Arts

Bearded Austrian diva Conchita Wurst is living her dream

Conchita Wurst, Austrian winner of the Eurovision Song Contest 2014, at an interview with The Associated Press in Vienna, Austria. Ronald Zak, AP

Conchita Wurst, Austrian winner of the Eurovision Song Contest 2014, at an interview with The Associated Press in Vienna, Austria.Ronald Zak, AP

Conchita Wurst, Austrian winner of the Eurovision Song Contest 2014, at an interview with The Associated Press in Vienna, Austria.

VIENNA — Long legs crossed, one leopard-skin patterned spike heel dangling, the bearded diva with the expressive brown eyes leans back and laughs heartily when asked what has changed for her since winning Europe‘s biggest entertainment contest nearly a year ago.

“I’m living my dream,” Conchita Wurst told The Associated Press in an interview. “Everything fell into the right place for me.”

Everything may be a big word. But for the drag queen, whose journey of self-discovery took her from bigoted small-town Austria to her emotional victory at the 2014 Eurovision song contest, the last 10 months appear to have confirmed that her path – though not always easy – was the right one.

She rubs shoulders with fashion icons Jean-Paul Gaultier and Karl-Lagerfeld and plays sold-out gigs across Europe. Her appearances on Austrian radio talk shows attract callers from as far away as California.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has paid his respects. She has addressed the European Parliament on LGBT rights, and her biography has just appeared in German, with other languages to follow.

Less than a year ago, over 15,000 Russians demanded that their state broadcaster purge the contest from its programming because of Wurst, accusing “European liberals” of subjecting their children to a “hotbed of sodomy.”

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The haters still exist – but Wurst says there is also a growing group of “incredible” Russian fans pushing to have her biography published in Russia.

“I made the decision years ago not to focus on negativity,” she said. And since the win, “many people have told me that they have changed their mind about me – they got inspired, which is just overwhelming for me.”

Her fuchsia-colored blouse and green skirt perfectly accenting her makeup, Wurst looked as if she were never anyone else than the persona that has made her famous.

But even if she says that she is now immune to hate, that wasn’t always so.

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