Fans of Madonna know her story well. They know of how she moved to her native Michigan to New York City with hopes of becoming a ballet dancer and, more importantly, dreams of being among other non-conformists. (She was called a “hairy monster” for refusing to shave her arms and legs.) Given her meteoric rise in 1984, they also likely imagined that she was as self-assured as she appears in her “Borderline” video.
But in a Harper’s Bazaar essay (also the magazine’s cover story), the pop icon reveals why her first year in New York City was actually harrowing. “New York wasn’t everything I thought it would be,” she says. “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.”
Her source of solace? A Frida Kahlo postcard, taped to a wall at her “shoe box” of a bedroom. “[T]he sight of her mustache consoled me,” Madonna says. “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 rest of Madonna’s essay — she talks of her Like a Prayer years, discovering Kabbalah and motherhood — is, as they say, history. Read the cover story at the official Harper’s Bazaar website.
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