Madonna: I Was Raped at Knifepoint When I First Moved to New York

Madonna's on the November cover of Bazaar, and inside, there's an essay she's written about herself, as she looks back on a 30-year career, starting with the years before she became famous.

Of her high school days, Madonna writes:

…Growing up in a suburb in the Midwest was all I needed to understand that the world was divided into two categories: people who followed the status quo and played it safe, and people who threw convention out the window and danced to the beat of a different drum. I hurled myself into the second category, and soon discovered that being a rebel and not conforming doesn't make you very popular. In fact, it does the opposite. You are viewed as a suspicious character. A troublemaker. Someone dangerous.

When you're 15, this can feel a little uncomfortable. Teenagers want to fit in on one hand and be rebellious on the other. Drinking beer and smoking weed in the parking lot of my high school was not my idea of being rebellious, because that's what everybody did. And I never wanted to do what everybody did. I thought it was cooler to not shave my legs or under my arms. I mean, why did God give us hair there anyways? Why didn't guys have to shave there? Why was it accepted in Europe but not in America? No one could answer my questions in a satisfactory manner, so I pushed the envelope even further. I refused to wear makeup and tied scarves around my head like a Russian peasant. I did the opposite of what all the other girls were doing, and I turned myself into a real man repeller. I dared people to like me and my nonconformity.

Since she was marching to the beat of her own drummer, in the late '70s, she moved to New York, where she felt she could "become a REAL artist," and express herself in a "city of nonconformists." It was a rough, rude awakening:

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, 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.

Horrifying. Still, she found fuel, energy, the drive to move forward:

And all the homeless people on the street. This wasn't anything I prepared for in Rochester, Michigan. 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. 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. 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.

The 55-year-old also touches on her marriages, her adoptions and Kabbalah; the entire piece is worth your while.

[Bazaar via Radar]