Elegy For A "Booth Babe"

"What are 'booth babes'?" asked Anna when I announced to her I planned to do a post on the slow decline of the employment sector of ladies who make a living standing around for long periods of time in large convention centers wearing very little clothing and smiling at the old dudes gawking at them. If you don't go to trade shows or have Kardashianesque measurements, you might not be aware of this fact, but there is a whole industry of being paid to look conventionally pretty and talk vapidly, and I'm not talking about interning at Teen Vogue. No, the booth babe's natural habitat is not New York but Las Vegas and Orlando, though she'll really go anywhere you'll find a male-dominated industry holding a semi-annual trade show. And for many years the booth babe business seemed to know only boom.

As commerce migrated online and trade shows began losing their business purpose, companies like Ford and Microsoft began staunching the bleeding with hotter and hotter babes. Strippers joined the babes race. The hotness of one's Booth Babes became a question of industry reputation and national pride. Some brave bloggers even tried to humanize the Booth babes, with poignant photos that dared to ask "hath not a promotional model eyes?"

For awhile, the Booth Babe Bonanza formed the basis for my "theory" that for women all work — acting, authoring, retail, professional manicuring, whatevs — is becoming sex work.

But like all Great Eras in History, the Booth Babe Bacchanal had to end. It started with the semiannual video game extravaganza E3, which banned Booth Babes last year. And then last week we read the tale of a 20-year veteran of the car Booth Babe business on our brother site Jalopnik, we were sure of it.

"In 1989, to audition to be an auto show product specialist, it was 'read your half-page of script and we'll call you in two weeks.' Now it's more like a job interview. You really have to know your stuff."

Know your stuff!?! Horrors! Next they'll be telling us Hillary's outfits are irrelevant.

Decline of the Booth Babe [Guardian]