How To Be An Auto Show "Booth Babe"

Now that we have the preliminaries out of the way, my dears, let's talk about where auto show models come from. Strap on those push-up bras. This might get messy.

It's quite simple, really: Since we're all hookers anyway, we just visit manufacturer offices and start sleeping with whomever happens to be floating around the marketing department that day. If it's a VP, we're in!

Ha! Gotcha! The truth is less sordid but almost as interesting. (Also, cleanup is easier.)

Here's how it actually happens: Manufacturers hire talent agencies who then hire show models. There are two main agencies who hire and train auto-show models in this country, though smaller firms occasionally throw their hats into the ring for a client or two. We go through a lengthy audition process that includes an initial headshot and resume submission, meeting with the agency in person, and either doing an in-person or video audition with the client (the manufacturer), who then makes the final casting decision.

The client decides what look they are going for that year based on their chosen demographic. Believe it or not, this kind of thing makes a difference — I heard that, one year, an American manufacturer had a staff full of tall, blonde fashion models talking about family cars. The husbands spent the conversation ogling while the wives became more and more ticked-off. The next year, the blonde models were replaced with MILFs — still hot, but less threatening.

Manufacturers select models based on they brand the model will be representing. If you pay attention, you'll notice different types of girls at different booths. The Scion crew is young and hip, Ford talent is All-American, Jeep is stocked with outdoorsy types that look great and don't mind getting their hair mussed, Subaru has soccer moms, and Lexus has a penchant for classic, refined lookers. The exotics hire the exotic beauties. Cadillac has a silver fox. The funny thing is that, with a few exceptions, you could put any of these people in a different wardrobe and they could fit a different type. Show-biz magic!

My agency looks for people (both male and female; there are almost as many men as women doing this) who have a college degree and some sort of performance background. Many of us are actors, singers, fashion (or commercial models), and former beauty queens. If we look vaguely familiar, that's because you may have seen us in a TV ad or in Maxim. All must be comfortable speaking in front of large groups of people. Some, like the Chevy Volt dancers, must be comfortable with total humiliation and world-wide mockery. (I don't know what that disaster was all about, but I wasn't a part of it. Sometimes there just isn't enough money.)

Speaking of money, I won't tell you how much we get paid, but I will say this: Dollar figures vary widely. A model's take depends on seniority, which agency he or she is with, how much of a cut that agency takes, what the role is, and which manufacturer is being represented. Most of us work on a day rate (as opposed to hourly pay), receive a per diem for incidentals, and have our airfare and hotels paid for. (While we're on the subject of hotels, could you please stop asking us where we're staying? We're not going to tell you. It's a safety issue.) We live all over the country and travel from show to show; clients prefer this because it offers them a core group of well-trained product experts instead of random locals who may or may not know what they're talking about.

So that's it — feeling the call of turntable stardom? Ache for the hot, leering gaze of thousands of random strangers? That's how you get in. Not nearly as titillating as a bailout orgy, but so much easier on one's hair.

The Booth Babe muses about life on the auto show circuit at Do You Come With The Car.

Photo Credit: i_am_lee_sam at Flickr