Australian Lee Carmichael stands out from the standard fare of promotional models at this weekend’s Tokyo Game Show because, unlike 95 percent of those hired to attract attention, Carmichael is a man.
“That’s one thing I’ve noticed,” Carmichael says during a brief chat on the show floor in Makurahari Messe on Friday afternoon. “I’ve seen like maybe one other guy. In that sense, we’re getting a lot of attention. We stand out.”
Female models are a near-constant presence at shows like these, but it’s fairly rare to see men in the same roles. During Tokyo Game Show, Carmichael is stationed in the ZZYZX booth to promote the game Brave Lagoon Re:Act. His outfit is a quasi-gladiator getup that leaves him mostly shirtless. The booth, which includes 50-year-old Rene Verburg of Holland and female model Kelly Nishimura, draws its fair share of attention.
Carmichael, 33, poses for a number of pictures, and compares biceps with more than a few event-goers. Being one of only a handful of male models at the show — there are about six to seven male models in the romance game section far from Carmichael’s area — isn’t lost on him.
“A lot of the girls who work the booths are very familiar with this kind of scene,” he says. “They come up to us and say ‘We never see guys like you doing this, it’s always just girls.'”
Companies typically hire young women, often scantily clad, to work booths at conventions like these. The practice has, rightfully so, drawn quite a bit of condemnation in recent years. Some companies are now dialing back some of the sex appeal, but the presence of at least a few models in various states of undress is still fairly ubiquitous.
Carmichael has fielded proposals and had overzealous fans find out his personal email address at other modeling events in the past, but finds the job entertaining.
He says at TGS about the same number of men and women ask to take photographs with him and, once close enough, some can’t resist asking to see him flex … or more.
All in all, Carmichael is having fun as a model at his first video game convention.
“People are just taking lots of photos and coming up to me to try to touch my muscles and stuff,” he says. “I’m cool with that. Mainly the guys want to touch — girls want to take a photo, but the guys want to touch the muscles.”