Lady Gaga on Rape: 'I Don't Want to Be Defined by It'
The singer says her controversial song "Swine" was inspired by a sexual assault
Lady Gaga has heavily alluded to being the victim of sexual assault at age 19 – and she’s speaking out about how she’s overcome the trauma.
During an interview with Howard Stern on Tuesday, the pop star opened up about the incident as she defended her March performance at South by Southwest, where artist Millie Brown vomited paint on her as she sang.
“I wrote a song called ‘Swine,’ the song is about rape, the song is about demoralization,” she said. “The song is about rage and fury and passion, and I had a lot of pain that I wanted to release.”
“You keep alluding to – were you raped by a record producer?” Stern asked. “Is that what happened?”
Gaga, 28, said she preferred to focus on “happy times” before slowly telling her story, saying a man “20 years older” than her took advantage of her – and that she never confronted him.
“I don’t want to be defined by it. 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—head that did that to me,” she told Stern. “I’m gonna take responsibility for all my pain looking beautiful and all the things I’ve made out of my strife. I did that.”
Her disclosure was soon embroiled in controversy, however, when Mark Geragos, Kesha‘s lawyer, accused Dr. Luke of being Gaga’s assailant. (In October, Kesha’s team filed a lawsuit against Dr. Luke, accusing him of a decade-long history of sexual, physical, verbal, and emotional abuse.)
Following the release of Lady Gaga’s interview with Stern, Geragos Tweeted: “#namethepervert.”
When one follower Tweeted back, guessing, “lukasz,” referring to Luke’s given name of Lukasz Sebastian Gottwald, Geragos followed up with a simple “#bingo.”
But Lady Gaga’s rep fired back at the claims that Dr. Luke was Gaga’s attacker, telling PEOPLE: “This ridiculous, manufactured link between Lady Gaga and the Kesha/Dr. Luke lawsuit is utterly incomprehensible. This simply isn’t true and how dare someone take advantage of such a sensitive matter.”
Dr. Luke’s rep is equally adamant that the events described by Gaga did not involve his client.
“Mark Geragos’s statement is completely false and defamatory,” Luke’s rep tells PEOPLE. “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.”
Still, Geragos insisted to TMZ that he “said it because it’s true,” adding that the allegations being leveled against Bill Cosby have made women “more courageous about coming out.” (Geragos did not return PEOPLE’s request for comment.)
Gaga, who has been collaborating with Tony Bennett, said the trauma of what had happened only hit her years later.
“I was a shell of my former self at one point,” said Gaga in the Stern interview. “I was not myself. And to be fair, I was about 19, so I went to Catholic school, and then all this crazy stuff happened, and I was going, ‘Oh, is this just the way adults are?’ ”
Listen to Gaga’s interview with Stern below: