Last Thursday, mermaids, sword swallowers and oracles joined their fellow New Yorkers in the back garden at City Reliquary (370 Metropolitan Avenue) for the Miss Subways Pageant 2017. All thirteen contestants displayed their stunning talents, and even more exciting costumes, in hopes of being crowned Miss Subways 2017. Each contestant took to the stage to express love for the subterranean system that connects us all (when its not being held by the dispatcher). The night was alive with Transit Tarot, Subway Striptease, an ode to the G Train, and a whole lot of Razzle Dazzle.
The Reliquary invited community members to enter the competition, and New Yorkers from all over town turned out for the fun. To enter, each contestant had to write a short essay about their favorite subway line and why it “inspires/enrages/enchants.” There were representatives from myriad lines. An L Train Drag Queen competed against an F Train Oracle, a 6 Train Singer and a Q Train Mermaid. A panel of local civic heroes and celebrity judges including Janeane Garofalo, downtown art icon Reverend Jen Miller, NY1 reporter Roger Clark and writer, comedian, author and producer Baratunde R. Thurston ultimately crowned Lisa Levy Miss Subways 2017.
As Miss Subways, Lisa will be “an ambassador for the subway a time of crisis.” In fact, that crisis helped inspire the whole evening. The event was billed as “a call to arms for advocates and lovers of the NYC underground,” and to pull it off, the Reliquary teamed up with Riders Alliance, an organization which “fights for reliable, affordable, world-class public transit in order to build a more just and sustainable New York.” Proceeds from the event benefitted both the Reliquary and the Riders Alliance.
While it was certainly a unique New York experience, Thursday’s pageant wasn’t the first of its kind. The original Miss Subways were crowned in New York from 1941 – 1976, and the Reliquary first got in on the fun in 2009, with their “Miss G Train” competition. At the time, Greenpoint’s own beloved G was the most maligned line in the system. Today, it is one of the most reliable. In fact, it will even take you to the Reliquary! Located at 370 Metropolitan Avenue, the museum is just steps from the Metropolitan G/Lorimer L, and when L-pocolypse finally hits, you can take the J/M/Z to Marcy Avenue.
The 2017 Miss Subways celebrated and supported all subway lines, and the night was such a success that the Reliquary and Riders Alliance hinted they’d like to make the event an annual tradition. If you’d like to help make that possible, and support the Reliquary, you can make a tax-deductible donation to the museum via Artfully, or sign up to be part of the Reliquary’s volunteer staff by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to donate to the Riders Alliance, or become a member of the organization, you can do so here.