Why Jewel was living out of her car

Jewel has opened up about the challenges of being a woman in the music industry. (Photo: Duane Prokop/Getty Images for The Wellness Experience by Kroger)

The story about Jewel has always been that, before she was a successful singer/songwriter, she lived in her car. In a new interview with Stereogumthe “Who Will Save Your Soul” artist explained that the reason she was living there was that she refused to have sex with her boss.

“My whole career, the slant that the media gave it was through a really, I dare say, patriarchal lens,” the Masked Singer winner said. “You think of my origin story, right? The whole world knows I lived in my car — they think because I was fighting for my dream of music. That is an absolute misrepresentation of what happened.”

Jewel said that, in retaliation, the unnamed boss wouldn’t pay her.

“I refused to be leveraged and he wouldn’t give me my paycheck and I couldn’t pay my rent and I started living in my car,” she said. “And then my car got stolen and I was homeless because of that, because I wouldn’t bang a boss.”

In fact, Jewel, whose album Freewheelin’ Woman drops April 22, said she didn’t even necessarily want to record albums or win Grammys at that point.

“I was not even thinking I would be a musician. I was trying to figure out how to stand up for myself, how to refuse to be leveraged for anything or anyone,” said Jewel, whose full name is Jewel Kilcher. “It was an active defiance, it was an act of courage. It cost me a lot, but it won me myself. It won me my humanity. I’m so proud of that decision. It was so funny to see it portrayed as some cute, fluffy little, ‘Aw, she was fighting for her dream.’ I didn’t even have a dream. It’s not what I was doing.”

Even after choosing her career path, Jewel encountered a lot of sexism. She recalls that male journalists were often condescending. In 1998, MTV’s Kurt Loder seemed to mock his book of poetry and corrected his speech live on the air.

“I was so pissed. He was just ad***. What an ass to show himself like that,” she said. “It was almost that thing where you’d feel sorry for somebody — it’s like, ‘Wow, here’s a full-grown man who does news for children, on a children’s network, for teenagers.’ Yeah. You’re bitter.”

Yahoo Entertainment has reached out to Loder for comment.

Jewel said her negative experiences with male journalists included another asking her, “How do you give ab*** job with those f*****-up teeth?”

Then a disc jockey began their interview by talking about her body.

“I remember South Carolina, live on air, ‘Hey, you may have heard me describe my next guest as a large-breasted woman from Alaska. Jewel, how are you?’ I said, ‘You must be the small-penis man I’ve heard so much about from South Carolina,'” Jewel recalled. “Escorted out of the radio station. Like, that was just life. That’s what life was like.”

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