Odd Man Out: It Still Is Strongly Driven By Sex Appeal


Considering all the recent press about the increasing role of women in the high-tech world, “booth babes” would seem an anachronism.

Not true. “This industry is sort of the odd man out. It still is strongly driven by sex appeal,” says Eileen Fridkin of The Group, which provides tradeshow talent.

At other industry trade shows, companies such as Kraft will specifically request women whose looks would be mostly unremarkable next to the everyday company employees, Fridkin says. But when it comes to high-tech, vendors are looking for something more – something such as the “catsuits” that prettied up Crave Entertainment’s E3 display. As the nickname implies, each woman wore a black, form-fitting, zip-up one-piece.

“They asked us for hard-working, attractive women who could wear that outfit,” Fridkin says. Such a gig will pay the women, on average, $275 to $450 per day, she says. Narrators and other specialized jobs can command upwards of $600 per day.

She is quick to emphasize that The Group hires talent based on skills and personality, not just looks. “There are agencies who literally hire faces and bodies,” she says. “We’re not one of them.” “We don’t want too much sex appeal, too much glamor. Too sexy can be a distraction,” she adds. What about those catsuits? “They’re not so revealing,” Fridkin says. “It’s seduction through allure.”

Other exhibitors don’t share Crave’s taste for subtlety. For instance, Codemasters USA, a computer game developer based in Oakhurst, Calif., simply hired a pair of Hooters girls. “The first day, we were really elated when this pair of identical twins showed up,” says Codemasters public relations manager Monika Moulin. “After all, every guy’s dream is two women, and here we had twins.” The girls wore Hooters shirts and “athletic shorts that creep up the butt,” Moulin says.

But buttage has its costs. It soon became clear that the twins were not the seductive “quintessential Marilyn Monroes” that Moulin says she wanted. The twins, it turned out, walked around with their arms covering their breasts in a posture that wasn’t inviting, that didn’t say “Hey, take me – well, at least take my brochure.” In other words, the Hooters girls weren’t flaunting theirs. The next day, they were replaced with more welcoming and “friendly” girls.