Conchita Wurst. Conchita. WURST.
In the last few years, the name has seen various incarnations, but every one of them, and the character they represent, is the brain child of Austrian artist Tom Neuwirth. One of the most important people to come out of that country in the last 100 years.
A man who is so talented in a myriad of things, and someone who continually surprises with his artistic genius.
A singer songwriter with an incredible voice and range. But a man who does not just concentrate on writing songs and singing them, but is also an incredibly talented designer (gorgeous dresses, stunning costumes, superb concepts for music videos), and an artist with a continually evolving vision of who he is and who he wants his stage personas to be.
An artistic vision that is so interesting, so beautiful, so unusual and so intelligent, I constantly think he has finally reached the end of his artistic growth with his latest incarnation. And then the next one arrives, and it blows me away even more.
An artistic genius, in other words, and someone unlike anyone else I have ever seen in the entertainment industry.
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Tom Neuwirth — more of a man than most I have met
But last night, I stood in a line of fans at a WURST signing at Le Meridien hotel in Vienna, and I watched Tom Neuwirth as WURST as he greeted fans, signed autographs and was gracious and kind to everyone that came out to see him.
Dressed in a tank top, sweat pants and a baseball cap, he was without his signature Conchita wig and was who he is off stage and in real life. A casual dude, just doing his thing and, last night, not in the best of moods if truth be told.
But there he was, bringing his A game anyway, just like he always does.
A man who is quite small and slight in stature (which surprises you when you first meet him, as he is one of those people whose presence fills a room), but with well-defined muscular arms, a toned torso and the best legs and ass I have seen on anyone. Man or woman.
A man who spent the first four years of his international fame on stage dressed as a woman.
And this was the thought that crossed my mind as I watched him.
Tom Neuwirth is more of a man than most of the men I know or have ever met.
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Tom Neuwirth — a man with balls of steel
Because, as a writer who spends much of my time watching other people, analyzing who they are, how they behave and what they are feeling (if you look closely enough, you can figure out who anyone really is inside), I can tell you, if you watch most men, they are so busy trying to prove to everyone around them what an incredibly masculine MAN they are, it must be exhausting.
Tom Neuwirth, on the other hand, doesn’t waste his time proving to the world he is loaded with testosterone and has balls bigger than every other guy out there.
Because the truth is, he doesn’t have to. He just does. Balls of steel, in fact.
Because it takes balls to go through life being put down by half a nation of bigots every time you try to do anything interesting or cool, and ignore them and do what you want to do anyway.
It takes balls to represent your country at the Eurovision Song Contest, when almost 40,000 of your own country’s citizens have signed a petition saying they don’t want you to represent them at the world’s biggest singing competition.
It takes balls to get on a stage in front of 200 million people at Eurovision in a wig, dress and heels, and look more like a woman than most women out there, yet still have a beard. And be completely comfortable in your own masculinity while doing so.
It takes balls when a small but incredibly loud group of bigots decide you shouldn’t sing at the prestigious Sanremo Festival, and so they harass the TV network in an attempt to get them to withdraw the invitation. But you show up anyway, sing your heart out and are as polite and gracious as you can possibly be. Even when the host of the show, who is a bigot in his own right, still seems to have a problem with you being there.
It takes massive balls to show up at Poland’s Sabat Czarownic show, when you have had death threats from bigots, and when the festival’s organizers are so worried about how the audience may react to you, they ban them from bringing bottles or metal objects in case they get thrown at you while you are up on stage just doing your job. (They didn’t and, for all their bigotry, the audience ended up loving him and his performance!)
It takes balls of steel to announce to the world that you are HIV positive, because some low-life ex-boyfriend is about to go to the press and tell them.
And it takes fucking humongous balls of steel to do what Tom Neuwirth does day in, day out, for years and years and years. While a sizable part of the planet still insists on telling him he shouldn’t. And to be friendly, kind, polite, professional and just plain nice to everyone he comes across. No matter who they are, or what they think of him.
So the next time I have some dude prancing around in front of me, laden with testosterone, flexing his muscles, pumping up his chest and desperately trying to prove to me he is “The Most Masculine Man You Are Ever Going to Meet”, I’m going to tell him “Deflate yourself and watch how Tom Neuwirth behaves”.
“Because he is more man than you will ever be.”