"I created this bearded lady to show the world that you can do whatever you want," said the highly controversial 25-year-old Austrian singer.
UPDATE: Austria won this year's Eurovision Song Contest on Sunday with "Rise Like a Phoenix" sung by bearded drag queen Conchita Wurst. The 25-year-old performer, whose real name is Tom Neuwirth, took the Eurovision crown in Copenhagen despite initial expectations that the eye-catching appearance would be too controversial in socially conservative countries.
Winning performance of song Rise Like a Phoenix:
Austrian Eurovision contender Conchita Wurst performs for her fans in Copenhagen on May 1, 2014
Bearded drag queen hogs limelight
AFP News agency
Austrian Eurovision contender Conchita Wurst. (Source: AFP)
COPENHAGEN - Austria's bearded drag queen Conchita Wurst has hogged the limelight ahead of Saturday's Eurovision Song Contest final, but things have gotten hairy for her among socially conservative Europeans, including some gays.
"I created this bearded lady to show the world that you can do whatever you want," said Wurst, the drag persona of 25-year-old Austrian singer Tom Neuwirth, at a recent press conference in Copenhagen.
"If you're not hurting anyone you can do whatever you like with your life and, it's so cheesy, but we've only got one (life)," she added.
Wurst's James Bond theme song-like ballad "Rise Like a Phoenix" [ rise from the ashes ] is widely expected to make it through Thursday's semi-final in the Danish capital, but few pundits believe she will take the Eurovision crown.
However, comments by Armenian Eurovision hopeful Aram MP3 -- one of the bookies' favourites this year -- that Wurst's lifestyle was "not natural" have boosted her profile, even though the stand-up comedian later claimed his comments were a joke.
"He apologised by saying his comments were a joke and badly translated," Wurst said.
"I have to say that if it's a joke it's not funny ... but he apologised and that's fine for me," she added.
There have also been petitions to have her removed from the competition in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, where a law banning "gay propaganda" was signed by President Vladimir Putin last year.
St Petersburg lawmaker Vitaly Milonov reportedly asked his country's Eurovision selection committee not to send any Russian musicians to the event, which he accused of being "blatant propaganda of homosexuality and spiritual decay" .
- Cultural divide -
Conchita Wurst holding her trophy high in the air after winning the Eurovision singing contest (Source: AFP)
The outrage highlights a cultural divide between eastern Europe and the countries of the west, where the camp spectacle' s large gay following is often acknowledged by organisers, local businesses and performers.
The city of Copenhagen has said three gay couples from Russia will get married there in the days leading up to Eurovision as part of an event celebrating 25 years of same-sex unions in Denmark.
Last year, Finnish singer Krista Siegfrids courted the pink vote by entering a gay marriage anthem.
Wurst said her own song reflected the experience of growing up as an outsider in rural Austria.
"It's a story of going through bad times and struggling through difficult things, and growing out of it and hopefully becoming a better person," she said.
"For me of course it's so close to my life ... emotionally, growing up," she added.
Her creator, Tom Neuwirth, rose to fame after finishing second on Austrian talent show Starmania in 2006, after which he joined a short-lived boyband.
Conchita Wurst first appeared in 2011, when she made it to the final of another reality show. The following year she came second in the TV programme that selects the central European country's Eurovision entry.
...There has also been concern among some members of the gay community that her bearded drag persona could "scare" people coming to terms with their own sexuality.
"A lot of people say: 'I'm also gay but I don't need a beard and a dress to express that,'" she said.
"I can just say to those who don't really realise yet if they are gay or not, you know, and a bit scared of this change: I don't want to scare them."
"I just want to show them that they can be accepted in any way. They are allowed to do anything," she added.
Learn from listening
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accuse: to say that someone has done something wrong or committed a crime - กล่าวหา
acknowledge: to show that you have noticed somebody/something by smiling, waving, etc - รับรู้
anthem: a song that has a special importance for a country, an organization or a particular group of people, and is sung on special occasions -
apologise: to say you are sorry for doing something wrong or for causing a problem - ขอโทษ
appearance: the way that somebody/something looks on the outside - ลักษณะภายนอก, การปรากฏตัว
ashes: the grey powder that remains after something has burned - เถ้าถ่าน, ขี้เถ้
banned: officially not allowed to do something - ถูกห้ามอย่างเป็นทางการ
beard: hair that grows on the chin and cheeks of a man's face - เครา
blatant: obvious or open, not hidden โจ่งแจ้ง โอ้อวด อึกทึก - โจ่งแจ้ง โอ้อวด อึกทึก
bookie: a bookmaker; a person who takes bets from people on sporting events; who runs a small sports gambling business คนรับแทงฟุตบอล - คนรับแทงฟุตบอล
boost: to increase; to strengthen - เพิ่ม; ทำให้มีกำลังมากขึ้น
capital: the most important town or city of a country, usually where the central government operates from - เมืองหลวง
celebrate: to do something enjoyable in order to show that an occasion or event is special - ฉลอง
cheesy: lacking good style or high quality, slightly silly, looking false - a cheesy smile, a cheesy grin
claim: to say that something is true although it has not been proved and other people may not believe it - อ้าง
comment: expressing an opinion - แสดงความคิดเห็น
committee: a group of people who are chosen, usually by a larger group, to make decisions or to deal with a particular subject - คณะกรรมการ
competition: a situation in which people or organizations compete, i.e., try to be more successful or better than somebody else who is trying to do the same as you - การแข่งขัน
conservative: opposed to great or sudden social change; showing that you prefer traditional styles and values - ที่เป็นอนุรักษ์นิยม
contest: a competition - การแข่งขัน
controversial: causing disagreement or disapproval - ความไม่ลงรอยกัน
couple: two people who are married or are involved in a romantic relationship - คุ่รัก
court: to try to obtain or get something -
creator: a person who has made or invented a particular thing - ผู้ออกแบบ, เจ้าตำรับ, ผู้ประดิษฐ์
crown: title; the position of a winner in a sports competition - ตำแหน่งแชมป์
cultural: related to the customs and beliefs, art, way of life and social organization of a particular country or group - วัฒนธรรม
decay: when something becomes gradually damaged, worse or less - การเสื่อมลง
despite: used to show that something happened or is true although something else might have happened to prevent it; used to show that somebody did not intend to do the thing mentioned - ถึงอย่างไรก็ตาม, ทั้ง ๆ ที่
divide: a disagreement between people, especially between people who belong to the same group - การแตกร้าว, การแบ่งแยก
expectation: what is expected - ที่คาดไว้
experience: to have something happen to you or to live through some event - ประสบ
express: to tell someone about a feeling, opinion, or aim by speaking or writing about it - แสดงออก (ทางความคิดหรือความรู้สึก) โดยใช้คำพูดหรือการเขียน, พูดออกมา
eye-catching: very surprising and nice to see -
fame: the state of being famous or very well known - ชื่อเสียง
favourite: a person or team who is expected to win a competition - ผู้แข่งขันที่มีหวังชนะมากที่สุด
following: the followers of a person; people who read and listen to a person and believe in them - สมัครพรรคพวก, [ ผู้เต็มใจเข้าพวกด้วย
grow out of: when something bad disappears naturally as one grows older -
grow up: becoming an adult or a mature and wise adult as one grows older -
highlight: to make something more noticeable - เน้น,ทำให้เด่น
hog: being a pig or "hog", taking everything and not leaving anything for anyone else -
initial: early; first - เบื้องต้น
leading up to: the time before some event happens ... -
lifestyle: the type of life that you have, for example the type of job or house you have or the type of activity you like doing - วิถีทางการดำเนินชีวิต, ลีลาชีวิต, รูปแบบการดำเนินชีวิต
marriage: the ceremony in which two people become husband and wife; the legal relationship between a husband and wife - การแต่งงาน, การสมรส, ภาวะที่แต่งงานกัน
natural: normal; as you would expect - ตามธรรมชาติ, เหมือนจริง
organiser: an event organiser; a person or company that organises big events such as beauty contests -
outrage: extreme anger - ความโกรธอย่างรุนแรง
outsider: someone who does not belong to a particular group or organization - บุคคลภายนอก
performer: a person who performs for an audience in a show, concert, etc - นักแสดง, ผู้แสดง
persona: the aspects of a person's character that they show to other people, especially when their real character is different -
petition: a document signed by a large number of people demanding or requesting some action from the government or another authority - การถวายฎีกา,การร้องเรียน
phoenix: immortal fire bird who can raise from it's ash. - นกไฟ
press conference: an official meeting where someone makes a formal statement about a particular issue or event to journalists and answers their questions about it - การแถลงข่าว
profile: the general impression that somebody/something gives to the public and the amount of attention they receive - ชื่อเสียง
propaganda: information, especially false information, that a government or organisation spreads in order to influence people’s opinions and beliefs - การโฆษณาชวนเชื่อ,การเผยแพร่,การเผยแผ่
pundit: someone who is an expert in a subject, and is often asked to talk to the public about that subject - ผู้เชี่ยวชาญ
recent: happening or starting a short time ago - เร็วๆ นี้
reflect: to show - สะท้อน แสดงถึง
reportedly: as reported (often used for showing that you are not certain that something you are reporting is true) - ตามที่รายงาน
rise (past form: rose): to get up from a lying, sitting or kneeling position - ลุกขึ้น
rise from the ashes: when something is built again after being destroyed -
rural: connected with the countryside outside big towns and cities - ในชนบท, บ้านนอก
same-sex unions: same-sex marriages; when a man and a man or a woman and a woman get married -
selection: choice; the process of choosing - การเลือก,การคัดเลือก
semi-final (or semifinal): one of the two games that are played immediately before the last game in a sports competition. The two people or teams who win the semifinals play each other in the last game, called the final, to decide who wins the competition - การแข่งขันกีฬารอบรองชนะเลิศ
spectacle: an exciting and impressive public event or performance; an unusual, exciting, or impressive event or sight - การแสดงต่อหน้าสาธารณชน,การแสดง
spectacle: an unusual or surprising sight or situation that attracts a lot of attention - ภาพที่น่าตื่นเต้น, ปรากฎการณ์
spiritual: religious, or related to religious issues - เกี่ยวกับศาสนา
stand-up comedy: when a person tells jokes standing up on a stage in front of audience to make them laugh - เล่นตลกบนเวที
struggle: a very difficult task that you can do only by making a great effort - ความพยายาม
theme song: a song that is especially associated with a particular performer, show, etc. - เพลงประจำของรายการภาพยนตร์ โทรทัศน์ หรือวิทยุ
translate: to express the meaning of speech or writing in a different language - แปล
trophy: a large silver cup or similar object given as a prize to the winner of a competition - ถ้วยรางวัล
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