Dana International will be Israel’s entrant at Eurovision this May in Düsseldorf, Germany, which is lovely because, hey, she’s got a nice voice, and she’s pretty, and I like the way her hair cascades across her forehead. Dana is also transgender and a second-time contestant, which means at least some fraction of the 120 million viewers around the world tune in (even you Pakistan!), they’re going to watch this MTF belt it.
Selected in an overwhelming vote on Tuesday, Dana competes May 14 for the world’s most significant entertainment event that America doesn’t care about.
Dana (born Yaron Cohen) has basked in the Eurovision spotlight before. Orthodox Jews were aghast when she first won the right to compete for Israel in 1998. Her single “Diva” conveyed hope that the transgender community could find strength through struggle: “She is all you’ll ever dream to find/ On her stage she sings her story/ Pain and hurt will set her heart alight/ Like a queen in all her glory.” European voters were moved by her performance at the Eurovision final and crowned her the winner. “My victory proves God is on my side,” she said afterward. “I want to send my critics a message of forgiveness … I am part of the Jewish nation.” “Diva” went on to sell more than 400,000 copies worldwide and made the Top 10 in five European countries.
And, like a true diva, she managed to rub a few people the wrong way at the 1998 contest. After being named the winner during the live broadcast, she arrived on stage late for her encore performance because she insisted on changing into an elaborate feathered dress designed by Jean-Paul Gaultier. Given the white swan number she wore last night, she’s hoping history will repeat itself.