Europe

Olivia Jones: The German drag queen who wants to be president

  • 12 February 2017
  • From the section Europe
Olivia Jones with Chancellor Merkel (C) and national football manager Joachim Low (L) Image copyright AFP
Image caption Ms Jone with Chancellor Merkel (centre) and national football manager Joachim Low (left)

A drag queen standing more than 2m (6ft5) tall and with a bright orange bouffant stood out among the otherwise soberly-attired delegates at the ceremony to choose Germany's new president in Berlin.

Olivia Jones, real name Oliver Knobel, is well known in Germany for her guided tours of Hamburg's infamous Reeperbahn red light and bar district, her numerous TV appearances and her activism in support of animal rights, AIDs patients and anti-racism.

The 47-year-old was invited to be among the 1,260 voting delegates by the Green Party, who chose Frank-Walter Steinmeier to succeed Joachim Gauck as president, a largely ceremonial role.

She arrived in a wheelchair after undergoing a leg-shortening operation to reduce the length of her legs by 6cm.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The drag queen was among 1,260 delegates casting votes
Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Ms Jones said she hoped Mr Steinmeier (right) would be an "anti-Trump" figure

Ms Jones, who stood 2m07 tall before her operation, has said she had the procedure because her long legs were giving her backache, but has also admitted she also just felt too tall.

She mingled with other high-profile Germans at the event, putting her hand round Chancellor Angela Merkel's shoulder and chatting with national football coach Joachim Low.

Ms Jones said she hoped Mr Steinmeier would be an "anti-Trump" figure and said his reputation for calmness and strategic thinking would also be useful in countering the US president, Die Welt newspaper reported.

The drag queen also has political ambitions of her own - earlier this month she told Saarbruecker Zeitung she would like to be president herself.

"The role would suit me wonderfully," she said adding that her time in office "would not be boring".

"I am a very political person. This is where I get to speak with the right people. This is where my message needs to get to. My presence and appearance alone set an example," she said.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ms Jones, seen here at the Oktoberfest beer festival in Munich, is well known for her tours of Hamburg's red light district
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The TV personality, seen here at an anti-AIDS event in 2005, also supports causes including animal rights and anti-racism

The fact that some right-wingers would not like to see her enter political life was the very reason for her to do so, she said, adding that it was important not to be intimidated by conservative or right-wing politicians.

Among those joining her at Sunday's presidential vote was Frauke Petry, the leader of the anti-Islam Alternative for Germany (AfD).

The drag queen previously said she would be happy to meet Ms Petry and "take a photo with her".

"If I meet her I would say clearly to her that we do not need more hatred in society. The AfD also does not need to be afraid of gays and lesbians. There is no danger there," she said.

Despite being just metres from each other at the ceremony, it not clear whether the pair got the opportunity to speak.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Olivia Jones could be seen in the background as the AfD's Frauke Petry congratulated Frank-Walter Steinmeier

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