Madonna opens up about the obstacle, the violence and the prejudice she had endured when she relocated to New York years ago trying to pursue her dream career as an artist. The Michigan-born singer reveals in the November 2013 issue of Harper's Bazaar that she was raped during her first year in the Big Apple.
"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 spills, "and had my apartment broken into three times. I don't know why; I had nothing of value after they took my radio the first time."
Madge gave up her dance scholarship at the University of Michigan to move to NY. "I am not a big fan of rules," she says. "Rules people follow without question. Order is what happens when words and actions bring people together, not tear them apart. Yes, I like to provoke; it's in my DNA. But nine times out of 10, there's a reason for it."
And the Material Girl was unapologetic with her tendency to push the boundaries. "If I can't be daring in my work or the way I live my life, then I don't really see the point of being on this planet," so she explains. Even when she was younger, she always did "the opposite of what all the other girls were doing."
"That didn't go very well. Most people thought I was strange. I didn't have many friends; I might not have had any friends," she admits. "But it all turned out good in the end, because when you aren't popular and you don't have a social life, it gives you more time to focus on your future. And for me, that was going to New York to become a REAL artist."
She remembers arriving in the city with only $35 in her pocket and working odd jobs to earn a living. She was 19 back then. "It wasn't anything I prepared for," she says. "Trying to be a professional dancer, paying my rent by posing nude for art classes, staring at people staring at me naked. Daring them to think of me as anything but a form they were trying to capture with their pencils and charcoal."
Despite the rough life she had in the city, she's not a quitter, thanks to her rebellious spirit. "I was poised for survival. I felt alive. But I was also scared s**tless," the 55-year-old popstar recalls. "I was defiant. 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."
The "Like a Virgin" hitmaker finally got her big break in early 1980s and was soon known for her antics. "When you're 25, it's a little bit easier to be daring, especially if you are a pop star, because eccentric behavior is expected from you," the mega star explains.
While she understood why her antics caused controversies, she was baffled when her study of Kabbalah in search for a more spiritual life was also scrutinized. "It made people nervous. It made people mad. Was I doing something dangerous? It forced me to ask myself, Is trying to have a relationship with God daring? Maybe it is," she wonders.
But her most "eye-opening experience" came when she was facing backlash while trying to adopt her son David in 2006 from Africa. "I didn't know that trying to adopt a child was going to land me in another s**t storm. But it did. I was accused of kidnapping, child trafficking, using my celebrity muscle to jump ahead in the line, bribing government officials, witchcraft, you name it. Certainly I had done something illegal!" she says.
Calling it "a real low point" in her life, Madge adds, "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."
Now she's in happy place "with four amazing children." She says, "I try to teach them to think outside the box. To be daring. To choose to do things because they are the right thing to do, not because everybody else is doing them."