I’ve never hidden the fact that watching interviews on French TV makes me want to crawl out of my skin. It’s a mix of irritation that hardly anyone on French television is able to condense their question down to a manageable chunk, but instead does a five-minute diatribe to get to any semblance of a point, and that French overdubbing while a guest is speaking in English is the most annoying in existence. Sorry. We all have our bêtes noires, and this is mine.
So, I started out watching Conchita Wurst on the French TV show On N’est Pas Couché last week not expecting to enjoy anything more than watching her astoundingly beautiful face (although I do love that the French seem to love her so much), and hopefully being able to decipher a tenth of what she was saying below that ever-so-loud translation.
As it turns out, no, I couldn’t figure out half of what she said. Which came in useful here, as it made me concentrate on her facial expressions even more than I normally do (and, God knows, I watch them more than anyone else ever has already).
But what I really love to do more than just watch her facial expressions is to watch her watching herself. You know, those shows where they play an old video of Conchita performing when she was younger, as Tom Neuwirth or not, and then place the present day image of herself watching that video alongside it.
Because seeing how she reacts to herself, you can learn a lot from that. Particularly as these are videos she’s probably seen hundreds of times before (hell, I’ve seen them hundreds of times, and I’m not even in them).
Sometimes she’s grimacing and making jokes, other times she’s serious. Then, occasionally, like on On N’est Pas Couché, there’s a point where, if I was suddenly given three wishes, I’d use one of them to find out what she’s thinking.
That point was the segment where they play the video of Conchita’s audition for Die Große Chance. Her first ever appearance on national TV as Conchita, and one that kicked off her career.
It’s also a video Conchita herself has said she always used to watch when things weren’t going well, as it would make her remember how good things could be.
And it’s a video, I think, probably means more to her than most people could ever guess, because it’s the first time her talent and what she was doing with her art as Conchita was validated by such a large group of people, and by some in the entertainment industry. And the first time she saw so much acceptance for who she really was. You know, that person she’d been hiding from most of the world for almost her entire life.
But what is interesting here is what Conchita Wurst does while watching this little segment. Or, should I say, not watching it.
As, from just a few seconds into the clip, right after Conchita at Die Große Chance begins to sing, present day Conchita looks away and looks down. Then she continues to look down while that entire clip plays. So much so, the cameraman zooms in on her face and holds the frame.
Now, at this point, I focused my concentration on her energy, to try to figure out what was going on in her head. Because what I was picking up from that ever so calm exterior was something far less calm beneath. It was the sense of someone who didn’t want to have to sit there while that video was playing. And someone who was using her incredible ability to control her emotions to block how she was really feeling from the gaze of everyone who was watching.
So she looked down, closed in upon herself, and waited for the video to end. While all the while twisting a ring around and around and around on her finger.
And my guess? Just because I know how much that video means to her.
I think it’s hard for her to have someone possibly dissect that performance and that important moment in her life, and say something bad about it. Because it’s something so precious to her, she doesn’t want anyone to have the chance to spoil it.
And, for me, when I watch her watching that video, and can feel those emotions streaming from her, it just makes me want to reach through the screen and hug her, and then grab by the throat anyone who dares to try to hurt her.
So where is my commentary on this little moment during Conchita Wurst’s appearance on On N’est Pas Couché last week going? Nowhere really.
It’s just a comment on how Conchita Wurst, despite her incredible emotional strength, is sometimes a lot more fragile than she lets on, and probably a comment on me.
Because, although I’ve always been one of those people who stands up for others if I see them being harmed, there’s just something about Conchita Wurst that brings out more of my protective instinct than anyone else can. And I’m damned if I know how she does it.