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Who is the glorious bearded woman who took out Eurovision 2014?

 

So, despite Russia’s insistence that it would bring about the end of humanity, Conchita Wurst, the ‘bearded woman’ from Austria, won Eurovision last night.

And it was glorious.

She entered the contest with an outside chance of winning, considered too controversial to take home the trophy. But her showstopping performance of the anti-discrimination anthem Rise Like A Pheonix quickly won over, well, everyone. By the time the winner was announced, that her name would be called seemed all but inevitable.

If you haven’t seen it yet, watch the incredible performance here:

But who is Conchita? What’s her story? How did this magnificent woman come to be the pride of Austria and the person they chose to represent them on the world stage?

Here’s everything you need to know about Eurovision 2014’s fave diva:

1. Conchita Wurst is actually an alter ego:

Conchita is the alter ego of a 25-year-old Austrian called Tom Neuwirth. You know how Beyonce sometimes performs as Sasha Fierce? Conchita is Tom’s Sasha Fierce.

Tom is homosexual and after trying to perform as himself but never quite feeling comfortable doing it, he came up with the drag persona Conchita Wurst in 2011.

Tom and Conchita

The last name ‘Wurst’ roughly translates in German as ‘I don’t care’ or ‘irrelevant’ – a way for Conchita to say that it shouldn’t matter what she looks like. (‘Conchita’ is also spanish slang for vagina and ‘wurst’ can also mean sausage so… Do with that information what you will.)

When Tom is working or performing as Conchita, female pronouns like ‘she’ and ‘her’ are used. And Conchita and Tom are very different – Conchita has been married to a man for four years, while Tom lives a single man.

Tom explained the way he lives as both Tom and Conchita in a recent interview:

I always wanted to sing but I could not handle it as I did not want to expose myself to the public. That’s why, a logical solution came to create a character who will replace me on the stage.

[The] beard certainly is a provocation, a way to attract attention. I wanted to create a gender mix, to show that each person has both male and female beginnings. From a medical point of view, there is nothing female in me, I haven’t done any change in my body. But it is important, how do I look, what I wear. However, I am not a transsexual. I like my personal life and in my personal life, I’m a man.

… every day, depending on the plan of the day, I define in advance what I will be – Conchita or Tom. I like my job and both personalities in me are very strong and can fully learn from each other.

2. Tom tried to make it as a singer:

Tom first appeared on the radar in 2006 when he competed (and lost) on an Austrian talent show called Starmania. Here’s a clip of him singing Queen’s The Show Must Go On:

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3. Tom was in a boy band called Jetzt Anders!:

After losing Starmania, Tom was in Austrian boy band Jetzt Anders!, which was formed in 2007… and disbanded in, um, 2007.

Backstreet-like glory may not have lasted long, but a glorious music video survives from that time:

4. In 2011, Conchita Wurst was born (and immediately started doing the reality show rounds):

Conchita and all her bearded magnificent burst onto the Austrian TV scene in 2011, first with an appearance on the show called The hardest jobs of Austria, where she worked in a fish factory, and then on a show called Wild Girls, where she went with a group of women to live with a native tribe in Namibia. Take a look:

via

Conchita then entered her first singing talent show. She didn’t win but after so many popular appearances on television, Conchita had become a huge Austrian celebrity. Here’s one of her performances from that show:

5. Conchita was rejected from Eurovision in 2012:

Conchita made it to the televised pre-selection contest in Austria but came second.

6. Her response to transphobia during Eurovision this year has been the perfect combination of class and sass:

There was immediate outcry from some countries upon hearing that Conchita was Austria’s entry to this year’s Eurovision. Russia, in particular, was pissed. Because they have newly minted ‘anti-gay propaganda’ laws, they tried to force Eurovision to edit Conchita out of the live broadcast in their country. Belarus asked the same.

Conchita gave the perfect response to their sad discrimination:

“I can only say ‘Thank you for your attention!’ If this is only about me and my person, I can live with it… you know, I have a very thick skin. It’s just strange that a little facial hair causes that much excitement. I also have to add that 80 per cent of the autograph requests that I get are from Russia and eastern Europe — and that’s what is important to me.”

But she perhaps summed it up best when she said:

“Hey, I’m just a singer in a fabulous dress, with great hair and a beard.”

Bravo.

7. She seemed genuinely shocked when she won and gave an amazingly dramatic acceptance speech:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GheN3SfQJII

8. Conchita does glorious make-up tutorials on YouTube. They’re in German, but still:

Spirit Animal: attained.