Why Conchita Wurst Is So Damned Huggable

In a previous article about Austrian singer Conchita Wurst, I mentioned how she often makes me want to hug her. Astounding if you knew me as, being British, I’m not really the hugging kind, at least not with strangers. Besides, I tend not to like most of humanity. Sorry, I’m a writer. I sometimes think ‘stand-offish asshole’ comes built in.

But there’s something about Conchita Wurst that makes me want to hug her in every performance, every video and every interview I see.

It’s not a mystery, though, what that thing is. At least not to me. As it’s easy to see what it is about Conchita Wurst that makes me, and half the fans in the fandom, want to hug her and protect her, and make sure she never comes to harm.

It’s also the same thing that I have been convinced since the first day I saw her is the big reason she has touched so many people, and the main reason I know she is going to be a world star.

Because she has the same thing Marilyn Monroe had. A thing that jumped off the screen at me during her first ever appearance at Die Große Chance, and a huge part of why that audience went wild for her.

What is it?

It’s the same heart-wrenching vulnerability tinged with a childlike innocence Marilyn Monroe had. The vulnerability that helped catapult Monroe to superstardom and made her the idol of millions.

Conchita Wurst has it too, and it’s always with her. On every stage, in every interview, in every song she sings, in those adorable shoulder shrugs, and in those moments where she finishes singing and just…smiles. It’s a look that comes across her face. A look that lets you know, the wrong word could break her heart. A heart that seems so ridiculously open.

To me, I think it’s something that is left over from childhood. From the bullying and the abuse she (he) lived through. But then that’s also where this becomes interesting.

Because, for most people who have been bullied or gone through abuse, the natural tendency is to shut down their emotions and to shut people out.

That Conchita Wurst has done the opposite, and left herself wide open with all her emotions out on display, is not a thing you often see. That vulnerability — so easy to damage.

And whether it was a deliberate choice to be so vulnerable or whether it’s just part and parcel of who she (he) is, I don’t think really matters.

I do think what does matter, however, is this palpable vulnerability that practically oozes out of her every pore isn’t remotely a weakness but instead is an incredible strength. Because it draws people to her, makes them empathize with her (and, yes, makes them want to hug her), and then adds one more person to that steadily growing small army of people who will do anything to protect her.

Just like Tom Neuwirth collected a group of girls around him in school. Girls who made sure nobody could hurt him. Not while they were around. (And, yes, I think that intense vulnerability was present even back then, and it’s part of what drew those girls to him). And just like he (she) has collected a massive group of friends and fellow artists since his (her) move to Vienna, people who are incredibly loyal and phenomenally protective, Conchita is now in the process of collecting an enormous group of fans who will do the same thing. Support her and protect her, no matter where she is or what she chooses to do.

Which is where she’s far different than Marilyn Monroe. Because Monroe let the vulnerability control her, and it ultimately destroyed her life.

Conchita Wurst’s vulnerability, on the other hand, she has a firm grip on it. And it’s one of the things that is going to make more and more people fall in love with her, then get her to world stardom and keep her there. Safe. Protected. And loved (and probably hugged) by millions. Mark my words. I’m sure of it.

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About Michelle Topham

Brit-American journalist based in Austria, former radio DJ at 97X WOXY, and Founder/CEO of Leo Sigh. I've covered anime, manga, K-drama and music news for over a decade.

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