It was billed as a trade show for a specific audience, but the specificity ended there. Taken together, the booths, exhibits, displays and seminars at Women's Expo '86 at the Orange County Fairgrounds were about as specific and cohesive as goulash.
Jeff Overstreet, the producer of the three-day show, which ends today, said "the intent was to make it a total event for women," to present "things that can offer them information and support."
Although the turnout was sparse early Tuesday evening--the opening day of the show--Overstreet said he expected 15,000 people over the three days. An estimated 3,000 advance tickets were sold at $5 each, according to another expo organizer. (Tickets at the door cost $6.50.)
If variety was Overstreet's goal, he succeeded. Strolling down the aisles lined with nearly 100 booths, those attending the expo could, within a space of only a few feet, get birth control counseling, learn about facial cosmetic make-overs and get the latest on how to buy and use tanning beds.
Farther on, one could buy a natural fur coat (from Affordable Fine Furs), inspect a pink Buick Regal at the Mary Kay Cosmetics display, indulge in a little lingerie shopping, get opinions and advice on sexual assault, breast feeding, nuclear proliferation, adolescent pregnancy and premenstrual syndrome, and drop in at one of a handful of booths offering advice on chiropractic services.
One such chiropractic booth was occupied by a pair of Orange County chiropractors who offered information about what they called a "new test to detect bone loss," or osteoporosis, a weakening of the bone structure that sometimes occurs in older women.
Diane Curtis, who practices in Costa Mesa, and Robin Phillips-Baciak, who has her office in Huntington Beach, said the process, known as BoneScan, has an advantage over tests now in use because it is estimated to "cost at least $100 less than other tests," such as the CAT-scan.
She said the process involves taking an X-ray of the patient's little finger next to an aluminum wedge of known density. The patient then fills out a short health questionnaire and the questionnaire and X-rays are sent to a lab in Washington for analysis. Based on calculations against the aluminum wedge, and using norms for age, life style and diet, loss of bone tissue can be accurately measured, Curtis claimed.
'Women Need to Know'
"It can allow people to make changes in their life styles before it's too late," said Phillips-Baciak. "There are about 200,000 women a year in this country who fracture a bone as a result of bone loss, and a large percentage of them never come out of the hospital. Their bones are just too weak to support them. It's something women need to know about early."
Curtis said the expo was "a great avenue to get information like this to the public." Phillips-Baciak explained the numerous chiropractic booths at the expo, saying that "chiropractors are really into PR. We only treat about 5% of the population, so we're not that visible. Something like this is very good for us."
Nancee Noel, a marriage, family and child counselor from Costa Mesa and the president of the Orange County chapter of the Stepfamily Assn. of America, said she was contacted by Overstreet and asked to set up a booth for the association and deliver a talk today on the role of stepfamilies.
The Stepfamily Assn. of America is a national organization that provides information and support for members of families in which the parents have remarried.
'So Many Different Things'
"I sold computers before I became a counselor," Noel said, "and I went to quite a few trade shows, so I'm familiar with the atmosphere. But there are so many different things here. It's a real potpourri. It's analogous to a woman's life, in a way."
At least one exhibitor knew the power of the woman's dollar. Shari McWicker, a saleswoman at University Honda in Costa Mesa, presided over a display of her dealership's cars on one side of the hall.
"There are six or seven women who work at our dealership," she said, "and one of them is very much into the women's movement. We know that almost 65% of cars are bought by women and 90% of the purchases are influenced by women. There's a real market out there, and we thought that this would be a good way to get women's attention, get to the women's market. We figured, why not?"
The eclectic nature of the expo gave Sue Vaughn of Santa Ana, a volunteer at the Planned Parenthood booth, which was located across from the tanning beds and next to the facial make-over booth--a feeling, she said, that was both bemusing and encouraging.
"It's funny," she said. "It does seem to be a strange assortment. But I don't think it can hurt, and it might even help. The make-over booth will probably get a lot of business and they might stop by next door to see us."