Austria’s ‘Bearded Lady’ Conchita Wurst Wins Eurovision 2014 [Video]

Austrian drag queen Conchita Wurst has been crowned winner of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday with the James Bond-theme-like ballad ‘Rise Like a Phoenix.’

The “bearded lady” won the hearts of Europeans with her “Rise Like a Phoenix” song, as she was titled the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday.

Conchita Wurst, who is the first Austria’s Eurovision winner since 1966, was awarded with a staggering 290 points, and topped the Netherlands’ modern-country duo the Common Linnets, who sang “Calm After The Storm”. Sweden’s Sanna Nielsen came in third with her new-age pop song “Undo”.

“This night is dedicated to anyone who believes in a future of peace and freedom,” Conchita declared in her Eurovision acceptance speech Saturday at Copenhagen’s B&W Hallerne venue. “You know who you are. We are unity, and we are unstoppable.”

Considering that the Eurovision Song Contest was initially conceived to unite Europe following World War II, Conchita’s speech was as timeless as it was timely.

This year contest came under the theme of tolerance, as the rainbow-colored flag symbolizing gay pride has been flying in many places in Copenhagen during the past week. Even though, the show was not politically aimed, Russia, which is known for its anti-gay laws, was booed.

Initially, her appearance on the show was considered offensive and controversial by some European countries. When it was announced last September that she would represent Austria at Eurovision 2014, within four days more than 31,000 protesters had “liked” an anti-Conchita Facebook page, but they never succeeded.

“I hope we can change just a few minds,” said Wurst’s agent René Berto. “It is just a lady with a beard. But it is like we have landed on the moon.”

The last two Eurovision winners before Ms. Wurst were women from Scandinavia who staged relatively modest performances. In 2006, Finnish heavy metal band Lordi won the competition with its “Hard Rock Hallelujah.”

Conchita impressed the crowd with her fabulous and unique image, as well as her roof-raising performance in a magnificent golden gown got by far the biggest cheer of the night from the crowd in the arena and the streets outside.

When she was announced as the winner, Copenhagen erupted into cheers and tearful embraces. For all the abuse thrown her way during the last few weeks, there hasn’t been such a popular Eurovision success in years.

Legions of men strode forth in rainbow-printed capes, wrapped in tinsel and fairy lights, roaring adoration for Austria. The fancy dress outfit of choice in the live audience this year was a beard: knitted beards, cardboard beards, painted-on beards, real beards, says the Telegraph.

“For me, my dream came true,” Wurst told reporters after the contest. “But for society it showed me that people want to move on, to look to the future. We said something, we made a statement.”

Tom Neuwirth was a 2007 runner-up on the “Idol”-like Austrian talent show “Starmania ,” and debuted the Conchita Wurst persona in 2011 on another TV talent competition, “Die große Chance ,” also placing second.

Wurst refers to himself as “the bearded lady,” he says on his website. In his private life, he calls himself “Tom” and refers to himself as “he.” In the role of Conchita Wurst, who Neuwirth calls an “art figure,” the artist refers to “herself” as “she.”

In a news conference Saturday, Ms. Wurst was asked if a message was being delivered to Russian President Vladimir Putin  with the win.

“I don’t know if he’s watching, but if so, I said clearly, we are unstoppable,” Ms. Wurst said. “I really dream of a world where we don’t have to talk about unnecessary things like sexuality, where you’re from, who you love.”

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