Courtney Act on “Is Conchita Wurst a Drag Queen?”: “She Has a Real Grace and a Real Dignity”

I was paging through MTV Iggy this morning looking for interesting music videos I hadn’t seen, and came across an interview with Australian singer Courtney Act. As someone who loves everything Courtney does, I glanced at the article only to be pulled in further by a comment in which she talked about my favorite girl, Conchita Wurst.

A comment that showed how much Courtney Act admires Conchita Wurst — and don’t forget, she’s met Conchita a few times, so she’s basing her opinion on the real deal, and not just on the ‘sense’ of her the rest of us get.

Here’s what Courtney said about Conchita (you can read her whole interview on MTV Iggy here), and then I have a couple of comments to make:


Courtney Act on Conchita Wurst

Other than that what Courtney says is lovely, three things were interesting to me here.

The obvious one — her opinion Conchita is “stepping outside the boundaries of drag”, which is an opinion I’ve shared since the first day I laid eyes on Conchita Wurst.

In fact, Conchita is so far beyond drag queen and their often parody of women — (and do let me stress drag queens are awesome) — at this point she’s in a class of…one. After all, I’ve been around drag queens half my life, and I’ve never seen anyone like her.

That’s because Conchita Wurst is no more a parody of a woman than I am. And, to some extent, even though she has said differently, she’s not an homage to women either.

Instead she’s someone who has as much of a female soul inside her as she does male, but not in that sad “I’m stuck in the wrong body” way. Just in a “right now, I’m rocking my female side and isn’t she fabulous” way. And, yep, I’d have to say she is.

As for Courtney’s comment about Conchita having “a real grace and a real dignity to everything she does”, she’s correct there too. And that goes back to how Conchita has transcended drag. Because the typical drag queen is, as Courtney says, “brash and tongue-in-cheek’, and Conchita is neither of those.

In fact, to take it one step further, Conchita is not just full of grace and dignity and that’s why people are so drawn to her. Instead, unlike your typical drag queen, everything about her is real.

Because, as much as she’ll sometimes try to convince you otherwise about that person on stage, she’s really not pretending to be anything or anyone.

She’s just being herself, with her amazing talents and with her own innate sense of grace, dignity, gentleness and kindness. A self it seems it did take her quite some time to get to (see the loud, brash version of Conchita Wurst circa 2011 if you’re not sure what I mean), but a self she’s now 100 percent happy with.

And one final comment, and one that makes me think.

Courtney said about Conchita “She’s with Sony now”. And in that throw away remark, I can hear a sense of poignancy coming from Courtney, but also a sense of pride.

Poignancy that Courtney, after quite a few years in the public eye, has just released her debut EP and it’s not with a major label. Instead, she had to run her own very successful Kickstarter campaign to get the funding for that.

But also pride that Conchita Wurst was signed by Sony, as that is such a major coup for not only a drag queen, but for any artist.

Which takes me back again to what Courtney originally said about how “Conchita transcends drag”. Because by being signed by Sony and, thus, being treated as simply an artist instead of a “drag artist” she’s not only skyrocketed her own career, she’s also opened the door for others to follow. Others who, sure, may be ‘drag queens’, but are in reality far more.

Others like Courtney Act. Others who should be thought of as singers first, and drag queens second, or drag queens not at all — I don’t mind. Because their talents lie not only in their ability to rock an evening gown and a fabulous wig, but more importantly in their ability to rock a song.

After all, when you listen to music, isn’t that what you care about the most? That the person behind the song can sing, and can convey a strong emotion you connect with, rather than that she happens to be a guy in a dress. Because I know I do.

So, now that we all know Conchita Wurst is no longer a drag queen, she’s far more (well, I always knew that), head below and listen to Courtney Act’s first single release from her debut EP Kaleidoscope.

It’s called ‘Ecstasy‘ and is even better than songs many of those other so-called major label artists put out. (Plus, remember Courtney, you’re not handing over most of your profits to a record label. There is definitely that).

Then pre-order Kaleidoscope on iTunes. It releases on July 7th, and it’s going to be a hit.

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.