Lady Gaga was raped as a 19-year-old. The singer visited “The Howard Stern Show” on Tuesday and opened up about everything from depression to her relationship with Taylor Kinney to singing with Tony Bennett to her admiration of Taylor Swift. But Gaga’s unexpected revelation about a sexual assault when she was still a struggling artist was the most emotional part of a candid, wide-ranging interview.
The pop star was discussing her controversial performance of the song “Swine” last spring, when artist Millie Brown “vomited” paint on Gaga. She explained to Stern that she wanted Brown to vomit on her as part of a larger degradation theme, since “Swine” is about rape and Gaga wanted to show that no one could “ever degrade me as much as I could degrade myself.”
When Stern asked whether Gaga had been raped, she initially tried to end the conversation by responding, “Happy times! Let’s talk about happy times!” But Stern pursued the issue and Gaga revealed, “I went through some horrific things.” She referred to an incident that happened when she was 19 and fresh out of Catholic school and “very naive” about how adults were supposed to interact.
She told Stern, “It happens every day, and it’s really scary, and it’s sad. It didn’t affect me as much right after as it did about four or five years later. It hit me so hard. I was so traumatized by it that I was like, ‘Just keep going.’ Because I just had to get out of there.”
“I don’t want to be defined by it,” said Gaga. “I’ll be damned if somebody’s gonna say that every creatively intelligent thing that I ever did is all boiled down to one d*ckhead who did that to me.” She went on to talk about the time when she saw her rapist out in public, and how “paralyzed” she felt. The entire segment is worth hearing.
On other subjects, the singer talked about the “extremely creative” Taylor Kinney and whether they plan to get married. She told Stern that if Kinney proposed, she would accept. Gaga revealed that her “proudest moment” was singing with Tony Bennett and watching her father smile. She talked about her drug and alcohol use (“I’m not sober yet. I think I will be at some point.”) and her depression, which she thinks is “chemical,” but treatable with everything from meditation to singing jazz.
Elaborating on some low points with her depression in recent years, Gaga said, “I didn’t feel well on the road, because I was very isolated. It’s hard to walk outside and not get followed.” While she knows she’s chosen a life of fame, Gaga lamented, “At some point you start going crazy.” She began to feel social anxiety and wasn’t able to talk to other people.
As for her relationship with Taylor Swift, while many people would like to see them feud, it doesn’t sound like that’s in the cards. “I can’t say anything bad about her,” Gaga told Stern, explaining that when she first met Swift and the “Shake It Off” singer raved about Gaga’s music, she assumed it was phony. Gaga later heard from a mutual acquaintance who said Swift was playing Gaga’s ARTPOP at a photo shoot. Gaga said of Swift, “I like this girl. She said the same thing to my face that she said behind my back.” When Stern wondered whether the two singers could be lovers, Gaga replied, “She would not like that… [but] if she’s interested, she can call me.”