Brooklyn’s City Reliquary Museum put on the Miss Subways 2017 pageant to raise awareness about New York’s most beloved and reviled mode of transportation.

Each contestant at the Miss Subways Pageant, held last week in Brooklyn, made a case for what the subway means to them. “This is about that feeling when it’s 3 a.m. and you feel like you’re going to vomit and you want any train to come and take you anywhere,” began one contestant before launching into song.

For decades, the pageant had been on hiatus. The last such event was held in 1976 by the New York Subway Advertising Company; the winner appeared on posters in the train cars. This revival, held at The City Reliquary museum in Williamsburg, had a few updates. People of all gender identities were allowed to participate, and some of the acts in the show’s talent portion (which including disrobing, tarot reading, and shake weights) might not have won over judges in the ‘70s.

“I don’t see people pissing in the subway anymore,” lamented another contestant. “Where are the golden showers? Where is the love?”

Proceeds from the event went to The City Reliquary and the Riders Alliance, a grassroots group that advocates for subway improvements. “To love the subway is to love New York,” their spokesperson said before urging the assembled audience to join the group.

After two and a half hours of singing, speeches, and subway-related shenanigans, Lisa Levy, a 61-year-old self-proclaimed armchair psychotherapist, was crowned Miss Subways 2017. “This is the most positive subway experience of my life!” she cried out upon receiving her transit tiara.

The Stunt Doubles, the night’s first act, speak to admirers before the start of the pageant. (Teresa Mathew/CityLab)
Glace Chase, wearing a metro card headpiece made by a friend’s mother. (Teresa Mathew/CityLab)
Ann Paone sang a Sondheim parody that mixed factoids about subway history with a chorus of “and I’m on my waaaaay.” (Teresa Mathew/CityLab)
Suzy Q led the crowd in an impassioned call and response of “Whose subway?” “Our subway!” She concluded by telling the audience to be the trash they wanted to see in the subway. (Teresa Mathew/CityLab)
“Just walk, guys. Or take a horse,” said Rebecca Leib, the F Train Oracle, after drawing this tarot card. (Teresa Mathew/CityLab)  
Lisa Levy told a story about riding the subway with a friend after graduating from college and moving back to New York City. “You young girls today don’t know what it was like to have to prove you were cool by riding the subway at night—but I was a dork, I stayed home!” (Teresa Mathew/CityLab)
Lisa Levy reacts after being crowned Miss Subways 2017. (Teresa Mathew/CityLab)

CORRECTION: This story initially misstated Lisa Levy's name and profession.

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