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Consumer Electronics Show: Through the eyes of booth babes

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It’s not just executives and geeks showcasing the newest products at the Consumer Electronics Show this year. As the economy improves, there’s been a swell in the ranks of the prettiest class of salespeople: the models known as booth babes.

“It’s nice to be getting back into the business and feeling the good energy,” said Zoe Portanova, 21. “There are a lot more booths and people flowing in. People are becoming more comfortable with the economy.”

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A few years ago, demand for convention models was much lower, she said. She would land about two major events a year; she now books at least six. During the lean years, she had to take more “out-of-industry” jobs such as bartending and retailing, which cut into daytime casting calls.

“There was not a lot going on,” said Portanova, who worked the iDesia booth with her friend Breana. “But now, they keep hiring up until the day of the show.”

Tracy Wilson, 26, echoed the sentiment at the D-Link booth. The number of hiring opportunities through Facebook, Craigslist and agencies has increased, she said.

“Last year, it was really slim trying to get jobs,” she said as she greeted guests with fellow model Valentina Smirnova, 29. “It’s definitely picked up, and there are more opportunities. I’ve got bookings all over now.”

And compared with past gigs, this one’s not bad, models said.

Laura Croft, 27, said former bosses skimped on bathroom breaks and mealtimes for the models. Once, she chucked a salad onto the runway of a show after a manager brought just two servings for eight women.

She was working the PhoneGuard booth with her friend Jamie Westenhiser, 29, whom she met while working swimwear conventions.

Portanova once had to wear 6-inch heels to work in a spa, so the 4.5-inch heels she’s been sporting at CES are “a walk in the park,” she said. Plus, she has “amazing foot-numbing cream.”

And another bonus: CES attendees tend to be less grabby.

“This is nothing compared to Comic-Con, where because they’re dressed up in costumes, they feel like they have a lot more freedom,” Portanova said. “This is more businesslike.”

Still, Wilson added, “Gotta love the nerds.”

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-- Tiffany Hsu

Photos, from top: Zoe Portanova, left, with her friend Breana at iDesia.

Tracy WIlson, left, and Valentina Smirnova.

Jamie Westenhiser, left, and Laura Croft.

Credit for all photos: Tiffany Hsu


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