Lady Gaga has revealed that she was raped as a teenager. In an interview on Tuesday with radio DJ Howard Stern, the ARTPOP singer disclosed that a music industry insider 20 years her senior took advantage of her when she was a 19-year-old.
Stern had asked Lady Gaga about a controversial SXSW performance of "Swine", in which Gaga invited self-styled 'vomit painter' Millie Brown to throw up on her onstage.
"The song is about rape," she told Stern. "The song is about demoralization. The song is about rage and fury and passion, and I had a lot of pain that I wanted to release..."
"I said to myself, 'I want to sing this song while I'm ripping hard on a drum kit, and then I want to get on a mechanical bull' – which is probably one of the most demoralizing things that you can put a female on in her underwear – 'and I want this chick to throw up on me in front of the world so that I can tell them, you know what? You could never, ever degrade as much as I could degrade myself, and look how beautiful it is when I do.'"
"You keep alluding to... Were you raped by a record producer?" Stern asked, pressing her for more details.
After a few moments, Gaga opened up about the incident. "I was a shell of my former self at one point," she said. "I was not myself. And to be fair, I was about 19. I went to Catholic school and all this crazy stuff happened. I was going, 'Oh, is this just the way adults are?' I was very naive."
She did not come to terms with what had happened until four or five years later. "It hit me so hard," she said. "I was so traumatized by it that I was like, 'Just keep going.' Because I just had to get out of there... I wasn't even willing to admit that anything had even happened."
Gaga also said that she had never confronted the man. "It would terrify me. I saw him one time in a store," she said, "and I was so paralysed by fear. It wasn't until I was a little bit older that I went, 'Wow that was really messed up.'"
The singer said that she was determined not to be defined by the event. "I'll be damned if somebody is going to say that every creatively intelligent thing I ever did boiled down to one dickhead," she concluded.