Madonna opened up in an intimate new essay about being raped and mugged when she first moved to NYC back in the late '70s. "New York wasn't everything I thought it would be," Madonna writes in the November 2013 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."
Madonna first moved to NYC in 1978 around the age of 20. According to Lucy O’Brien, author of the 2007 biography “Madonna: Like an Icon,” she didn't report the rape, though it left her “crying and shaking on the roof." O'Brien also posits that Madonna used the terrible experience as fuel for her ambitions: “Her anger at the attack came out afterward in a need for complete sexual control,” O’Brien said. “Sex became a mask, a way of psychologically turning the tables on her attacker...She encountered her own worst possible scenario, becoming a victim of male violence, and thereafter turned that full-tilt into her work, reversing the equation at every opportunity."
Madonna writes more about her initial impressions of NYC, how she paid rent by posing nude for art classes, and how she had to "dare" herself every day to keep going in her attempts to become a professional dancer:
The tall buildings and the massive scale of New York took my breath away. The sizzling-hot sidewalks and the noise of the traffic and the electricity of the people rushing by me on the streets was a shock to my neurotransmitters. I felt like I had plugged into another universe. I felt like a warrior plunging my way through the crowds to survive. Blood pumping through my veins, I was poised for survival. I felt alive.
But I was also scared shitless and freaked out by the smell of piss and vomit everywhere, especially in the entryway of my third-floor walk-up.