Austrian bearded drag queen Conchita Wurst wins Eurovision

A 25-year-old drag queen beat out The Netherlands and Sweden to finish first at the annual Eurovision Song Contest in Copenhagen on Sunday.
By Kate Stanton Follow @KateStan Contact the Author   |   May 11, 2014 at 8:11 PM

COPENHAGEN, Denmark, May 11 (UPI) -- Europe's annual Eurovision Song Contest is more famous for its onstage theatrics than it is for true musicality. But a 25-year-old drag act from Austria won the hearts of European voters with a power-house performance that was both inspiring and glitzy.

According to her website, Conchita Wurst is an onstage persona created by Thomas Neuwirth, who refers to his alter-ego as "The Bearded Lady."

Wurst, an early favorite, brought down the house with her track, "Rise Like a Phoenix," blowing past the competition with 290 points.

"I felt like tonight Europe showed that we are a community of respect and tolerance," Wurst said after her win.

Wurst's participation proved controversial in Russia, which introduced laws banning "gay propaganda" last year. Some viewers called for Wurst to be cut from the broadcast.

"Let's change the world and make it a little bit better," Wurst's manager, Rene Berto, told reporters.

"Conchita always says: 'Wish for the moon and you'll reach at least the stars,' but now we just landed on the moon. Let's change our way of thinking -- Conchita is just a woman with a beard."

Here's Wurst's trophy-winning performance of "Rise Like a Phoenix":

The Netherlands came in second with a Nashville-inspired performance of "Calm After the Storm," by country duo The Common Linnets.

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