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In 10 days, it will be two years since I first discovered Conchita Wurst. Two years during which I have often thought I would eventually get bored with her, and move on to someone else to analyze. But, here we are, 500-plus articles, three trips to Vienna and a permanent move to that city next month later, and it’s still not enough.
A couple of weeks ago, though, I took a break from Conchita Wurst. A writing break, I must point out, as I still spent as much time as I always do watching videos of her concert tour performances, reading articles and checking out her Instagram photos. I may not have wanted to write about her, but I’m sure as hell never going to be able to pretend she doesn’t exist.
And I took that writing break because I was trying to sort something out in my head. Something about Conchita Wurst and her alter ego Tom Neuwirth, and how they seem to be amalgamating themselves into one person. One person on that stage, in interviews, and in the way Conchita is now beginning to act and speak.
I saw that clearly during the first Vienna concert of Conchita’s first tour, both in her movements and way of singing on stage, and when she walked down into the audience. Because gone is the girly, all-female Conchita and, in her place, we now have unisex-Conchita — she of the bushy beard, nose ring and constant pants, and with an all-male chest constantly pushed to the forefront.
But there is something much more important happening here than the style changes most people are commenting on, and that’s what took me the last two weeks to get my head around.
Tom Neuwirth melds with Conchita Wurst and she becomes ‘real’
Over the last two years, I’ve watched more video hours of Conchita Wurst than anyone else on the planet. Not exaggerating. Just a fact.
Because I’ve watched videos five, ten, fifteen times through just to re-watch the blink of an eye, the flick of a tongue, the slight shift in her body language as she tries to hide that she’s annoyed or hurt or upset, and instead convince the audience, the interviewer, and you, otherwise.
It is what has helped me figure out what she is thinking, and has allowed me to write with 90-odd percent certainty about how she feels when she walks out on stage or is in a situation she is not comfortable with. Don’t ask me how I do it, I just can.
Which meant I also noticed this melding of Tom Neuwirth, Conchita’s alter ego, with Conchita long before anyone else started talking about it. And before, to some extent, I think Conchita herself even knew what was going on.
First, I noticed the answers she was giving in interviews were a little less ‘polite’ and a bit more honest. Not long afterwards, they started to come tinged with an undercurrent of ‘attitude’. An attitude I knew was coming from Tom, and not from Conchita herself.
Fast forward a few months and Tom was becoming more visible at every interview, every photoshoot, and at every costume fitting.
Even on stage, where Conchita’s style of singing was slowly changing, and a door was opening to allow in Tom’s more free way of moving around, and to fit in the way he uses his body, and how he gestures with his arms when he sings. Slowly at first, then more and more.
So much so now that, if you have been to any of Conchita’s concert tour concerts over the last month, you may have seen what I now saw.
An artist up on stage who was a fascinating mix of all-boy and all-girl. Someone who was so comfortable in her skin and in the way she sang and interacted with the audience, she was like something I had never seen before. Someone who moved in a way Conchita never did, and with an intense energy about her she never had before. So powerful, so perfectly formed, so flawlessly in control at every second, so ‘real’ she blew that other Conchita out of the water.
Someone who, me — with the attention span of a flea — could not take my eyes off during her second Vienna concert, and who made me experience 90 minutes going faster than I have ever experienced it before.
Because, now Tom Neuwirth has stepped up to the plate, we’ve got a Conchita that is mixed so well with him she has become one hundred percent…authentic.
What allowed Tom Neuwirth the courage to do what he has done?
So what happened that suddenly allowed Tom Neuwirth to step out of the shadows he’s been hiding in for the last two years, and to mix parts of his personality, his look and his way of doing things into Conchita? So much so she is now as much him as she is her. And so beautifully ‘real’.
I think I know.
Because I think it’s two years of fabulous experiences, of incredible opportunities and of so much love being thrown at her, that all of this combined has allowed her to grow in confidence and in maturity. And with that maturity has come the absolute knowledge that no matter what she does, what she wears or who she becomes, she’s not going to lose this fame she now has. This ability to make a living doing what she loves. If anything, it will grow in size and stature.
And, as a natural side effect, this knowledge has given Tom Neuwirth, the man who has allowed Conchita Wurst to represent him in public since he was around 20 years old, something he has never had before.
The surety that if he is himself, if he behaves the way he wants to, does the things he wants to, wears the things he wants to, he won’t suddenly be cast aside, pushed down or made to feel ‘lesser than’. Not like he always was before.
And with that knowledge then comes this incredible freedom, both in his art and in the way he allows himself to express himself through Conchita.
Because fear constricts and strangles the artistic energy and, in an artist, is ultimately nothing more than a death sentence. At least to his art.
But an artist that is filled with self-confidence and a surety that what he does will at the very least be taken seriously and, at the best, be admired and loved, like Tom Neuwirth now is, has the ability to do anything, be anything, go anywhere.
And that is an ability that will only grow as more time passes, and as the acceptance he now experiences everywhere he goes grows stronger.
An ability that is likely to cause Conchita Wurst to go through even more changes. Until she becomes the person Tom Neuwirth is the happiest with.
For me, as a writer, I couldn’t be more fascinated, as there is nothing more intriguing than watching an artist like Conchita Wurst change and develop and mature. Especially when she becomes something you least expect.
Of course, on any given day, she may not always be doing, being or wearing things I like. Then again, nobody does. But it’s not the small day to day changes I’m interested in anyway. Instead, it’s where Conchita Wurst ultimately ends up, and how much more of himself Tom Neuwirth allows to be revealed while he’s creating her.
As for her, do I think Conchita will eventually disappear and we’ll get just Tom on stage? No. Not for a second.
Because that boy has spent years figuring out who Conchita is and what he wants her to become and, I believe, he’s smart enough to know you always “dance with the one that brung you“.
Meanwhile, I’m just enjoying the ride.