“Winner is Fascinating. 2 Piece of Advice..U Deserve a Lovelier Name & Wig. This is NOT SHADE. I Respect & Admire Your Resolve.”
These were the words unleashed by our beloved icon Cher on her Twitter account. Cher was referring to the winner of the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest, an annual competition held among the member countries of the European Broadcast Union. It is a huge show, and one the most watched non-sporting events in the world. ABBA, Celine Dion and Julio Iglesias are among the past winners. This year, the 59th competition was held in Copenhagen, Denmark, and the winner was Conchita Wurst from Austria with the song “Rise Like a Phoenix.”
Conchita Wurst is the drag queen character persona created by 25-year-old Austrian-born singer Tom Neuwirth. Neuwirth graduated from the Graz School of Fashion in 2011. Graz is the second-largest city in Austria after Vienna, where Neuwirth lives now. He has been wowing crowds in Austria for quite some time. His renditions of Queen and Michael Jackson songs on “Starmania” — the Austrian version of “The X Factor” — show a strong voice, and his rendition of “Gold Finger” on that show’s finale is mesmerizing. “Rise Like a Phoenix” indeed has that Shirley Bassey/James Bond theme quality and mood. Very good!
It is very clear that Neuwirth is talented, but his win as Conchita Wurst on such a worldly window is very significant for the fight of gay rights and discrimination everywhere. “This night is dedicated to everyone who believes in a future of peace and freedom. You know who you are. We are unity. We are unstoppable,” the very touched Conchita said minutes after finding out she was the Eurovision winner. Even before the competition started, a Facebook page was created to stop Neuwirth from competing, and an Austrian petition with more than 4,500 signatures was also a consequence of the outrage caused by his performance in the show. After Conchita was celebrated as the 2014 Eurovision winner, Vitaly Milonov — a deputy in St.Petersburg’s legislative assembly — sent a letter to Russia’s Eurovision organizing committee requesting that Russian singers no longer be part of Eurovision, since he believes the competition propagandizes homosexuality.
Controversy aside, at the end of the day, the talented Tom Neuwirth won more than just a singing competition. Now, besides and deservedly being able to really take his singing career to another level, he has an enormous stage where he can spread his message of love and self-acceptance. I also believe that we will be seeing Conchita Wurst on Joan Rivers’ “Fashion Police” show, most likely on its segment, “Bitch Stole My Look!” (some people suggest that she dresses like Kim Kardashian). Well, I like to believe that Conchita really borrowed her looks from Andre Johnson, the American muse and diva who graced the cover of French Vogue Vogue back in November 2007. Also, let me point out that Andre Johnson has also lived in Vienna … just saying.
Gazelle Paulo is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine. He also writes a column for NewYorkSPY.com. You can follow him on Twitter.