Conchita Wurst on Radio Popolare – ‘TomGate’, Refusing to Wade Into the Fray, and “I’m an Artist” (Part One)

radio popolare conchita wurst
The lovely Conchita Wurst and Stefano Paolo Giussani – you’ll find the original photo in much larger format on Radio Popolare’s Facebook page –

Conchita Wurst was interviewed by Stefano Paolo Giussani at Radio Popolare in Milan earlier in the month. An audio file download of the full interview was linked to from the Facebook page of Conchitaly, Conchita’s Italian fan club, last week, and I finally had time to listen to it this weekend.

And you know how I keep saying Conchita Wurst is fascinating to figure out? Well, her Radio Popolare interview added a little bit more information to that huge file in my head called “Who is¬†Conchita Wurst?“, and now I’m going to share. (Well, some of it. You know I never share everything I think about Conchita Wurst with you. Sorry).

Conchita Wurst is a genuinely nice person

Of course, this isn’t news, as I’ve known this since Eurovision. But it’s still nice to have that opinion reinforced now and again. What makes me say that here are the first few moments of the Radio Popolare file, when the audio and video are being set up, and you can hear Conchita being personable, charming and funny, obviously wanting to please, delighted to be there, and not remotely the ‘diva’ some might expect her to be.

At one point she even manages to make fun of herself in a cute way by mentioning she always looks at herself when taking a selfie instead of at the camera.

Conchita gives the lowdown on Sanremo and the Conti ‘TomGate’

When the interview gets started, Giussani asks Conchita about the Sanremo festival held in Italy back in March, and specifically wants to know what she thought about Sanremo host Carlo Conti calling her ‘Tom’ on stage instead of Conchita. (Watch video below for interview).


Now this was interesting, as I wanted to know how she felt about the incident, Conti’s behavior being such a monumental embarrassment to many Italians and a source of anger for her fans.

She replies quite candidly, “Oh, I was kind of surprised if I’m honest. You know because we rehearsed it, and I think it was a misunderstanding because we were talking before the rehearsal — he wants to ask me something about the beard……I can’t really remember — and I thought he misunderstood, and that’s why he called me ‘Tom”. (And even here she’s being kind, as she’s excusing Conti by saying she thought it was a ‘misunderstanding’, which, let’s face it, it very well could have been).

She goes on to say “You know, I wouldn’t say anything, but my fans reacted on that. One of my fans asked me, “Did you actually know that?” and I retweeted, “No, I was surprised myself”.

She then explains she’s a drag artist, Conchita is the artistic way she presents herself, and she wants people to respect that by referring to her as a woman and calling her by her name.

What’s telling here is how obvious it is Conchita Wurst is never going to create waves about a negative situation. And she’s never going to get on social media and wade into the fray.

To me, why I think she is 1,000 percent correct in behaving this way in every negative situation is for this reason.

You know how when some sh*tstorm (that Austrian-loved word I hate) starts about some celebrity, and the celebrity doesn’t respond. And then they finally “break their silence” and get on social media and start bitching. And in every single case, it ends up being a disaster for the celebrity, who should have just kept their mouth shut and stayed away from the situation until it all blew over. Because these type of things, they never end well.

I have a feeling Conchita Wurst will always be smarter than that. She will keep her opinions on negative situations to herself, and refuse to get pulled in. And, if she does, she will always come out the winner. (And, Conchita, if you’re ever tempted, just think of me sitting in front of my computer screen mumbling at you “Please don’t. Please don’t. Please don’t).

“I’m a drag artist. Well, I’m an artist”.

Can I just say, I thought “Hallelujah” when I heard her say that.

I’ve long been of the opinion Conchita has transcended beyond what being a ‘drag artist’ typically means, as she has created a persona that is so incredibly real, most fans don’t even think of her as being in drag at all anymore.

That’s why, for me, I have always wished she would just refer to herself as ‘an artist’ and drop the reference to drag. (There’s absolutely nothing wrong with drag, don’t get me wrong, it’s a fabulous form of art. But her? She’s way beyond what is conventionally known as drag. And, as sad as it is in our oh so judgmental society, the further away from being classified as ‘drag’ she moves and on into her own version of just ‘art’, so she’s thought of as ‘an artist’ first and a ‘drag artist’ second, the more she will be taken seriously by more people. And again, there’s nothing wrong with drag).

And now this is getting long, and I still have a ways to go. So, I’m publishing this and I’ll be back with Part Two of Conchita Wurst at Radio Popolare¬†(which you can now find here) in a few hours. And Part Two is even more interesting, as it gets into the intricacies of her personality a little bit more.

Meanwhile, if you want to listen to Conchita’s Radio Popolare interview, you can download the audio file from this link on the Conchitaly-Conchita Wurst Italia Facebook page. Thanks guys!

About Michelle Topham

Brit-American journalist based in Austria, former radio DJ at 97X WOXY, and Founder/CEO of Leo Sigh. I've covered anime, manga, K-drama and music news for over a decade.