Conchita Wurst and ‘Wild Girls’ – When I Was Sure I Loved Her

conchita wurst wild girls


This is the one I’m nervous about writing. This is the one I’m tiptoeing around, wondering if I should tackle it head on, from the sidelines, or not at all. But, at the end of the day, I’m that head on girl – always have been, always will be – and since I watched ‘Wild Girls‘ it’s been stuck in my thoughts so much I have to get it out.

So, I’m sorry, Conchita but, yes, I am going there.

That’s because, in the few months I’ve been aware of you, several people have told me you’re ‘not proud’ of ‘Wild Girls‘ (well, we’ll get to that in a minute), but I have no way of knowing if that’s true. What I do know is, as a writer, if something hits me as strongly as ‘Wild Girls‘ did, I have to write about it, and I have to do it honestly.

After all, if what you get is watered down words because I’m worried about hurting you or saying the wrong thing, then I’m wasting your time and mine.

Besides, I may be obsessed with Pink, but you are that girl and boy who has captured my heart. That means upfront and honest is what you’ll get, but always with love.

So……..deep breath.

Wild Girls – Auf High Heels durch Afrika – the premise, the show and the critics

For those not in the know, ‘Wild Girls – Auf High Heels durch Afrika‘ was a reality TV show filmed for German channel RTL last year. It featured 11 German women and one Austrian drag artist, all who headed out to the deserts of Namibia for a few weeks in full glitz and glamour and, yes, sometimes with heels.

The whole premise of the show was silly, as reality TV shows are — a group of ‘girly’ celebrities in the desert, living with the Himba tribe, doing challenges, voting each other off, and trying to be the last person standing so they win ‘the golden high heel’. So no surprises when the show was ridiculed for its stupidity.

As far as the treatment of the Himba goes, however, (by RTL and not by the women participating) ‘Wild Girls‘ was appalling. Then again, as someone who has lived in Thailand, a country drastically different to my own, for the last 12 years, I can honestly say, when western TV companies get involved, it often is.

Of course, the women who participated in ‘Wild Girls‘ were the main targets of the critics once it became obvious what this show was all about, as their faces and names were up there for all to see. So, yes, they got slammed.

In actuality, as anyone who understands the reality TV show world should know (and the critics who attacked these women did know and chose to ignore it), once they signed a contract to appear on the show they had no control over how it turned out or how they were portrayed.

As for film footage? With the right editing, that can show someone in a light that’s so far from reality you might as well be in Neverland.

In a nutshell – the show was rubbish, the ‘outrage’ of critics and the public was largely manufactured for effect (because I highly doubt few people really cared about the Himba – sad, but true), and the women involved in it were trashed. Am I surprised? Nope. Because that’s the nasty world we sometimes live in.

So, enough with the premise of ‘Wild Girls‘, and onto what, for me, was the most important thing about this ridiculous show. Conchita Wurst and why, after I saw it, that girl burrowed her way so deep into my heart, I’ll never get her out.

Conchita Wurst and ‘Wild Girls’

How anyone can watch ‘Wild Girls‘ and have one bad thing to say about Conchita Wurst, frankly, I just don’t know. (Then again, it’s the same thought I have when I think about Tom Neuwirth – how anyone could ever deliberately hurt that boy when you see how amazing he is – just mark that down as one of life’s greatest mysteries).

That’s because, out of all the women on the show, she’s the one who came out of it looking sweet, kind, smart, funny and such a truly good human being, it makes you reexamine how you deal with people because you know (well, at least I do) it’s more difficult for you to sometimes be that kind than it seems to be for her.

Yes, as I mentioned, ‘Wild Girls‘ was edited to within an inch of its life, so what you get isn’t always what was true before the technicians got their hands on it. But…..the thing is with Conchita, while almost every other girl had scenes where they were losing control, or treating other people unkindly, she never did. Why? My guess? They didn’t exist.

And this is why I like her

In the scenes we did get to witness, however, Conchita Wurst was always the voice of kindness and reason.

Going to comfort one girl who has been voted off the show and is devastated by it, Conchita’s first words are “Oh liebchen”, (sweetheart) and you know she really means it. (And can I just add, she was the only person who even bothered to get the girl’s name right as the others did nothing but make fun of it – “It’s Asian, whatever” — and what a huge sign of her true character that was).

Then, in the instances where they’re voting people off, Conchita’s comments are always short, polite, and gentle, as having to choose someone who isn’t ‘good enough’, and then be rudely honest as to why, is something she is not comfortable doing. (Kind. Remember?)

But it’s two scenes in the entire show that stuck in my head and made me realize when I do eventually meet Conchita Wurst there is no doubt in my mind she will be everything I believe she is and more.

The first scene is an argument between two girls who are screaming at each other over her head for a good five minutes. Where I would have immediately gotten up and started banging heads, you can see Conchita just about curl in upon herself, she’s so uncomfortable with what’s happening.

Now that’s a person who not only doesn’t deal well with conflict, she will actively do what she can to disassociate herself from it —  and that’s someone I would love to know.

But it’s the final scene of Conchita Wurst’s participation in ‘Wild Girls’ that gets to me the most, and that’s because it’s here you see the person she really is. A person she’s desperately trying to hide with the brave smiles and gestures of ‘It doesn’t matter you’re voting me off”, when in reality you know it hurt.

That’s because she opened up to many of these women, laid herself bare in some respects, and she trusted them. That they then turned around and, as a group, back-stabbed her – hell, I’d be upset too.

But it’s also here where you see what happens when the armour she wears — the elaborate wigs, the thick lashes, the dress, the heels — no longer really exist.

Because here, stripped bare of much of this and stuck in some Namibian desert to be judged, voted on and dumped, it’s here where you get to see her true self. Someone who is so fragile and gentle and so close to tears, you initially wonder how she doesn’t break.

Then in the final scene after the voting is over and she’s the one eliminated, you realize, the tears that are so quick to appear at the surface are actually tears of frustration — frustration that she had to participate in something that went against everything she really is.

A situation that leaves the people stuck in it feeling ‘lesser’ about themselves than they should, and that type of situation, she knows from past experience isn’t good for anyone.

It’s then when her final words make sense:

“No, I’m not disappointed that I didn’t win out over all the other girls. That’s not in my nature. I think everything happens for a reason, and we pulled the stones (one girl was allowed to be ‘safe’ if she pulled the right stone) and the stones decided, and that’s why it’s okay for me”.

And it’s then you realize this girl, while she might initially appear fragile and gentle, is actually one of the strongest people you’ll ever come across. Because, although she knows who she is and what she wants, she isn’t willing to give up her morals to step on other people to get it. It’s just not in her character.

So, honey, if it’s still tucked back in there somewhere, get the idea out of your head once and for all that you shouldn’t be proud of yourself for ‘Wild Girls‘. Because it’s not about the show itself but how you behaved and who you are, and you were and are astounding.

And now I promise I will never mention ‘Wild Girls‘ again and, oh, for the record, I’m not going anywhere near that fish factory.

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.