Several exhibitors at this year’s BlogHer 2014 conference report that their businesses have gone under in the wake of their booths being pillaged by an over-zealous blogger who calls herself Her Royal Thighness.
“I don’t know what came over me,” said the middle-aged Thighness, 51, one of this year’s BlogHer Voices of the Year for humor. “I was sitting at breakfast on Saturday, when I realized there were only hours left until the Expo closed at five. I just panicked.”
So Thighness ditched her chocolate croissant and made a run for the Expo Hall.
“It started innocently enough,” she said. “The first booth I saw was for Skype. They said to take a card and write down one action I pledge to take to live my life with more passion. Then I had to share it by tweeting it out to the world. After that, I got to go over to the prize display and select an apron, a windbreaker, a pair of sunglasses or a rechargeable ‘juice’ pack for my cell phone. I just couldn’t decide. I wanted them all.”
So Thighness, who always dreamed of striking it rich on a game show, chose a battery pack, then returned to the booth three more times for chargers for her husband and daughter … plus a XXL white windbreaker that it turns out she can’t even wear.
“When I got home and tried it on, my family told me I looked like the Abominable Snowman,” she said. “Plus, my daughter pointed out that the back of the jacket says ‘If I share mine, will you share yours?’ It kind of makes me look like a perv.”
Thighness was willing to do whatever it took to score freebies. She listened attentively as representatives at one booth talked about abnormal uterine bleeding and a five-minute nonsurgical procedure that can help – just to score a Rosie the Riveter button that says “Let’s Talk About Periods.” She then spotted several colorful baskets of trendy China Glaze nail polishes and chose a lavender polish for her daughter … and a light green polish … and deep purple … plus six different shades of pink and red.
Thighness hit booth after booth, scoring coupons for products she doesn’t use. She helped herself to recyclable shopping bags, lip balm and hand sanitizer. She took eight Lysol pens, a Nescafe hot and cold tumbler, two Go Daddy USB car adapters, a cupcake made of lentils and a free Eggland’s Best spatula. Booth representatives reportedly communicated via walkie talkies to warn each other that the “swag hag” was headed in their direction, so they could hide their stash.
Said Vikki Claflin, the author of the hit humor blog, Laugh Lines: “You know that feeling you get when you take an over-sugared, wired, haven’t-slept-in-five-days-because-I’m-JUST-SO-EXCITED toddler to an amusement park, and you spend the entire day chasing her as she runs from ride to ride, wanting to do everything right freakin’ now? Say hello to my day with Thighness at the BlogHer14 Expo. This woman is a force to be reckoned with.”
Thighness and Claflin sat side-by-side for complimentary professional hand massages, after which Thighness walked off with, not one, but three boxed sets of pricey moisturizer for overly dry skin.
When friends told her it was about time for keynote speaker Arianna Huffington to take the stage, she brushed them off, they said. Thighness, who worked herself into what is being called a “lovely-parting-gift catatonia,” could no longer remember verbalizing, just hours before, how much she was looking forward to listening to the chair, president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group.
“As soon as Thighness hit the Expo Hall, she turned into a swag zombie – hair askew, eyes wide and unfocused,” said Darcy Perdu, who authors the popular humor blog So Then Stories. “She lunged down the hallways, laden with bags of freebies, arms outstretched, in a trance-like state, mumbling ‘Must get swag. Must get swag.’ No exhibitor was safe. She hit every booth. ‘Can I have a phone charger? How about that keychain? Are those cup cakes free? What about that skirt you’re wearing?’”
Thighness darted from display to display, collecting three bottles of organic vitamins, two containers of fiber pills, three bottles of bleach tablets for toilets and laundry, two Glade plug-ins and two refills.
“Good God, she even asked the lady at the Glade booth if she could have two of the scented candles that were part of the display,” Claflin laughed.
At the Chuckie Cheese booth, witnesses say Thighness took her turn spinning a wheel to win a board game, scoring a brand new shrink-wrapped Scrabble.
“But it wasn’t enough for her,” said one of the pizza chain’s representatives. “Nothing was enough. This woman was insatiable. We had all of these dress up clothes for bloggers to put on and take pictures in a photo booth – feathered boas, hats and glasses. She kept disguising herself and getting back in line to spin again. Monopoly … Scattergories. Thank heavens she spotted the free Baskin Robbins ice cream stand, or she would have walked off with the wheel.”
WordPress was giving out sunglasses. Thighness took three pairs.
Hairfinity had special vitamins that strengthen and grow hair. She took a two-month supply.
Cuisinart gave her rubber coasters that invert into trivets. She went back two more times for a full set.
Thighness walked off with $5 coupons for Baskin Robbins and Ziploc, a three-month subscription to an online magazine service and an offer to try a free Botox treatment in her hometown.
Representatives from several booths said they’d never witnessed anything like the personality change that overtook the midlife blogger. Several feared for their lives.
Said one onlooker, who preferred not to be named, “She loaded this giant Firestone tote bag with everything in sight. When that tote was filled to the brim, she went back to the booth and begged for another. They didn’t want to give it to her, but she had a crazed look in her eyes.”