Conchita Wurst and Hape Kerkeling on ‘Stöckl’ – Meeting Idols, Focus and Fame — Part One

conchita and hape

Sometimes the timing on things I write about Conchita Wurst is a little ‘off’. Simply because, if an interview or TV show is in German, I have to wait until an English translation appears. Then I watch it and decide “Is there something worthwhile to look at here?”, even if it is months later. After all, my goal is always to find out more about her. No matter how long it takes.

Such is the case of Conchita Wurst and Hape Kerkeling on ‘Stöckl’ — a TV show hosted by Barbara Stöckl that aired back in April this year, and one in which a video with an English translation finally popped up last night (thank you to RusUnstoppables for the lovely Christmas gift, and to all the German language speakers who translated it!).

Two minutes in, though, and I knew Conchita Wurst on ‘Stöckl’ was worth a closer look. Because, if nothing else, Hape Kerkeling has always been someone she has admired (she was even reading one of his books on her way back from the Golden Globes in L.A. earlier in the year), so it would be interesting to see how she related to him.

Besides, I love to watch her when she finally meets someone she has loved for so long, as it’s the sheer happiness and unconcealed joy mixed with so many other conflicting emotions she shows that is such a delight to see.

conchita wurst and hape kerkeling
Conchita talking about why she wanted to meet Hape Kerkeling.

On ‘Stöckl’ with Hape Kerkeling that is immediately evident as, before Conchita has even spoken, when Kerkeling is asked the first question “What do you find interesting about this woman, or maybe this man in women’s clothes?”, for a split second, she has that look of someone who really does want to know what he thinks about her, but is also just a little bit afraid.

Because, regardless of what she says about not caring about what people say about her, she does. (She would be superhuman if she didn’t). And especially if she likes you. But she covers it with a layer of steel and indifference that, unless you know what you’re looking for, makes it easy to be fooled.

And here, of course, she really does care. Because Hape Kerkeling is an idol; someone she has wanted to meet for a long time. And, when you’re in a situation like that, even a word said in a way that was not intended can hurt.

conchita wurst listening to hape kerkeling
And it’s the look on her face that kills — that overjoyed but slightly unbelieving look — the look that makes you love her just that little bit more.

But, of course, Kerkeling has nothing but praise, calling her a “great artist who rendered me speechless”.

And just look at her face at 1:56 and on in the video, when he says that. Because that’s someone who, I think, is going to go through the rest of her life still slightly amazed that people see in her what they do. Which, of course, just makes you love her more.

What was also interesting to me here was Hape Kerkeling’s comments about Conchita at Eurovision 2014, as he seemed genuinely surprised she gave the great performance she did. “Your nerves could play up, even if you work professionally a hundred times over. But that performance was absolutely breathtaking. And that’s why this artist fascinates me”.

And, sure, I’m coming from close to two years of studying her almost every move, and reading everything I can lay my hands on about her so, yes, my perspective is different than Hape Kerkeling’s.

But I can honestly say, knowing what I do, I would have been surprised if she hadn’t given such a superb performance at Eurovision, as that moment was something she had worked towards her whole life. Something that started when that little boy was eight years old, singing to himself in his parents’ attic, and dreaming about being famous.

Besides, if you watch Conchita Wurst on any occasion where the pressure on her is enormous, she is always always always at her finest, and never anything less than unbelievable to watch. As she has that ability not many people do. To block out everything else around her and…focus.

Further on in the conversation, there’s a moment where, this time, it’s Barbara Stöckl who is surprised as she explains to Conchita how in the past year she has seen her always under so much pressure and working so hard.

And she says “At that time and afterwards too, when you had so much on your plate, and this is what fascinates me. At every moment you said, “It’s incredibly strenuous but awesome. It’s exactly what I wanted!” There’s always so much pleasure with it. Is it still the same after this year?”

conchita happy

Conchita, of course, adamantly says “Yes. Still”, and then goes on to explain that, in the situation she now finds herself, she couldn’t be anything but happy.

And, I think, that’s something many people miss about Conchita Wurst. That, no matter who or what else she has in her life, this drive, this need to be famous and successful and, yes, loved by so many, will always be the most important thing for her. Because, along with her family and friends, it’s the thing that makes her the most happy.

Which is fascinating to me as, if you listen to other famous people, most will say the fame isn’t important or it’s not what makes them happy. Which, of course, is a lie.

But Conchita, she is honest enough to step right up and say “I’ve always wanted to be famous. I love being famous. I love getting attention from the paparazzi because, if they are interested in you, that means you are relevant”.

And how she says it, it doesn’t come off as egotistical or arrogant. Instead, it’s naive, and sweet and honest. Besides, it’s what most other famous people think. But she’s one of the few who says it.

Of course, because of the incredibly strong core values she has obviously carried with her throughout her life, that does not mean she will throw away friends or family to get what she wants. But it does mean that absolute need she fostered within herself (himself) as a child to “be someone” will always be her driving force and will, to some extent, always overshadow everything else.

And here we are, less than 12 minutes in, and I’ve already written half a book. Which is why I’ll continue this tomorrow in ‘Conchita Wurst and Hape Kerkeling on ‘Stöckl’ — Part Two.

Meanwhile, watch them both on ‘Stöckl’ with English subtitles in the video below. It’s an interesting hour, with both having some extremely intelligent points to make. Kerkeling, of course, about her but also about himself. And, yes, I’ll get into all that more tomorrow.

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.