Photo: Courtesy of Harper's Bazaar.
It's easy to feel like we know everything about Madonna — she's one of the most outspoken, open pop stars. But there are things even she's found too personal and painful to talk about. In the November issue of Harper's Bazaar, the pop icon opens up about a long-ago rape experience.
It happened when she first moved to New York City from Rochester, MI, in her early 20s. "New York wasn't everything I thought it would be. It did not welcome me with open arms. The first year, I was held up at gunpoint. Raped on the roof of a building I was dragged up to with a knife in my back," she reveals.
She wanted to leave the city; instead, she dug in her heels. "I was defiant," she says. "Hell-bent on surviving. On making it. But it was hard and it was lonely, and I had to dare myself every day to keep going. Sometimes I would play the victim and cry in my shoe box of a bedroom with a window that faced a wall, watching the pigeons shit on my windowsill. And I wondered if it was all worth it, but then I would pull myself together and look at a postcard of Frida Kahlo taped to my wall, and the sight of her mustache consoled me. Because she was an artist who didn't care what people thought. I admired her. She was daring. People gave her a hard time. Life gave her a hard time. If she could do it, then so could I."
It was these early struggles that helped toughen her up for later challenges — music critics, marriage problems, divorce, and the difficulties of adopting her two children, Mercy James and David, from Malawi. ("I could get my head around people giving me a hard time for simulating masturbation onstage or publishing my Sex book, even kissing Britney Spears at an awards show, but trying to save a child's life was not something I thought I would be punished for.")