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2 min

Madonna on Madonna: Rape and revolution

In a new interview that she penned herself for Harper’s Bazaar, Madonna opens up about her early days in New York City, where she moved from Michigan in the late 1970s after being encouraged by her ballet teacher, and her first gay influence, Christopher Flynn, who saw something special in his young student.

"New York wasn’t everything I thought it would be,” Madonna writes. “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. I 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."

“Arriving in New York wasn’t anything I prepared for,” she continues. “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. I was poised for survival. I felt alive. But I was also scared shitless.”

Madonna is on the cover of Bazaar promoting her secretprojectrevolution collaboration with photographer Steven Klein, which questions the current state of the world and the apathy of its people. The project was funded out of Madonna and Klein’s pockets in a bid to wake people up to this “very scary time” we live in.

The video launches the Art for Freedom initiative, which “encourages the world to express their personal meaning of freedom and revolution in the form of video, music, poetry, and photography. Join the revolution by uploading original artwork to or tagging original posts #artforfreedom."

"The idea of being daring has become the norm for me,” Madonna writes. “Of course, this is all about perception because asking questions, challenging people’s ideas and belief systems, and defending those who don’t have a voice have become a part of my everyday life. In my book, it is normal."