May 10, 2006
Video Game ‘Booth Babes’ Forced to Cover Up
By Daisuke Wakabayashi
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Missing: scantily-clad females hawking the latest in electronic toys for the boys.
The video game industry's annual trade show in Los Angeles opened its doors to its exhibitors on Wednesday with organizers ordering women staffing the booths to cover up or face a $5,000 fine.
Banned are nudity, partial nudity, bikini bottoms or any sexually explicit or provocative conduct, according to the handbook from The Entertainment Software Association, or ESA, which owns and operates the E3 Expo.
Pauline K, who declined to give her last name, wore a white shredded tank top with an exposed midriff, short mini skirt and knee-high leggings as she handed out fliers for a company that makes custom face plates for Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360 game machine.
She said another of the models received a warning from show organizers for showing too much skin. "Apparently her cleavage was a little too distracting," she said.
In January, the ESA outlined tough new penalties to enforce decency rules. Exhibitors get a verbal warning for a first violation and a second violation carries a $5,000 fine.
"Last year there were a lot of complaints about how the models were beyond, in many cases, what was decent," said ESA President Douglas Lowenstein on Monday.
Despite the new rules, there was no shortage of exposed skin, patent leather and knee-high boots. Many exhibitors dressed women like video game heroines and there was a group of women wearing sexy nurses' outfits.
"They're wearing slightly more clothes this year," said Gail Salamanica, an exhibitor at the show, "But not much."
(Additional reporting by Lisa Baertlein and Kemp Powers)