A BEARDED drag queen who was initially written off as too provocative for some socially conservative countries is now a favourite to win Saturday’s Eurovision Song Contest, tinged as always with regional politics.
Since the first votes were cast in 1956, Eurovision results have been closely intertwined with politics and the 2014 competition is no exception.
Russia’s Tolmachevy Sisters were booed on Tuesday when it was announced that they had made it to the final, while experts believe Ukraine could benefit from sympathy votes.
Things didn’t get any easier for the Russian twins after Eurovision buffs claimed to find a Ukrainian subtext in one of the verses of their song Shine.
“Living on the edge, closer to the crime, cross the line a step at a time,” the lyrics say.
Although incidents suggest otherwise — last year the failure of Azerbaijan to vote for ally Russia prompted a president-ordered recount — artists still insist it’s all about the music.
“I have lots of friends, relatives in Ukraine,” said Yvonne Gruenwald, the half Ukrainian singer of German hopefuls Elaiza, in an interview with AFP.
“Of course I’m afraid of threats to Ukraine. But I think in Eurovision, people must vote with the heart, not with the head.
“This is about the best artist, regardless of nationality,” she said.
Conchita Wurst, the hirsute alter ego of Austrian performer Tom Neuwirth, will represent his homeland with the Bond theme-like ballad Rise Like a Phoenix, drawing ire from socially conservative viewers.
In Russia, Belarus and Ukraine petitioners have demanded that the 25-year-old drag artist be dropped from the competition, while the leader of Austria’s right-wing FPOe party has called the act “ridiculous”.
“I have very thick skin. It never ceases to amaze me just how much fuss is made over a little facial hair,” Wurst told AFP. – Daily Telegraph