Published October 05, 2013
Madonna dropped out of the University of Michigan in 1978 to pursue her dreams of being an artist in New York. What greeted her was a city that was harsher than she could have imagined.
“New York wasn’t everything I thought it would be,” the pop icon wrote in an essay in the current issue of Harper’s Bazaar. “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.”
The pop-icon-in-the-making found her new home to be exhilarating, but also the sort of place her childhood in the suburbs of Detroit hadn’t prepared her for.
“But I was also scared sh–less and freaked out by the smell of p— and vomit everywhere, especially in the entryway of my third-floor walk-up,” she wrote.
She never gave up on trying to become a professional dancer, doing what it did to chase her dreams, including working as a nude model for art classes to pay her rent.
“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,” she wrote.