Michael Ben David, Israel’s representative to the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest in Turin, walked the turquoise carpet with pride at the opening event on Tuesday (a red carpet would be too boring for the glitzy over-the-top extravaganza) and prepared to take the stage at the second semifinal on Thursday, knowing that a spot in the finals is far from assured and enjoying every moment along the way.
Ben David wore a white pantsuit with black designs and a long jacket by designer Dror Kontento, known for his bridal wear, to the opening. He thanked the designer on Instagram for “making me feel like a bride.”
Ben David will perform a pleasing self-empowerment anthem, “I.M,” with backup dancers groomed to look like him. While this song has won him many fans, the singer, who until recently was supporting himself stocking produce in a grocery, is not considered a sure bet to be one of the 10 finalists who will be winnowed down from a group of 18.
In the first semifinal on Tuesday night, the loudest cheers went to the Ukrainian entry, Kalush Orchestra, who performed their paean to motherhood, “Stefania,” wearing traditional folk costumes. They made the cut in the semifinal round and are considered one of the contenders to win it all at the final round on Saturday night.
In spite of the pressure, Ben David has been making the most of his time abroad and documenting the fun on social media. While he turned somber on Israel’s Memorial Day last week, posting a photo of himself wrapped in an Israeli flag and praying at a Turin synagogue with a message honoring Israel’s fallen, on Tuesday he posted a funny Instagram story where he is sitting in a chair wearing a smock.
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As someone combs his hair, he says, “Friends, you have to hear a story. We don’t have a hairstylist provided by the government here. And to go to get a haircut in Italy is scary because you don’t know what’s what. And along came Sheldon [Riley], the Australian representative, with a hairstylist who is —.”
At this point, the hairstylist, Kobi Bokshish, gets into the frame, and chimes in, saying, “Israeli!” Ben David continues, “And that’s my life and that’s the miracle and that’s the proof that God protects us and he came to cut my hair and my dancers’ hair. I’m crazy about you!”
The hairstylist blows a kiss, saying, “I was an Israeli and I’ll always remain an Israeli.” In another Instagram story, Bokshish cuts one of the Israeli dancers’ hair, as Ben David vacuums the dressing room, in good humor, a reminder that, following his win in The X Factor contest, which made him Israel’s Eurovision representative, he told interviewers that he went home, did the dishes and cleaned up his apartment.
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That can-do attitude should serve him well as he waits to perform in the final and whatever happens, Ben David can feel proud of making it to Turin.