On Monday, I had a 30-minute private meeting with Conchita Wurst. Backstage at Ronacher theater in Vienna, before her performance at the Wider die Gewalt gala benefit concert. A meeting with just her and I sat facing each other on two chairs.
And, while anyone else who had written about Conchita Wurst for as long as I have without actually meeting her might have been struck dumb when finally in her presence, sadly, for me, the opposite was true.
As my father always says, in the right situation I could talk the hind legs off a donkey, and that’s what happened on Monday. I met Conchita Wurst, because I desperately wanted to get to know her better. Instead, I talked, she listened. In fact, I flew 8,451 kilometers from Bangkok to Vienna. And then I made an ass of myself.
In another respect, however, that’s a good thing, as I did learn something absolutely invaluable about Conchita Wurst from my disastrous experience with her.
Because meeting her proved to me once and for all, that girl has such a charisma and star quality about her and is so absolutely destined for superstardom that, even me, someone who is very confident and who wasn’t even remotely nervous right before I met her, with Conchita Wurst I absolutely “lost my shit”.
When Conchita Wurst could get a word in edgewise, she did, however, talk, and in just those 30 minutes, you know how I’ve always said I’d walk through fire for her? Well, now I’ll walk through fire naked, tarred and feathered. She really is that wonderful.
Meeting Conchita Wurst
I first laid eyes on Conchita Wurst when she walked into the fan meet and greet I was allowed to attend before our private meeting. And what I was told would happen happened. Almost every fan in the room was so awe-struck, they lost it. So much so, that when she went around the room saying “Hi, Hi, Hi” and shaking everyone’s hands, not one person said a word to her. Not even their name.
What was telling too, from the journey up to another floor in an elevator half an hour later with Conchita, her social media manager, her adorable best friend Nikki (who, unlike me, radiates this incredible calmness and peace), another of Conchita’s team and me — is that she is in control of everything that goes on around her, and she is an absolute diva.
From the way she marches on ahead in her stiletto-heeled boots, to the feeling of power that just rolls of her, she is 100 percent superstar in every sense of the word, even if she hasn’t quite made it there yet.
But not a diva in that awful screaming-so-everyone-goes-running-for-fear-of-losing-their-jobs-way. Just a diva in that she knows exactly what she wants, she’s sure of where she’s going, she is focused beyond anything I have ever seen in anyone (steely focused, if the truth were known), and she expects to get exactly what she wants at every second in time.
But it’s all done in a way that you just know her team would be naked, tarred and feathered and striding right along beside me in those flames I’d be marching through for her, as she is so utterly lovely.
As for the meeting itself, I’m not going to go through all of that point by point. But here are just a few moments I’ve picked out that hit me more than others (although, frankly, they all did, as she is astounding).
A private conversation with Conchita Wurst
I go very much on initial instinct when I meet someone and, at the meet and greet, my first sense of her was “absolutely All Boy”.
What’s interesting here, however, is that two minutes into the private conversation itself, and Conchita Wurst had switched from definitely All Boy in stunning leather pants and a gorgeous wig, into undeniably All Girl, even with her completely flat chest clothed in nothing but a revealing top and a stylish jacket.
And it goes back to what I’ve been hinting about in my articles for a while. There’s a definite melding going on in the last few months between Conchita Wurst and who she has become, and Tom Neuwirth and what he is willing to reveal about himself.
And what’s happening is, as she moves forward into another stage of her glorious existence, the two people within that gorgeous body are starting to create one person that will take them both where they want to go. And do it in such a way that has not been done before — a drag artist who will be like nothing and no-one you have ever seen.
All male, strong, secure, and incredibly powerful (you have never felt power like that until you’re actually in her presence), yet all female too — soft, expressive, amazingly feminine, and one who fixes on you with those stunning eyes and never, ever, ever moves her gaze away from you when she’s talking.
And I find that metamorphosis more exciting than anything.
As for what she said, and the things that struck me the most?
She’s a fascinating mix of complete career girl confidence in her abilities to get whatever she wants, and a childlike innocence that makes it difficult for her to believe people love her so much. So, when I told her I wanted her to always remember how many people’s lives she was changing, I got the reply “I know that’s true. Because people keep telling me. But I find it hard to accept. Because it’s just me”.
And that, to me, was Conchita switching from Conchita to Tom. Because Conchita knows she’s having an enormous impact on so many people’s lives and, I think, she fully accepts it. Tom, on the other hand, because of the bullying he went through in his early life, (and no matter what she says to the contrary, that stuff never leaves you), it’s Tom who’s finding it hard to believe.
And in situations like this, where it’s just two people having a private conversation about things that are personal, there’s always a moment with a person like her where she says something that touches you more than anything. For me, there were two.
Because when we talked about her being in France, and I responded “And the French just love you”, the look on her face could have dropped me to the floor. As she was delighted beyond measure that the French have taken her to their hearts so much, and out popped that little child again. The one who can’t quite believe how much love is being thrown at her.
The second was when the subject of money came up, and I responded that I knew she would always have money as she would always figure out a way to be successful. She corrected me and said “I will always figure out a way to be happy”.
And so I asked her, “Are you happy?”. And the most adorable smile came across her face as she replied “I am”.
And for me, someone who is self-involved beyond anyone you have probably ever met, I have probably only met a couple of people in my whole life that I would change any of my plans for.
But for Conchita Wurst, I don’t care where she ends up. Vienna, Paris, London, Los Angeles. Because I will soon be dragging my sorry ass anywhere around the globe she settles.
As what has now wormed its way into my head from just that one thirty minute conversation is the happiness of that absolutely magnificent creature I sat across from yesterday afternoon is now almost as important as my own.
And so I made an ass of myself
And as for me making an ass of myself in front of Conchita Wurst, while a bit of a blow to my pride, in the grand scheme of things it’s not remotely important. Besides, I can fix that the next time I meet her.
Because the only thing I would have been devastated about was if I had met her and I had discovered I had just spent a year and a half writing 400 articles about someone I now found I truly did not like.
But her, I liked her more than anyone.
Besides, the lesson to be learned from my mini disaster is an easy one, and one any Conchita Wurst fan can use as well. We all make mistakes, every single one of us, and we all have bad things happen to us. But the difference between the people who come out the winners and the ones who don’t is this.
Tom Neuwirth spent most of his early life with people trying to beat him down. A lesser person than him would have let them. But, instead, he used those experiences to create Conchita Wurst. Someone who, to some extent, is now Tom Neuwirth’s armor against the world, and someone who is now able to help him do the things he felt he could never do himself.
Me? I just made an ass of myself in front of Conchita Wurst, the one person on the planet I would have liked to have impressed. And, yes, I could curl up in a ball and decide I’ll never ever get anywhere close to her again, as I would be so bloody mortified.
But me, like Tom Neuwirth, my parents brought me up to be made of stronger stuff. So I’ll use my first experience with her to learn from my mistake and next time….I promise, love, I’ll do better.