fulfilled in my life, and I don’t need to fill a void with children.
What’s something surprising about you no one knows?
I’ve never ever had a one-night stand.
Well, as of now [Laughs]! I mean, it’s not a rule or anything, but I can’t fake passion at all. I have to get to know someone well first. I believe that famous quote from Hunter S. Thompson: “Sex without love is as hollow and ridiculous as love without sex.” My sentiments exactly.
Where are the family gatherings?
Well, I live in Los Angeles and the majority of my family is in Miami so we usually take snow trips for Christmas and holidays. We love it.
What’s the single best business advice you followed? Andy Cohan, another close mutual friend of ours and the licensing genius behind your huge Kohl’s deal, is a big fan of yours, as you know.
Andy Cohan’s very, very good at what he does, that’s for sure. Someone once told me two things I’ve always tried to do: Know what your story is and surround yourself with the best people available. My goal was never to make it and go away. I want longevity and I think I’m on my way to achieving that.
Speaking of longevity, where are you in five years?
In five years, I’ll hopefully be on a yacht in St. Tropez surrounded by fabulous people [Laughs].
Am I there?
Sure. You can write all about it [Laughs]!
When was the last time you were genuinely surprised?
You know when you kind of know something’s going to happen, but when it actually does it still shocks you? That happens to me all the time.
What’s next for Daisy Fuentes?
Well, let’s see, my businesses are doing very well and I’m developing several television projects. There’s always a lot going on but I love it. Bring it on! I’m having a helluva good time [Laughs]!
Photography by Michael Murphree exclusively for HudsonMOD