Conchita Wurst Plus Eight Other Unlikely Pop Sensations Who Defied The Odds

The world watched in complete awe and appreciation as Conchita Wurst, otherwise known as the Bearded Drag Queen of Austria, took home the top prize at the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest over the weekend.

Her win not only received international media attention, as well as some snarky remarks from homophobes and other hate mongers, but it also inspired a tweet from God himself:

Miss Conchita joins a growing list of unlikely pop acts who have defied to odds and achieved widespread notoriety.

Check out these 8 other unlikely pop figures from over the years. These are people who have managed to carve a place for themselves in the popular culture, despite not fitting the traditional celebrity mold.

Mrs. Elva Miller

The pop crooner rose to fame in 1966 with her off-key renditions of then-popular songs including “Downtown,” “Moon River” and “A Lover’s Concerto.” She may be the only singer in history whose debut album was a greatest hits compilation, quite a feat for someone without a single hit to her name. Nevertheless, Mrs. Miller’s Greatest Hits sold over 250,000 copies within its first three weeks of release. She went on to record four more albums before retiring from music in 1972.

Tiny Tim

The “Tiptoe Through The Tulips” hit maker was best known for his mad left-handed ukulele skills and falsetto voice which, when paired with his scraggily hair, expansive forehead and large teeth, could be slightly terrifying. He released his debut album God Bless Tiny Tim in 1968 and went on to record nearly two dozen LPs in his lifetime. He died in 1996 after suffering a heart attack on stage, and was buried with his favorite instrument in hand. If you’re in the mood for a scare, a picture of casket-bound Tiny Tim deceased and cradling his ukelele can be seen here.


The larger-than-life drag performer got her start impersonating Elizabeth Taylor at parties. In the mid 1960s she hooked up with filmmaker John Waters, quickly becoming the rising filmmaker’s muse. The duo made several movies together, including cult classics like Pink Flamingos, Polyester and Hairspray. In addition to starring in films, Divine regularly performed in nightclubs and released four disco albums. The documentary I Am Divinewhich chronicled the trailblazer’s life, was released in 2013 to critical acclaim.

Boy George

The English singer-songwriter emerged in the 1980s as the lead singer of the band Culture Club. He became famous for his soulful voice and androgynous appearance, as well as for remaining tight-lipped about his sexual orientation. (He once famously told an interviewer he preferred “a nice cup of tea” to sex.) More than 30 years after the Culture Club released their debut album, Boy George is still making music and headlines.

Richard Simmons

The father of Sweatin’ to the Oldies/exercise guru gained notoriety in the early 1980s with The Richard Simmons Show. Since then, he’s established a prominent place in the mainstream by appearing on a number of other television shows, including Who’s Line Is It Anyway?, SNL and a reoccurring role on General Hospital. In addition to all that, he’s released several books, CDs, and exercise videos and DVDs. Oh, and let’s not forget his recent endorsement deal with Bumble Bee tuna. All while maintaing his svelte physique.


Long before becoming a popular reality TV show host and cultural icon, RuPaul was busy working as a bar performer and backup singer for other drag queens. Her first prominent role came in 1989 when she was cast in the B-52’s music video “Love Shack.” In 1993, she released her first album Supermodel of the World, and from 1996-1998, she hosted the talk/variety show The RuPaul Show on VH1. Today she is one of the most successful and highly-regarded drag performers in Hollywood.


The openly gay internet celebrity catapulted to fame in 2008 with his hit gay anthem “What What (In The Butt),” in which he crooned about the joys of anal penetration. The accompanying music video has garnered over 54 million views since it was released and propelled Samwell into online superstardom.

Chris Crocker

The world was first introduced to Chris Crocker in 2007 when he famously defended Britney Spears in his epic “Leave Britney Alone!” viral video. Since then, he has gone on to do everything from recording two electronic albums, to appearing on TV and in documentaries, to starring in hardcore bareback porn, and the 26-year-old exhibitionist doesn’t show signs of stopping any time soon.

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