Conchita Wurst's Eurovision win
Just after winning the Eurovision Song Contest, an extactic Conchita Wurst tells of her delight in taking out the 2014 title for Austria.PT1M46S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-383cv 620 349 May 11, 2014
Conchita Wurst, the neatly-bearded drag queen who won the Eurovision Song Contest on Sunday morning, has attracted widespread praise and predictably homophobic criticism following her win.
Conchita's appearance drew strong reactions in conservative quarters - most notably from Russia - because of its provocation to conventions around masculine and feminine beauty and because it was seen as a pro-gay statement.
'Bearded lady' ... Austria's Conchita Wurst sings Rise Like A Phoenix to win the Eurovision Song Contest.
Conchita had a simpler message at the press conference following her win: "This project is based on tolerance, acceptance and love." Although she later admitted she had Russian President Vladimir Putin "among others" in mind with her performances.
Russian national politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky screeched, "There's no limit to our outrage. It's the end of Europe. It has turned wild," to a Russian state television channel.
Russia's Liberal Democratic Party leader was even more hysterical in saying: "Fifty years ago the Soviet army occupied Austria. We made a mistake in freeing Austria. We should have stayed."
Supporters of Conchita Wurst representing Austria pose before grand final of the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest. Photo: Reuters
But many commentators were quick to point out that Russia contributed seven votes to her win.
The alter ego of 25-year-old musician Thomas Neuwirth, Conchita told a news conference shortly after her arrival in Vienna that the result shows "you can't reduce a country to its tolerance or intolerance".
"Yesterday was a victory not just for me, but also for those people who believe in a future that functions without discrimination and which is based on tolerance and respect," she said. "That was transnational and had nothing to with east and west."
Austrian President Heinz Fischer congratulated Conchita, telling the Austria Press Agency it was "not just a victory for Austria, but above all for diversity and tolerance in Europe".
Associated Press's Philipp-Moritz Jenne reported that Conchita got a hero's welcome from hundreds of fans at Vienna Airport.
Conchita also topped the iTunes chart at home in Austria with her winning song, Rise Like a Phoenix, and also made the top 10 in Germany, France, Italy, Sweden and 2014 host nation Denmark.
It was number 43 on the Australian iTunes charts on Monday morning. Jessica Mauboy's Eurovision song, Sea of Flags, reached 28th on the same chart.
Neuwirth who has performing as Conchita since 2011 after coming sixth in the Austrian talent show Die große Chance (The Great Opportunity). On her website, conchitawurst.com, she refers to herself as an "art figure ... born in the mountains of Colombia ... and raised in Germany". Elsewhere, Wurst's biography says Neuwirth "created Conchita. The Bearded Lady, as a statement. A statement for tolerance and acceptance- as it's not about appearances; it's about the human being. 'Everybody should live their lifes however they want, as long as nobody else gets hurt or is restricted in their own way of life'" [sic].
Since Conchita first appeared, Neuwirth has played the character in several reality TV shows including The Hardest Jobs in Austria (where she worked in a fish factory), then Wild Girls, in which contestants had to live with Namibian desert tribes and Dancing Stars.
Neuwirth got his initial break after competing in the talent show Star Mania in 2007 and then formed a short-lived boy band, Jetzt Anders! (which translates to 'Different Now').
Conchita narrowly missed representing Austria in the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest, but was selected by the Austrian broadcaster ORF, which created controversy by directly selecting Conchita in 2014 as entrants are usually chosen by a public vote.
Conchita has released two other singles Unbreakable (2011) and That's What I am (2012), which reached 12th in the Austrian charts.
Her next goal is to win a Grammy Award. "[But] on the way there I will grab everything that is given," she said.
"Maybe I'll never get the Grammy but maybe I will get things that are worth much, much more than any Grammy, which could stand on my shelf. And that's why I will take everything I can get."