A glamorous Jewish man-turned-woman made Eurovision history in 1998 when she won the competition for Israel, attired in a sparkling dress approaching a mermaid crossed with a cockatoo.
Dana International clinched the No. 1 spot for her classic techno-pop anthem “Diva,” despite triggering orthodox Jewish outrage back in Jerusalem, where many objected to having a transsexual represent their nation.
It’s worth adding that her detractors got their own back a year later, when Dana International came on to present 1999′s winner with the coveted trophy and managed to fall on the stage like a tumbling sack of avocados when one of the Swedish song-writers of the winning song stepped on her dress.
Humiliated in front of around a billion television viewers around the world, Dana ran offstage and did not reappear during the show. Luckily for her fans, the Israeli pop star returned to the competition in 2010 with “Ding Dong,” though failed to make it to the final.
The long-limbed Dana arguably helped make transvestites and drag-queens a mainstay of the competition, held this year in Azerbaijan, adding extra-glitter and zaniness to this yearly celebration of European music and high camp.
Following hot on her high heels, a trio of Slovenian drag queens dressed as flight attendants, entered the competition in 2002, wearing white shirts and gloves, red caps and glittery red suits. Ukrainian drag queen Verka Serduchka, dressed in an outrageous concoction resembling a silver rocket, came in second in 2007 with a song called “Dancing Lasha Tumbai.” The entry was not without controversy, with the Ukrainian government claiming the act was “grotesque and vulgar,” while Russia claimed the chorus carried a deliberate political message, sounding like “Russia Goodbye.”
This year’s Eurovision Song Contest takes place in Baku, Azerbaijan. The contest has made stars of artists such as Abba and Speakeasy is delving into the archives to bring you the good, the bad and the downright controversial from previous contests.