Conchita Wurst’s Zeit Magazine Interview: Tom Neuwirth, Imaginary Worlds and Magic

If you’ve read my other articles about Conchita Wurst, you may have noticed certain things get stuck in my head. Things I read, or things she says, that my brain just can’t let go of. That’s what happened two days ago. Again. A short interview Conchita Wurst did for Zeit magazine that, now, I can’t stop thinking about.

(**You’ll find the embed of the English translation of the interview at the end of this article – you might want to start there).

“I was a very imaginative child and entertained myself with all sorts of imagination and daydreaming. For a while, these imaginary worlds became an important hideaway for me. Another hideaway was the attic of my parents’ house. There I could wear women’s clothing and live out my female alter egos, which I had to lock up during everyday life.”

This Zeit interview was fascinating to me, because not only was Conchita more open than she normally is (she’s clever, as she talks a lot, so she fools you into thinking she’s open when, in reality there’s usually little she gives away), it’s also one of the first times she’s talked about how Tom Neuwirth, Conchita’s creator, felt when he was a child and about the imaginary worlds he lived in. And, frankly, while it made me sad, I could empathize. Because I was a kid who lived in a fantasy world, and so I know how that felt.

What was more interesting to me, though, was how Conchita talks about Tom Neuwirth creating his alter egos. People who filled the void Tom must have felt he had in his own personality, because of the tough adolescence he went through, and the disappointments he faced.

People like the now-named Conchita Wurst — someone who could do the things he wanted to do but couldn’t, simply by virtue of being self-confident, stylish and, of course, female.

And later on, when Tom’s music career didn’t take off as he wished, and disappointment hit him again, how did he handle it? Just like he had conditioned himself to do when he was a child. He resurrected one of those alter egos to do battle in his place but, this time, took her out of the attic and shoved her on stage for the whole world to deal with.

A lot of my dreams have become reality. I always dreamt of entertaining people and being famous. I had been entertaining people for a long time already, but ever since I won the Eurovision Song Contest, I’m actually being heard and my ideas and visions are being taken seriously.”

The surprise is what struck me in this statement, and the surprise is what strikes me a lot when it comes to Conchita Wurst. As if she can’t quite believe her ideas and visions would ever be taken seriously. Whereas, for me, I would be more surprised if they weren’t.

After all, here is one person (Conchita Wurst) who has been so beautifully created by another person (Tom Neuwirth), that she’s not just an empty-shelled caricature, but instead a fully-fleshed out woman, who is just as real as you and I. A person whose ideas and visions are likely to change the world.

And, no, I don’t say that ‘changing the world’ bit lightly, as I’m not one of those melodramatic people who sees ‘icon’ or ‘visionary’ in people I admire.

I say that from 20 years experience working in gay and human rights, and from being around larger than life people like her.

The thing is, though, while I may have been ‘around people like her’, I’ve never been around anyone quite like her. Or should I say, like him.

Because he, and by extension, she, is as unique of a human being as I’ve ever come across.

That’s because it takes a special kind of person to move past seemingly endless disappointments the way Tom did, and to create something so magnificent out of it that he (she) not only carved out a career, but was also able to win the world’s biggest singing competition.

Now transfer that kind of genius, and that kind of talent, to mapping out ‘ideas and visions’ and then convincing others of their validity, and if Conchita Wurst, and her alter ego Tom Neuwirth, don’t change the world in quite astounding ways in the next few years, then I’m not as smart as I think I am. And, frankly, that’s not remotely possible.

“Said success was the key to a world I have always wanted to live in. Now I’m dreaming of not having to leave this world again anytime soon.”

Not much to say to this, except, if I was Conchita Wurst and Tom Neuwirth, I’d be settling myself in for a very long stay. As the only time someone this talented, this focused, and this brilliant will be leaving the world they are now living in, will be due to their own choosing.

And if you’re not convinced? Think of the smartest, most gifted, most likely-to-succeed person you know, and then multiply their abilities by ten. That is Conchita Wurst, and that is Tom Neuwirth. Now do you really think they’re going anywhere? Because, me, I know they’re not.

“As a kid I began collecting memories of special moments and thoughts. I was convinced, once I had gathered three extraordinary experiences, I would have magical powers. Later on, I often asked myself what I would change with these powers, but I never came to an answer. By now I’ve even collected four of these moments; the magic still seems all too far away. Either because I’m still missing the idea of a big spell, or because the magic has already started.”

And here’s where I realized Conchita Wurst and Tom Neuwirth still aren’t quite ‘getting it’.

Those magical powers they’re both still looking for? He already had them from the day he was born and, when she was born, he passed them on to her.

Because regardless of what Tom Neuwirth says about himself in his head in those lonely hours of the night, or what Conchita Wurst believes, here are the magical powers they have both always had; the magical powers that mean the magic spells will never end for them —


“Magic is believing in yourself. If you can do that, you can make anything happen.” ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe      


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.