IT has been well over a year since she was thrust into the international spotlight, but life is certainly not slowing down for Conchita Wurst.
The profile of one of Eurovision’s most iconic performers has continued to soar since her groundbreaking win at the 2014 contest in Copenhagen, yet she remained humble and gracious when speaking to the Star Observer ahead of her appearance at Adelaide’s Feast Festival this month.
[showads ad=MREC]“I’m just such a lucky person to begin with. I truly had the most amazing time and Eurovision was so great. I had the best time hosting the show [this year] and performing, as well,” Wurst said.
“It was good to hand over the trophy to Måns [Zelmerlöw]. He was such a worthy winner. But even after Eurovision I’m just as busy as before and it’s something that I truly appreciate because that could have been over so easily.
“People from around the world ask me to visit, including Australia and the US. So many exciting things have and are about to happen and I couldn’t be happier and more thankful.”
During this year’s Eurovision in Vienna she released her debut album and published an autobiography, and in a matter of days the album was certified platinum.
“I spent most of my career not being successful and not famous, so for me it’s still so surprising that people are appreciating my work or even just show up at an event,” Wurst said.
“It’s so humbling and I’m just so grateful to my fans. On some level it hasn’t really sunk in, even after Eurovision last year.”
LGBTI and human rights have always been at the forefront of Wurst’s mind. Recently, the singer dedicated her time advocating for Syrian refugees making their way across Europe.
“It’s very important to me,” she said.
“While some people are very supportive and help the refugees that are travelling through Austria, there are so many others that are narrow-minded and are trying to force Europe, at least in my opinion, down the wrong direction.
“When situations like this occur, I always try to be the first in line to try and change minds and hearts to show bigoted people that at the end of the day, if they were facing the same conditions and circumstances as these refugees… they would want communities around Europe to welcome, love and respect them, too.”
Wurst is heartened that her country Austria, alongside Germany, has been one of more welcoming European countries for refugees fleeing the civil war in Syria. However, she believes that responsibility should be the responsibility of every European.
“We need to show that we are in fact a union in more ways than one that believes in a better world and that we’re all just human,” Wurst said.
“When it comes to Austria, it is truly overwhelming and beautiful to see that so many people are actually helping in meaningful ways.
“For me, even if we can’t solve the bigger questions and resolve the greater issues, at least I and others can try to do what we can to help out where we can.”
Headlining this year’s Adelaide Feast Festival has given the Eurovision star the perfect excuse to return to Australia after her first trip earlier this year.
“I had such a wonderful time the first time when I went to Sydney and Melbourne,” she said.
“I was very excited and very flattered that you’ll let me back in for the second time within a year. I’m very much looking forward to it and going to Adelaide for the first time, as well.”
The Art of Drag: A Night with Conchita, the event she is taking part in at Feast, will see Wurst do more than just join local and interstate drag queens on stage.
“We’re going to try and set the world record for the most number of drag queens on stage and hopefully that will turn out well,” she said.
“I’ll be sharing my story that people seem to be interested in, which still flatters and surprises me.
“It will [also] be a really great chance to share my music and the story behind it and my life so far.”
Wurst also hopes to experience more of Australia’s drag scene.
“I am friends with Courtney Act and we had a great time in Vienna together during the time that Eurovision was on and we keep in contact,” she said.
“I’m a huge fan of Dame Edna, though I haven’t met her yet but hopefully that can change.
“I also love Trevor Ashley and all of his wonderful work, including one of the best Liza Minnelli impressions I’ve ever seen. But I’m very excited to meet more and see what happens during The Art of Drag.“
A burning question for many Australian fans is whether Wurst would be making her way back for a certain event that occurs on the first Saturday of every March in Sydney.
“I would love to be invited back for another trip next year. If it’s not next year, it will have to be the one after. I simply need to be at Mardi Gras,” she said.
“It would be absolutely lovely to go and there might be something to announce but for now, I’m just happy to be back in Adelaide in November.”
A FEAST FOR EVERYONE
Conchita Wurst is the international ambassador for this year’s Feast Festival, Adelaide’s long-running and annual LGBTI pride and cultural festival.
This year’s theme, “Come As You Are”, is about being welcome, being yourself and feeling comfortable, safe and supported through a rich and diverse community.
The festival line-up includes the Opening Night Party, Pride March, Queer Station, Picnic in the Park, Picnic After Party, a homosexual history conference, queer films, visual arts, community and youth events, and a variety of cabaret, comedy and theatre shows.
Highlight events include a one-night only appearance by Stephen Fry, who will be interviewed on stage by ABC journalist and author Annabel Crabb, as well as The Art of Drag: A Night with Conchita.
Feast takes place November 19-29. For full details, including ticket bookings, visit feast.org.au
**This article was first published in the November edition of the Star Observer, which is available to read in digital flip-book format. To obtain a physical copy, click here to find out where you can grab one in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra and select regional/coastal areas.