By Radio.com Staff
Eurovision gave the world something different than the usual reality singing spectacle when Austrian drag act Conchita Wurst was named this year.
The singer, whose controversial act became endearingly known as “the bearded lady,” was a crowd favorite in this years competition near the end and edged out former favorite competitors from Sweden and Armenia.
Wurst won with the song “Rise Like a Phoenix,” which debuted on the Austrian TV show Dancing Stars back in March. Wurst, whose given name is Tom Neuwirth, created the Conchita Wurst character in 2011 and has endorsed a message of tolerance and acceptance since then.
The Independent reports that Wurst, despite her victory, has experienced some serious backlash from Eastern European conservatives for her act. Her detractors have called her a “pervert” whose participation in Eurovision would “insult millions of Russians.”
“I felt like tonight Europe showed that we are a community of respect and tolerance,” Wurst said at a winners press conference after the event.
Meanwhile, the BBC reports that Russia’s contestants were the subject of the crowd’s boos at the Saturday night finals for Eurovision. They managed to score enough points to land them in seventh place, but reports say that the crowd in Denmark, where the competition was held this year, booed to show their dislike for Russia’s sweeping anti-gay laws and recent military action in the Ukraine. It was noted that the Ukraine judge only awarded the Russian contestants 4 points, compared with the 10 points they were awarded in 2013.