From Conchita to WURST — the metamorphosis of Tom Neuwirth (who is still hiding)

Tom Neuwirth’s metamorphosis from Conchita to WURST came in increasingly faster stages

During the first two years after Conchita Wurst‘s Eurovision Song Contest win, Tom Neuwirth, the artist behind Conchita, kept his stage persona styled in a similar way. A long-haired wig, heels and, in most cases, a glamorous dress.

During year three, however, this style began to change. More pants emerged, shorter wigs became more common, and the heels were changed to flats.

By year four, hair had been added. On Conchita’s legs, on her chest, in a thicker beard and even under her arms. A sight that shocked some fans, as they were so in love with Conchita being All Girl All The Time, that Conchita as Almost All Boy was something they hadn’t expected.

At the beginning of 2019, however, things changed rapidly as Tom Neuwirth, increasingly unhappy as Conchita, pushed her to the wayside for a while and introduced a new stage persona — WURST.

WURST with his latex body suit and a shaved head, or blond hair and a blond beard, or dressed in an old-fashioned Eastern European-style gown and elaborate head dress. Or even dancing in his underwear in the Red Light district.

All images designed to push fans over the edge. And to shock.

All images that allowed Tom Neuwirth to push his artistic genius even further than before. To test his talents. To test his limits. And, of course, to test Conchita’s fans.

At the same time, however, even though WURST was obviously male, he still hid Tom Neuwirth behind him.

Behind the latex suit, the blond beard, the Eastern European gown.

Even while dancing in his underwear in his ‘See Me Now‘ music video — Tom Neuwirth hid behind the red tinted room, the black eye shadow, the baseball cap, the hoodie and, of course, various camera angles and choices of underwear that minimized his penis.

(Sorry Tom, but I look at these things. Not in a sexual way, but because I am fascinated by the metamorphosis and the intricate stages you are taking it through).


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Italo realness with @conchitawurst in Hall tonight 😎

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Tom Neuwirth at Hall in Tirol — June 23rd, 2019

Last night, however, a few photographs popped up on Instagram midway through the evening, and something became obvious to me quite quickly. Tom Neuwirth is reaching the end of his metamorphosis from Conchita to WURST…and is moving on into someone who may eventually become Tom.

At least for now. Although, knowing this incredible artist, he could go shooting off in another direction entirely next week. We could even get Conchita back in all her gowned-glory.

At the moment, though, Conchita is off having a cryogenic sleep, WURST is still trying to figure out who he wants to be, and Tom Neuwirth is almost out of the closet as an artist once again.

But…at the same time….still hiding.

Because just like he hid behind glasses on stage at Hall in Tirol last night, even though the rest of him was obviously more Tom than anyone else, last week at a signing at Le Meridien here in Vienna, he wasn’t quite ‘out’ either.

Instead, Tom Neuwirth showed up as WURST (sort of)… wigless, in track pants, a tank top, and wearing a baseball cap, sun glasses and a big, bushy beard.

And in a mood that was less happy and less open than he normally is. (Read this, for more context about the mood he was actually in).

A cap and glasses that kept his eyes hidden so you couldn’t see what he was thinking or how he was reacting to you, and a mood that served to separate him from his fans.

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Because, as Conchita, Tom Neuwirth was always ‘armored up’, and so she allowed him to grin wildly, throw barking laughs and give half the room a massive hug.

As WURST but almost Tom, however, he was more inside himself and so less open to fans.

Related: Will WURST make Tom Neuwirth happy, where Conchita could not?

Of course, on stage last night, from the mini clips I saw, Tom Neuwirth was just as confident and fabulous as he always is. As Conchita. As WURST. Or as himself.

Because he knows how good he is. He knows what he is capable of on stage. And he knows how his performance will generally go.

It is off stage he is still hiding. Behind the glasses. The dark eye shadow. The baseball caps. The massive beard.

Because Tom Neuwirth has just spent almost a decade armoring himself up as Conchita. A character that gave him the protection he needed to do what he does — be larger than life, and twice as amazing.

And I imagine, as he stripped her away piece by piece, even though he wanted to, it had to come with some level of feeling too exposed.

Because it all goes back to something I heard him say in an interview in Sweden about being bullied as a child, way back when he was still Conchita — the Golden Girl.

Till this day, if I’m honest, sometimes….I would prefer to not be that exposed. I mean I’m very self-confident, I know what I do, and I love what I do, and I know because of the fact that I’m not hurting anyone and I’m respectful, I’m allowed to be who I want to be. But…the past stays. It’s a long way till you get rid of all this trash people put on you………

But seriously, fuck feeling sorry for Tom Neuwirth

And when I write about that, I’m sure people think that means I feel sorry for Tom Neuwirth, and the bullying he endured that still must affect him today.

Feel sorry for Tom, hiding behind his glasses, his baseball cap and his dark eye shadow. Almost out in public as 100 percent Tom. But not quite.

But if you think that, you don’t know me at all.

Because sorry is not an emotion I have ever felt for Tom Neuwirth. As Conchita. As WURST. Or as himself.

What I have felt, however, is enormous admiration for the man, and for everything he does and is.

For creating one of the most believable personas in modern entertainment history. For stripping her down to a second persona that is just as believable, but in a different way.

For each incarnation being so perfect in its execution, sometimes I just watch what he is doing, and grin so hard I feel like my face will crack.

For rapidly pushing through and past each persona, and on towards himself.

Related: Tom Neuwirth — the man with balls of steel

For always pushing the envelope, changing and growing, and for being the only person on the planet that has held my attention for this long.

And for believing in himself, his talents, and his genius.

But most importantly, for never being one of those people who wallows in self pity about what happened to him when he was a child.

But instead being someone who uses that to propel himself forward, to ever greater heights.

To Tom Neuwirth — who is still hiding

So, to my fabulous Tom, who is still hiding. Keep hiding as long as you need to. Or don’t.

But just know that, whenever you decide you are 100 percent ‘all in’ on Tom in public, or that it’s time to re-don that armor with a Conchita resurrection, or that WURST needs to be less latex and more gowns, there is one truth that will always be self-evident.

The truth that, no matter who you allow us to see, most of us have seen exactly who you are already. Right from the beginning.

And that means, no matter what you do, where you go or who you decide to be, you will never disappoint. And you will never be less than what we have always known you to be.


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.