Music

Monday 28 July 2014

Dream comes true for Austria's 'Bearded Lady' with Eurovision win

Published 11/05/2014|00:56

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Conchita Wurst performs the song 'Rise Like a Phoenix' during the final of the Eurovision Song Contest .(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Spain's Ruth Lorenzo. Reuters/Tobias Schwarz
Singer Sergej Cetkovic representing Montenegro performs the song "Moj Svijet" during the grand final of the 59th Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen May 10, 2014.            REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz (DENMARK  - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)
Singer Sergej Cetkovic representing Montenegro performs the song "Moj Svijet" during the grand final of the 59th Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen May 10, 2014. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz (DENMARK - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)

Austrian drag queen Conchita Wurst, popularly known as "the bearded lady", won the Eurovision Song Contest last night with the James Bond-theme-like ballad "Rise Like a Phoenix", before a global TV audience of about 180 million people in 45 countries.

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Wurst, sporting high heels, butterfly eyelashes and a full beard, 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".

"For me, my dream came true," Wurst, 25, whose birth name is Tom Neuwirth, told a news conference after the win. "But for our society, it just showed me that there are people out there who want to go into the future and go on, you know, not stepping back or thinking in the past."

Wurst, Austria's first Eurovision winner since 1966, received the biggest cheers from the audience but also stirred controversy in some countries.

Online petitions were started in Belarus, Armenia and Russia - whose government passed a law last year banning "gay propaganda" among minors - to have Wurst removed or edited out of broadcasts in their countries.

"We did it. It is the most amazing thing. But I knew she would win. I just knew it," Austrian fan Damel Saric told Reuters. "I have travelled to Copenhagen just for this moment".

The Eurovision competition, which has been held annually since 1956, was created to help foster unity after World War Two and is meant to be non-political. But political strife slipped between the cracks at this year's contest.

Can-Linn, representing Ireland, perform the song "Heartbeat" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, May 8, 2014. The competition's two semi-finals will take place on May 6 and May 8, while the grand final will be held on May 10. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz (DENMARK - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)
Can-Linn, representing Ireland, perform the song "Heartbeat" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen
Can-Linn (featuring Kasey Smith) representing Ireland perform the song 'Heartbeat'  during the second semifinal of the Eurovision Song Contest in the B&W Halls in Copenhagen, Denmark, Thursday, May 8, 2014.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Can-Linn (featuring Kasey Smith) representing Ireland perform the song 'Heartbeat' during the second semifinal of the Eurovision Song Contest in the B&W Halls in Copenhagen, Denmark, Thursday, May 8, 2014.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
The Shin and Mariko representing Georgia performs the song "Three Minutes to Earth" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, May 8, 2014. The competition's two semi-finals will take place on May 6 and May 8, while the grand final will be held on May 10. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz (DENMARK - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)
The Shin and Mariko representing Georgia performs the song "Three Minutes to Earth" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen

Many in the audience booed when the Russian contestants, the 17-year-old Tolmachevy twin sisters, were presented at Saturday's opening ceremony and again when they were awarded points from other, mostly neighbouring, nations.

It was widely speculated that Russia's entry could suffer for the country's annexation of Crimea in March and the government's intransigence on gay rights. Eurovision is hugely popular in the gay community.

"The two Russian girls are sweet, and it is not their fault. But this is a party for everybody. Russia doesn't get that," said one of the booing spectators, a gay Dutch fan who identified himself as Xander.

Ireland failed to qualify for the final and was knocked out at the semi-final stage on Thursday.

Reuters

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