Conchita Wurst Is Best-Dressed Bearded Lady on Golden Globes Red Carpet

The Austrian gay icon is making a radical statement during her first trip to the U.S.
Conchita Wurst performing in Germany last month. (Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)
Jan 11, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Jennifer Swann is TakePart’s culture and lifestyle reporter.

Austrian drag superstar Conchita Wurst won over the hearts of Europeans when she took home the prestigious glass trophy last summer at the Eurovision Song Contest, the pop music competition held every year since its post–World War II founding. Wurst’s gender-bending televised performance drew criticism from Russian President Vladimir Putin, but the rising gay icon is still largely unknown in the United States—until tonight, that is, when she appears at the Golden Globes during her first-ever trip to America.

What will she tell the world if stopped for an interview on the red carpet tonight? “Do what you need to do and make [your] life fabulous. If you’re not hurting anyone, you can do almost anything [that] makes you happy—especially when it comes to your look,” she told Frontiers magazine earlier this week.

“As a bearded lady, I learned years ago that this affects people more than I thought, and I realized I could say something with this persona,” said Wurst, the alter ego of 26-year-old Tom Neuwirth, who created the persona in response to the gay discrimination he faced growing up. “So just live your life as you want it, and if you’re not hurting anyone, just embrace it.”

Wurst, who crafted the persona at the age of 17 after several years of performing as a drag star in Austria, chose the stage name for its double meaning: "Wurst" means “sausage” and “it’s all the same” in German.

“It’s all the same, at the end of the day, how you look or where you come from, because the only thing that counts is the person you are,” Wurst told The New Yorker after winning the Eurovision Song Contest last year.

But on the fashion-obsessed Golden Globes red carpet tonight, all eyes will be on Wurst’s emerald-green velvet gown, long dark locks, and short manicured beard—a radical look that instantly conveys her message of total acceptance, gender fluidity, and above all, self-love.

She’ll be in good company, alongside stars of progressive television shows such as Transparent, about a father who comes out as transgender to his adult children, and Orange Is the New Black, whose prison inmate characters are lesbian, bisexual, and transgender.

At an L.A. Press Club appearance on Thursday, Wurst told the audience that she was most excited about the chance to meet fellow Austrians actor Christoph Waltz and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at the Golden Globes. Both men are “good examples that it is possible to become a well-known person even if you're from Austria.”

But Wurst’s own appearance signals something bigger: that it’s possible to become a well-known and admired person even if you’re a bearded lady.