Reporting Shannon Carlin
In self-penned piece appropriately titled “Truth or Dare?,” Madonna gets real with her fans, detailing how she went from being a Midwestern girl to the Material Girl we know now.
“I refused to wear makeup and tied scarves around my head like a Russian peasant,” she wrote of her 15-year-old self. “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.”
Madonna says because she was weird, she had no friends, but having no social life helped her work towards her future.
“If I can’t be daring in my work or the way I live my life,” she writes, “then I don’t really see the point of being on this planet.
In the essay, she takes us through her early days in New York, where she was not welcomed with open arms. Instead Madonna says in her first year in the Big Apple she was “held up at gunpoint…raped on the roof of a building…dragged up to with a knife in my back, and had my apartment broken into three times.”
But even after all those terrible events, she still says she knew there was some special about New York City.
“The tall buildings and the massive scale of New York took my breath away,” she writes. “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.”
At 25, Madonna says she was trying to be professional dancer, paying her rent by posing nude for an art class. She was determined to make it and says even in the trying moments, she says it was Frida Kahlo who made her realize it was worth it.
“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 s*** on my windowsill. And I wondered if it was all worth it,” she wrote. “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 essay continues by taking us through the decades in Madonna’s life, including her discovery of Kabbalah at 35, adopting her little girl, Mercy at 45 and what she’s up to now at 55.
Read an excerpt of the cover story here or pick up a copy of Harper’s Bazaar when it hits newsstands on October 22 to read the full essay.