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Conchita Wurst
Birth name Thomas Neuwirth
Also known as
  • Conchita
  • Tom Neuwirth
Born (1988-11-06) 6 November 1988 (age 35)
Gmunden, Austria
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • drag queen
  • model
  • television presenter
  • cinematographer
Years active 2006–present
Labels Sony Music Austria
Associated acts Jetzt Anders!

Thomas Neuwirth (born 6 November 1988) is an Austrian singer and drag queen who is known for his stage persona Conchita Wurst (or simply Conchita). Neuwirth came to international attention after winning the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 as Austria's entrant with the song "Rise Like a Phoenix". Neuwirth has stated that he is not a trans woman. He is gay, and has also described himself as a drag queen.

Born in Gmunden, Neuwirth moved to Graz to do his matura exam with a focus on fashion, before embarking on a singing career through the 2007 casting show Starmania. He subsequently became a founding member of the short-lived boy band Jetzt Anders!. In 2011, Neuwirth began appearing as Conchita—a female character noted for her beard—and came second in the Austrian pre-selection for the Eurovision Song Contest 2012.

Two years later, Neuwirth was selected to represent Austria as Conchita at the Eurovision Song Contest 2014. Conchita's performance received the most points and resulted in her winning the contest. It brought international attention to Conchita and established Neuwirth as a gay icon, resulting in invitations to perform at various pride parades, the European Parliament, and the United Nations Office in Vienna.

Early life

Thomas Neuwirth was born on 6 November 1988 in Gmunden and raised in the small town of Bad Mitterndorf, in the Styrian countryside in Austria. He has stated that the mountainous area was a wonderful place to grow up, but that he faced prejudice for being gay: "Being a teenager, a gay teenager, in such a small village is not that much fun. I am part of the gay community and most gays have a similar story to mine."

From an early age he recognised that he was different from other children, initially believing that this was because there was "something wrong" with him. He occasionally wore a skirt to kindergarten and then school, although subsequently felt that he could only be happy doing so in the attic of his home. Aged 14, Neuwirth moved to Graz to attend school, with a focus on fashion. His fashion icon was Victoria Beckham.


2006–2013: Early musical career

Neuwirth performing in 2007

In 2006, Neuwirth took part in the third edition of the Austrian TV show Starmania, finishing in second place behind Nadine Beiler. One year later, Neuwirth founded the boyband Jetzt Anders!, but the group disbanded that same year.

It was after this that Neuwirth developed the drag persona of Conchita Wurst, a bearded woman. In the German language, "Wurst" means "sausage", although Neuwirth relates the choice of last name to the common German expression "Das ist mir doch alles Wurst", which translates as "it's all the same to me" or "I don't care", stating that the name emerged from the first meaning of that expression. The name "Conchita" had been adopted from a Cuban friend of his.

Neuwirth asserted that the inclusion of the beard as part of the Conchita character was "a statement to say that you can achieve anything, no matter who you are or how you look." The inclusion of a beard as part of the drag look was not unique, having been pioneered in the 1970s by The Cockettes in San Francisco and the Bloolips in London.

Conchita's first appearance was on ORF's show Die große Chance in 2011, where she achieved 6th place. In 2012, she competed in the Austrian National Final for the Eurovision Song Contest 2012 and came second. Conchita then appeared in the ORF show The Hardest Jobs of Austria, working in a fish processing plant, and in Wild Girls, in which a group of candidates had to survive in the deserts of Namibia together with native tribes.

Participation in the Eurovision Song Contest 2014


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Conchita in March 2014

On 10 September 2013, Austrian national broadcaster ORF announced that it had selected Conchita to represent Austria at the Eurovision Song Contest 2014, to be held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in May 2014. In March 2014, Conchita's song was revealed as "Rise Like a Phoenix", with bookmakers placing her entry as one of the ten favourites to win. Despite Eurovision's reputation for campness, Conchita's performance was designed to be serious and in good taste, and she was one of just a few performers to appear onstage alone. Although individuals who identified as LGBT had appeared on Eurovision before—most notably Israel's Dana International, who won in 1998—Conchita's appearance was described by the New Statesman as the "most genderqueer yet".

Conchita's selection proved controversial and attracted criticism from conservative groups, particularly in Eastern Europe, thus highlighting the continent's regional divide between east and west on the issue of homosexuality. In Austria, within four days after ORF announced its decision more than 31,000 people 'liked' an "Anti-Wurst" page on social networking service Facebook. Petitions emerged in Russia and Belarus calling for their respective national broadcasters to edit out Conchita's performance from the televised contest.

Spiked declared that many Western European commentators and politicos had adopted Conchita as "a symbol of everything that makes Western Europe superior to the East" and that she had thus become part of a culture war against both Russia and "the so-called bigots and backward types" in their own nations.


ESC2014 winner's press conference 11 (crop)
Conchita holding the Eurovision trophy after winning the contest

At the second semi-final on 8 May, Neuwirth, as Conchita, qualified for the final on 10 May. At the finals held in Copenhagen on 10 May 2014, she won the competition with 290 points. This was Austria's first Eurovision win since the Eurovision Song Contest 1966. Conchita's victory was also the first time a singer won without backing singers or dancers since 1970.

Points to Austria ESC14
Points allocated to Austria in the ESC 2014

Conchita's entry gained high scores from Western European countries as well as some in the East, such as Georgia and Ukraine. However, the levels of support for Conchita varied across Europe: on average she received 4.4 points out of 12 from the post-Soviet states (excluding the Baltic states), 6 points from the other ex-socialist states, and 10.5 points from Western Europe, Scandinavia, Greece, and Israel. Commenting on this, political analyst Alan Renwick of the British University of Reading asserted that "Even in those countries where the ruling elites are often highly intolerant, the wider population might be readier to accept that different people might be different."

Upon being awarded the trophy, Conchita held it aloft and proclaimed "We are unity and we are unstoppable". She later confirmed to reporters that this was a message meant for politicians who opposed LGBT rights, including President of Russia Vladimir Putin, whose administration had implemented a law restricting LGBT rights in June 2013.

2014–present: Subsequent career

Conchita Wurst at London's Heaven
Conchita performing at London's gay superclub Heaven in May 2014

On 28 June 2014, Conchita performed onstage at Trafalgar Square in central London as the headline act during the city's annual LGBT Pride Parade. She was introduced onstage by actor and LGBT rights campaigner Ian McKellen, and performed to a crowd of over 300,000 alongside acts Samantha Fox and Sinitta. She informed reporters from The Observer that "I don't want to say the other Prides are less good, but I fell in love with London immediately, so today is a very special day for me. All the drag queens looked stunning."

On 2 July, she opened Madrid's LGBT Pride festival with a concert at Chueca Plaza, there performing alongside Ruth Lorenzo, before performing at Stockholm Pride on 30 July, at Antwerp Pride on 10 August, and at Manchester Pride on 24 August.

On 9 July, she made her modelling debut on the catwalk at fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier's Couture show in Paris, where she took the final spot, which is usually reserved for Gaultier's favourite model. In August she modeled Givenchy clothing for Karl Lagerfeld's fashion editorial, "The New Normal", published in Carine Roitfeld's CR Fashion Book. She was invited to attend the 2015 Golden Globe Awards in Los Angeles as part of the Austrian delegation supporting nominee Christoph Waltz.

On 8 October, Conchita performed to a crowd of 2000 delegates and their staff at an anti-discrimination event held at the European Parliament in Brussels; her speech emphasised the values of tolerance, stating that "As I always say, you don't have to love me, but you have to respect that I'm here." Her appearance had been organised by the Austrian Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Ulrike Lunacek, a member of the Green Party, and while it had the backing of most of the European Parliament groups, it was not supported by the right-wing Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy and European Conservatives and Reformists groups.

On 3 November, she performed at the United Nations Office at Vienna in front of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. A spokesperson for Ban described Conchita as a "cultural icon" and asserted that "Everyone is entitled to enjoy the same basic rights and live a life of worth and dignity without discrimination. This fundamental principle is embedded in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Conchita is a symbol in that sense and I think it's good for them to meet. [The meeting allows us] to reassert his support for LGBT people and for them to ensure that they enjoy the same human rights and protection that we all do." Conchita proceeded to state that she would like to spend a week with Russian President Putin in order to better understand him and his government's stance on LGBT rights.

Conchita proceeded to begin work on an album influenced by "mature ladies" like Cher, Shirley Bassey, and Tina Turner. Her first post-Eurovision single, "Heroes", was released on 8 November 2014. Conchita performed the song for the first time on Wetten, dass..?.

On 19 December 2014, it was revealed that Conchita would host the green room at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015 in Vienna.

On 7 May 2015, Conchita published her autobiography with John Blake Publishing. Conchita's debut album Conchita was released on 15 May 2015. It was preceded by her second single after winning the Eurovision Song Contest, "You Are Unstoppable", which was released on 5 March 2015. "Firestorm" and "Colours of Your Love", two tracks from the debut album, were released as a double A-side single on 7 August 2015.

On 3 March 2016, Conchita performed at the Sydney Opera House accompanied by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and together with Australian stars like Courtney Act and ESC 2015 participant Guy Sebastian as a part of Sydney Mardi Gras festival.

Conchita performed for BBC Radio 2's Friday Night Is Music Night on 25 February 2018 at the London Palladium. In April 2018, Conchita praised Israel's Netta Barzilai and her song "Toy" as her favourite song for Eurovision Song Contest 2018, saying "If she wins I will love it." In August 2018, Turkey's public broadcaster, the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT), stated it will not take part in the Eurovision while "someone like the bearded Austrian who wore a skirt" could win the competition.

In 2019, Neuwirth revealed that he would be splitting the characters, Conchita would continue with the more feminine style of performance and a new mononymous persona called WURST would allow for a more masculine expression, Neuwirth also announced that he would be releasing new music as WURST. The single "Trash All the Glam" was released 8 March 2019 through Sony Music Austria. The second single shortly followed, entitled "Hit Me", which was said to be a hit back to a former boyfriend of Neuwirth's who he was receiving threats from about how he would publicly reveal his HIV-positive status. A third single, "See Me Now" was released on 5 April 2019. The album was announced under the name Truth Over Magnitude, and was produced by Albin Janoska.

In 2019, Conchita became a permanent judge on the drag competition reality series Queen of Drags alongside Heidi Klum and Bill Kaulitz.

In 2020, Neuwirth appeared in his Conchita character in a cameo role in the Netflix film Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga.

Personal life

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Neuwirth in 2019

Neuwirth created a fictional back story for the Conchita character, claiming that she was born in the mountains of Colombia and is married to the French burlesque dancer Jacques Patriaque, a friend of Neuwirth's. He compared the use of the character to American singer Beyoncé's adoption of the Sasha Fierce alter ego, or singer Lady Gaga's use of various costumes, being a way to protect Neuwirth's own private life.

In 2018, Neuwirth disclosed that he is HIV-positive and has been undetectable (and thus not infectious) for several years. He wrote through an Instagram post that he felt compelled to come out as HIV-positive due to persistent threats from a former boyfriend that he would publicly reveal Neuwirth's status.


  • Conchita (2015)
  • From Vienna with Love (2018, with the Vienna Symphony)
  • Truth Over Magnitude (2019)

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Conchita Wurst para niños

  • Verka Serduchka – a drag fictional character Eurovision entrant
  • Silvía Night – a fictional character Eurovision entrant
  • DQ – a drag queen Eurovision entrant
  • Sestre – a drag band of Eurovision entrants
  • Dana International – the 1998 Eurovision winner, a trans woman from Israel
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