Lady Gaga Opens Up About “Horrific” Past Sexual Encounter in Discussion About Rape

Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga opened up about a "horrific" past sexual encounter in a discussion about rape, telling Howard Stern she "wasn't even willing admit that anything had even happened" for several years afterward Jacopo Raule/GC Images

Lady Gaga's interview with Howard Stern on Tuesday, Dec. 2, took an unexpectedly serious turn when the subject of rape came up in a discussion about the controversy over the singer's SXSW show in March. The performance featured "vomit painter" Millie Brown throwing up green paint all over Gaga and the stage, which some critics saw as glorifying bulimia.

Asked what inspired the polarizing stunt, the ARTPOP hitmaker told SiriusXM host Stern, "What I thought was, I wrote a song called 'Swine.' The song is about rape, 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. And 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 could put a female on, you know, 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 me as much as I can degrade myself, and look how beautiful it is when I do.'"

Shock jock Stern zeroed in on her passing reference to rape, pressing the "G.U.Y." singer for more information. "Were you raped by a record producer?" he asked. "Was that what happened to you?"

Gaga, 28, tried to redirect the conversation to "happy things," but Stern implored her to open up. "It's a serious topic. When you talk about depression and pain, and you're talking about rape, and you're talking about producers who have done things to you…You said you barely got into a studio where you weren't in a weird, dangerous situation," he began. "I feel like you were raped by someone. I think that's what you're saying."

"You know, I went through some horrific things," the Grammy winner replied vaguely. "I'm able to laugh now because I've gone through a lot of mental and physical therapy and emotional therapy to heal over the years. My music's been wonderful for me. But, you know, I was a shell of my former self at one point. I was not myself. To be fair, I was about 19…I went to Catholic school, and then all this crazy stuff happened, and I was going, 'Oh, is this just the way adults are?'"

Gaga — now dating actor Taylor Kinney — didn't get into specifics about the encounter but said it took a long time for her to acknowledge the gravity of the situation.

"It happens every day, and it's really scary and it's sad. And you know, it didn't affect me as much right after as it did about four or five years later," she told Stern. "It hit me so hard. I was so traumatized by it that I was like, just keep going. I just had to get out of there."

For a while, she added, she "wasn't even willing admit that anything had even happened" to her. "I don't want to be defined by it," she explained. "I'll be damned if someone is going to say that every creatively intelligent thing that I ever did is all boiled down to one d–khead that did that to me. I'm gonna take responsibility for all my pain looking beautiful, and all the things that I've made out of my strife. I did that."

Asked whether she ever confronted the man in question, the "Born This Way" songstress said, "I think it would terrify me. It would paralyze me. I saw him one time in a store, and I was so paralyzed by fear. Because it wasn't until I was a little bit older that I went, 'Wow, that was really messed up.'"

What makes it even more messed up, she added, is that he told people they used to date. "You were 20 years older than me. I was a kid. How was that a date?" she asked.

"It took me a long time to feel strong about it," she continued. "I didn't tell anybody. And I didn't even tell myself for the longest time. And then I was like, you know what, all this drinking and all this nonsense, you have to go to the source. Otherwise it just won't go away. It will not go away."

UPDATE: Following Gaga's interview with Stern, Kesha's lawyer Mark Geragos tweeted a link about the story and asked his followers to "guess who the rapists [sic] was." When one responded with Dr. Luke's name — the producer whom Kesha is suing on allegations of abuse — Geragos wrote, "#bingo."

Gaga's rep told TMZ, however, that Geragos' insinuation is "absolutely not true," and that Dr. Luke is not involved. "The Dr. Luke lawsuit is utterly incomprehensible," her rep told the site. "This simply isn't true and how dare someone take advantage of such a sensitive matter."

Dr. Luke's rep adds to Us Weekly that Geragos' "statement is completely false and defamatory. Luke met Lady Gaga twice for less than half an hour total in those two meetings combined. He has never been alone with her and never touched her. Neither meeting was in that time frame reported."

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