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E3 bans scantily clad ‘booth babes’

Officials at the video game industry’s annual E3 show are promising to fine exhibitors who flout the rules against scantily clad “booth babes” this year.
2005 Electronic Entertainment Expo
Rapper Coolio is surrounded by a group of models hired by an exhibitor at last year's Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles. Scantily clad women, known as "booth babes," could now fetch a $5,000 fine on the spot, organizers promise.Christian Petersen / Getty Images file
/ Source: Reuters

The video game industry’s 2006 E3 trade show in Los Angeles is getting a make-over — banned are the swarms of sexy, semi-clad “booth babes” that in years past took the unveiling of new games and technology to titillating new levels.

Rules prohibiting the use of scantily clad young women to peddle video games are nothing new, but the handbook for this year’s show in May outlines tough new penalties, including a $5,000 fine on the spot for the booth owner if the “booth babe” is semi-clad.

“What’s new in 2006 is an update and clarification of the enforcement policies; as we do from time to time, we have taken steps to ensure that exhibitors are familiar with the policy and how it will be enforced,” Mary Dolaher, E3Expo show director, said in an e-mail.

She did not comment on the reasons for the change.

The video game industry has come under fire from federal and local politicians, who want to limit sales of violent and sexually explicit games to minors.

The handbook from the Entertainment Software Association, the show’s promoter, says: “Material, including live models, conduct that is sexually explicit and/or sexually provocative, including but not limited to nudity, partial nudity and bathing suit bottoms, are prohibited on the show floor, all common areas, and at any access points to the show.”

Exhibitors would receive one verbal warning when a violation occurs. Upon a second violation, the ESA said it would impose a $5,000 penalty, payable immediately on the site. It would also require that models comply with the dress code before returning to the floor.

ESA said it has sole discretion to determine what is acceptable.