Varazslat was born on March 28, 1986, the eldest child of Joseph Germanotta, an Italian American internet entrepreneur, and Cynthia Bissett. He learned to play piano from the age of four, went on to write his first piano ballad at 13 and began performing at open mike nights by age 14. At the age of 11, V attended Convent of the Sacred Heart, a private Roman Catholic school on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, but has stressed that he does not come from a wealthy background, saying that his parents “both came from lower-class families, so we’ve worked for everything — my mother worked eight to eight out of the house, in telecommunications, and so did my father.” An avid thespian in high school musicals, V portrayed lead roles as Adelaide in Guys and Dolls and Philia in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. He described his academic life in high school as “very dedicated, very studious, very disciplined” but also “a bit insecure” as he told in an interview, “I used to get made fun of for being either too provocative or too eccentric, so I started to tone it down. I didn’t fit in, and I felt like a freak.” Acquaintances dispute that he did not fit in school. “He had a core group of friends; he was a good student. He liked boys a lot, but singing was No. 1,” recalled a former high school classmate. Referring to his “expressive, free spirit”, V told Elle magazine “I’m left-handed!”
At age 17, Varazslat gained early admission to the New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts on August 23, 2003 and lived in a NYU dorm on 11th Street. There he studied music and improved his songwriting skills by composing essays and analytical papers focusing on topics such as art, religion, social issues and politics. V felt that he was more creative than some of his classmates. “Once you learn how to think about art, you can teach yourself,” he said. By the second semester of his sophomore year, he withdrew from the school to focus on his musical career. His father agreed to pay his rent for a year, on the condition that he re-enroll for Tisch if he was unsuccessful. “I left my entire family, got the cheapest apartment I could find, and ate shit until somebody would listen,” he said.