Conchita Wurst: Is Genius Too Strong of a Word? No, It Really Isn’t

Special Note: Sorry, but you will have to live with the ‘he’ and ‘her’ pronouns dotted around in here. Same person, just with different facets of a quite astounding personality.

And I’m using the same photo as my last article about her, simply because it’s such a gorgeous representative of what beautiful work she does.

It’s obvious to anyone who has read Leo Sigh over the last few months, I have more than a passing fascination with Conchita Wurst. A fascination I’ve never had for any other celebrity.

That is because, other than the admiration of the huge talent and the “oh good God, she’s pretty”, I think Conchita Wurst is a genius. Someone who is so exceptional she manages to make what she does appear easy.

Believe me, it’s not.

In fact, drag is one of the most difficult forms of art to create, and one almost impossible to make ‘believable’. Yet, Conchita? She does it so flawlessly, I relate to her emotionally as I would to any other woman. Even though, intellectually, I know she is not.

And that’s where the true genius of what and who Conchita Wurst is lies. It lies with the person behind her. A young Austrian man who has created a stage persona that is so believable, so likeable (and loveable), so beautifully dressed, coiffed and made up, so perfectly mannerism-ed, and so physically and emotionally a woman, she is a woman to me just like any other woman I know.

Even with the beard.

And if that man can make me, someone who is cynical about what most of the planet does and who lives in a country where ‘ladyboys’ are so perfect they are almost impossible to detect, believe that the person up on stage is as much of a woman as I am….Genius? What the hell else would you call it?

Genius? Really?

Of course, it may seem an overblown description to you. But it’s not.

One of the definitions of genius goes like this. “A person who displays exceptional intellectual ability, creativity, or originality, typically to a degree that is associated with the achievement of new advances in a domain of knowledge.”

What Tom Neuwirth (that Austrian man with more than just a touch of genius) has done by creating Conchita Wurst is a perfect example of this.

He has created a persona that has such originality, and in such a perfectly ‘female’ way, it has never been done before. Not in this way. And, no matter how many other people will try to emulate him (and they do, and will), few will ever succeed.

Because, what is unusual about Tom Neuwirth is he has an instinctive ‘sense’ of things. A sense of who a woman is, how she speaks, how she behaves, how she moves. Even how she treats others, and expects to be treated herself.

What makes him a genius, however, is his ability to not only use that sense in creating Conchita, but then to continually redefine and change her to adapt to the situations in which she finds herself, so that, as time goes on, she becomes ever more real and ever more solid.

After all, when you see Conchita Wurst up on stage with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and everything she does and says is taken completely seriously by him, the United Nations crowd, and those of us watching from home, she has achieved something nobody else has ever achieved.

It’s the incredible amount of work and intense drive that personifies a genius

Over the last eight months, I have spent hundreds of hours watching and analyzing Conchita Wurst as I love to see how fast she’s changing, and see new tiny details come into play.

Yet, one thing that always strikes me more than anything else is the incredible amount of work and intense drive behind her. Work and drive that, I’m guessing, comes from an obsessive mind that is always looking for perfection (I have one. I can spot them).

If you watch older videos of Conchita, before Tom Neuwirth had a fixed sense in his head of who he wanted her to become, you can guess at some of that work that went into making her who she is today.

From a somewhat stereotypical drag queen (although she was always beautiful), with a loud personality you sense Tom was never comfortable channeling as that has never been him, and a sometimes odd taste in clothes, (sorry, love) Conchita Wurst has become a woman who is now so far removed from that, she is almost perfect in every way.

But, as much as I sit and analyze Conchita’s singing, stage presence, interviews, speeches, and anything else I can lay my hands on, I know Tom Neuwirth analyzes them more.

I know he assesses missteps I see in performances that are occasionally jagged (although I haven’t seen one in a while), gets annoyed at the voice that doesn’t always make the echo she should come in on (that’s ‘Heroes‘ and that backing track in that one spot must be a mother to hit perfectly live), and winces at the interview where she picks up a subject and goes rambling off in the woods somewhere, and he makes damn sure the next time Conchita is up there, she won’t be doing that again.

And, if I didn’t know he obsessively analyzes every performance and interview she gives because she’s said so, I’d know it anyway.

As nobody improves this fast and this precisely without a whole lot of obsession, an innate sense of what would be better, an ability to see things most other people can’t, and sheer bloody hard work and drive.

So, no, I don’t assign the term ‘genius’ to Conchita Wurst, or to that man that stands behind her, lightly. Because, after watching this astounding artist for soon-coming-up-on-a-year, there is just no other term that fits.

About Michelle Topham

I'm a Brit-American journalist, former radio DJ at 97X WOXY, and Founder/CEO of Leo Sigh. I'm also obsessed with music, anime, manga, and K-dramas. Help!