Miss Subways 2024 winner takes the A train to victory

woman crowned miss subways 2024
Queerly Femmetastic wins Miss Subways 2024 at Coney Island USA’s Sideshows by the Seashore Theater on Friday, May 31, 2024.
Photo by Paul Frangipane

The A train got an A-plus on May 31, as Queerly Femmetastic, representing the triboro subway route, was crowned the winner of the annual Miss Subways pageant.

Once a beauty contest sponsored by advertising agencies, the revamped Miss Subways returned in 2017 with a twist. No longer is Miss Subways an old-school beauty pageant — instead, it’s an opportunity for Brooklynites of all ages and genders to prove that they’re the best representative for their respective subway line.

people on stage at miss subways
Queerly Femmetastic, center, represented the A train at the pageant. Photo by Paul Frangipane

At the Sideshow by the Seashore theater in Coney Island on May 31, contestants put on a show like no other – wearing outfits that paid homage to their respective train lines, they performed stand-up comedy, burlesque, and dance routines. Christine Stoddard, repping the C line, performed a song meant to summon the city’s many subterranean rats.

The winners of the old Miss Subways would have their photos plastered all over subway cars, but the contest itself wasn’t public — there were no performances, no chances for contestants to meet their loving public.

Woman with pizza rat at Miss Subways 2024
Christine Stoddard, representing the C train, put on a rat-attracting show. Photo by Paul Frangipane

Dave Herman, founder of the City Reliquary, which resurrected the event, said the new version is meant to give riders their moment to shine.

“We wanted to resurrect it and give it more of the pageantry and put more of the ownership into the performers’ hands and so it’s no longer about what’s happening behind closed doors, it’s about what happens here on the stage,” he said. 

Contestants compete in three categories: Costume, talent, and interview.

puppet performance miss subways
Julia Schemmer represents the J train with a puppet performance. Photo by Paul Frangipane
M train Miss Subways
Sally Ann Hall represents the M train. Photo by Paul Frangipane

The contest was judged by a panel of local celebrities: Assembly Member Emily Gallagher, Miss Subways 2017 Lisa Levy, Miss Coney Island 2024 Aurora North, and Derrick Holmes of Riders’ Alliance.

The fifth judge, though, nearly stole the show. Bernie Wagenblast, one of the voices of the New York City subway system, blew the roof off the theater when she asked attendees to “Please step away from the platform edge” as she introduced the panel. 

Miss Subways judges
Bernie Wagenblast, the voice of the New York City subway takes in cheers from the crowd. Photo by Paul Frangipane

Wagenblast’s iconic voice is heard all over the subway system as well as on the PATH train and on the AirTrain — but Wagenblast herself now speaks a little differently, as she came out as transgender in 2022. 

The revived Miss Subways was held first in Williamsburg, then at Littlefield NYC in Gowanus. Organizers moved the contest to Coney Island last year. Adam Rinn, creative director of Coney Island NYC, took the opportunity to critique a proposal to build a casino in Coney Island.

Kandi Spindler represented the 2 train. Photo by Paul Frangipane

“They want to put a casino literally like over our building,” Rinn said, to boos from the audience. “This is the shit we’re up against!” 

“We know that when it comes down to it we have everybody’s support in this room against this casino,” he added. “But we’re not here to lament what could be, we’re here to celebrate every one of these contestants.”

Dressed in a glittering blue dress with an A train headpiece and a fluffy rainbow shawl, Queerly Femmetastic performed a new version of the jazz classic “Take the A Train.”

miss queerly fantastic singing at Miss Subways
Queerly Femmetastic sang a version of “Take the A Train.” Photo by Paul Frangipane

Where the original version of the song urges listeners to hop on the train up to Harlem, Queerly Femmetastic sang about the route down to Brooklyn. She ended her act with a burlesque number — earning loud cheers from the audience as she stripped out of her costume. 

miss subways 2024
Miss Subways 2023 Harmony Hardcore crowns Queerly Femmetastic as Miss Subways 2024. Photo by Paul Frangipane

At the end of the night, Queerly Femmetastic was awarded the “transit tiara,” a glittering crown covered with the iconic subway line symbols and, of course, a pizza rat.