While Russian men have shaved their beards in protest against drag performer Conchita Wurst, others have made her Eurovision winning song a chart topper.
The bearded Wurst (25-year-old Austrian Thomas Neuwirth) won the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday in Copenhagen with her dramatic track Rise Like a Phoenix, while Russia’s entry was booed by audiences and came in seventh.
Homophobic and transphobic Russian politicians were among the first to express their outrage, declaring her win “the end of Europe.”
Now a campaign in which Russian men are shaving their beards “because a beard is no longer manly” has taken off. They’ve started posting ‘before and after’ photos on social media proving that they are now clean shaven.
At the same time, it’s been revealed that the song contest version of Wurst’s song is sitting in the number one spot on Russia’s iTunes chart, while the single version is at number six.
Austria’s bearded diva has become something of a cultural phenomenon around the world since her win, generating a host of memes.
Even Cher has chimed in, advising Wurst on Twitter to get a “Lovelier Name & Wig,” insisting that “This is NOT SHADE I Respect & Admire Your Resolve.”
She added: “Can Any1 Imagine The Tears This Boy Has SHED… Trying 2 B True 2 Himself ?The Sheer GUTS its taken 4 Him 2 Achieve His Dream..on His Terms.”
Wurst, who identifies as a gay man but prefers to be referred to as female when in drag, has said that, “The beard is a statement to say that you can achieve anything, no matter who you are or how you look.”
Meanwhile, the victorious singer was greeted by an enthusiastic crowd when she triumphantly returned home to Vienna.
Before creating his drag persona, Neuwirth made the finals of the Austrian version of The X Factor in 2007 but failed to win. And thank goodness. If he had, we may never have seen Conchita Wurst taking to the stage in all her bearded glory.
Watch Wurst’s return to Austria below.