Skip to comments.D.C. Interns are Hot... and Everyone Wants a Piece of Them
Posted on 08/11/2006 5:52:55 AM PDT by PDR
Roughly 20,000 of them flock to the District every summer, their dress has sparked the creation of new terms and 10 years ago, one of their number nearly brought down a presidency. Now, however, D.C. interns, particularly female interns, may be reaching even grander heights in pop culture popularity.
While the days of this summers Capitol Hill intern crop continue to wane, popular political blog Wonkette has just wrapped up its Hill Intern Hotties contest. Meanwhile, a Washington Times article recently dubbed members of D.C.s female intern contingent skinterns for their scanty work wear. Then theres MTV, the Grand Poobah of pop culture, which plans to pursue a pilot based on the intriguing lives of D.C.s interns.
Nationally, there appears to be a burgeoning desire to explore the lives of those directly serving the elite echelons of society. The Devil Wears Prada and follow-up The Nanny Diaries, have reaped immense literary success across the map. Now, the intrigue of D.C. interns seems to be another like iteration.
While MTV spokesman Graham James would not go into the details of the pilot, the intern scene is undoubtedly appealing to producers for its plentiful nightlife and access to celebrity. Oftentimes summer nights can contain four or more receptions in addition to a thriving happy hour circuit. There is also the presence of politicians, turned into pseudo stars from their constant appearances on 24-hour news channels like CNN, Fox News and MSNBC.
Then, of course, there is the attraction that has always been a staple of MTV reality shows from The Real World to Laguna Beach beautiful people.
The annual intern descent on D.C. marks an influx of young and attractive bodies to the Districts social mix, and as the new blood in town, the interns garner more than a healthy share of attention. One Capitol Hill veteran, who asked not to be identified for purposes of professional integrity, sited a joke among his office that Intern Hunting Season is declared open with the Taco Bell Reception in May and closes with the end of the August softball season.
Its all one giant frat party, said Angelle Smith, a former staffer and intern under former Louisiana congressman Billy Tauzin. When the interns come they infuse it with new life. These college kids come to town and they just want to drink and have a good time.
Smith, along with the other current Hill staffers interviewed for this article believe the young age of most congressional offices contributes directly to that climate. They also noted that due to the low salaries, young people are often the only ones willing to work in such positions.
Smith also observed that interns frequently come from wealthy families and often don outfits outside of most staffers price ranges.
We had one intern who called herself Barbie, Smith recalled. She was tall and blonde and beautiful and would come in wearing these designer suits and just flaunt it.
Instances such as that have been and remain common in the District. As a July 5 Washington Times article pointed out, not only are there a lot of young bodies entering the District, with an estimated 20,000 interns coming to D.C. each summer, but there is quite a bit of those bodies on display. The Times article noted an emerging trend of scanty dress around the workplace, citing a large number of girls wearing tank tops, mini-skirts, low-cut spandex tops and flip-flops to the workplace. For flaunting this informal uniform, such ladies have garnered the nickname skinterns.
Opinions vary as to why these interns, mostly girls, sport such wardrobes. While some of their co-workers believe they are just new to the ways of the workplace (This is probably their first year not at summer camp or Outward Bound, one Hill staffer said.), others believe that skinterns are not oblivious to the buzz they are creating.
In a work environment as dominated by the alpha male as D.C. is, such outfits can act like blood in the water.
Interns can be very susceptible. Theyre gullible and innocent, said Patrick Gavin, editor of Fishbowl D.C., a District-centric gossip blog. [Interns] are hoping to make connections while they are here that will benefit them when they graduate. On the flip side, They provide other people an opportunity to boost their ego. Lowly staffers can actually look down on them and wax poetic about Capitol Hill minutiae to impress a nubile 18-year-old.
Gavin noted that while the infatuation with young women is hardly new, recent pop cultural events in the media, such as Britney Spears donning of a Catholic school uniform, have made such coveting commonplace, if not altogether socially acceptable.
There were no social consequences whatsoever for counting down to the Olsen twins 18th birthday, Gavin said. And when Britney Spears put on that school uniform, it put 16-year-olds up for grabs to a lot of dirty old men.
Regardless of an interns looks or age, there is also the fact that the role of intern itself has become sexualized. Ever since former President Bill Clintons affair with then-intern Monica Lewinsky made headlines and led to his impeachment, the position has never been viewed the same way.
When I found out that I got the White House internship, I told all my friends about it at a party that night. Instead of congratulating me, they all laughed and called me Monica the whole night, said a former female intern of the Bush White House who withheld her name. Getting a White House internship used to be this really prestigious honor, but this one random chick turned it into a really bad joke. What really bothered me was knowing that the guys who got the internship were getting patted on the back and congratulated they did not have to deal with any of the jokes that I had to as a female.
Prior to Clintons affair, the White House used to hand out t-shirts that read White House Intern to those in the program. That practice stopped abruptly thereafter and the incident became a taboo subject within the White House walls, even after Clintons departure from office.
The sex and politics crossover received another injection of juice with the 2005 revelation of the so-called Washingtonienne. Jessica Cutler, a former intern and, at the time, an aide in Sen. Mike DeWines office, graphically chronicled her sexual exploits with dozens of government staffers and D.C. socialites and exposed the nation to a scene that blended private sex lives and public offices.
For her online revelations, Cutler was fired from her post in Senator DeWines office. However she is currently a published author, posed for Playboy, was named one of Jane Magazines 30 Under 30, and sold her book rights to HBO for a project to be co-produced by Sex and the Citys Sarah Jessica Parker.
While most subjects interviewed for this article believe that female interns are dressing down out of workplace inexperience rather than a desire to enhance their sex appeal, and that any unbecoming after hours conduct is similarly a product of their youthful zeal and naïveté, Cutlers example provides another intriguing possibility particularly with a potential MTV spotlight set to shine on the District. Given the enhanced media attention focused on the District and the degree of celebrity awarded to modern day politicians, there seems to be a potential for interns or other young workers to become a celebrity themselves by playing up their sexuality as Cutler did. Though there are no guarantees.
Take the example set by former Hill worker and current New Yorker Julia Allison. As Allisons career deals directly with sexuality, given her dating column for AM New York, she is perfectly aware of its benefits.
In 95 out of 100 cases, sex appeal is beneficial as long as you know how to use it smartly, said Allison, whose byline has also appeared in Cosmopolitan, COED, Seventeen and Teen Vogue among other publications.
Along those lines, her website (www.juliaallison.com) includes an array of tantalizing photos, including a series showing Allison in a slinky, low-cut nightgown and another where she reads the Kama Sutra in a plaid skirt. While those pics may cause possible publishers to give her a second look, she believes that her own bit of Beltway intrigue, dating Rep. Harold Ford (D Tenn.) during her time studying at Georgetown University, hasnt boosted her career in the slightest.
Other than a fabulous weekend ski vacation and a few fancy dinners, all Harold gave me was the certainty that dating an egotistical wannabe-hotshot is overrated, she said. Perhaps if I had gone public with more information, it might have had more of an impact, but as it was, I downplayed my involvement with Harold as much as I could. Now, Allison jests on her site, her literary agent wont return her calls.
Seemingly, capitalizing on Page Six fodder is no sure thing. Lewinsky couldnt even capitalize on her presidential scandal. Her career as a TV host flopped along with Foxs 2003 reality show Mr. Personality and she folded a post-internship handbag business in 2004. Nevertheless, the opportunities were there.
Then come the moral questions of playing up the physical beauty and sexuality of these young workers. In the past, beauty has been a useful tool on the Hill. An Aug. 2 New York Times article on the exclusivity of the Capitols Senators-Only elevators recounted the practice of lobbyists hovering around those elevators with attractive young women, hoping to better their chances of a ride-along invitation. The article says such baiting took place in an era when senators held a less enlightened view of women, but one report from Capitol Hill suggests that looks still matter, at least to some congressional offices.
A seven-year veteran of the Hill has told the News-Press that several congressional offices on both sides of the aisle request the submission of photographs along with intern and entry-level application materials.
The people that fill these positions are the first faces that you meet from an office, said the veteran, who requested anonymity due to his offices press policy. I dont think its particularly discriminatory, as people have an inclination to see fresh, youthful faces representing an office.
A second, since-departed congressional staffer confirmed the story, saying that her office was one that requested photos from interns.
The pictures do help you remember who is who and no one was ever turned down because of their photo, she said. But they got passed around the office and everyone got excited if they were hot. It was a fun pastime.
The practice of requesting photos has drawn the ire of at least one womens organization based in the District.
Thats outrageous, said Clare Giesen, Executive Director of the National Womens Political Caucus. What does someones appearance have to do with the way they perform their job? What type of qualitative judgment is a good face? Who decides that? A good face is someone who is polite, courteous, works hard for her congressman and loves her country. Thats a good face.
While to date there has been no great outcry of protest regarding revealing dress and the observed emphasis on looks in the District, Giesen is preaching a word of caution.
[Dressing inappropriately and accenting sexuality] is undermining ones own sense of being viewed professionally, she says.
Beverly Davis, President of the National Federation of Republican Women agrees. If you want to be a professional, dress like a professional. Dress for the job you ultimately want to get. Its hard to take someone seriously who doesnt dress professionally.
Echoing that sentiment more strongly are women who have recently vacated the positions currently occupied by many of these young women.
They need to realize that their actions do not end with themselves. They really are creating this larger culture that harms everyone, the previously quoted former White House intern said. It feels like the rest of us [women] have to lean way in the other direction just to make sure people take us seriously.
That the current capital culture seems to encourage interns to flaunt their beauty leads Fishbowl D.C.s Gavin to believe workers should utilize all assets at their disposal, including physical ones.
If a female reporter can get an interview with a congressman by batting her eyes a little, why shouldnt she? Gavin says. She hasnt compromised her integrity. Shes just using what God gave her.
Two male Hill employees stated that they didnt believe the emphasis on physicality was completely detrimental or out of control, but as they detailed examples of intern-related behavior both in and out of the workplace, they separately noted how chauvinistic such incidents sounded when they repeated them aloud.
Those interviewed believe that the summer intern culture, steeped in sexuality as it is, will not change anytime soon. In the meantime, voyeurs in all forms of media will assuredly continue to soak in the melodrama and skimpy dress, whether its sexy effects are intended or not.
Of course, lost in all of this is another possibility. Perhaps these scantily clad interns are actually a step ahead of the thinking for another, non-sexual reason.
I wish I could take more of my clothes off, Gavin said during the early August heat wave. Its so hot out there.
Yes, interns will be ranked by the highest level of elected representative they had sex with, with bonus points for risk of being caught, doing it in the office, doing it while he's on the phone with his wife, double points if he's on the phone with the President, and quadruple points for seducing a member of the same sex who is not openly gay.
Democrats like Clinton and Codit only like the fat Jewish girls.
yeah the poor rapist was seduced
That's just not helpful, not helpful at all.
What?? No Pictures??
I'll wait for the "Washington Interns Gone Wild" video in the fall.
The Most Famous DC Intern of All Time
In other words our nations capital is a whorehouse? Hell, we already knew that.
Anyway, that's a former intern, not a current one (I hear she got promoted.....endlessly).
I'm not sure what makes this news, exactly.
Chandra thinned down on the Condit diet.
LOL. Dude, that is just mean.
This one gets the "Somebody's Future Psycho Girlfriend" award for sure.
She looks like a young Susan Estrich in a Kate Hudson wig.