Conchita Wurst on André Heller’s Menschenkinder‘ – ‘And Then She Flies’ – Part Two (You’ll find Part One here)
For many of the Conchita Wurst fans who voted for their favorite 2015 interview with the Austrian diva last week, ‘André Heller’s Menschenkinder‘ was at the top of their list. To some extent, I agree. Because, let’s face it, in the year and a half most have been enamoured of her, in this hour she was about as honest as she’s ever been.
It is also a program, I believe, a year and a half ago Conchita Wurst would never have done. Or at least, sure, she would have done it, as she takes any opportunity to talk. But she would not have done it in the way she did it here.
As self-confidence is something that has been growing in her since that moment when she won Eurovision. But not just self-confidence in her abilities, which has been lovely enough to watch.
Instead, what we see here in ‘André Heller’s Menschenkinder‘ is a self-confidence Conchita now has that makes it alright to say how she feels, to be honest and open about those odd and quirky things that go on in her head, and to reveal things about herself, or himself, she would never have revealed before.
Because, as that self-confidence in her abilities has grown, it seems to be making her realize, regardless that she thought it was the ‘perfection’ fans loved about her, it’s really not that at all. It’s her ‘realness’ and her vulnerability people respond to the most.
And that must be a wonderful thing for Tom Neuwirth to also be experiencing. A boy who hit puberty and suddenly discovered the more he was himself, the less many people liked him. Because now, the opposite is true.
As now, when Conchita reveals a little more about herself and, of course, himself, as she did here on ‘André Heller’s Menschenkinder‘, people love her and, thus, him, even more.
If she loves you, you’d better be ready for the teasing
While Conchita’s sense of humor has always been a delight to me, until you meet her, you don’t always realize there’s a bit of an evil streak that runs through it too.
But not evil in that it’s mean or nasty, but more in that ‘taking the piss‘ way we Brits and the Aussies so inelegantly call it, when we ruthlessly tease someone because we love them so much.
She did that to someone she obviously likes a lot in my presence when I met her last month, and she does it here on ‘Menschenkinder’ when she talks about her grandmother.
“There is this one very romantic story that my grandmother “over-romanticises” I’d say, because she always tells about how she bought me my first skirt. And she always tells it in a way to be praised for it because she’s just such an open-minded person”.
And it’s in that last line, “she’s just such an open-minded person”, where she’s tongue in cheek teasing about her grandmother, that you just know how much she loves her.
Because if that girl loves you, all I can say is you’d better get ready for a helluva lot of teasing as, with my British upbringing, I’m the master of it. But I think she’d even beat me at my own game.
Naive and worldly — it’s the enigma that’s so endearing
When you listen to Conchita Wurst speaking here, it’s fascinating to hear how eloquent and intelligent she is. Because, for her only 26 years, (well, 27 tomorrow – Happy Birthday, love) she speaks like someone far older — wise, thoughtful and introspective.
But during some parts of her conversation, she suddenly changes to someone who is naive and innocent, and with a sense of wonder many children have but most adults have sadly lost. Particularly when she talks about herself and how she will age.
“As I stand by the concept of aging and as I am quite open to it, she could become quite old, because I am just waiting for me to be old enough to wear a grey wig. Because I think a real diva wears grey back-combed hair”.
And it’s in the way she says “I think a real diva wears grey back-combed hair” that makes me think back to how I was as a child. Talking about ideas and visions in such a dramatic and wide-eyed way, and with a certainty that I was completely right about how things should be.
And that’s how she is here, as she makes a complete switch from Conchita Wurst age 35 (and, yep, sorry love, but Conchita, she’s definitely 35) to how I’m guessing he still often is when he’s out of the wig and the dress and the make-up.
Still full of wonder and awe, and infused with an incredible sense of drama. And that. It’s simply lovely.
It is the sweetness
I come at Conchita Wurst on ‘Menschenkinder’ a little bit differently than I would have done a month ago, simply because I have now met her. And so my perception of her is in a somewhat altered form to what it was just four weeks ago.
Because, when I first met her, she was just what I expected her to be, but with one crucial difference. The incredible feeling of power that just emanates off her.
So much so that, to me, an incredibly strong person myself, it was still a surprise to feel.
But what is even more surprising about this, and her, is that once we started to talk, while that power was most definitely still there, she also has this amazing sweetness about her. A sweetness that is also highly evident, to me, throughout all of ‘Menschenkinder’.
And I think, to some extent, it comes from exactly what she says at the end of the hour when she is talking about how the hurtful comments and the bullying affected her (him) when she was growing up, and even on into when Conchita Wurst first appeared on the scene.
“And then I created the bearded lady. And I quickly realized that even in this environment of artists and – how should I say – within the LGBT community, voices came up who did not understand what I am doing. Who do I think I am because “What he is doing isn’t drag. If you are a drag queen you don’t wear a beard.” And for a short time I got influenced by that, but then I thought, wait a moment! We are this community that demands equality; that wants to be accepted as we are and we preach it and we fight and we scream it into the world and you want to impose a box onto me?”
Because those are the words of a fighter. Someone who, no matter how many times people attempt to put her down, she is going to simply say “How dare you! I don’t have to accept that”. And that’s the power I felt.
“And – I don’t know – maybe my parents raised me with rose-tinted glasses. But I was – and I say this from the bottom of the heart – all my life I’ve never been in despair; I’ve never experienced the sensation of total helplessness and fear or worry. Never. Maybe it’s just this, what makes me hobble through the world today in this slightly naïve and ignorant way.”
And that’s the sweetness. Because, at heart, while one of the strongest people I think I’ve ever met, she is also an absolute sweetheart.
Someone who, for all her power and strength, does hobble through the world in a slightly naive and ignorant way. And that’s part of what makes her so loveable.
You can watch ‘André Heller’s Menschenkinder‘ in the video below, with English subtitles. Thank you so much to the wonderful Judith Laister, Lena Haller and Barbara Moss for the translation into English as, without it, I would have missed so much.
And, of course, as always, thank you to the fabulous RusUnstoppables for transferring that translation into subtitles for the video and, of course, for just being your lovely selves.