The mother of Madonna’s latest toyboy told yesterday of her astonishment when her son told her who he was dating. Frenchwoman Patricia Vidal said she received a phone call from her 24-year-old son Brahim Zaibat, a dancer working in New York.
‘I’ve got a new girlfriend,’ he said. The mother of four was unperturbed when he mentioned an age gap of eight years. ‘You’ve always been mature for your age – it will be good to spend some time with a girl who’s a bit older than you,’ she said.
‘No,’ Zaibat replied. ‘She’s eight years older than you, Mum – and her name is Madonna.’
‘My mouth fell open when I realised that my son was Madonna’s new boyfriend,’ said 44-year-old Miss Vidal at her ninth-floor flat on a dingy council estate in Lyon. ‘It’s something I’m still trying to come to terms with. ‘Madonna was already a big star when I was a schoolgirl, let alone when Brahim was growing up. The whole situation is very strange indeed – surreal even.’ Zaibat met 52-year-old Madonna in September when he was dancing at the launch of her new line of clothes at Macy’s department store in New York. She invited him out and observers say it was love at first sight. They have become regulars at the Sullivan Room, a dance club where they sit in the VIP area sharing bottles of Fiji mineral water. On a recent trip to London they were seen kissing and cuddling in a nightclub.
However the relationship is not without its obstacles. Zaibat’s English is far from fluent while Madonna does not speak a word of French. And, like his mother, Zaibat does not even like Madonna’s music very much. Most importantly, he is a devout Muslim who – according to his mother – prays to Allah a number of times a day and shuns alcohol and cigarettes. Those religious views contrast sharply with the hedonistic lifestyle personified by the Material Girl. Moreover, Madonna is a high-profile follower of Kabbalah, a variation of Judaism.
Miss Vidal – whose Algerian husband left her and their four children when Zaibat was still a young boy – explained: ‘This is certainly not the kind of thing Brahim was brought up to involve himself with. ‘Things didn’t work out between me and my husband, but Brahim was raised as a good Muslim. Brahim’s faith is hugely important to him, and has got him through some very difficult times.’ She continued: ‘I certainly wouldn’t say we’re overjoyed by Brahim’s relationship with a non-Muslim, and the fact that she’s Madonna doesn’t make things any easier.
‘The only other thing I’m prepared to say about all this is that I think it was Madonna who moved in on Brahim rather than the other way round. I think she’s very well known for this kind of thing.’ Madonna’s initial topic of conversation with Zaibat was apparently that she is a Leo – born in August 1958 - while he - born in September 1986 - is a Virgo. She said the two star signs were naturally suited.
Miss Vidal said: ‘Brahim has younger siblings so he feels very happy in the company of younger people, including kids. I’m sure Madonna will appreciate this if Brahim is spending time with her children.’ Zaibat is aware of the relative financial security Luz gained from his relationship with Madonna, propelling himself from an impoverished wannabe to a £20,000-a-night DJ and Dolce & Gabbana model. He says his ultimate aim in life is to help children from similar underprivileged backgrounds. ‘I just want to get on with my life – for everything to be normal,’ he told the Daily Mail. The phone calls home have continued despite his high-profile romance. Zaibat even spent a night back at the Lyon flat late last month. ‘He hadn’t changed a bit,’ his mother said, pointing proudly to the fact that Brahim slept in his childhood bed and watched TV with everybody, as he always did as a boy. ‘Nothing has changed him at all – as far as he is concerned he’s just got a new girlfriend and wants to enjoy himself. ‘He’s always been very shy when he’s not dancing, and will definitely not try to take advantage of his new status. ‘On the contrary, Brahim will do everything he can to keep a low profile, and to carry on working hard.’
It seems he is not planning to bring his new girlfriend home to meet his family in the near future. ‘No, I can’t see Madonna arriving here any time soon,’ added Miss Vidal. ‘She has given us quite a few surprises recently, but that really would be one too far.’