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What Conchita's Eurovision win says about the future of drag

2014 – Year of the Drag Queen...


“This night is dedicated to everyone who believes in the future of peace and freedom,” gushes freshly elected Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst breathlessly on Saturday night, “we are unity…and we are UNSTOPPABLE!”

She thrusts the hallowed trophy from her sequined bosom high into the air, tossing her hair and pouting to explosions of confetti and thunderous applause.

Much of the press has dubbed Conchita affectionately but, unfortunately wrongly as “The Bearded Lady.” She is not a bearded lady. She is a gay man in drag. Conchita Wurst is not a real person, but a fictional (and FABULOUS) persona invented by a nice Austrian boy called Tom Neuwirth.

No doubt lots of awful beer-fuelled debates took place on cheap sofas last night, as to Conchita’s biological status; “Nah, nah, nah it’s a man look! Look at them arms! That’s a man that is.” “Yeah but the Sun said ‘Bearded Lady.’ Y’know like they used to have at the circus. No I think she’s a lady Kev. Awfully brave in’t she. Bless ‘er, havin’ all that beard and still goin’ out there and singin.’”

Drag queens are truly taking over the world. Out of their accustomed low-lit lairs of debauchery from Soho to Saigon, they’ve stalked snarlingly into the mainstream, demanding attention, emanating unignorable gravitas, and dragging us (pun intended) kicking and screaming into the twenty-second century. Whether they’re hurling eyelash curlers at each other on reality shows, storming down the Marco Marco runway at fashion week or…WINNING EUROVISION.

It is absolutely relentless. In fact, this article is currently being written in the makeup spattered abode of a drag queen. There’s a drag queen performing downstairs, and there’s one at the other side of the room AS WE SPEAK, tenderly and languorously brushing her wig. Which is slightly unsettling to watch actually; it’s brown and resembles and small, very ill dog. We wanted her to give a quote, but she’s far too busy, apparently.

I’m fruitlessly resisting filling this piece with Drag Race quotes but it’s bound to happen so get into it, HUNTY. In fact this Dragopolis (yes, we’re calling it that) that has taken over 2014 is probably largely down to RuPaul’s Drag Race. I can honestly say I don’t know anyone who doesn’t, hasn’t or isn’t watching it. Including my dad. At my behest he’s just started season 4 on Netflix. His favourite is Jiggly Caliente, and I respect that choice.

Drag Race is glorious, technicolour, brain-numbing entertainment. Perfect for a hungover Sunday. . (But maybe not so perfect for a comedown actually. Not that any of us know what a comedown is, of course).

The outfits, the fights, the crap editing…it’s all bizarrely addictive and incomparable to anything else. And no, it’s not just us gays that succumb to its tawdry beauty. Last week I got chatting to some almost insultingly straight city boys outside a pub in Liverpool Street, who watched it “because our girlfriends do.”

Right. Sure. But they did concede that the contestants were extraordinarily talented, and it was like nothing they’d ever seen in their lives. Well when your usual television consists of watching someone kick an inflated bit of rubber around a field for three hours I expect anything seems interesting.

And let’s not forget our talent closer to home. The UK, and particularly London, has a thriving, or at least writhing drag community all its own. There’s even a TV show about them on local channel London Live called, not very imaginatively, Drag Queens of London.

Surreally, the marketing campaign has been unprecedentedly huge. I’ll stumble out of one of scenester Lady Lloyd’s club nights at six in the morning, only to see her face staring out of a full page ad in the Evening Standard, being sat on by commuters on the tube. She’s used to that though.

So, we don’t know how and we don’t know why, but drag queens have become ingrained in our society. Like shimmering mastheads, titillating stalwarts. Anne Widdecombe must be fuming. And that’s exactly why things like Conchita Wurst’s Eurovision win, and the success of Drag Race, and Marco Marco’s inclusion of drag queens in their shows, are important… just to make all those grey, unimaginative, uninspired people out there, shift their fat arses around a little bit on their cheap sofas, and think “maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’s not weird and unnatural and creepy. Maybe it’s all BLOODY FABULOUS.”



Words Dylan B Jones, @dylanbjones

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