Friday, February 26, 2010

Life after auto show

There's a terrific article in this month's issue of Spin magazine about what rock stars do for a living after the fame runs out. I've often wondered about this... Not every band you hear on the radio becomes Bon Jovi or Coldplay and most won't get airplay on their second or third albums. Plain economics dictates there can only be so many studio musicians and producers, so how are these peeps who had a tantalizing taste of fame absorbed back into the mainstream?

It was interesting to read the wide variety of post-fame careers. I won't give it away by naming names and careers, but it is definitely worth a read - and it got me thinking...

What happens to booth babes when the bright lights of the auto show dim?

The first thing to understand is that the lights may dim much later than one would think, as long as you still look good. The ages of some of the men and women on the auto show circuit would astonish you. While they don't look like they are 20, they also don't look like they are close to 50, and more than a few of them are. Granted it is easier for men to get away with this than women, but I know some amazing looking women on the circuit that I pray to the auto show gods I will look like when I am their age.

But there will come a day, of course, that the siren song of the auto show turns into a death knell, and you'd better bet we all are developing our own little empires for when that day comes. I personally garner about half my income from auto show and other modeling, and the other half from two other much-loved endeavours. I have a marketing degree and a plan. There are some women who want to do this for years and years. I don't, and I have a plan for when I'm done.

And pretty much everyone does. Some leave the circuit because their acting careers are staring to take off, and auto show season takes them away from too many great auditions. Some have started their own modeling agencies or event management companies. Pharmaceutical sales (the legal kind). Yoga teachers. Clothing and shoe designers. Both the co-founder and the executive vice president of one of the two largest talent agencies handling auto show used to be booth babes. There are a few pro drivers thrown in the mix. Television and film producers. Visual and performance artists.

Here are some jobs for which I am qualified after I leave the auto show circuit:
Circus ringmaster
Airplane emergency evacuation coordinator (since I've seen the demos so many times)
Substitute Mommy (since you certainly aren't parenting your kids at the show)
Convention center dietician (try to maintain a model's figure on convention food, I dare you)
Suspicious smell/stain/scratch inspector
Torturous-but-beautiful shoe tester
Fire scientist
Traveling wardrobe coordinator (must make sure nothing happens to my own 15-piece wardrobe set through seven months of coast-to-coast traveling on multiple airlines with spotty baggage records)
Traveling mercenary (at the very least I know how to protect and defend myself in dangerous situations and ma not afraid to do so)
Hostage negotiator/suicide prevention (have talked a lot of angry-and-taking-it-out-on-the-world types off the ledge at almost every show) (See 'I am not the president of GM')

I do actually have my own little plan. You'll see one of these days.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Your kids suck, too

While we're on the subject of disgusting mothers, let's talk about their a$$hole kids while we're at it.

I actually really like kids. Well-behaved kids, well-supervised kids, kids who have been taught to be respectful of property which does not belong to them. I am not a fan of kids who are allowed to do whatever the hell they want, whenever the hell they want to whatever the hell they want.

Here are some things I have seen your kids do at the auto show:
Licking the rear seat control mechanisms
Jumping on the seats of a car that costs more than their college educations will like a trampoline
Wiping their boogers on the steering wheel
Digging in their diapers right before grabbing a door handle
Locking themselves in the trunk
Climbing onto my spinning platform mid-presentation
Trying to break into the private back area of our information desk
Smearing their ice cream cones on the windows
Smashing their sticky lollipops into the seats
Yanking on the turn signal sticks with their full body weight

Actually, I take it back - it isn't the kids who are a$$holes, it's the parents. If I had even contemplated doing any of these things as a child I would have gotten the spanking of my life. The kids don't know any better because their parents haven't taught them to know any better, because the parents are A) incompetent and B) ignorant. You don't bring your kid to an incredibly crowded event then not pay attention to him. You sure as hell don't bring your kid into my incredibly busy display then watch while he tries to destroy this vehicle and expect me to stand idly by. I will kick your kid out of the car, I will use a stern voice, and I will tell you to keep a better eye on your monster if you plan on spending any more time in our display. Don't like it? Imagine how you would feel if I sent my nephew into your office to pour a milkshake all over your Herman Miller chair, set your trash can on fire then vomit on your desk.

We could call it even.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Chicago Auto Show quote of the day

You would not believe what someone said to me today. This isn't just the quote of the day; in fact, despite there still being two days left of the show I'm going to go ahead and give it quote of the show standing.

Me: "Can I answer a question for you, sir?"
A$$hole: "Uh yeah, I was just wonderin' how I can Jew you down on the price of this car."
Me: *blink* "Excuse me?" (Praying I heard him wrong...)
A$$hole: "Yeah, how can I Jew you down on the price of this car?"
Me: "Did you seriously just say that to me?"

I threw him a disgusted look, walked away and refused to interact with him at all for the rest of his visit.

The best (meaning worst) part was that he was a black man. Can you imagine if I had come back with a certain racially-charged synonym for "cheap"? He would have justifiably and rightfully thrown a fit. But apparently it is perfectly okay for him to slur another ethnic group, just as long as it is not his own.

The really sad thing is that I'm pretty sure he thought the reason I reacted the way I did was because I was offended by the thought of bargaining, not by his bigoted antisemitism. People like that just don't get it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Disgusting mothers

Listen up, mothers.

Here are some places you should not be changing your baby's nasty diaper at the auto show:

On my display floor
On the beautiful, expensive lounge seating in my display
In the back of any of my vehicles
On my static or rotating vehicle platform
On my information desk

Why is this so g-d difficult to understand? Would you change your own dirty underwear in the middle of the grocery store? Would you purposely expose your child's genitals to a pedophile? It's the same thing!

Just because it's a baby doesn't make it any less disgusting. Do you think anyone wants to look at the giant load your kid took in his pants? Or smell it? Or be exposed to that biohazard? Your laziness - and that's all it could possibly be, because a bathroom is never more than 100 feet away - is putting the health of hundreds, if not thousands, of people at risk.

And you don't know who's looking at you when you're doing this. Do you know how many web cams are broadcasting from the Chicago Auto Show? Five. Do you know how many visitors at the auto show have cameras? All of them. Do you know what the chances are that one of them is a pervert? Pretty high, trust me on that. Do you realize you're taking a pretty big chance that one of them is going to snap a pic of your kid's junk?

Of course not. Of course you didn't think of any of those things, because you're the type of person who thinks it is perfectly okay to change your baby's diaper in the middle of the auto show.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

More reasons why people totally suck.

Anyone who has spent even a modest amount of time on blogs and web forums knows that the anonymity offered by the medium is a dangerous thing, making people think it's okay to write the most offensive, appalling things to and about total strangers that they would never in a million years say out loud. It's an exposure of a person's true colors. How do you act when no one's looking? What do you do when no one knows it's you?

There's a post from a couple of days ago up on Jalopnik about the singers in the Toyota Avalon display at the Chicago Auto Show. The post itself isn't nice but that's not my complaint - they poke fun at the performance and the marketing ideas behind it, but nothing terrible, and nothing worse than what they (and I, for that matter) wrote about the Chevy Volt dancers. But the comments? Oh, the comments. The comments are a different story.

And the comments are REALLY PISSING ME OFF.

Let me share some of the worst ones:

"u should see the guy at the Sienna mini van display.. he had to be on crack.. worst actor every.. over did everything.. I wanted to punch him in the face."

"Were any singers run over during the filming of this performance?"

"This is Hitlerriffic."

"I was hoping the car would unintendedly accelerate over them."

"Ah yeah the Avalon is gay and not sophisticated, eat shit Avalon! Punch in the Face to all of these people! POW!"

If you're playing along at home, that is two threats to punch the Toyota crew members in the face, two wishes of death, a comparison to the most heinous crime against humanity in history and a gay slur. Over a song.

People actually raise their children in a manner that shapes them to grow up thinking it is perfectly acceptable to say things like this. I don't care if you don't like the song. I don't care if you don't like the car. I don't give a flying fcuk if your daddy who drove a Toyota didn't hug you enough so you now hate the Avalon by association. You are an absolute terrible person and a waste of space on this green earth if you say anything remotely resembling these comments in response to something as innocuous as an innocent musical number at an auto show.

And before you ask or even wonder, no I am not one of the singers. I'm so pissed because these are threats of violence and homophobic slurs. I'm so upset because this is beyond having fun by poking fun. I'm so upset because these people work too damn hard under the most trying of conditions (can you imagine what they've dealt with during the recall media frenzy?) to have to deal with this sh!t from losers living in their mother's basements. We all do.

People just plain suck sometimes.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I have a quick-and-dirty two days off before having to head to the Chicago Auto Show. After a nightmare of a trip Monday (for no good reason, because weather wasn't to blame for the stupid delays) I am soaking up my time at home.

This time of year is absolute madness for an auto show gal. By the end of the Chicago show I will be surprised if I remember my own name. Of course, I'd better quickly remember it because a few days later I'll head to my next show. The paycheck is what makes these caffeine-fueled, frenzied months worth it. Eyes on the prize!

When I only have a couple of days off to recover before heading back out on the road, here's how I spend it: I hole up in my house seeking as little human contact as possible other than my very closest inner circle, and sometimes not even them. I don't do my hair. I don't do my makeup. I wear old ragged jeans or yoga pants and tee shirts and no shoes. I take bubble baths while watching movies on my laptop (placed safely outside the tub, of course). I spend quality time with my pet, who doesn't leer at me, ask me stupid questions, try to sneak photos of my ass or bitch about whatever we're giving away or lack thereof.

I do load upon load of laundry. I eat meals I had cooked and frozen before my last trip. I regret not making enough for when I come home from my next. I read the huge stack of mail waiting for me and pull out the magazines, saving them to read on the plane later in the week.

If I venture out, it is only when absolutely necessary, like to pick up some food or things I'll need for my next trip like fresh stockings or makeup. Then I scurry back to my quiet little home where I don't have to talk to anyone at all, least of all about naturally aspirated vs turbocharged engines or whether or not my ass is larger or the same size as at the last show.

But tomorrow I will be back in the airport. See you in Chicago!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

We're open. Suck it up.

"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."

Neither fire nor blizzard nor closed Starbucks shall prevent the auto show from operating.

Fire at Cobo Hall? We'll just open some doors, air the place out minimally and let everyone back in. (If I suffer from some awful 9/11-esque lung disease by this time next year, I think we'll know who to blame. I'm looking at you, NAIAS.) The Great Blizzard of 2010 dumps two feet of snow overnight? Auto show still open. Starbucks, the lifeline of all auto show employees, shuts down because of the weather? Too bad. Get your butt into your cute little outfit and trudge over to your display.

It makes economic sense to keep the show open, actually. Everything is already paid for: the convention center space, the product specialists (most of whom are paid anyway if something closes the show out of their control), the hotel rooms, the transport of all the cars, the PR, everything. By staying open they hope to get at least a couple of folks hardy (or crazy) enough to brave the weather and collect their entry fees. By closing they just flat out lose the investment they made in the show for that day.

So we'll be there, bored out of our fcuking minds, waiting for the two or three people an hour to wander through our display. Thank god for smart phones -- we're not supposed to have them out on the show floor, but we desperately need something to entertain us on days like this. Ssshhh!

Even Starbucks is closed, which is super weird (and super annoying) because it is in the lobby of the hotel, and it looked to me like a good 85% of their business came from hotel guests. Dunkin' Donuts is still open though, and I've rediscovered how good -- and cheap -- their coffee is. So have all the homeless/crazy/both people in a 5-block radius judging from all the incoherent yelling going on inside.

All I really want to do is run outside and make snow angels in the middle of this great city street on which none of these beautiful sparkly new cars are driving.

(The Postal Service is shut down in this city, by the way. The same post office whose creed says they will deliver mail even in the face of nuclear winter has suspended service here. But we're still at the auto show! Please come visit us! I'm begging you!)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

For your entertainment: Model humiliation

There have been more than a few times I've said a silent prayer of thanks to the automotive marketing gods for having a position involving minimal humiliation. The most fervent thanks recently came while watching in horror as the Chevy Volt dancers convulsed across the show floor to that creepy pseudo-hipster kids song. It was like America's Worst Dance Crew-meets-Romper Room.

In our line of work we are often asked to do some patently ridiculous stuff. We then have a choice: do it and get paid, or refuse and be forced to do something even more humiliating, like sell our souls to Corporate America and sit behind a desk all day working for The Man (an utterly horrifying thought). Being born performers we often suck it up, embrace whatever diabolical plan the PR team has come up with to ruin our day and just do it. Our motto: "Remember the paycheck."

How are we shedding our dignity for your edification at the auto show? Toyota has some shenanigans going on this year involving plastic buckets, feather boas and three-part harmony. My understanding is that not only did the performers eagerly volunteer to do this, but that it was their idea in the first place. They strangely seem to be thoroughly enjoying themselves (which might be the most frightening part) so I guess that doesn't fall within the realm of humiliation - although just watching the stilted choreography makes me burn with shame. (The singers have great voices, though.)

The single most humiliating auto show gig I've ever heard of doesn't come courtesy of a manufacturer but one of those accessory booths outside the main show floor. A friend (let's call her Jane) no longer on the circuit relayed this little beauty to me...

Jane had been offered the gig by her agent but was already booked that day, so referred another model friend instead. All she knew was that it was at the auto show and paid $500. The friend was only told that she would be repping a chamois brand.

After several weeks of ignored phone calls, Jane finally got ahold of her very pissed off friend. Apparently the job was not talking about the cloth or ringing people up. The job was to wear a mini skirt and bikini top made out of chamois cloth and buff a car with her ass.

All day long she rubbed her fuzzy ass all over that car with the most aggro look on her face you've ever seen.

Why didn't she just walk out if she hated it so much? If we walk out on a job for any reason other than our personal safety is immediately at risk, our professional reputations will be as dead as a Chrysler tranny at 50,000 miles and we will never be hired for any promotional work again. Most of these jobs do not involve buffing anything with any of our body parts and pay very well, so you can see where the dilemma lies.

I guess it all comes down to how hungry you are. What was the most humiliating thing you ever had to do in the name of a paycheck?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Groundhog Day

I'm sitting here in another hotel room, getting ready to walk into another convention center holding another auto show. For almost six months of the year I wear the same clothes, answer the same questions, work with the same people, look at the same cars and drink the same Starbucks. My feet hurt in the same shoes (which get awfully smelly after a while).

Every day on the auto show circuit is like Groundhog Day. And yet I will thoughtfully answer your question like it's the very first time I've heard it, smile like I'm at the Miss America pageant (congrats to Miss Virginia!), spray Febreeze on the outfits I haven't been able to dry clean in a month so you can't tell this suit could walk by itself and throw a double layer of Odor Eaters into my stilettos.

I will pretend I don't notice that you hotboxed the car, that you're wearing a wedding ring while asking me out on a date (which I will politely decline, of course) or that your wife's cheap fur coat is shedding all over the seats.

Bill Murray feels my pain. Enjoy some of the greatest lines from a fantastic movie, Groundhog Day.