Flatfooted at SEMA

November 3, 2005
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When the day is over, I can think of nothing more wonderful than a warm bowl filled with hot water and Epsom Salts. Okay, I'm getting old. But I challenge most readers to keep up for three long days exploring the vast halls of the SEMA show. I've been told there are five full miles of aisles at the Las Vegas Convention Center this week. I'm ready to attest to that fact, as are the other 120,000 attendees who, by this point in the week, wander around with an almost numb look on their faces. Call it "aftermarket overkill."

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Things have changed a good bit from when I used to attend this show. Back then, the stars were NASCAR racers and the kings of the drag strip circuit. But as SEMA boss Chris Kersting likes to point out, the show is a "barometer of consumer trends," and right now, bling is king. That not only means lots of wild, urban accessories, like this jeweled wheel, but the unmistakable presence of rappers and hip-hop celebrities. Monday afternoon, Funkmaster Flex showed up at Ford with his own version of the automaker's new Fusion sedan. Later that evening, he hosted the first in a weeklong series of parties, among the hottest tickets in town.

As TCC Editor Marty Padgett reported recently, SEMA has gone out of its way to put a professional spin on this annual event: read that as "less skin." Those familiar with Carmen Electra from her endless appearances in Playboy might not have recognized her in the prim and proper outfit she worse while signing autographs for Lexus. But as Kersting concedes, there are plenty of "public areas" at the convention center, which SEMA can't control, so show-goers were still treated to plenty of creative moments, like the, ahem, well-enhanced young lady strategically positioned in front of a double-length Hummer limo. She readily posed for photographers in front of a sign declaring, "We will stretch anything." At that point, even Elvis impersonators seemed tame.

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