Photo Rio News / Splash News 1 / 8
Photo Rio News / Splash News 1 / 8

Amicable split or no split at all? It's looking a whole lot more like the latter for Madonna and Brazilian squeeze Jesus Luz, who thumbed their noses at the rumor mill this week by stepping out together in Rio de Janeiro.

The pair's together-time follows a rash of reports that they had called it quits after more than a year of sacrili-cious coupledom, ostensibly due to their age difference (she's 51; he's 22), lack of common ground and her supposed interest in both former flame Alex Rodriguez and beefcake-y Spanish actor-model Jon Kortajarena.

The Big M looked "very cozy" with the doe-eyed model-cum-DJ while enjoying a romantic dinner at a tony Ipanema Beach eatery on Tuesday night, although they staggered their exit to avoid being snapped together by waiting paparazzi.

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Luz's continued standing as part of Madonna's inner circle was further cemented on Wednesday when he was spotted frolicking with her waterwing-bedecked daughter, Mercy, 4, in the pool of the fancy-schmancy Fasano Hotel, where the family is staying (fun fact: Beyoncé is also bunking there).

While Jesus played babysitter, Madonna met with Sao Paulo state Gov. Jose Serra to chat about her planned efforts to help needy children in Brazil.

The politician came away from the confab a big fan -- of the sinewy pop icon's suspiciously smooth, wrinkle-free visage.

"She seems very young," he told reporters, "much less than her [age]."

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That night, Madonna and Jesus hit a local club, where the London Daily Mail says she appeared "a little sleepy and withdrawn," preferring to watch her dewy beau boogie shirtless with his pals instead of showing off her own considerable hoofing skills.

But Luz didn't forget who brought him to the dance: He was photographed planting some sugar on Madonna's pillowy cheek as they sat side-by-side at the hot spot. And she sure looked wide-awake when he went in for a full-fledged smacker.

Once the duo had enough of the revelry, they reportedly hopped into a waiting car and headed back to the hotel.

Meanwhile, at least one insider believes the superstar, who will join in on Rio's weekend's Carnival festivities, is merely keeping Luz around for her own amusement (and possibly ours, 'cause those mother-and-child manger jokes never get old).

"Jesus is really, really into Madonna, but he's more like a little personal project to her," a snitch snipes to the London Sun. "They are together when she wants them to be together."

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