Let the bells ring and the confetti fall, the winner of the 2003 Mrs. Portland Mercury Beauty Pageant is no other than Audrey "Of Coursey" DeCoursey! Audrey had to defeat seven other excellent contestants at Friday night's pageant at the Aladdin to gain Portland's most coveted crown, and did so with all the aplomb of a true champion.

Hailing originally from Oak Park, Illinois, Audrey moved to Portland four years ago to attend Lewis and Clark. It wasn't long before this brainy 21-year-old biochemistry major started showing her true colors; getting arrested at protests and mooning the audience after losing the 2002 Miss Portland Scholarship Pageant. The day after winning Mrs. Portland Mercury, we sat down with Audrey to reflect on her new-found glory.

MERCURY: First of all, congratulations on becoming the 2nd annual "Mrs. Portland Mercury." Describe what you were feeling when you were announced the winner.

AUDREY: I was feeling the power! Now I'm Mrs. Portland Mercury, and no matter where I go everyone will have to do whatever I say. Actually, I've used the title already. At a coffee place, they asked me my name, and I said "Mrs. Portland Mercury," and I got coffee. I had to pay for it, but the title definitely has its privileges.

You had seven other excellent contestants competing against you in what was a very tight race. How do you think you pulled it off?

It was tough competition, but I think I had a clear advantage thanks to my experience in the "Miss Portland 2002" pageant. I learned everything I knew about pageants from my role models, Keri Murphy and Darcy DeBok. For example how to avoid embarrassing crotch shots. Always stand to one side, and never point your crotch directly at the audience.

Speaking of the Miss Portland pageant, we understand that you mooned the audience when you didn't win. Was that sour grapes or a political statement?

I figured the best way to express my disappointment and surprise at not winning was to give the judges the T&A they wanted to see. It didn't go over so well. Afterwards, one of the directors told me to leave the stage and threw me out of the building. Fortunately all my friends were waiting outside with beer.

Would you ever enter that same pageant again?

I'd love to pursue my dream of becoming Miss America, but for some unknown reason, the directors informed me I was kicked out of the organization "for infinity."

How was the experience of competing in Mrs. Portland Mercury different from Miss Portland?

I won.

For your talent you "Demystified the Citric Acid Cycle" with three back-up dancers. What were you thinking?

The citric acid cycle (AKA the Krebs Cycle) is the heart of metabolic biochemistry. It provides us with 95% of our aerobic energy and thus everyone should come to know and love this important element of our physiological process. Plus, backup dancers help those who aren't familiar with chemical nomenclature.

Something that might be surprising to many of our readers is that our new Mrs. Portland Mercury is a Christian. Is this a newfound faith?

I was born and raised in the Church of the Brethren. As a Dunkard, I'm a staunch pacifist, and abhor the flagrant misinterpretation of Jesus' life and work by fundamentalists. Jesus would've loved homosexuality, and welcomed it in the church. That's why the Portland Peace Church of the Brethren is so great--we nurture community, welcome open debate, and acknowledge preserving God's creation.

Possessing the Mrs. Portland Mercury title provides a great forum for the winner to mouth off about whatever topic she wants to thousands of readers. Anything you'd like to say?

Yes! We need more love, less hate, and less violence! And here's two tips: 1) Don't talk on your cell phone while driving and 2) DON'T hit on people in grocery stores or Fred Meyers. As for children, don't play on modern playgrounds. Modern playgrounds force you into a box and tell you what "fun" supposedly is "Here! You're a racecar driver!" "Here! You're a pirate!" Older playgrounds don't tell you how to have fun. So stay away from newfangled playsets. Oh, and I'd like to give a shout-out to all my pageant sisters: Marie, Katia, Sonia Marie, Emily, Karen, Sara, Ami. Keep clawing for that crown!

Congratulations also go out to our other Mrs. Portland Mercury winners: Rachel Stern, 1st Runner-Up; Jessie Lund, 2nd Runner-Up; Trish Randall, Mrs. Congeniality; and Adam Porterfield, Mrs. Joan Collins.