Maye Musk: “Cuando decía que mi hijo Elon era un genio, las profesoras pensaban que eran cosas de madre. Nadie más veía lo que yo”

Vanity Fair

In the Musk family, we know the son, Elon. But who can say the first name of his mother? Maye Haldeman, born in Canada in 1948, received us in a suite at the Majestic Hotel in Cannes, during the festival last May. On her Instagram account, she presents herself as an “international best-selling author, dietitian with two degrees in science, grandmother and supermodel”. Bright white hair, slender figure, frank smile, the mother of the founder of SpaceX says it straight away: “My life changed when I stopped dyeing my hair. I was already 59! »

The day before we met, Maye Musk walked the red carpet in a haute couture dress by Dior. “I’m used to this kind of event, admits the one who is also the muse of the fashion house. But it was the first time that I participated in the Cannes Film Festival. Then she went to the prestigious amfAR gala in Antibes, organized each year to raise funds for the fight against AIDS. Three weeks earlier, on May 2, she was at the Met Gala in New York, accompanied by her son. “He was elegant,” she smiles. I would have at least succeeded in making him forget the space suits for one evening. »

As we chat, makeup artist Junior Cedeño applies bright red to her lips. And that doesn’t bother her in the least. Several times, she stops to update her Instagram account. “Old age doesn’t worry me, I’m too busy having fun,” she writes in her new book. Lessons of a lifetime (ed. Thierry Souccar), which appears in France on October 6. She gives advice on fashion and well-being, while evoking her childhood. “In the 1950s, we left our native Canada for a new country, South Africa,” she tells me wistfully. I was 2 and a half years old. We boarded a cargo ship for Johannesburg carrying my father’s propeller plane. He had to take his wings off to get him on board. His parents were adventurers at heart who crossed the African continent without radio or GPS. “Once, my mother stocked up on water and food for three weeks and we crossed the Kalahari in a caravan in search of the lost city. But all we found was a pack of wild animals ready to devour us. She remembers them shaking their shoes to see if a scorpion had crawled into them. “And when we went to the bathroom, usually behind a bush, my father always kept an eye out for lions and hyenas. »

Forced engagement

Maye Musk seems to have learned the lesson: “Explore your limits, but in a responsible way”, such was the motto of the Hadelman family. However, she regrets not always having applied it in adulthood: “In some of my relationships, I should have reacted more quickly, but what do you want, we always believe that we can change people. It made me live through terribly painful situations. We women must no longer accept to suffer so much. My children insisted that I talk about those difficult times. At first, I wanted to leave the negative aspects aside, but then I thought that I had to go beyond the perfect self-image on Instagram. »

Hard times: life with ex-husband Errol Musk. In her book, she evokes the violence inflicted by this man, and how Elon, from the age of 5, defended her against his blows. “He was slapping him on the back of his knees to make him stop attacking me,” she recalls.

Reading it, one wonders why she married this man. Love? “No, I was not in love! He fell in love with me in high school, my family hated him. For my part, I had started my modeling career at 15 and I didn’t really have time to go out and meet people. After graduating in dietetics at university, she moved to Cape Town, 600 kilometers from Johannesburg, “but he kept coming to see me, and he was already hitting on me.” His story becomes chilling. “One day he showed up with an engagement ring. I refused his request, but he went to see my parents to tell them that I had said yes. When I received a telegram of congratulations, I immediately called Errol to ask him for an explanation. ” So what ? “He managed to convince me to accept his request. By the time I became aware of the horror of the situation, I had gained 30 kg. My sister had designed a custom dress for me to hide my figure. She pauses for a moment, pensive. “I know it may sound strange, but I was too embarrassed to cancel when everything was already ready. And here it is: I was married to a violent and abusive man, and who was not about to change. She comes home from their honeymoon pregnant and covered in bruises. “I had only one desire: to call my parents to take me home. I did not dare. Sometimes I wonder if this hell was worth it, but I tell myself that paradoxically, if I hadn’t married him, I wouldn’t have had my three wonderful children. »

His dog in the background

In 1979, when Maye obtained a divorce after nine years of marriage, her ex-husband decided to sue her: “He did this to ruin me, thinking that I would come back to him. Except that it was not about to happen, because I prefer to live poor than miserable. Maye stopped living in fear at age 42, when she moved from South Africa to Toronto. For years, she juggled between her activities as a dietician and a model, while raising her three children alone, who gradually lost contact with their father. Elon even severed ties with his father for good seven years ago: Errol had just announced to him that he had had a child with the daughter of his second wife – thirty-five years his junior…