“I will always figure out a way to be happy” — Conchita
The first time I met Conchita Wurst, I made the mistake of telling her she should never worry about losing her fame. Because she was smart, and would always figure out a way to be successful.
Conchita corrected me, and said, “I will always figure out a way to be happy“.
Four years later and Tom Neuwirth, Conchita’s alter-ego, has done just that.
Because this year, that happiness has come with WURST.
WURST, Tom Neuwirth’s new stage persona. A stage persona that comes with new music, a new style and a new Tom.
A Tom Neuwirth who glows with a light, a contentment and a strength I have not seen since he won Eurovision.
A contentment that comes from two years of slowly killing Conchita. Dumping the dresses, the wigs, and the heels. Making her hairy and buff. More boy than girl. More the problem than the solution.
All in an attempt to stop the depression he felt, as he suddenly had all the fame he had ever wanted. But fame he had not known would come with so much pain.
A contentment that comes from Tom eventually realizing, it wasn’t Conchita that was destroying his soul.
Instead, that was the people pushing Tom Neuwirth in directions he did not want to go.
Those wanting things from him he could not or would not give.
Those slamming his artistry, and trashing his dreams.
Those taking his heart, and then carelessly or deliberately trampling it into pieces.
And it was also Tom damaging his own psyche, as he stripped away layer-by-layer the one person that was guaranteed to never let him down.
Fame is the dominatrix that metes out pleasure, but with a payout of so much pain
Being famous is brutal.
Becoming famous is setting yourself up for a lifetime of people wanting things from you. Of business partners and fans telling you they don’t like what you are doing, and so you need to change.
A lifetime of people worming their way into your affections, only to use you for their own ends.
An ever-shrinking circle of those you know will always have your back.
Of being in a crowd of people, and feeling so alone.
In the years since Conchita’s Eurovision win, Tom Neuwirth has learned hard lessons.
He has learned who he can trust, and who needs to be dropped faster than a hot coal.
He has learned his vision of where he wants his life to go is the only one that matters. He has learned, while being polite has its place, so does being strident and quite rude.
He has learned fame is a dominatrix that metes out pleasure, but with a payout of so much pain.
And it is he, and only he, that eventually decided it didn’t have to be a Conchita live and vibrant on stage or a Conchita dead, buried and gossiped about behind her back that was needed to tame that dominatrix.
Instead it could be Conchita and…WURST.
Tom Neuwirth, you are the smartest person I have ever met
It is now five years of me being fascinated with Tom Neuwirth.
Fascinated, not just because he created Conchita, someone who I adore. Or because his voice in song gives me goose bumps. Or because he is one of the most beautiful people on the planet. Inside and out.
Or because his wicked, twisted, faster-than-a-speeding-bullet-from-a-gun sense of humor makes me laugh so loud my neighbors hate me.
Fascinated, because Tom Neuwirth is one of the smartest men I have ever met.
Not ‘book smart’. Because, I can guarantee you, he doesn’t know half the facts I know.
But intuitively smart.
Smart because he is self-aware.
But mainly, smart because he refuses to give up until a problem is solved. But, instead, stubbornly worries at it, examines it from every angle, dissects it, reanimates it. Looks for the tiniest of threads that will eventually prove its undoing.
A thread that, in this case, was slowly and gently pulled and then stitched into the larger fabric that eventually became WURST.
WURST — the alter-ego of Conchita.
Or at least the outward manifestation of all the things she felt she had to keep hidden.
The railing at the world for its injustices. The steely determination to be who he wants to be. The invincibility Conchita always had, but couldn’t see for all the pain.
The refusal to be accommodating when his heart is being crushed.
The strength, the power, the anger, the all-consuming rage.
The determination to close down his detractors, and make them his bitch.
All of this, and so much more, is why I love and will be eternally fascinated with Tom Neuwirth and his artistry.
Because that man has what few people do.
He has the intelligence and the courage to reach for that pain buried deep inside himself, yank it free from where it nestled hiding from the world, and then use it to make himself happy.
Tom Neuwirth you are everything I expected you to be five years ago when I first saw you on that Eurovision stage. And you are so so so much more.