Conchita Wurst has a new YouTube series out that is one of the best things she has done interview-wise. That is because this Rock/Hard series, which is beautifully filmed, directed and produced by Conchita’s social media manager André Karsai, has her as honest as we have ever seen her.
Honest both in reflecting back on who Conchita has been since she appeared in 2010-11 and why, and who she may become in the future.
And, while I say Rock/Hard is a Conchita Wurst show, it is actually much more of an interesting concept than even that. As it is really Tom Neuwirth sitting here. Dressed up as Conchita, sure, but more Tom talking about how and why he created her, how he has felt about what she has done so far, and the mental gymnastics he is now putting himself through to develop her in such a way that he never gets bored and ends up dumping her completely.
For fans, I imagine Rock/Hard is going to be an interesting and somewhat difficult journey, as many are emotionally attached to the old Conchita. The perfect one with the glamorous gowns, gorgeous hair, staggeringly huge stiletto heels and that tiny body cinched into corsets to make her look even smaller and more feminine.
The Conchita we have nowadays, however — the one with the nose ring, bushy beard, flat boots and a flat and hairy chest — is quite a bit removed from that and, to hear her (Tom) talk about where she’s going next, I have a feeling there may be even bigger changes to come.
So, here, I’m going to look at just a few points Conchita brought up in her first episode of Rock/Hard. Points that helped me understand her thought process more, and made me able to accept far easier how she now looks and behaves.
Because, frankly, I’ve found Conchita Wurst not as easy to like in recent months, due to all these changes. But now I’ve heard the thought process behind it and her (his) honesty about why, I like her even more.
The Restrictions of Being Conchita
One thing that becomes apparent just moments into Rock/Hard is how restricted Tom Neuwirth must feel sometimes when it comes to having to continually be the same character. A character that has become one of the most famous people in Europe since she won Eurovision in 2014, but a character nevertheless.
And I imagine it must have been not only frustrating but exhausting for him to have created this perfect image of a bearded lady — supremely feminine in every way — and then realizing he had to live up to her. So it really is no wonder he is now letting that slip, and allowing Conchita to be less ‘perfect’ and more ‘real’.
For me, I especially like this direction he is going in when it comes to her personality. As, while she was always lovely, because Tom Neuwirth had not allowed much of his own personality to come out in her, over time she became a little bland. Because you can only be polite for so long but, if you have little of substance to say, then…meh.
Throughout the ridiculous amount of hours I have spent analyzing her over the last two and a half years, though, the times I liked the most were when I could tell it was his personality surfacing. Even if just for seconds at a time.
Because he is as smart as a whip, absolutely brilliant when it comes to his understanding of what great art is, yet all wrapped up in this sweet and kind person that still has a wicked sense of humour.
Yet, being the genius-at-art man he is, he understands, while she may change drastically over the next few years as he molds her, if he wants his singing career to keep growing, and he does, then, Conchita? For better or for worse, he is stuck with her.
That means he has to work within those restrictions to keep himself challenged, and so happy, while still making sure her fans stay happy as well.
“And what I’m doing now is actually bending her in new directions, so that I still feel entertained, and excited about the things that I do. On a serious note, actually I would need a new character. I feel the need of creating something completely new, because I think for me, the bearded lady, I did everything with the bearded lady that I could in terms of how I wanted her to be.
So everything I do now is creating a different character in an existing character. I’m not whining and I’m not complaining, because I have a fabulous life, because of Eurovision and everything that happened, and I’m allowed to do those things that I do now.
But I’m aware of the fact that Conchita is a brand…a bearded lady. (And there are) certain expectations linked to this persona. So basically I can’t say okay that was fun and now I want to do something completely different…..
So now I’m in this process where I think that the peak was the golden dress, if you put it that way. And now I’m circling around, and trying out new things, and I don’t want to let her down basically.
Because I think, you know, I can bend her, and I can make it a little more edgy and I can be a little bit more rock and roll with it or whatever. And we’ll see – probably, I’m just doing this for the rest of my life. Creating a new version of Conchita.”
The Corset and The Tuck
If you haven’t spent much time in the drag community, even though you have heard Conchita say over and over again “it’s painful being a drag queen”, unless you know what goes into it, you can’t really understand how much pain she is talking about.
“As soon as I feel I press myself into a corset – what I did – it starts to become unnatural, and not the way it should be at the end of the day.
And I feel it immediately when I watch back at interviews I did in 2014, and I had a period of time where there were three weeks in a row of every day eight hour sessions of interviews, and I saw that the closer the end came of every day, not that I turned bitchy, but I was a little bit reserved and tired and annoyed, and that’s just not the way it should be.
I kind of like it to be more comfortable these days. And being cinched for 8 hours, and sitting on your tuck for 8 hours – tuck basically means that you look like a female down there, and it’s just painful — I stopped doing it because I thought, let’s create your own way of doing drag. So this is probably also the reason (for the changes). Get rid of things that are holding me back.”
The corset, of course, is self-explanatory. A tight under garment she often wore that was cinched in to give her an illusion of having a female-like waist. She also sometimes tried to take that one step further by adding a belt to whatever outfit she was wearing that day. Hey, when you’re already uncomfortable, what’s a little more annoyance?
As if walking around for eight to 10 hours a day wearing a corset wouldn’t be painful enough, however, she also got to add a tuck to that.
Now Conchita, being the delicate and polite little flower that she is, only tells you “it basically means that you look like a female down there”.
What a tuck really is, however, is the way a drag queen creates the illusion of being a woman. An illusion that requires him to push his testicles up into the cavity in a man’s body called the inguinal canal. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, he then gets to tape or secure his penis between his legs and walk around that way for the rest of the day.
Me? If I was a guy, I can’t imagine doing that for three minutes. And to do it for eight to 10 hours a day, walking around, sitting in interviews, singing on stage. being able to actually, you know, concentrate? HELL, NO.
So when you see Conchita Wurst in the constant pants, baggy shirts, flat shoes and with a much more ‘male energy’, just imagine how much happier and more comfortable she must now feel.
“There’s not really a rivalry between Conchita and Tom”
As long as I have analyzed Conchita Wurst, and thought as much about the man behind that persona as I have of her, one thing I have always wondered is if Tom Neuwirth ever felt a little ‘left out’ of what was going on.
You know, here he is, the guy (the genius really) who created her, and the one who once had his own music career. Yet she gets all the adulation, the glamour and the limelight, while he has to sit back and, for all intents and purposes, pretend he doesn’t exist.
And while my guess is he is quite a shy and introverted person, and does enjoy being able to be this inconspicuous once he gets off the stage, I always wondered if it still burned that he was often so ignored.
Conchita talks a little bit about this when she addresses who wrote the new songs she is now starting to perform. (Tom).
“And with the whole songwriting process, and being really open about my feelings, the way I feel right now, what I experienced in the past that it all showed up in the songs that I’ve made over the last few months. And so yeah, it has changed and that was probably very natural.
Because I’ve written all those songs as Tom. So it’s probably me getting my Tom part, because it’s basically mine. You know what I mean. There’s not really a rival between Conchita and Tom, but I feel more and more that my man side is coming through way more than before because it’s just a natural way of things (in the looks).”
And, I must admit, when I first saw Tom Neuwirth listed as the songwriter for Conchita’s new song ‘Blue Bloom‘, (which if you haven’t seen her perform it last week at Wider Die Gewalt do watch it, it’s gorgeous!) I felt a tiny surge of happiness for him, that he gets to be back in the limelight a little bit. With his name and his talent.
If I was him, though, I would be doing exactly what he is doing. Staying in the shadows and not pushing his face out for the world to see. Because, I guarantee, Tom, and yes, I’m talking to you, if you ever do decide to do that, you will live to regret it.
Episode one of Conchita Wurst’s new Rock/Hard series is an interesting look at how the mind of this fascinating artist really works. In fact, there is so much in it to look at, I’ll be back over the next few days with a second, and final, part of this article.
Meanwhile, do watch the first episode of Rock/Hard in the video below. And make sure you subscribe to her YouTube channel, so you won’t miss the rest.
Thank you, Conchita (and Tom), for being so honest. This really is lovely. And thank you, André, for so brilliantly producing it.