Pomade Review: Joltin’ Joe

Alrighty guys, how are we doing? It’s the weekend, so pretty good I’d guess!

Well, first thing’s first, I’ve finally gotten around to writing a review! I’ve also decided that at the beginning of each of my reviews I’m going to include a song I’ve been digging in recent days, or that reminds me of the pomade I’m reviewing. Feel free to press play while you read the review!!! Since this is my first review, and since this is an Irish product (what else would you expect from the Dapper Irish Dyke???) we’ll be having an underrated Irish song this week!

So here we go, with a product which can be got from the lovely folks in Waldorf Barbers- a washable product called Joltin’ Joe Hair Slick. Now, full disclosure, Waldorf have stopped cuttings women’s hair because of a few bad experiences with some female customers, which I understand. While I’m not exactly ecstatic with that decision, I still really REALLY dig this product, and I’ve never actually seen it reviewed. So here I go! I’m still deciding on a format for my reviews, but for now I’m going to break it down into a couple of different sections. Let me know if you think I’ve missed anything!


Well, as you can see the tin is a standard silver screw top, holding 100ml of product. The yellow label with Joltin’ Joe diMaggio really pops out from the tin and I have to say, looks great! (Please be aware that I’ve had this a while, so the tin looks a bit bashed as it’s moved house a few times, and been on a few holidays too! The tin new looks really sharp.)

Joltin' Joe

The side of the tin has a label too- again the yellow pops, and contains the Waldorf saying: It pays to look good. Ain’t that the truth?

Joltin Joe

The product:

When you open the tin, you’re met with a creamy paste- but definitely more on the creamy side. Kind of like an “oilier” Dax Hair Shaper.

This is a well-used product of mine, as you can tell!!

This is a well-used product of mine, as you can tell!!

The next thing you’ll notice is the smell.

You guys, this stuff smells AMAZING. Kind of like peanut butter and chocolate- a bit like Reeses’ Cups, I kid you not! It’s just a gorgeous smell. And it stays in the hair. Bonus.


As the product is so creamy, applying it is really really easy. I use the product in two different ways- you can either apply to damp hair and style up like you would with a petroleum based pomade, or you can apply to dry hair (sparingly!) to just lend a bit of control to your hair without weighing it down.

The cream itself emulsifies in your hands really nicely, making it really easy to work in.

Applying to damp hair means you get a much higher hold, although it’s still a medium. It’s tougher medium though. It doesn’t really dry, at least not like a gel pomade does.

Applying to dry hair just keeps it neat and tidy, with a lot of movement of the hair still possible. Not really a product for the folks with thick hair, or major curls I’d say.


You can see the result here in these pics (this was styled in damp hair). It’s pretty easy to style with, easy to apply and easy to get a nice sharp part (so long as your cut is decent to start with!)

joltin joe

Like I said, its a very good product. It applies easily, and holds well throughout the day, staying pretty recombable. The finish is relatively natural, or matte, which is something I like every now and again.

It rinses out well with just water, but a shampoo helps get the oils out (there’s lanolin in the product).

All in all, a decent addition to the collection. You can get this stuff in the Waldorf Barber shop in Dublin. Well worth checking out if you’re in the city!

See you next time, probably with another review. I’ve got a good few products to review (yeah, just one or two…)

Til then, stay dapper, peeps!

Getting pomade out of your hair.

Alrighty ladies and gents and everyone who doesn’t feel the need to decide- it’s back to hair we go!

So, some of you will have seen my previous posts on hair (like this one, and this one). Some of you have left messages, messaged me on Twitter and Facebook, and even by email. Thank you all so much! I think those two previous posts covered the basics of using pomade to style traditional mens styles (like contours and pompadours), but something I haven’t really covered is how to get pomade OUT of your hair!

As you’ll remember, oil and petroleum based pomades like Dax aren’t actually meant to come out of your hair at the end of each day. That means that they don’t come out using regular hair washing methods. This is, of course, a bit of a change to your mindset when you start using it! There are a few things to understand when you’re using these kinds of products. I’m going to attempt to cover these in this post.

1) “Build Up”

They key thing to remember when you’re using a petroleum based pomade is that it takes more than standard shampoo to remove it from your hair. However, some will come out on your pillow overnight. This means that you will need to put a little more in to get the same hold each day. This is what is known as “build up”. The advantage of this is that you use less product as your pomade is building from the previous day rather than starting fresh every day. Many people (myself included) find that the ease of styling also increases as time goes along with build-up. But it does take some getting used to.

2) Washing your scalp

Ok, so you might only wash out your pomade every 4-5 (or more!) days but your scalp needs care. Leaving petroleum on your scalp isn’t a great idea- your pores need to breathe. That’s why I still wash my hair with either just hot water or a light shampoo every day in the shower. This also helps with styling- I find trying to restyle “dry” hair to be really difficult with my hair type.

3) “Degreasing”

Ok, down to brass tacks. Getting the pomade out.

From Awkward Yeti

There are a few different methods people use. What I’m going to do is tell you the ways I do it. You’ll really have to do a bit of trial and error for yourself, and your own hair type. I’m pretty lucky in that my hair is fine and relatively straight- which makes it relatively easy to manage.

a) Dish soap

Most basic, and with (probably) no need to go make any purchase- using dish soap. The reason this works is because that dish soap is made to get rid of grease on plates and saucepans. That does mean it can be pretty harsh on your hair and scalp though. But it does get the job done.

The way to use dish soap to degrease your hair is to actually apply it to your hair “dry”- that is, without wetting your hair first. You will need to work it in the hair down into the scalp and let it sit as long as you can. After about 15 minutes, wet your palms and work the soap in again, and comb through with a fine comb. Rinse out with the hottest water you can stand (which will help melt the petroleum) and wash again with the dish soap. Depending on your hair, and how much build up you have in your hair, you might want to wash with a regular hair shampoo just to make sure you get it all. And I’d highly recommend using conditioner, because dish soap is hard on your hair.

b) Water-based pomades

Weirdly, water based pomades can really speed up the “degreasing” process. I have no idea why, but they do. This process can take up to 2 days to really clear all the pomade out- which appeal to some folks because you’re not “shocking” the hair or stripping it quickly. Basically, after washing your hair with shampoo and conditioner, you just apply a water based pomade (like Sauvecito or Layrite) and style as usual. After the next wash you’ll notice that your hair feels “lighter”- this is the pomade coming out. It’s a pretty simple procees but it does take a few days to get fully degreased and clean hair.

c) Specific shampoos

There are lots of shampoos that are specifically made to degrease hair and get the petroleum products out of the hair. Some of the best known ones are:

Dax shampoo

Black & White shampoo

Mr. Ducktail Shampoo

Royal Flush

However, the best shampoo I have found for getting pomade out is actually Tresemme Deep Cleanse- which is really easy to pick up in stores and it’s a really decent price.

I apply it dry and let it sit for about 10 minutes before getting into the shower- I then rinse and shampoo once more in the shower and I’ve found that gets it all.

d) Groom and Clean

You guys, this stuff is AMAZING. This is a product that has been around for years, and is billed as a cleansing greaseless hair control. It’s basically a water based pomade, but that really does a great job of breaking down pomade. It’s available widely in the US, but very hard to get your hands on in Europe. You can get it on Amazon, though, and a few other online stores. I apply before going to bed, comb it in really well, and then in the morning one shampoo gets my hair squeeky clean!

4) Styling in the mornings

If you’re building up pomade, the mornings can be… interesting. Some pomade will come out on the pillows, and I find that just brushing and adding new pomade doesn’t make it easy to style. YOu almost need to “reset” the pomade. I either rinse my hair in the shower, or I use a spray bottle filled with water to wet it. I then simply take a small amount of pomade and reapply, mostly on the back and sides. Then I just style as normal and away we go!

I know this was a long winded post, but I hope it answers some of the questions you’ve all been asking. Feel free to comment, of course, and get in touch whatever way you like.

Until next time- stay dapper, peeps!

How to make your very own bowtie!!!

Howdy howdy folks!

Ok, so I know it’s been a while (bad me!) but I started a new job (well, internship!) and that’s kinda taken up a lot of my time. But I’ve also been doing a lot of sewing- yes, sewing. My brothers wedding is in a couple of weeks, and I’m doing a lot of personalisation to the different parts of my outfit, which is a bit of a challenge, but it’s pretty cool so far. I’m on a very strict budget (since I’m working in an internship!!) so it’s a way to make cheap, low-end highstreet pieces look more put together and high end.

One of the key elements that will anchor my outfit is a bowtie. Now, like many of you who read this blog, I have a few. I prefer self-tie, simply for the coolness factor of being able to untie and leave it hanging as I party! And trust me, this wedding will be a party!

None of the ties I have were really working with my colour scheme (orange, white, navy and tweed) so time to take matters into my own hands. I’ve made a few bowties before, and I’ve worked out a decent method for sewing my own. I mentioned this on Twitter the other day (come follow me!) and after a bit of chat with a fellow butch tweeter, Searching4Self (follow them!) I figured I’d write a tutorial. This will cover making a bowtie that you tie yourself, and that’s not adjustable- it’s just a lot simpler for the first few goes.

So, the things you’ll need are:

Material- whatever you want! Go crazy or keep it classic. Your choice. You’ll need about 1/2 meter, just to be on the safe side.

A bowtie that you like a fits you (or whoever you’re making the tie for!) properly. This means having it adjusted (usually) to the right length.



Some light card or tracing paper

Needle & thread or a sewing machine. A sewing machine is quicker and neater, but you can definitely hand sew if you don’t have one or can’t quite use it yet.

An iron

A chopstick or similar

A relatively soft pencil

Spray starch (optional, but it does finish it really well)


Maybe some snacks. But nothing that will spill or drip!!!

Some background music. Might I suggest my Pride-Tastic celebration on 8Tracks? ;)

Step One- Gather your supplies! Make sure you have everything before you start- it’s just so much easier.

Photo 12-08-2014 20 24 31

Mmmm, sewing supplies!!!

Step Two: Make your template

The first bit of work we have to do is make a template. Once you do this once you can use it over and over, so while it takes a bit of time the first time, it’s worth it.

First, get some card- you can also use tracing paper/ baking paper but it is a bit delicate and likely to be ripped by pins eventually.

Take your bowtie and fold it in half like you would hanging it up. You can either pin the ‘half tie’ onto the card, or just hold it in place, and trace around it. Leave about 1cm at the “narrow” end extra- you’ll see why later.

Cut it out- this is now your pattern!

What you'll have- a template for 'half' a bowtie!

What you’ll have- a template for ‘half’ a bowtie!

Close up of the 'bow' part and the template

Close up of the ‘bow’ part and the template

Step Three: Cut out your basic pieces

Ok, so this is when you start your bowtie proper. Exciting!!!

What you want is FOUR pieces of material, cut into the shape of your template. So we need to make sure that we do this properly. Take your time at this bit- you can unpick stitches, but you can’t put material back together once you cut it!

Fold your material with the right sides together. That means the most colourful sides are facing each other, and you really only see the ‘back’ of the material. Like this.

Photo 12-08-2014 20 28 58

Right sides together!

Put your template down on top at the sides that are ‘open’, and cut a straight line (leaving a good few centimeters each side) so that you have 2 rectangles of material, facing together. Repeat, so that you now have 4. I don’t have picture of this step- sorry! You want to make sure that you have enough space on each piece of material for the template plus about 2 centimeters on all sides for what’s called “seam allowance”.

Step Four- cutting the bow pieces

Once you have your 2 sets of 2 rectangles, with right sides together, you can cut out the template shape.

Take one of the sets- still right sides together- and pin the template firmly to it, making sure to catch both pieces of material in the pins.

Photo 12-08-2014 20 30 35

The template pinned to the material

Once you have pinned the template firmly on, use your soft pencil to carefully trace around the template onto the material. You’ll be using this line as your guide for sewing, so make sure to keep it as close to the template as possible- this will be the edge of the tie.

Photo 12-08-2014 20 32 02

See the pencil outline? That’s going to be your sewing guide so be careful and precise doing this bit.

Now comes the big part- cutting the shape. The pencil line will be your guide here. You DON’T cut on this line- you cut roughly the same shape, but with the seam allowance I spoke about before. I usually give 1-2cm for seam allowance. We will be trimming this later after we sew, so it doesn’t have to be perfect.

Photo 12-08-2014 20 33 47

See the seam allowance around the template?

Take the pins out, repin the material together, and repeat with the other set of 2 pieces.

Here's your bowtie!! Only a few steps left...

Here’s your bowtie!! Only a few steps left…

Step Five: Sewing!

Ok, here’s where it all starts coming together. You excited?

Basically this step consists of you sewing on the line. If you’re using a machine, it will take about 5 minutes (if even) but if you’re hand sewing it will take a lot longer. If you’re hand sewing keep the stitches as small as possible- it’ll give a much better finish. Don’t stress about making an odd mistake. This is a handmade bowtie, if it goes a little wonky at some point, it just adds to it. It’s not going to be perfect, and that’s ok. Especially the first time!

Photo 12-08-2014 21 18 13

Use the pencil line as your sewing guide- stick as closely as possible to it. This can be a bit tricky with the speed of a machine!!

***KEY POINT!***

You see the long straight part- that’s the neck piece. The small end of it needs to be kept open. Sew from the start of the long straight line all around to the end of that. Just leave the small opening at the narrow end of the tie. Do this for both pinned pieces.

Step Six: Right sides out!

Once you have the sewing finished, we need to trim the seam allowance away. Cut as close as you can to the stitching you just did, without cutting the actual stitches. This will help the bow lie flat.

I also have no picture of this bit. Sorry!

Once you have that done, take your chopstick, and use it to push the bow part through the long neck piece. This sounds more complicated than it is. Take one corner of the bow part, put the chopstick point there, and just push. What will happen is the chopstick with the corner of the bow will come out through the gap you left when sewing. Do this for both pieces you have. Make sure and pull all the corners out as flat as you can. It can be tricky because of the rounded nature of it, so just give it a bash.

Photo 12-08-2014 21 37 22

This is what it’ll look like at the start- just trust the process!

Photo 12-08-2014 21 37 40

It’ll look weird until you straighten it out…

Photo 12-08-2014 21 40 16

Look! It looks like a bowtie!

Step Seven: Ironing

Ok, this bit is relatively easy. Just iron the two pieces as best you can, making sure that all the corners are out as far as you can get, and the curves of the bow part are out also. If you can, use some spray starch after you have the first pass of ironing done. It really helps.

Photo 12-08-2014 21 46 53

I hate ironing usually…

Photo 12-08-2014 21 55 53

Look how crisp, you guys!!!!

Step Eight: Construction

OMG you guys, we’re almost there! What you need to do next is join the two pieces. There are two ways to do this- using an invisible stitch, or just sewing it on the outside. I tried invisible stitching and frankly I’m terribly at it, and I realised that whenever you’re wearing a bowtie, the ‘join’ of the two pieces is covered by your collar! (Unless you’re wearing a wing-tip shirt, but that’s only for black tie, and really, you should just buy a black silk bowtie for your black tie!!)

So why waste time and energy trying to invisible stitch something no-ones going to see anyway? By all means, look up invisible stitching and give it a go. I just don’t see the point.

So what you want to do is just stitch the two ends together as neatly as you can. This is why you gave yourself some extra length when cutting, so you can overlap these ends and sew them. I just go back and forth with the machine a bunch of times until I’m satisfied it’ll hold.

Photo 12-08-2014 21 58 50

Still looks pretty neat if you ask me…

Photo 12-08-2014 22 06 22

TAH DAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Step Nine- Wear it!

I’ll usually give the whole tie a bit of a going over with an iron at this stage, just to finish it. But either way, voila! You have your very own, one-of-a-kind, handmade-by-your-own-hands bowtie. Wear proudly! Give it to an appreciative dapper in your life. Make more and give them out at Pride, the world is your oyster!

Photo 12-08-2014 22 12 45


So there you have it folks. How to make your own bowtie. I’ve made a load at this stage, and I LOVE them. One thing- depending on the material you choose, you MAY need to use something called interfacing. This is a type of dressmaking material that you iron on to the wrong side of the material to give it some extra stiffness. I have found, though, using regular cotton you really don’t need it- it makes the tie a bit unweildly, and the spray starch does the same job but without the difficulty tie-ing. But if you are using something delicate, you might need it. You can check out tutorials on how to use it online, if you find yourself in need.

So, if any of you decide to make your own bowties, PLEASE leave a comment here or on Twitter showing them off!!!

Photo 12-08-2014 22 13 47

You must always do this in the mirror when you finish hand tying a bowtie. It’s the law.

Stay Dapper, all!



Well all you lovely peeps, Pride season 2014 is upon us in earnest, and as tomorrow is the Dublin (which yours truly is marching in and stewarding in a rather sexy fluorescent vest) I have made a celebratory playlist on 8Tracks. Its a selection of my favourite tracks from my favourite LGBTQ artists like Melissa Etheridge, Rufus Wainright, Katastrophe and Mary Lambert…

So have a listen, and if you like, follow me on 8Tracks!

Happy Pride everyone!!!!

Cyclical style

Hello, you sexy sexy lovelies.

Sexy Wink. Oh yeah.

I have realised recently, that I might have been a bit arrogant in choosing the name of this blog, and my twitter name- “dapper” is quite a label to put on oneself, right? I mean, what does it even mean? Why would I think I can call myself “dapper”? Well, the way I look at it, it started as a bit aspirational- you know, something to aim at. “I WILL be dapper. I will. Some time…” Then I changed my hair to a more classic, clean-cut kind of look, started embracing collared shirts, clean lines, bow-ties… I feel like my style is always evolving- or at least I want it to be. But why? Why do I aspire to ‘dapperness’?

I’ve always had a fascination with menswear, and grooming. I never had room to explore it when I was a kid, except via smelling my Dads aftershave (Old Spice FTW!) or borrowing my brothers shave soap to shave my legs as a teenaged girl. (It was lime scented. DIVINE). My Dad was very particular about how we presented ourselves, and he himself was always impeccably dressed. Not necessarily in suits, since his job didn’t necessarily require him to be dressed like that, but shirts were always ironed, shoes always polished… I learned quickly that the devil was in the details. Even to this day, my Dad is a stickler to the traditions of menswear- no black tie before 6pm, never another knot other than a full windsor for his tie, always a tie bar… He knows what he’s at.

I recently was given, by my Dad, a box of old family documents and photographs. I’m a social historian by training, so this was like Christmas for me! I had a look through, and not only did I find some amazing letters from family who emigrated overseas in the 50’s from Ireland (hello to my relatives in Canada, btw!), but there were included some truly amazing photographs of my family from the early 1900’s. And you know what? They looked SHARP. I mean, seriously sharp. So I decided to show them off, and you can really see that a lot of the styles of hair and clothes that are back ‘in’ at the moment were all ‘in’ 100 years ago- and my great great grandad was rocking them with the best of them!


With family heritage like that, how could I NOT claim some dapper in my life?

Til next time, stay… well… DAPPER!

Finding a barber (again!)…

Ok, guys, after the last few posts being mostly based on slightly philosophical subjects and ending in a bit of naval gazing, it’s time to get back on track a little, and start talking about hair and style again!


(A very excited turtle, via CuteEmergency)

You may remember, from one of my first hairy posts, that I was getting my hair cut in the Waldorf Barbers, in Dublin. Unfortunately, I started getting reports that they were refusing to cut women’s hair. Now, I understand if a woman was going in, looking for a ‘trendy’, faux-hawk type style, that you’d rarely see coming from a really old-school barbershop like The Waldorf. (Side note, are we in 2005? JK, I love all you faux-hawkers!!) Or a very feminine cut, that you might get from a salon like Toni & Guy or Peter Marks. But it seemed odd to me to be actively turning away customers based not on the style they wanted (which the barbers there may not be trained in) but on their gender. It’s a real shame, because I got some of the best cuts of my LIFE there, particularly from Katherine, who is an absolute lady and a world class barber.

But even though they hadn’t asked me to leave or denied me a cut, I didn’t feel right about using a barbers that wouldn’t cut my friends hair. So the hunt was on to find a new barbers. Easy, right?

Well, yes and no. My first choice to try was Sams Barbers, who I had recommended to some folks here and on my Twitter feed as a great place to buy pomades in Dublin, although I’d never had a cut there. They are a pretty large Irish owned and run chain of barber shops across Dublin. So I went into the shop closest to me, Dame Court, where all cuts are €17. Which is nearly half the price I was paying in the Waldorf- I wondered what the quality of the cut would be like.

I didn’t actually get that far. I was refused service, being told they did not cut women’s hair, but that if I went to their flagship branch (on Ormond Quay, right by the river in Dublin), they cut women’s hair there- for €25. Even though I already had short hair, and wanted the EXACT style the guy that was getting cut there at that exact time was getting.

Needless to say, I was pissed. And I let Sams know, via Twitter. Ah, armchair warriors, unite!



Now, I thought no more of it, shook the lesbian Facebook tree, and got a recommendation to visit the Star Barbers (where I hasten to add I got an great cut, and a great chat from Mark, the owner. Definitely recommended.) and kind of wrote off Sams.

BUT! Within a few hours, I had a private message awaiting me. (I like that they didn’t just reply to the public tweet. Shows a bit of class. Always good.) They apologised so profusely, and really wanted to impress upon me that it is 100% NOT their policy in any way to refuse business from anyone, and definitely not by reason of gender, whatsoever. After messaging back and forth for a little while, I got a phonecall from the manager in Ormond Quay, again apologising, and offering me a complimentary cut, and some pomade to make up for being refused.

I gotta say, guys. I was impressed. They dealt with a situation which frankly made me feel like sh*t at the time in a very professional, fast, and magnanimous manner. And it wasn’t like I was gonna say no to a free cut and some pomade, right? Who’d do that?

So, off I toddled yesterday to Sams. Whilst I was impressed and pleased with how they treated my complaint (which I admit I felt slightly sheepish about sending after the dust settled a bit…), I was reserving a bit of my judgement to see how they cut my hair. I really needn’t have worried, at all.

Elle gave me a very, very good cut, taking note of the way it flowed over my head and has oddly started to grow in about 5 different directions since I got a bit of a bad cut in Waldorfs a couple of months ago. (Seriously, I have cowlicks where I never had them before!!) What I really enjoyed was the little details they include with a cut there, like a 2nd wash after finishing the cut to get the tiny hairs off your scalp. Small touch, but appreciated.

After I was finished, I got talking to James and Sam, and again, they couldn’t have been nicer. We got to talking about pomades, and they showed me their range, which is usually more stocked than these pics show (and apologies for the not-so-great pics, it was a really bright day and the cabinet was really reflective!)


The cabinet of wonder!!

The cabinet of wonder!!

They stock the classics that I’d always recommend (Murrays Super Light, Sweet Georgia Brown Blue and Black & White) along with a lot of WB’s like Layrite, Sauvecito, Steadfast, Uppercut… The WB’s do sell better, so they have a bigger selection of them, which I can totally understand. I did, however, get a hold of their last tin of High Life VooDoo Island, which I have in my hair at the moment!

Dat shine! (Voodoo Island in the hair...)

Dat shine! (Voodoo Island in the hair…)

I’m also stoked to hear they’re developing their own range of pomades from the ground up- I can’t WAIT to try them out.

All in all, I was very impressed with Sams. After an initial bad taste in my mouth, I now have nothing but respect for these guys, and the barbers they have working in their shops. My cut was really great, and the service is cracking, with a really good range of pomades in stock to try at any time. And I wanted to tell the women out there who are thinking of getting cut in a barbers to try Sams out. I know that this is a pretty popular look at the moment, particularly in the queer community here in Dublin, but it might be scary to just walk into a barbers and get refused- you won’t have to worry about that with Sams.

Oh, and before I go, some news. I’m going to start reviewing pomades here in the next few weeks. I know there’s tons of guys out there reviewing at the moment, and I don’t necessarily think I can do any better. But these reviews will be a bit different- I’m co-opting my girlfriend in to do reviews too. So both of us will be reviewing the same product, but for very different styles. I’ll be styling my usual contour/ mini pomp and she’ll be… doing whatever it is femmes do to make themselves look fabulous. It’s a mystery to me, folks, but I guess I’ll learn, eh? We’ll present the reviews side by side(or as ‘side-by-side’ as WordPress let’s me!) at the same time. It could get weird, but hey! I guess we’ll soon find out.

Until then, stay dapper peeps!


Gender Discombobulation: What Conchita Wurst’s victory means to me.

Ok, ok, ok. Hands up. Who here has heard of Eurovision?


If you’re European then you definitely will have. If you’re not but are on the queer blogging/ twitter-verse then you probably will too, simply because of the act that won on Saturday night. But first, an explanation.

The Eurovision is a song contest that has been going for nearly 50 years, and is watched by an annual audience of well over 100 MILLION people. It is run by the European Broadcasting Union and according to Wikipedia:

Each member country submits a song to be performed on live television and radio and then casts votes for the other countries’ songs to determine the most popular song in the competition. The contest has been broadcast every year since its inauguration in 1956 and is one of the longest-running television programmes in the world. It is also one of the most watched non-sporting events in the world, with audience figures having been quoted in recent years as anything between 100 million and 600 million internationally. Eurovision has also been broadcast outside Europe to such places as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Egypt, India, Japan, Jordan, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, Suriname, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States, Uruguay and Venezuela, although these countries do not compete.

It’s also been heartily adopted by the queers of Europe as an annual camp explosion and party of epic proportions. Seriously you guys, it’s immense. Acts in my memory include ice-skaters on a rink the size of a childs paddling pool, psychopathic looking sad clowns, a cowbell solo, multiple cake baking attempts, and more gayness than you could shake a stick at. Actually, to illustrate what I mean, I’m going to leave a video here. It’s from a YouTuber called SazzyAgain, who makes Star Trek: Voyager fan vids, usually slashing Captain Janeway and the glorious Seven of Nine together. Here, it helps you understand gay BOTH of these TV shows are.

I don’t just love Eurovision for it’s innate and unshakable queerness, either. I am Irish. And I grew up in 80’s & 90’s Ireland. Not, perhaps, the best environment for a baby gay (since homosexuality was only legalised here in 1993), but by GOD! Did we rule Eurovision. Johnny Logan. Linda Martin. More Johnny Logan, More Linda Martin. We’ve won the contest a record SEVEN times, with a classic winning streak in the mid-90’s, which incidentally also gave us Riverdance and Michael Flatly. (We’re sorry for Michael Flatly. Honest.)

So there’s the history of it. It’s a song contest. It’s like a family party where everyone does questionable karaoke and choreography after a few too many sherries. It’s camp as a row of tents. But it’s not really taken seriously by many people. Until this year, apparently, when a drag artist by the name of Conchita Wurst entered for Austria, and suddenly the world went mental. Why, I hear you cry? It’s not like there haven’t been gay people, or songs with gay undertones (and overtones!) before. A trans artist from Israel won in 1998, and went on to become one of Israels top recording artists (so Wikipedia tells me anyway). Surely drag, in this day and age, isn’t a big deal?

Well, it is if the drag queen has facial hair.

Behold! The magnificence of Conchita!

(via ibtimes.co.uk)

And my goodness, hasn’t she been causing a stir? The Russian politicians have been going MENTAL about her winning, with some of these lovely quotes coming from various sources (these quotes are taken from a article on The Journal, an Irish online news service. The full article is available here.):

 “ (Conchita winning) showed supporters of European integration their European future: a bearded girl”

-Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin

“There’s no limit to our outrage. It’s the end of Europe. It has turned wild. They don’t have men and women any more. They have ‘it’,”

- Nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky

I mean, I get Russia not liking her performance. I’m pretty sure that by showing it, the national broadcaster probably broke their own laws! But- and this is important- the Russian televote gave her THIRD PLACE. The Russian public obviously had no problem with Conchita. In fact, they quite liked her. And here’s the point- she won. She was declared the winner before the final countries had voted. She consistently got points, usually high ones. Obviously, both the public and the national juries (made up of music industry experts in each country) liked her and the song. So why are some people freaking out about it?

I think (and here comes my completely unsubstantiated, purely from my own head opinion), that people are fine with drag, for the most part. It kind of makes sense to people. It’s a man dressed as a woman, and acting like one. That’s ok. It’s weird for some people, but they can understand it. But a drag queen with a beard? Is she male? Female? Is she acting? Is this how this person looks all the time? WHY ARE THERE NO BOUNDARIES?????? People dearly love putting other people in boxes, and doing it to themselves. Hell, just by calling myself “butch” I do it. every day. We all do. We all want to understand who we are, and most people like to label ourselves. Some of us like to label ourselves so much, that we label ourselves as “unlabel-able”.

I have lost track how may times I have heard someone say “But is it a man or a woman?” “Why doesn’t he shave off the beard if he wants to be a woman?” “What do I call it?” “It‘s just a man in a dress” in the last few days. The amount of “it’s” being thrown around is astonishing. The amount of vitriol that exists for someone like this who lives or performs outside the gender binary is astounding. An awful lot of people have no real idea of the differences between transvestism, transgenderism and drag. I have had to explain it to an awful lot of people. When I mention that most transvestite men are heterosexual I just get met with blank stares and crickets chirping.

When I was watching the voting on Saturday night, I felt something flicker inside me. A little jolt of recognition. Here was a person so proud of who they were, being themselves, being who they want to be, and doing it fabulously. Here was a very visible representation of what many of us feel like on this inside. I know my life would be easier if I had no boobs, or more facial hair. People would understand that. They’d read me as male. I can’t be read as male, not when I turn around. Oh yeah, from the back, and on a passing glance I get “sir”ed quite a lot. Then I get that delightful double-take, which many readers will probably be familiar with, either directed at themselves, or perhaps someone they love. The eye-flick down, to check the boob situation. The second look to see why the face and the hair and the clothes don’t really match the boobs. (To be honest, I don’t actually WANT to be read as male. But sometimes it would be preferable to being read as “weirdo freak”)

Each time a point was given to Conchita, it felt like I was getting a point. I started cheering her on. I’m not Austrian. I don’t speak German. I’ve only been to Vienna once. But on Saturday night, watching Conchita edge closer to winning, I felt part of a new, separate country. A Nation of Queers, all banded together by willing her on. Watching her stand up and get that trophy made me feel a bit more normal. A bit more like I could fit in.

Conchita seems, on paper, to be an exercise in contradictions. A beard and lipstick. Shaving and eyeliner. A masculine woman, or a feminine man? Or how about just a person. A talented, lovely person (by all accounts she won over legions of fans at all the Eurovision events), whose words in victory were not a “F*ck You!” to her detractors, but a rousing call for equality and unity.

“This night is dedicated to anyone who believes in a future of peace and freedom. You know who you are. We are unity, and we are unstoppable.”

I really wanted to end this post with that quote, but I think it’s important to actually show you the song. It’s brilliant. The next Bond theme for sure. But listen to the lyrics- no-one’s been talking about them. To me, from start to finish, Conchita’s entry and participation in this contest has been about freedom, equality and being who you are. How can any of that be a bad thing?

Thank you, Conchita. Your win means more than you know.