Just when you thought you knew everything there is to know about Madonna, the Material Girl gives us some new material! In a surprising new essay for Harper's Bazaar, the pop-music icon revealed the truth about everything from her early years as a struggling singer in New York to her Malawi adoption experience, and it's definitely not the same old song and dance.
Here are five things you probably didn't know about Madonna.
She found a unique way to be a teen rebel.
The future pop star didn't spend her teen years drinking beer and smoking pot in the high school parking lot, because "that's what everybody did." Instead, she wanted to set herself apart, so she decided to just say no … to shaving: "I thought it was cooler to not shave my legs or under my arms," Madonna wrote. "I mean, why did God give us hair there anyways? Why didn't guys have to shave there? Why was it accepted in Europe but not in America? No one could answer my questions in a satisfactory manner, so I pushed the envelope even further. I refused to wear makeup and tied scarves around my head like a Russian peasant. I did the opposite of what all the other girls were doing, and I turned myself into a real man repeller."
She did not love New York at first.
We've all heard the story of Madonna's arrival in New York in the late 1970s. (She previously dished that she was dropped off in Times Square with only $35 to her name.) But apparently it wasn't love at first sight for the aspiring singer and dancer. The future Grammy winner revealed that not only was she held up at gunpoint during her first year in the Big Apple, but she was raped at knifepoint on a rooftop. In addition, her apartment was robbed three times, although she quipped: "I don't know why; I had nothing of value after they took my radio the first time."
She was inspired by a postcard.
During her early days in New York, the singer revealed that sometimes she wondered if it was all worth it, especially when she was crying in her "shoe box of a bedroom with a window that faced a wall." So what got her through the difficult times? Turns out, she was inspired by a postcard of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. "A postcard of Frida Kahlo taped to my wall, and the sight of her mustache consoled me," Madonna wrote. "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."
She doesn't understand why so many people were freaked out when she turned to Kabbalah.
Madonna was 35 years old when she started studying Kabbalah, and while her goal was to become a better person, she experienced a bit of a backlash when people accused her of joining a cult and being brainwashed. "Now, you would think that studying the mystical interpretation of the Old Testament and trying to understand the secrets of the universe was a harmless thing to do," she wrote. "I wasn't hurting anybody… If I became a Buddhist … no one would have bothered me at all … but Kabbalah really freaked people out. It still does."
Despite popular belief, adoption did not come easy for her.
While much has been written about Madonna's Malawi adoptions of her children David and Mercy, she reiterated that she "applied to an international adoption agency and went through all the bureaucracy, testing, and waiting that everyone else goes through when they adopt." While accusations of "kidnapping, child trafficking," and using her "celebrity muscle to jump ahead in the line," hurt her, the biggest blow was being "punished" for trying to save a child's life. "Friends tried to cheer me up by telling me to think of it all as labor pains that we all have to go through when we give birth," she wrote. "In any case, I got through it. I survived."
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