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How to Become an Auto Show Model

So, you want to know how to become an auto show model. It’s true, they do get to travel, work fun often times high profile events with great vehicle brands, and they make great friends along the way. But, the question is — how do you become one? The job isn’t as easy as it may seem, it takes a certain type of person. But, let’s start with the basics.

What’s an Auto Show Model Anyway?

An auto show model works an auto show event representing a brand and talent is usually selected from a modeling agency. They are hired to learn the details of a vehicle or line of vehicles then interact with potential customers at auto shows answering vehicle questions, taking down potential customer information (leads), presenting to crowds and working interactive brand supportive experiences. Often times, the auto show models are required to attend an in-depth training then travel to a series of auto show events for the brand (called a circuit).  Some addition events may include things like ride and drives (where customers can test out a car), golf experiences (usually for luxury brands), NASCAR events, mall informational events, appreciation experiences and more.

What’s the Process To Become an Auto Show Model?

  1. You will need to find an agency that hires auto show models / has an auto show brand as a client. Motivated Models represents auto clients and accepts online submissions for those that want to be notified when we have castings in their area.
  2. You will need to audition. Some agencies will travel doing live auditions and you’ll need to sign up in advance for a date and time slot when they’re visiting a city near you. Others will hold online castings and accept video auditions or conduct Skype interviews. For online or in person interviews, they will often have you memorize and present a short auto show audition script.
  3. Often times you’ll get a callback, although you interviewed with the casting director, you’ll need to do another interview with the agent in charge of the brand.
  4. If selected for the auto show team, they’ll provide the dates for training which you will need to attend. Travel and lodging is covered for training if you’re not a local.
  5. At training you’ll go over product information, meet your fellow auto show brand talent that you’ll be working with and you’ll be provided wardrobe and fitting information to get the wardrobe tailored (if need be)
  6. After training the agent will assign events a few weeks to a few months in advance. Your travel (flights, lodging, etc.) will be booked by the agent if you’re not local to the area of the event.
  7. You’ll work various auto shows and events, if you do a great job they’ll book you more regularly and request you back for the following season

What is an Auto Show Model expected to do?

Auto Show Models usually travel to a series of events for a specific brand answering questions from potential or current customers. Some brands require their models to capture leads, others require some event setup/tear down, and others require talent to present a predetermined script to the crowds on a regular or semi regular basis. They are expected to arrive to all events with an upbeat attitude, ability to embody the look and feel of the brand, and be outgoing. The auto show season starts in the late summer/early fall and goes through the following summer. Although most event dates are known ahead of time, most brands do not require the models to attend all events. Talent will let their agent know which they can attend and the agents will book the talent as they see fit based on their availability. Because of the cost of travel, most brands require an auto show model to work the entirety of the auto show in a select city. Most auto shows are 5-15 days long with working day shifts lasting 6-12 hours depending on the brand requirement and schedule setup. This can be tiresome especially when considering you must be peppy and pleasant with all consumers at all times.

How much does an auto show model make?

Auto show models usually starts with a low wage and then gets a ‘raise’ the next season, assuming they did a great job and can prove value. Starting wages can be as low as $18/hour + travel + per diem but you can work your way up to as much as $800/day + travel + per diem or more depending on the specifics of the brands needs. When taking into account the length of an auto show and the number of hours worked each day, it’s a great way to make consistent income while getting to travel to major cities.

When are Auto Show Model Auditions?

They can be throughout the year if a brand needs more talent, but the majority of auditions and new talent castings occur in the late spring and early summer. Most brands make talent selections shortly after summer starts and continue throughout the summer wrapping up by late summer as that is when most brand talent training events occur.

When is the Auto Show Season?

The auto show ‘season’ starts in the late summer / early fall and goes for roughly 10 months. Very few if any auto shows occur over the summer (although supportive events and ride and drives are plentiful during that time) for which reason the ‘season’ ends in late spring and starts in early fall.

Read about: Why Do Women Models Pose Beside Cars at Auto Shows?

What do Auto Show Models Wear?

Many brands will provide the models with a specific set of wardrobe. Some brands will require the talent to return the wardrobe at the end of the ‘season’ others will get to keep theirs. Usually they are form fitting yet somewhat conservative apparel.

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The weird, lonely life of an auto-show model

There’s a lot of eye candy on display at the New York International Auto Show at the Javits Center: fierce-looking Corvettes and Vipers, sleek Jags and Maybachs, even a Range Rover convertible.

And then there’s Elizabeth and Brittany.

In her black mini-dress and fire-engine-red pumps, Elizabeth Smith — Miss Hawaiian Tropic Beauty 2014 — has spent a week smiling in front of NASCAR champ Kyle Busch’s Toyota. The show wraps up tonight.

“[People] say, ‘Are you just a model?’ ” huffs the Megan Fox look-alike. “I say, ‘I am a model, but I also know a lot about the vehicle.’ ”

It’s not easy to shed sexist stereotypes while posed on a spinning turntable and behind glass, as if in a zoo. So go the long days of the auto show’s “product specialists,” formerly known as models.

Back when Smith, 26, was a finance-data analyst in Orlando, she dreamed of a job that would allow her to travel. On the auto-show circuit, she got her wish; before New York, she was in Dallas, Atlanta and Chicago. Toyota, like most car makers, throws a lavish opening-night party in each city. But Smith isn’t invited — she admits to spending many a dinner eating cookies in her hotel room.

“There are hard, lonely days,” she says.

Angela Fong — a 31-year-old former pro wrestler who’s been a Nissan specialist for three years — has attended brand parties before: “Sometimes we have to work them.”

The New York show marks the end of a season that began last September. Most product specialists work 10 to 15 shows a year — five to 24 days at a time — and can average 200 days on the road.

Ken Paul, a 20-year Nissan veteran and the rare male product specialist, says that in cities like Cleveland, the highlight is blowing off steam after work by going bowling with fellow reps. “The less exciting the city, the more activities you do together,” Paul says. The night The Post caught up with him in Manhattan, he was on the hunt for a bodega that stocked his favorite Heineken.

With per diems of anywhere from $225 to $1,000, Paul is proud that “I’ll have a couple of bucks when I retire.” At 50, the former aspiring actor confesses to concerns about his auto-show shelf life. But he has a plan for now: “There’s always Touch of Gray [hair dye] and the gym to keep us going.”

The one thing that doesn’t help? Getting a pedicure.

“Don’t get one before a big show because they take off your calluses — and you need your calluses,” as they help prevent blisters, says Jaguar specialist Lorraine McKiniry.

Hedy Popson started her car-show modeling career at age 19, in 1989, when the outfits were “very ‘Dynasty’-looking. We’d call ourselves ‘the spin-and-grin girls.’ ”

Today she’s president of Productions Plus, an agency that staffs product specialists for 19 car manufacturers. Popson says some 1,000 people apply every season for about 80 slots. When casting, she keeps in mind the personality of each brand.

For Lexus: “They’re trying to go [for] sporty luxury and appeal to younger buyers.”

Toyota is more age-friendly, with product specialists ranging from 20 to 55.

Models tend to spend two weeks learning the specs of “their” cars. Jaguar’s McKiniry, 45, says it’s as important to understand the buyer as the cars. “Our customers ask if the leather is hand-stitched,” says the Easton, Pa., resident. “Chevy customers ask about cup holders for their kids.”

Laura Voss, a 44-year-old former Miss Wisconsin-turned-Nissan model, recalls her favorite inquiry: “‘I have eight cats — can I fit all these crates in [the backseat]?’”

Still, it’s better than what Brittany Berndt, 29, got asked while working for Porsche during this, her first New York Auto Show.

“One guy actually said, ‘Are you just a pretty face or do you have a brain?’ Sighs the Atlanta massage therapist, “Some people are just rude.”

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How Do Car Show Models Get Their Start?

Many car show girls start off by attending events, bringing pictures and networking at smaller gatherings. The small shows are usually run by local car enthusiast groups and clubs, many of them eager to exhibit their rides with pretty girls. Some good snapshots and a professional demeanor make a great impression, and may result in a call for work at a future show.

An aspiring model could also sign up with a promotional or modeling agency. Car models are classified as spokespeople, and may end up also working events in nightclubs and other venues. However, the agency method isn’t the way to go for women who don’t fit the standard of a minimum height (five feet seven inches), full breasts and sometimes overly primped appearance.

What to Watch Out For

When venturing into the car show arena, be careful of how you act and who you give information to. There are many who seek to take advantage of a woman’s desire to model, and will act unscrupulously to get what they what. If someone wishes to set up a job, ask for everything in writing. If the event coordinator doesn’t have a contract, bring a generic one outlining fees, schedule and other parameters.

When signing with an agency, it’s necessary to also be cautious. Don’t ever give an agency money for representation, under any circumstances. An agency should get its money from finding jobs for models, not from kickbacks due to relationships with photographers and coaches. An agency will arrange shoots with reputable photographers who will supply references. Never pay anyone for a thing.

Check out: Top 15 Hottest Car Show Models

What Do Car Show Models Do?

Once that first job is landed, what comes next? The organizers of the particular event may have a particular outfit for you to wear, or might have you working with other women. Follow directions, be punctual and always have a gracious attitude.

Many men at the show will want to take pictures and flirt. Some may cross the line and act inappropriately. If that happens, notify a nearby event organizer immediately. Don’t think that there’s ever a need to accept discourteous or rude treatment.

Above all, have fun. There will be other car show organizers around who may have more work. Keep smiling, have some business cards and strut your stuff.

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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.

Check out: 15 Sexy Car Girls You Should Be Following on Instagram