You many not remember the name Conchita Wurst, but you will have no doubt seen her on television or gracing the pages of the fashion glossies. The singer rocketed to an interesting sort of fame in 2014 after winning the Eurovision Song Contest. Representing Austria with the James Bond song ‘Rise like a Phoenix’, Conchita caused controversy – not because she is openly gay, but because she wore a beard with her gold and cream figure-hugging sheath during her dramatic performance.
Yes, Conchita Wurst is actually Thomas ‘Tom’ Neuwirth, a singer and artist who uses masculine pronouns when referring to himself and feminine pronouns when referring to Conchita. Thus Conchita is a drag queen (with a beard). None of this really matters except in the sense of celebrity pop culture where shock value is paramount in a sea of attention-seeking wanna-be’s. Wanna-be what’s? That’s an interesting question but it seems there is no limit on the ‘upping the ante’ stakes in a bid to stand out, to get noticed in a world of ostentatious vanity and self-admiration. As the saying goes ‘everything has been done before’ and ‘what has been will be again’ (Ecclesiastes).
Not to criticise Miss Wurst for I thought she/ he looked fabulous; beard and all. She looked fabulous again this week at the Golden Globe Awards in America, resplendent in an Alexis Mabille belted emerald-green gown and pearl-coloured bustier with perfect makeup, hair and beard groomed impeccably. Named as one of the best-dressed guests on the red carpet, the Austrian singer had tweeted to fans earlier ‘Always try to see behind the curtain’ along with a message reminding us that events such as the Golden Globes allow us the freedom of speech denied to others – in the wake of the tragic Charlie Hebdo employee shootings in Paris last week.
26-year-old Conchita already boasts over 870,000 Facebook fans and over 127,000 Twitter followers and the Golden Globes was the perfect platform for the singer to make her mark on American audiences, not only as a glamorous celebrity challenging gender stereotypes, but as a spokesperson for freedom of speech and individual rights. Creating a woman with a beard is a striking, if not provocative, statement and in Conchita’s words “Everybody should be free to live life as he or she sees fit, as long as nobody gets harmed. Only the individual person is important”. On a lighter note, Conchita Wurst bears an uncanny resemblance to that other glamorous brunette famous for being famous, Kim Kardashian. Besides the beard, the other notable difference between the two is what comes out of their mouths. In Conchita’s case, intelligent social and political commentary regarding rights, liberties and human dignity. In Kardashians case… well, not much.
And for readers who think that’s a tad harsh I leave you with these wise words of wisdom from dear Kim. “When there are so many haters and negative things, I really don’t care.” Perhaps she has something to say after all.
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