Eurovision’s Conchita Wurst: In Russia Officials Condemn While Citizens Download

Expanding the LGBTQ Conversation
May 12 2014 9:38 AM

Russia Has an Unapproved Crush on Conchita Wurst

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Conchita Wurst of Austria performs the Eurovision-winning song "Rise Like a Phoenix."

Photo by Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images

If the download charts are any indication, it seems that the Russian people have largely missed the official memo on Conchita Wurst, the drag performer who just won this year’s Eurovision competition—likely because they were listening to her music instead.

As Gay Star News reports, Wurst’s prize-winning performance of the song “Rise Like a Phoenix” is currently topping the iTunes chart in Russia, ahead of that country’s own Eurovision entry and despite a number of less tuneful responses from state leaders.

Some Russian lawmakers had previously called for Wurst’s removal from the competition, and they were only further enraged when she responded to a question about Vladimir Putin by saying, “I don't know if he is watching this now, but if so, I'll say it: ‘We're unstoppable.’ ”

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Agence France-Presse rounded up some of the bigger resultant temper tantrums:

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin wrote on Twitter that the Eurovision result "showed supporters of European integration their European future: a bearded girl."
"There's no limit to our outrage. It's the end of Europe. It has turned wild. They don't have men and women any more. They have 'it,'" nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky told Rossiya-1 state television.
"Fifty years ago the Soviet army occupied Austria. We made a mistake in freeing Austria. We should have stayed," added the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, known for his outrageous statements.

And to think, all that—the “end of Europe” and the occupation of Austria—because of a drag queen with a beard. Not a traditional way of showing appreciation for the drag arts, to be sure, but certainly a sign of a well-executed act. 

J. Bryan Lowder is a Slate assistant editor. He writes and edits for Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section, and for the culture section.