Although Eurovision is no stranger to frivolous and carnivalesque songs that explicitly play with gender roles, Conchita Wurst was exceptionally transgressive in terms of her physical appearance, musical performance, and the construction of the artistic persona. Following Butler’s and Sedgwick’s understandings of ‘performativity’, the gender of Conchita Wurst results from her artistic practice, transgresses culturally normative gender identification, is ungraspable, and hence socially subversive.
The decorum of Conchita’s seemingly feminine attributes – a gallant frock, a diva-like appearance, and a song à la Dame Shirley Bassey – is symbolically broken by the prominence of her full beard. The beard is there to remind us about the normatively understood sex of the singer and to heighten the effect of transgression that takes place. Conchita is deliberately queer.