Miss Subways Extravaganza, a pageant for straphangers, is taking applications

The Miss Subways Extravaganza will be held on Oct. 3. Photo Credit: Phillip Buehler

Despite the title, all gender identities (and body types) are encouraged to participate and show off their classy, weird or whimsical talents.

The Miss Subways Extravaganza will be held on Oct. 3.
The Miss Subways Extravaganza will be held on Oct. 3. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Bruce Bennett

A New York City straphanger will soon be crowned the latest "Miss Subways."

In its third year, the pageant-like contest is seeking a new advocate-ambassador for the beleaguered subway system, and it’s taking applications through Sept. 29, with the show scheduled for Oct. 3. 

The honorary title, once given to female straphangers by New York Subways Advertising between 1941 and 1976, will be given to the person who impresses the judges (and the audience) with their talent and embodies the updated concept of Miss Subways — someone who is sassy and humorous but has serious talent.

Contestants will perform and have a Q&A with the judges, including NY1 journalist Roger Clark, artist the Rev. Jen Miller, Curtis Sliwa (of Guardian Angels fame) and author/performer Michele Carlo.

The 2017 Miss Subways, Lisa Levy, won her crown with a performance that incorporated photos of her lifelong relationship with the subway system, and the 2018 winner, government worker Parker MacLure, did a drag performance under his amateur persona "Miss Subways," who "drank [Gov.] Cuomo’s tears." 

Miss Subways 2018 is Parker MacLure, a 25-year-old government worker who did a drag performance.
Miss Subways 2018 is Parker MacLure, a 25-year-old government worker who did a drag performance. Photo Credit: Phillip Buehler

Despite the title, all gender identities (and body types) are encouraged to participate and show off their classy, weird, trashy or whimsical talents but only have until 11:59 p.m. Sept. 29 to apply with a short essay, a detailed description of their performance and a photo and/or short video.

The newly resurrected pageant isn’t like it used to be — the New York Subways Advertising agency and the John Robert Powers modeling agency would choose a woman as Miss Subways and her headshot and a blurb about her life would be displayed in subway cars for a month. More than 200 women were crowned during its run. 

Ellen Hart Strum, center, former Miss Subways March '59, hosted a Miss Subways reunion on May 13, 1991. To Strum's right is Heide Hafner, the last Mss Subways (Sept. '76), and to her left is the earliest Miss Subways present at this reunion, Edith Fagan (March '43). 
Ellen Hart Strum, center, former Miss Subways March ’59, hosted a Miss Subways reunion on May 13, 1991. To Strum’s right is Heide Hafner, the last Mss Subways (Sept. ’76), and to her left is the earliest Miss Subways present at this reunion, Edith Fagan (March ’43).  Photo Credit: Newsday/Ozier Muhammad

The current pageant isn’t connected with the MTA, and winners don’t appear in subway ads. However, they are asked to take up transit advocacy in some form, through their own creative lens.

For example, Levy filed video blog reports from MTA public hearings, sometimes while wearing her crown.

The City Reliquary Museum, which sponsors the event, will donate a portion of the proceeds to the Riders Alliance, an organization that advocates for better transit.

If you go: The event is on Oct. 3, from 8 p.m. to midnight, at Littlefield at 635 Sackett St. in Brooklyn. Tickets are $20-$25 at eventbrite.com.

Shaye Weaver