Viva la Diva: A Tribute to the “Israeli Cher”

Definition of "Diva"
Definition of “Diva”

“Diva” – Dana International

She is all
you’ll ever dream to find
On her stage
she sings her story

Definition of "Diva"
Definition of “Diva”
A Diva is a princess, a queen, a goddess - she can be whatever she wants.
A Diva is a princess, a queen, a goddess – she can be whatever she wants.
Definition of "Diva"
Definition of “Diva”
Queen Victoria
Queen Victoria

Pain and hurt
will steal her heart alight
Like a queen
in all her glory

And when she cries
Diva is an angel
When she laughs
she’s a devil
She is all beauty and love

Viva Maria
Viva Victoria
Viva la Diva
Viva Victoria

Silent tears
drop from these eyes tonight
Tears of prayer
for all those aching hearts

And when she cries
Diva is an angel
When she laughs
she’s a devil
She is all beauty and love

Viva Maria
Viva Victoria
Viva la Diva
Viva Victoria


Published by
Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC




noun: diva; plural noun: divas

  1. A celebrated female opera singer.
    • A famous female singer of popular music.

“A pop diva”

  • a woman regarded as temperamental or haughty.

“She is much more the dedicated maverick than the petulant, minxy diva”


The enigmatic Cleopatra
The enigmatic Cleopatra
The Eurovision Song Contest Poster.
The Eurovision Song Contest Poster.

Late 19th century: via Italian from Latin, literally

The Eurovision Song Contest Poster.
The Eurovision Song Contest Poster.
The breathtaking The Eurovision Song Contest.
The breathtaking The Eurovision Song Contest.
The stunning and awe-inspiring Eurovision Song Contest.
The stunning and awe-inspiring Eurovision Song Contest.
Cher - The world-renowned American 'Singing Sensation', actress and entertainer.
Cher – The world-renowned American ‘Singing Sensation’, actress and entertainer.
A stunning pic of Cher - dressed as Cleopatra.
A stunning pic of Cher – dressed as Cleopatra.
Dana International's flamboyant performance at the Eurovision Song Contest.
Dana International’s flamboyant performance at the Eurovision Song Contest.
Dana International's flamboyant performance at the Eurovision Song Contest.
Dana International’s flamboyant performance at the Eurovision Song Contest.
Dana International - The Uncontested Diva!
Dana International – The Uncontested Diva!
Israel's transsexual Dana International celebrates winning the Eurovision Song contest at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham May 9. Dana International won with the song "Diva" ahead of artists from 23 European countries.
Israel’s transsexual Dana International celebrates winning the Eurovision Song contest at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham May 9. Dana International won with the song “Diva” ahead of artists from 23 European countries.



“Diva” is undoubtedly one of the best and most well-known songs that have been sung by Dana International, a world-renowned Israeli pop singer. The song tells the undying story of a famous female pop music singer – this is the story of one who is both a star and a celebrity; one who forever walks in the limelight of fame or notoriety. This singer is surrounded by millions of ‘fans’ – fans whose hearts “ache” to get nearer and closer to their one true love. The diva is never alone but she is – for all intents and purposes – an extremely lonely woman. If she were to look in the mirror, she would see only the reflection of a stranger. Beneath her painted and made-up face lies a very vulnerable human being, capable of both laughter and tears – she longs to be loved truly and for her own sake. The diva can be whatever she wants – an angel or a devil, depending on her moods. She is a  queen; a goddess – the ultimate embodiment of beauty and love.


Queen Victoria

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. From 1 May 1876, she used the additional title of Empress of India.

Victoria was the daughter of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, the fourth son of King George III. Both the Duke of Kent and King George III died in 1820, and Victoria was raised under close supervision by her German-born mother Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. She inherited the throne at the age of 18, after her father’s three elder brothers had all died, leaving no legitimate, surviving children. The United Kingdom was already an established constitutional monarchy, in which the sovereign held relatively little direct political power. Privately, Victoria attempted to influence government policy and ministerial appointments. Publicly, she became a national icon, and was identified with strict standards of personal morality.

Victoria married her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, in 1840. Their nine children married into royal and noble families across the continent, tying them together and earning her the nickname “the grandmother of Europe”. After Albert’s death in 1861, Victoria plunged into deep mourning and avoided public appearances. As a result of her seclusion, republicanism temporarily gained strength, but in the latter half of her reign, her popularity recovered. Her Golden and Diamond Jubilees were times of public celebration.

Her reign of 63 years and seven months, which is longer than that of any other British monarch and the longest of any female monarch in history, is known as the Victorian era. It was a period of industrial, cultural, political, scientific, and military change within the United Kingdom, and was marked by a great expansion of the British Empire. She was the last British monarch of the House of Hanover. Her son and successor, Edward VII, belonged to the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the line of his father.



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Aphrodite (i/æfrəˈdti/ af-rə-dy-teeGreek: Ἀφροδίτη) is the Greekgoddess of lovebeauty, pleasure, and procreation. Her Roman equivalent is the goddess Venus.[4] She is identified with the planet Venus.

As with many ancient Greek deities, there is more than one story about her origins. According to Hesiod‘s Theogony, she was born when Cronus cut offUranus‘s genitals and threw them into the sea, and she arose from the sea foam (aphros). According to Homer‘s Iliad, she is the daughter of Zeus and Dione. According to Plato (Symposium, 180e), these two origins were of entirely separate entities: Aphrodite Ourania and Aphrodite Pandemos.

Because of her beauty, other gods feared that their rivalry over her would interrupt the peace among them and lead to war, so Zeus married her toHephaestus, who, because of his ugliness and deformity, was not seen as a threat. Aphrodite had many lovers—both gods, such as Ares, and men, such asAnchises. She played a role in the Eros and Psyche legend, and later was bothAdonis‘s lover and his surrogate mother. Many lesser beings were said to be children of Aphrodite.

Aphrodite is also known as Cytherea (Lady of Cythera) and Cypris (Lady of Cyprus) after the two cult sites, Cythera and Cyprus, which claimed to be her place of birth. Myrtledovessparrowshorses, and swans were said to be sacred to her. The ancient Greeks identified her with the Ancient Egyptian goddessHathor.[5]

Aphrodite had many other names, such as Acidalia, Cytherea, and Cerigo, each used by a different local cult of the goddess in Greece. The Greeks recognized all of these names as referring to the single goddess Aphrodite, despite the slight differences in what these local cults believed the goddess demanded of them. The Attic philosophers of the 4th century, however, drew a distinction between a celestial Aphrodite (Aprodite Urania) of transcendent principles, and a separate, “common” Aphrodite who was the goddess of the people (Aphrodite Pandemos).



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Cleopatra VII Philopator (Greek: Κλεοπάτρα Φιλοπάτωρ; 69[1] – August 12, 30 BC), known to history simply as Cleopatra, was the last active pharaoh ofAncient Egypt, only shortly survived by her son, Caesarion as pharaoh.

Cleopatra was a member of the Ptolemaic dynasty, a family of Macedonian Greek[ origin that ruled Egypt after Alexander the Great‘s death during the Hellenistic period. The Ptolemies, throughout their dynasty, spoke Greek and refused to speak Egyptian, which is the reason that Greek as well as Egyptian languages were used on official court documents such as the Rosetta Stone. By contrast, Cleopatra did learn to speak Egyptian and represented herself as the reincarnation of an Egyptian goddess, Isis.

Cleopatra originally ruled jointly with her father, Ptolemy XII Auletes, and later with her brothers, Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV, whom she married as per Egyptian custom, but eventually she became sole ruler. As pharaoh, she consummated a liaison with Julius Caesar that solidified her grip on the throne. She later elevated her son with Caesar, Caesarion, to co-ruler in name.

After Caesar’s assassination in 44 BC, she aligned with Mark Antony in opposition to Caesar’s legal heir, Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus (later known as Augustus). With Antony, she bore the twins Cleopatra Selene II and Alexander Helios, and another son, Ptolemy Philadelphus (her unions with her brothers had produced no children). After losing the Battle of Actium to Octavian’s forces, Antony committed suicide. Cleopatra followed suit, according to tradition killing herself by means of an asp bite on August 12, 30 BC.[6] She was briefly outlived by Caesarion, who was declared pharaoh by his supporters but soon killed on Octavian’s orders. Egypt became the Roman province of Aegyptus.

To this day, Cleopatra remains a popular figure in Western culture. Her legacy survives in numerous works of art and the many dramatizations of her story in literature and other media, including William Shakespeare‘s tragedy Antony and CleopatraGeorge Bernard Shaw‘s play Caesar and CleopatraJules Massenet‘s opera Cléopâtre and the 1963 film Cleopatra.




“Diva” (Dana International song)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

“Diva” (Hebrew scriptדיווה) was the winning song of the Eurovision Song Contest 1998 performed in Hebrew by Dana International representing Israel. The music was composed by Svika Pick, and the lyrics by Yoav Ginai. It totalled 172 points in the polling.

The song became the last entry entirely in a language other than English to win the Contest until 2007. The interval act and Dana’s reprise was the last time live music from an orchestra was used in the Contest, as the 1999 Contest lacked the necessary budget and was held in a venue not large enough to hold one. Dana is also currently the only transgender singer to have won the Contest.

The selection of Dana International’s song caused such controversy amongst conservative groups in Israel that upon her arrival in Britain, police escorts and security were required continuously. The performance consisted of Dana International, wearing a silver dress, being backed by four other female singers wearing black, and involved no dancing.

The song was performed eighth on the night, following Poland‘s Sixteen with “To takie proste” and preceding Germany‘s Guildo Horn with “Guildo hat euch lieb!“. At the close of voting, it had received 172 points, placing 1st in a field of 25. This was Israel’s third Contest victory and, as they had not entered the previous year’s Contest, they achieved the unusual distinction of having won a Contest the year after not competing.

After winning the contest, Dana International caused a stir by arriving to the presentation late after a long delay in changing into an extravagant costume designed by Jean-Paul Gaultier adorned with bird feathers before performing the reprise.

The song was chosen in an internet poll conducted by the European Broadcasting Union in 2005 as one of the 14 most popular songs in the history of the Eurovision, and was one of the entrants in the Congratulations 50th anniversary concert inCopenhagenDenmark, held in October 2005. It was re-enacted by Dana International along with six dancers equipped with giant feathered fans and a live orchestra as the original footage was shown in the background. Diva came 13th in the final voting.

The song was succeeded in 1999 as Contest winner by Charlotte Nilsson, performing “Take Me to Your Heaven” for Sweden. It was succeeded as Israeli representative at the 1999 Contest by Eden with “Yom Huledet (Happy Birthday)“.


The song is an ode to the powerful women of history — with Cleopatra in fact being the only real figure named. Victoria, the Roman goddess of victory and Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of beauty are also named.


Dana International

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sharon Cohen (Hebrew: שרון כהן‎), professionally known as Dana International(דנה אינטרנשיונל), born Yaron Cohen ירון כהן) is an Israeli pop singer of Yemenite Jewish ancestry. She has released eight albums and three additional compilation albums, positioning herself as one of Israel’s most successful musical acts ever. She is best known as the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest 1998 in Birmingham with the song “Diva“.

Assigned male at birth, Sharon discovered that she was transgender at an early age, and came out as a trans woman when she was 13. She underwent sex reassignment surgery in 1993 and in that year released her first album, Danna International, upon which she based her stage name. After consolidating her initial commercial success with the albums Umpatampa (1994) and Maganuna (1996), she was selected in 1998 to represent Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest with her song “Diva”; after winning the international competition, she came to public attention throughout Europe.

Following this up with the albums Free (1999), Yoter VeYoter (2001), HaHalom HaEfshari (2002) and Hakol Ze Letova (2008), she represented Israel in Eurovision a second time in 2011, this time with the song “Ding Dong“, which failed to make it into the final. The same year, she became a judge on the Israeli television music talent contest Kokhav Nolad.

Dana International has been credited with being one of the world’s best known trans women.

Early life

Sharon Cohen was born in Tel Aviv to a Jewish family of Yemenite and Romanian descent. In an interview, she said her grandfather originated from Transylvania (Romania).[3] Her paternal grandparents lived in Petah Tikva. She was the youngest of three children, and was named after an uncle who had been killed during a terrorist attack.

Though assigned male at birth, she identified as female from a very young age. She wanted to become a singer since the age of eight, when she watched Israeli singer Ofra Haza perform her song “Chai” in the 1983 Eurovision Song Contest. Although the family was quite poor, her mother worked to pay for her music lessons, and she stated that her childhood was happy. She came out as transgender at the age of 13.

Dana International took her stage name from a feminized version of a childhood friend Daniel, who died in a car accident.



1990–93: Dana International

At 18 years of age, Cohen (still legally male) earned a living as Israel’s first drag queen parodying many famous female singers. During one of her performances, she was discovered by Offer Nissim, a well-known Israeli DJ, who produced her debut single “Saida Sultana” (“My Name is Not Saida”), a satirical version of Whitney Houston‘s song “My Name Is Not Susan“. The song received considerable exposure and helped launch her career as a professional singer.

In 1993, Dana International flew to London for male-to-female sex reassignment surgery and legally changed her name to Sharon Cohen.[5] Returning home with her new name, that same year Cohen released her first album, titled Danna International, in Israel. Soon after, the album was also released in several other countries including Greece, Jordan, and Egypt (In Jordan and Egypt the album sold illegally). Sharon’s stage name Dana International comes from the title track of the album, and was originally spelled with two “n:s”. Danna International soon became a gold record in Israel.

1994: Umpatampa and Best Female Artist

In 1994, Dana released her second, Trance-influenced album Umpatampa, which built on the success of her debut and provided further hit singles. The album went platinum in Israel and has sold more than 50,000 copies to date. Because of her popularity and the success of this album, she won the award for Best Female Artist of the Year in Israel.

1995: Eurovision Song Contest

In 1995, Dana attempted to fulfill her childhood dream of performing in the Eurovision Song Contest. She entered the Eurovision qualifying contest in Israel with a song entitled “Layla Tov, Eropa” (“Good Night Europe”) which finished second in the pre-selections, but became another hit single.

In late 1995, Dana released an E.P. called E.P. Tampa with three new songs and four remixes and special versions of her earlier songs.

1996–97: Consolidating popularity

In 1996, Dana released her third album, Maganuna. Although this album was less successful than her previous efforts, it still reached gold record sales in Israel and included the hits “Don Quixote,” “Waving,” and the club favorite “Cinque Milla.” In 1997, Dana collaborated with the Israeli artist Eran Zur on his album Ata Havera Sheli, and together they sang the duet “Shir Kdam-Shnati (Sex Acher)” (“Pre-Bed Song (A Different Kind of Sex)”) which became a huge hit.

1998: Diva and mainstream spotlight

Dana was chosen to represent Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest 1998 in Birmingham with the song “Diva“. Orthodox Jews and others with conservative views were opposed to her appointment and attempted to void her participation in the contest. However, in May 1998, Dana performed “Diva” at the Eurovision final and won the contest with 172 points. She became known internationally, and was interviewed by CNNBBCSky News, and MTV among others mostly focusing on her life as a transsexual person before winning the contest. Dana’s own words “the message of reconciliation” were; “My victory proves God is on my side. I want to send my critics a message of forgiveness and say to them: try to accept me and the kind of life I lead. I am what I am and this does not mean I don’t believe in God, and I am part of the Jewish Nation.”

Dana released “Diva” as a single in Europe and it became a hit, reaching number 11 in the UK charts and the top ten in Sweden, Belgium, Finland, Ireland, and the Netherlands.

1999–2001: Stage falling, Streisand cover and new albums

In 1999, Dana released “Woman in Love”, a Barbra Streisand cover, but it was not the hit that “Diva” had been. In May 1999, Dana again participated in the Eurovision Song Contest held in Jerusalem. Dana was a part of the interval act and sang the Stevie Wonder song “Free”. She also presented the award to the winners of the contest but accidentally managed to steal their thunder. Whilst she was carrying the heavy trophy, one of the composers of the winning Swedish entry by mistake stepped on the long trail of her dress and she fell over on stage – in front of a television audience estimated be to one billion or more, making it one of the most memorable moments in the 50-year-long history of the contest.

She released her next album Free in Europe in 1999, which enjoyed moderate success. A few months later Dana moved back to Israel and started to work on different projects. Israeli and Japanese editions of Free were released in 2000. That same year, an Israeli documentary film was made about Dana called Lady D.

In 2001, after a break, Dana released her seventh album Yoter Ve Yoter (More and More). The album put her career in Israel back on track and provided two hits called “I Won” and “After All”, which eventually both went GOLD.

2002–06: Fading from the scene and Sony BMG incident

Dana was about to sign with a major label, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, for an international recording contract but something went wrong during negotiations. These were disagreements that led to Sony Music canceling the deal before it was completed. In 2002, she released another album, HaHalom HaEfshari (The Possible Dream), which was a minor chart success. In 2003, she released an exclusive 8-CD box set, containing all singles from The Possible Dream and a new house version of the hit single “Cinque Milla”, titled A few years later, in 2005, Dana participated in the 50th anniversary of the Eurovision Song Contest, held in Copenhagen, after “Diva” was selected as one of fourteen songs considered to be the best Eurovision songs. The song did not make it into the final top five but, Dana got the chance to perform both “Diva” and an old Eurovision favourite of hers; Baccara‘s 1978 entry “Parlez-Vous Francais?“. She also recorded the song “Lola” (sung in French), to which she released a video. This video can be found on the CD Hakol Ze Letova, released in 2007 as a bonus CD-rom video.

2007–11: Return to music and Eurovision comeback

After a few years away from show business, together with the relaunch of her official website, a first single of the upcoming album was released in March 2007: “Hakol Ze Letova” (“It’s All For the Best”). The second single to be released from the album, “Love Boy”, became the most played song on Israeli radio in a decade. It also gained a respectable place on the airplay of the Greek radio station FLY FM 89,7. The following album, also titled Hakol Ze Letova, was released on August 15, 2007. “At Muhana” was the third single and “Seret Hodi” (feat. Idan Yaniv)[14] the fourth to be released from the album, which became a bestseller in many ONLINE STORES. The next single released from the album was “Yom Huledet”.

On February 26, 2008, Dana gained an additional achievement when the song “Ke’ilu Kan” written and composed by her and performed by Boaz Mauda, was chosen on Kdam Eurovision to represent Israel at Eurovision Song Contest 2008 in BelgradeSerbia. It came 5th in the semi-final and gained 9th place in the final rank.

Dana also recorded the song “Mifrats Ha Ahava” (“The Love Bay”) for an Israeli version of the TV-show “ParadiseHOTEL“. She also collaborated with the Ukrainian duo NeAngely (Not Angels), recording “I Need Your Love” and releasing a video. In 2009, Dana starred in a mock reality show called Dana Kama/Nama for cellphone provider Cellcom[15]

Dana campaigned for Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni shortly before 2009 legislative elections in Israel. At a women’s political rally in Jerusalem Dana performed a disco song alongside Livni onstage, announcing “I now formally invite you to the diva sisterhood.”[16]

In April 2009, Dana performed in the opening concert of Tel Aviv-Yafo Centennial Year. She performed a cover version ofDanny Robas‘ song “Lo nirdemet Tel Aviv” (Tel Aviv Doesn’t Fall Asleep) in front of 250,000 people.

Also in 2009, Dana International joined the 7th season of “Kokhav Nolad” (the Israeli version of Pop Idol) as a judge, also joining the 8th one in 2010.[17]

Dana made a guest appearance, as herself, in an episode of the second series of UK sitcom Beautiful People, which was set around her Eurovision appearance.

On March 8, 2011, Dana International won the Israeli National Final for Eurovision with the song “Ding Dong“, and represented Israel at Eurovision for a second time. However, she did not make it into the final; she was the first Eurovision winner not to do so.

2013–present: new singles, TV show and album

In April 2013, after a two-year break, Dana released a new single, “Ma La’asot”. It was released digitally worldwide on April 24, 2013. On May 29, Dana released a video clip for the song Loca, to promote the Gay Pride Tel Aviv 2013. Dana will perform on the main event for the Gay Pride on June 7. Her third single for that year, “Ir Shlema”, was released in July. Late in January 2014, Dana’s new music reality show “Yeshnan Banot” premiered. Dana is the main judge on the show, attempting to find Israel’s next girl group.

Also in 2014, Dana was the main attraction aboard the first Jewish boat to participate in the Amsterdam Pride Canal Parade. Dana stated, “I don’t believe in any religion, so I’m here as an Israeli, not as a Jew. But it’s time to end the persecution over religion or national reasons. Just cut out all that shit. That’s my message.” Previously, after she won the Eurovision song competition, a serious religious debate had been held as to whether, and how, Dana should pray in a synagogue, with one rabbinical authority concluding that Dana should be counted in a minyan as a man, but could not sing in front of the community since she was also a woman, according to the rabbi, and that would violate the Orthodox rule of kol isha.

Dana’s Eurovision Records

Year Artist Language Title Writers Final Points Semi Points Kdam
1995 Dana International Hebrew “Layla Tov, Eropa” Dana International Failed to qualify for Eurovision No Semi-Finals 2
1998 Dana International Hebrew Diva Yoav Ginai 1 172 1
2008 Bo’az Ma’uda Hebrew,English The Fire in Your Eyes Dana International, Shay Kerem 9 124 5 104 1
2011 Dana International Hebrew,English Ding Dong Dana International Failed to qualify 15 38 1


Dana International to sing in BBC special

By Raz Shechnik


Sixteen years after winning Eurovision, Israeli diva invited to take part in special program in honor of European song contest’s 60th anniversary.

Sixteen years after winning the Eurovision with her song “Diva,”  Dana International has been invited to take part in a special program produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) ahead of the annual European song contest’s 60th anniversary.

The Israeli diva will appear in the special show alongside some of the competition’s big winners over the years, which the network has yet to reveal.

The program is expected to be watched by more than 100 million people across Europe. In Israel, it will be broadcast on Channel 1.

Dana received the BBC invitation several days ago. She was asked to attend rehearsal on March 31, 2015.

The program, which will air shortly afterwards, will include performances of the Eurovision’s winning songs, as well as a special clip for each participant.

In 2005, Dana took part in “Congratulations,” the Eurovision’s 50th anniversary special, where “Diva” was chosen as one of the greatest songs in this history of the competition.


Dana International, pop diva: ‘I am the Israeli Cher’

‘It’s being on crutches, blind, lame, with your hands cut off and bald – and still alive.’

By Shany Littman | Jan. 21, 2014 | 12:50 AM |


Interviewing Dana International is like walking barefoot on a floor littered with shards of broken glass. It probably feels that way because her branding as a diva was very successful, and because her poker face and the distance expressed by her body language when she walks into the apartment of her manager, Shay Kerem, convey that she does not open up easily and would rather be elsewhere.

At 45, Dana has reached a dangerous age for divas, but it is also an age that offers new potential. She’s been in the spotlight ever since winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1998, prompting headlines worldwide for her childhood as a boy (she underwent sex reassignment surgery in 1993).

Deeper into the interview she reveals that she avoids smiling unnecessarily because it causes wrinkles. I get that she is actually a sweet woman, honest and very funny but cautious. She is probably also a bit concerned over the question of how she will maintain her status in the ever-changing world of pop music.

The changing new reality brought her to the realization that it was time to step off the fast track and devote her attention to her new reality show, “Yeshnan Banot” (“There Are Girls”) named after her rendition of a popular Israeli song. As the show’s super-mentor, she selects four women who will end up in a pop band she will be representing. The program, produced by Endemol Israel, will be shown three times a week on Channel 24 starting this week. Leon Rosenberg and male model Michael Lewis of torn underwear fame will host the show together with Dana. The judges will include legendary singer Yardena Arazi, director Tzedi Tzarfati, and Kerem, Dana’s manager. One of the show’s goals, according to Dana, is to help the genre of Israeli pop regain the respect it lost.

Why do you think pop music is neglected in Israel?

“For the same reason that women are neglected in Israel. Because we are in the Middle East. It is the climate, the culture, the fact that women here are not dressed nicely. We are not part of Europe. We are in a country that sanctifies sadness and mourning and bereavement to a terrible degree. Pop music was always in the background and it was very successful, but it never got its niche.”

Dana says that getting Yardena Arazi on board as a judge was a vital step. “Yardena is the queen mother of pop music,” Dana says. “Yardena and I are as different as heaven and earth. She performed during the time known as ‘the beautiful and modest Land of Israel.’ My time was a generation of breaking through the barriers. Now we have reached a generation of strong capitalism. Everybody wants to be a singer.”

Even though “Yeshnan Banot” is a reality show, Dana insists her approach to the path of success is different, and that she hopes to convey that approach to the girls as well. Her idea, she says, is that to attain fame, one has to sweat. “I think the long way is much healthier and makes you stronger. You have to put up with a lot of shit, a lot of nonsense. Everybody has to,” she says. “There is no such thing as an artist who does not have a hard time, and that’s true of even the most successful ones. I read an interview with Barbra Streisand. She hates to perform. Go figure. Take Britney Spears, for example. She has been a workhorse since the age of 12. She will never be Whitney Houston; she hardly opens her mouth in live shows, but she is Britney Spears and she conquered the world. Why? Because as she knew enough to keep her mouth shut, get on the Mickey Mouse Club and sleep only two hours a night, and she knew how to work until it blew up and she went crazy. But she did it by the book all the way.”

‘Love is wonderful — when you have time for it’

When I ask Dana what she learned from her past 20 years in her profession, she begins a heart-rending speech. “I remember how, when I was young, my mind was clean. Everything was innocent. The majority of a singer’s life is filled with anxiety. If I look at it from the sidelines, I’d say it was a miserable profession. I can go to do a show and my dog has just died and my mother is ill, and I have to look happy and waste my energy on keeping up that appearance. I have to smile all the time, sign autographs and be loving. And you have no love at home most of the time because you signed a contract with the devil, not with Cupid, that you’re building a magnificent career.”

But Dana admits that she has not given up on love. “I’m not looking for love, and I don’t miss it. I’ve had many loving relationships. To me, love is wonderful when you have the time and the emotional strength to devote to it. But life is wonderful and full even without it. I’m wild about my dogs — more than anything I’ve loved in my life, and I’ve loved quite a bit. At least half of all human beings don’t know how to raise children and aren’t cut out for it, and it’s a pity that they’re raising children.”

You don’t want children?

“I almost feel sorry for children who would have to be raised by me. I’d be in trouble if I had to get into a situation where I was tough and evil to a child. Because of how I am and what I went through at home, I’d have to have emotional braces so I could learn how to raise a child and love him the way he should be loved. But with the way I was and the way I am, it’s not worth it. I don’t have the responsibility, and I don’t think I deserve to raise children. Also, children adopt their parents’ lifestyle, and I’m too permissive.”

It’s been 15 years since Dana International won the Eurovision competition in 1998 and it seemed that she had proven to Israel and the world, for a moment at least, that we had a chance of becoming a sane, normal place. The breakthrough she accomplished for herself and for the LBGT community in Israel is beyond all question.

Do you think that artists should be more forthright about where they stand politically?

“If only they would! They have to. Saying what’s in their hearts is part of their personality. But we live in a country that doesn’t know how to respect different opinions. I understand artists who don’t want to risk their whole life’s work over a supportive sentence of whatever kind. There are several states within the State of Israel. Politics and Israelis is a scary thing. There are factors beyond music that it’s not a good idea to mess with. And sometimes I want, very badly, to say things.”

Recently, David Grossman attended the African refugees’ demonstration and spoke in their favor. Are there subjects about which you would be willing to express your opinion?

“Of course. Some things are basic: women’s rights, violence against women, and violence against children. When you are on Grossman’s level, you can say anything you want to. But if you’re asking about the refugees — I feel sorry for them. I’m sad that we, as a country, can’t take them in, whether it’s because of racism or the budget. And I hear people saying all the time that we have to deport them, and asking why they came. Humanity has not yet learned that black people are part of the human race. Like all the cultured countries, Israel imports a nation of slaves that is building our country for us.”

‘Madonna sold her soul to the devil’

Do you still feel close to club culture?

“Of course. All my life. That’s where I came from. Even when I’m 80, I’ll be listening to club music. It’s got nothing to do with age; it gives me energy. I start dancing right away.”

What about a career abroad?

“That’s much less important to me. I was miserable abroad. I was homesick, I missed Israel. It got away from me because it was so difficult. It didn’t give me joy or make me happy, and I discovered that I was content with much less. I could appear in the most magnificent hall in Berlin and come back from the show and feel depressed because in another five hours I had to get up to go to the airport and go through security. There are a thousand things you never think about when you only see the glitter.”

Are you jealous of the female pop singers who have made it big in the world?

“I decided that my career would be managed according to my temperament. Make no mistake — I work very hard. But I will never be Madonna. Madonna sold her soul to the devil. What she wanted was to be the most successful female pop singer on earth. That means that you’re working non-stop from morning till night. When Madonna produces a new show, she spends months and months on every hand motion, every stage light, every word that comes out of her mouth. I don’t have that kind of perfectionism or investment. I guess I am not as emotionally deprived”.

“If you were to tell me tomorrow that all I had to do was press a button and I would bounce around the world like Rihanna, I’d tell you: Absolutely not. The money and status are tempting, but the end result and the places where these girls get to and go crazy — there’s a reason they become alcoholics and drug addicts. You need to learn how to cope with success in just the same way that you need to learn how to deal with failure. There were days when I was ashamed to go out into the street because I was so successful. I didn’t want anyone to see me or compliment me.”

Is there any singer who is a model for you?

“In the world? Cher. It’s being on crutches, blind, lame, with your hands cut off and bald — and still alive. I see myself as the Israeli Cher.”



Finally, last but not least……this is how Dana International – the Uncontested Diva –  sees herself and the world in which she lives  –

I’m standing for a liberal Israel, an Israel which accepts the human being no matter how you are, no matter how you look like and no matter what sex or race you are”

-Dana International





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