Conchita Wurst and Why I Just Moved Halfway Across The Planet To Be Closer To Her

conchita band
Promo photo for Conchita’s upcoming first concert tour

I’m the type of woman who wouldn’t move to a new city 10 miles away for a guy I’m in love with. Sorry, but men come and go. Cities stay forever. And I’m picky about the places I live.

So it doesn’t make sense to the people who know me that I’ve just given away almost everything I own and moved from Bangkok, Thailand, across two continents, to resettle in Vienna, Austria. For no other reason than that a 27-year-old Austrian drag queen lives here. Come on, if you’d told me two years ago I would be doing just that, I would have said you were nuts.


Austria — a country that has less people in it than the city I just moved from.

Vienna — a city that, frankly, I like far less than Bangkok. (And before all you Viennese start defending ‘The City of Music’…cool down. I’m sure it will grow on me).

And Conchita Wurst — a drag artist and a Eurovision Song Contest winner who, at this exact moment in time, is balancing on the cusp of either a future as a true international superstar or one that will see her fame fall away until she is just a local European celebrity who once won Eurovision. It could go either way.

And, me, I have no concrete evidence whatsoever to prove to you I know where Conchita Wurst will end up. But I do. And it’s why my rear end is now temporarily sitting in Vienna for the next few days, and will permanently be here as of April.

What I can tell you, though, is while my decision to uproot my life and resettle in Vienna, Austria because of a drag queen I’ve met for less than an hour may seem crazy to some of you, my decision is based on a gut feeling I have about her I just cannot shake. A gut feeling that tells me this amazing woman has no other possible future than that of being loved and adored by tens of millions more people than she is now.

And, as a writer who cannot stress to you enough how the intense level of fascination I have with Conchita Wurst has never happened to me before, notever, I want to be there to watch her reach the level of superstardom of a Madonna or a Beyoncé, and to do my part, however small or large, to make her journey there as smooth as it can possibly be.

And how do I know ‘Conchita Wurst, International Superstar’ is an absolute certainty? A certainty about as guarantee-able as the sun will come up tomorrow, and that I’m one of the biggest bitches on the planet when I’m suffering from jet lag.

I know this because I know her and what kind of person she is and, to some extent, I know him. And by ‘him’ I mean Tom Neuwirth, the man who lives much of his life hidden away from everyone except the few people he loves and trusts, and a man who once tried to become a superstar himself but realized early on ‘Tom’ was never the one that particular outcome was going to happen to, as he couldn’t stand the scrutiny.

And I know what she has that will get her to the absolute pinnacle of superstardom, and to that Grammy she has always wanted. And I know what he has that will cause him to keep working tirelessly in the background for her gain, while forgoing the praise and the adulation he so soundly deserves.

“I will always figure out a way to be happy”

There are a thousand things Conchita Wurst says I agree with. There are a handful of things Conchita Wurst says that, when I hear them, my Bullshit Meter goes off so loud it’s a wonder they can’t hear it in Bratislava.

And, when I sat down with her last year (see video above), one comment she made to me made that Bullshit Meter ring so loud I swear I had trouble hearing her voice.

The comment was made in response to one I made to her saying “I know you will always figure out a way to be successful”, and she corrected me, saying “I will always figure out a way to be happy“.

Because, while that sentiment may very well be true for Conchita Wurst herself, I would say it’s not true for the other person in this equation. Because when I look at Tom Neuwirth, and see how he has always lived his life, sure, my sense is he’s tried to make himself as happy as he can possibly be. What sane person wouldn’t?

But the real reason why he gets up the vast majority of mornings and subjugates himself for her? Because he wants success more than anything. He always has.

From those moments in his ‘green room’ when he was a child hiding away from the nasty comments and disdainful looks of people far more ignorant than him, and creating a world where he was the biggest diva in it, right up to when he sits down now to painstakingly put on the make-up, affix the lashes and add the wig…success is everything to him.

Because it’s the validation he always wanted, but didn’t often get. It’s the ability to be able to be and do anything he wants without others having the control to stop him. And it’s the gigantic ‘fuck you’ to all those people who made him feel ‘lesser than’ when he was too young or too powerless to stop them.

The sheer ‘control’ is like nothing I have ever seen

When I look at all the reasons why I know Conchita Wurst is destined for superstardom, there is one that is more important than most. And it’s something I wish I was as good at as her, and it’s something she does seemingly effortlessly when you know, in her head, she’s probably thinking “Oh for Chrissake, another small-minded, homophobic bigot I wish I could smack if I didn’t know that would only take me down to their nasty little level”.

It’s the ability to control everything she says and everything she does, even when faced with people who will look for all the world like they are supporting her, yet will passively aggressively do things to try to damage who she is and what she does.

People who, I would guess, she comes across more times than she is ever going to admit. And people who, if she ever let that control down so a crack could start to appear, would take advantage of it in every way they could.

Because she knows the same thing my parents taught me. You don’t wallow in the mud with swine, or you end up covered in the same pig shit they’re nastily sat in.

And it’s that control that will keep her using her energy to move forward to her ultimate goal — a Grammy and international superstardom — rather than using it to respond to twits who really just need to sit back down and get out of her way.

You don’t often get intelligence like this

I don’t care how pretty she is, how stylish, how funny, or how fabulous a voice she has, if she wasn’t an incredibly intelligent person, I would have been bored with her long ago.

The reality of Conchita Wurst, however, and that boy sitting quietly behind her, is that they are two of the most intelligent people in the entertainment business today. Absolute geniuses at what they do, and with minds that work so fast, and so brilliantly, if you blink, you miss half of what’s going on. (Watch her on Menschenkinder with André Heller in the video above for just a small example of how smart this woman is).

Because Conchita Wurst, and Tom Neuwirth, are not ‘book smart’. You know, that intelligence that comes from having been highly educated, have read the right books and be able to retain the facts they need to prove to people how well their brain works. Neither of them have that.

But, book smart? It’s really not that admirable. Because anyone can be book smart, with the right books, the right education and the right amount of money. Book smart can be taught, and just about anyone can learn it.

What can’t be taught, however, is what Conchita Wurst and Tom Neuwirth have. An intuitive intelligence they use every day to help them make the right decisions, behave the right way, and continue working so they can become the best version of themselves.

An intelligence the vast majority of the planet’s population does not have, and an intelligence that will help her, and him, choose the upward path to superstardom rather than the downward path to oblivion.

The stubborness

I sensed before I met Conchita Wurst she is as stubborn as a mule when it comes to making up her mind about something and not allowing anyone to persuade her otherwise.

I knew I was right when, a few minutes into meeting her last year and she was politely, but ever so slightly stubbornly, disagreeing with me over something I had said (and, no, it’s none of your business what). I also knew that, if I had tried to push my point, she would have graciously said “I take that on board” and then ignored it anyway.

But, while some people will look at the word ‘stubborn’ and madly rush to her defense, seriously, don’t. She’s a grown adult, she can quite happily defend herself (and does) and, frankly, without that stubborness, she wouldn’t be where she is today. Nor would she stand much of a chance of being an international superstar. Because when you look at the greats like Bassey, Celine Dion, Cher et al, they all have a tendency towards stubborness and, if they hadn’t, none of us would now know who they are.

Because that stubborness will allow her to push out of her mind the self-doubt and uncertainty we all suffer from. It will give her the ability to ignore the people who would like nothing more than to see her fail. And it is one of the most powerful things Conchita Wurst has when it comes to getting where she wants to go.

Now these are just four things Conchita Wurst has that have played a part in my decision to move to Vienna. I’ve watched her and analyzed her more closely than I’ve ever watched or analyzed anyone and, believe me, there are many many more.

And as much as most people will probably say “I would never move anywhere for a singer” (well, that’s what makes you you and me me), I don’t concern myself with that.

I concern myself with is Conchita Wurst worth me giving up some of the things I love to replace them with things I, so far at least, like less? Does she have the ability to get as far in her career as she thinks she can get and as far as I want to see her to go? And do I look at her and see a person who, in real life and away from the glitz and glamour, is genuinely just as magnificent as she appears when the cameras are on her and everyone is watching?

Because I’m a self-involved, egotistical writer who has a very full, very busy life and I do not give up my precious time for anyone I perceive as ‘not good enough’. Let alone move halfway across the planet for anyone, simply to be closer to them.

For Conchita Wurst, though, I knew 10 minutes into being sat across from her back in October and feeling that immense power that just radiates off her, and knowing with absolutely no doubt that my impression of her cultivated from a year and a half of watching her every move was nothing compared to what my impression of her was when I sat in a private conversation with her.

Because, simply due to who she is at her very core, she is a person who is worth my time. And as time is the thing I value the most because it’s something that can never be replaced, and that Conchita Wurst demands and can easily take so much of mine without me for a moment regretting it, proves to me how uniquely special she is and how moving from Bangkok was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

So, for the foreseeable future at least, and thanks to Conchita Wurst, Vienna, Austria seems to be my home. Grüß Gott.

Michelle Topham