Drag queens, mermaids and comedians from every walk of life are vying to be the next Miss Subways.
The honorary title, once given to female subway straphangers by New York Subways Advertising, is being resurrected after four decades and could go to any one of 15 New Yorkers who will take the stage to wow four celebrity judges, including actress Janeane Garofalo, with song, dance and spoken word while wearing unique costumes.
Garofalo will be joined by NY1 reporter Roger Clark, artist the Rev. Jen Miller and writer and comedian Baratunde Thurston in selecting the one who most embodies the updated concept of Miss Subway — someone who is sassy, humorous but has serious talent, according to Sarah Celentano, the assistant director of the City Reliquary Museum, which is hosting the event.
Alex Low, an organizer and member of the Riders Alliance, which will get a portion of the proceeds, said it will be a “celebration of self-expression.”
“This is going to be bonkers,” Low said. “There will be a whole array of different types of people and performances — everybody expressing themselves.”
Round one will feature contestants’ performances, and round two will include improvisation and a Q&A with the judges.
A banjo player, baton twirler, vaudeville singer, New York Times correspondent, psychic, comedian and writer are among those competing.
The event, billed as “a call to arms for advocates and lovers” of the underground with “a wink and a nod” to the former pageant, is expected to be a sounding board for subway frustrations, which is why the organizers haven’t gotten the MTA to back it, they said.
“The subway’s performance is terrible compared to other cities,” Low added. “This is our way of bringing attention to these issues.”
The MTA said that while it is not involved with the competition, “we wish the contestants the best of luck.”