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Meet Conchita Wurst, Austria’s Controversial Choice for the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest

The annual Eurovision song competition has had its share of controversial contestants over the years, like transgender singer Dana International, or monstrous-looking heavy metal band Lordi, but the Austrian Television’s decision to nominate Conchita Wurst, a bearded transvestite artist, as the country’s official contestant for next year’s event has caused more public outrage than ever before, in Austria.

Conchita Wurst¬†sets herself apart from other other artists not only through her voice, but also by wearing women’s clothing, makeup and a full beard. The thick facial hair is the artist’s way of drawing attention to herself, because, well, the world responds to a woman with hair on her face. The beard of this “racy Colombian” is very real, for it belongs to the man behind the mask, 24-year-old Tom Neuwirth. He first appeared in the spotlight in 2006, when he came second in a televised talent show called Star Mania, but completely disappeared from the public life after that, until 2011 when he returned with a whole new look, under the name Conchita Wurst. She has become Tom’s alter-ego and he says there are now two hearts beating in his chest, one of an Austrian man and the other of a hot-blooded Colombian performer. After he puts on the makeup and women’s clothes, Tom really becomes Conchita and demands that he be addressed as such. He acts like a woman and even uses the ladies’ room, but once the performance is over, he goes back to being Tom. Asked if it’s not too confusing splitting his life in two, the artist said he actually recommends having an alter-ego because it’s great fun and it allows you to live out every fantasy you ever wanted.

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