Conchita ‘scandalous’ at Tuntenball without overstepping the mark — that is her genius


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Finally back at @grazertuntenball ❤️ #scandal 🖤 dress @thomaskirchgrabner

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Be the best version of yourself rather than a bad copy of someone else” — Conchita Wurst

There is a danger in doing what Conchita did last night during the 30-year anniversary celebration of the Tuntenball in Graz, Austria.

A danger in showing up in a floor-length, burgundy evening gown split almost to the waist, high heels, a shaved head, hairy legs and chest. An obvious guy in a dress.

A guy with such well-defined muscles, to some people he would look more ‘appropriate’ bench pressing 150 lbs than floating around Tuntenball in a dress and heels.

In other words, the polar opposite of what Conchita has been showing up as for the last two years at least.

A not-quite-anymore-woman in a man’s clothes and a woman’s wig. A once-woman seemingly intent on becoming a man. Step by ever hairier step.

The danger is this.


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🖤 pic @mrmartinz dress @thomaskirchgrabner with @go_with_flo party @grazertuntenball for @europride2019 #scandal

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Art versus caricature

Pushed too far, the image Conchita decided to portray last night as her contribution to the Tuntenball theme of ‘Scandal‘ would have become nothing more than a caricature of herself.

An image not of scandal, strength, intrigue and…art, but instead a figure of fun. And ridicule.

A person who seemed to have let fame go to her head in such a way, she had finally become like other infamously eccentric artists — genius creatives, but people so ridiculously self-indulgent with their personas, they are usually more off-putting than intriguing.

An innate sense of style

But this is where Conchita, so far at least, differs from them.

Because while she, like them, definitely has self-indulgent tendencies, she also has an innate sense of pushing the boundary to its absolute breaking point, but then knowing when to stop.

An ability that, as much as she wants to be thought of as unique, she knows the difference between interesting and pathetic. The difference between just enough and far too much. How to get to “That is amazingly cool”, and then to stop before she arrives at “WTF, that’s just creepy”.

It is a sixth sense you don’t develop, but are born with. A sixth sense that, so far, has served Conchita well.

After all, it has brought her safely and quite sophisticatedly through four years of an ever changing and re-defining image. An image that has altered gradually much of the time — but with an occasional enormous jolt that shocks. A jolt handed out just to make sure we are still awake. And paying attention.

Definition: “Scandal — a sin, a vice, a crime”.

So did I like bald Conchita? That image up on a Tuntenball stage last night that is oddly jarring and such a mind fuck to watch.

Does it even really matter? Do I really care?

And that is where Conchita’s genius comes in. Just as it always has.

An ability to make you see female, then male, then neither, then both. An ability to make you fall in love with the person, and not the outer image that will be different again by next week anyway.

In fact, for  me, the ‘scandal’ in last night’s bald Conchita came not from her, but from others.

Others that are so locked up inside their narrow images of the world and what it, and she, ‘should’ look like, their sin, vice or crime is that, while they are silently or not so silently judging her, they miss the absolute magnificence that is her.

A magnificence that, while I might not always love every incarnation she shows up in, I will admire until my dying breath the courage and the genius it takes to do that. Again and again and again.

And to do it so beautifully.

Related Reading: Conchita Wurst: Is genius too strong a word? No, it really isn’t

About Michelle Topham

Brit-American journalist based in Austria, former radio DJ at 97X WOXY, and Founder/CEO of Leo Sigh. I've covered K-drama, K-pop, J-pop and music news for over a decade.