SORRY, WRONG NUMBER
Copyright © 2004 All Rights Reserved
I'd been doing the starving artist thing, working part-time in an office while I struggled to sell my beaded jewelry to various boutiques around the city. I was in desperate need of some additional income. A friend suggested that I get a job doing phone sex. She was kidding, incidentally, but the more I thought about it, the more the idea of faking orgasms for money intrigued me. I began to wonder if it truly was a viable option.
I decided to see what I could find on the internet. After wading through numerous porn sites, I finally found something that looked legitimate. A short blurb on the benefits of "working right out of your own house or apartment" was accompanied by photos of an attractive young woman clutching a phone to her ear and smiling seductively. The company also boasted weekly payroll checks and a 24-hour on-call support staff. Convinced, I called the 800 number listed on the site and left my contact information on the voicemail.
Within twenty-four hours I receive a call from Layla, a "recruiter" for the phone sex dispatch service. Layla tells me that I have a great phone voice and that she likes my personality. She then informs me that this is an 'adult phone service' and I would be handing calls of an 'adult nature.' She wants to know if I'm comfortable with this.
"No problem," I tell her confidently. "I used to be an exotic dancer, so I'm familiar with the industry." This is a big lie, and probably an unnecessary one at that, but I feel the need to reassure her of my qualifications as a bona fide sex worker. Satisfied, Layla tells me that she'll go ahead and get my paperwork started so that I can begin working as soon as possible.
After signing and returning the sixteen page contract that she faxes to me at my day job ("information about my car insurance," I tell my colleagues), I am ready to embark on my exciting new career as a Phone Actress -- my official job title, according to my contract. Layla calls me back to confirm the receipt of my signed contract, and welcomes me to the company, informing me that the instructional packet containing my log-in code and password will be sent to my home within the next few days.
By the time the packet arrives the following Saturday, I am nearly giddy with anticipation. I read through the employee handbook, which details the minimum amount of hours I am obligated to work in order to remain on the company's payroll (at least one hour per week). I am required to maintain an average hourly "holding time" of seven minutes. In practical terms, this means that if the amount of time I am able to keep the callers on the phone does not average out to be seven minutes per call per hour, then my contract will be terminated.
Before I pick up the receiver to begin my first shift, I realize with a start that I need an alias. Quickly I run through possible pseudonyms in my head. I want something uncomplicated and easy to remember, but more original than "Candy" or "Angel." I take out a scratch pad and begin scribbling down possibilities. Amber? Too common. Bambi? Too ditsy. Britney? Hell no. I finally settle on Ava. It's short and sweet, yet exotic enough to be interesting.
I take a deep breath, dial the 1-800 number listed in the employee handbook, and punch in my log-in code and password. Then I wait.
A minute passes. Then another. Finally I hear a beep, signaling that a caller is on the line.
"Hi, who's this?" I say in a sweet, breathy voice.
"This is Bill," the caller replies, after a pause.
"Hi Bill. This is Ava."
"Uh -- Dave?" he stutters, taken aback.
"No, Ava," I correct him.
"Sorry, I can't hear you at all," he says quickly, and hangs up.
A few awkward calls later, "Ava" morphs into "April," a name that proves to be more user-friendly. It has a hint of naughtiness without sounding clichéd. My confidence growing, I grip the receiver and eagerly await my next victim.
The next caller speaks quickly and sounds nervous.
"Hey," he says.
"Hi, who's this?"
"Uh, my name's John."
"Hi John, this is April," I purr.
"April, you like to fuck?"
"Oh God, yes. I looove…"
"Can you cry for me?"
"Cry?" I say tentatively, wondering if I heard him right.
"Yeah, April. Can you cry for me?"
"Sure, if that's what you want." Holy shit, what have I gotten myself into?
"Cry for me then. Come on. Cry!"
I gasp, then fake a few sobs.
"Harder," snaps John.
I moan loudly, hoping that will suffice.
"Come on, bitch!" he bellows. "Louder!"
All right you perv, I think. You asked for it. I take a deep breath, count to three, then shriek into the phone as loud as I can, tacking on a few more grunts at the end for good measure. I pause, listening for John's response. To my surprise, he's still there.
"Awww, yeah," he says, breathing heavily. "I like it when you do that." He sounds spent.
"Anytime, baby." I tell him, thinking, get the fuck off my phone.
To my relief, he hangs up.
Thankfully, most of the calls that follow are only marred by a few impatient hang-ups, and callers that speak so low I have to strain to hear them. I repeatedly urge the quiet ones to speak up.
"I can't," one of them reluctantly confesses. "My wife might hear."
Later that evening, after a full three hours of heavy breathing and more false climaxes than I had with my last boyfriend, I'm thoroughly exhausted.I decide to take one more call before I log off the system and go to bed.
"Hello there, who am I speaking with?" says a polite voice with a lilting southern drawl.
"This is April," I reply.
"April, what a pretty name," he says, and clears his throat. "April, my name is William," he says, and for some reason, I picture actor William H. Macy relaxing in a hotel room somewhere, sipping a scotch and loosening his tie. "I'll tell you what I'm looking for tonight, and if you're not interested, I'll just go back to the main menu."
"What is it?" I ask, intrigued.
"Well, I'm looking for a woman to dominate me. I'll do anything you tell me to-I like to be tied up and spanked, I'll wear women's panties for you, you know. Things like that," he says, as matter-of-fact as if he was explaining insurance premiums.
I take a deep breath. Time to sink or swim.
"You want to be dominated?" I ask, abruptly switching my tone of voice. "I don't think you can handle it, pussy boy."
"Oh yes, please," he says meekly.
"Yes please, WHAT?" I demand.
"Yes, mistress," he whimpers. "Yes, Mistress April."
I feel an adrenaline rush. I am empowered. I am Joan Crawford.
I spend the half hour humiliating poor William. I have no idea what the hell I'm doing, but I try not to let it show.
"I'm going to attach this leash to your collar," I hiss. "You're going to be my dog."
"Yes, mistress," he pants.
"Yes, Mistress April,"
Next, I pick up one of my big platform shoes lying on the floor, and begin pounding it against the arm of the sofa.
"Do you like that?" I demand. "Do you want me to beat you harder?"
"Yes, Mistress April."
I pummel the furniture until my arm gets tired, slowly realizing that I'm running out of methods of punishment.
I take a stab in the dark.
"Do you want me to piss on you?" I ask in a sinister voice.
"Yes, Mistress April," he whispers, "I love to be pissed on."
"Shut up!" I command. I go into the bathroom, pull off my shorts and underwear, and straddle the toilet.
"I'm pissing on you right now." I tell him, tilting the receiver so that he can hear my piss hitting the bowl.
My sex slave suddenly breaks character.
"Oh my God, you're really doing it," he says, sounding flabbergasted.
"Of course I'm doing it!" I bellow into the phone. "What the hell do you think?"
"Oh my God." he repeats. There is a long pause, then three short dial tones, signifying that the call has disconnected.
I stand over the toilet, feeling triumphant. I don't know whether the guy was too disgusted or too titillated to continue the call-all I know is that I kept him on the phone for a full thirty-five minutes.
I think I like this job.
After my first few weeks of work, I figure out that nearly half of the calls I receive in an average night are hang-ups. The silver lining is that for an hour's worth of calls, there are typically at least three or four callers I am able to coax well over the seven minute mark (I watch my digital stopwatch like a hawk), and at least one that lasts fifteen minutes or more. After the longer calls I am either too exhausted or too bored to keep working. At that point I either take an hour long break before logging back in, or simply call it a night.
Occasionally I log in early in the morning before I leave for my day job. During these times, I get mostly dead air or a lot of hang-ups, but sometimes, just when I resolve to wait five more minutes before logging out, I hit the jackpot and get a call that lasts half an hour. This is when phone sex really pays. Even if I work as little as 1-2 hours per week and get a $100 check, it's still $50 an hour, a significantly higher figure than I make at my office job.
Predictably, 99.9 percent of the calls I receive are from men. One night, I get a guy calling with his wife holding on the other line. He asks me if I'm Tiffany, the operator they'd spoken to earlier.
"No, this is April," I tell him sweetly. "Do you like redheads?"
"Well," he stammers, "I think we really want to try and get Tiffany again,"
His wife speaks up.
"Wait, honey, I think this one sounds good."
The husband acquiesces, and I spend a dull-yet-profitable 23 minutes listening while he and his wife describe the time she sunbathed nude in front of a beach house, while the anonymous owner stood inside, watching her from the window and stroking himself.
While I become skilled at improvising, I am also grateful that many calls are preceded by whisper tags -- recorded messages that come on right as the call is dispatched to me, letting me know which option the caller has selected from the menu. Typical whisper tags include "Barely Legal," "Busty Blondes," and "Asian." My favorite whisper tags are the ones for "Big Breasts." I am a bit small in the chest myself, so I have a lot of fun pretending to be a 34DDD.
"It's sooo hard for me to find bras that fit," I tell a big breast enthusiast. "They have to be custom made."
"Really?" asks the eager caller, a self-described magician from Ohio.
"I'm getting undressed right now," I purr. "Do you want to help me unhook my bra?"
"Oh God," the magician says, his voice shaking. "Can I play with those big titties?"
I let out an excited gasp, as if overwhelmed with lust.
"Oh, yes you can. Take them out for me and shake them around. They need attention."
I'm ready to go on, but the caller is done.
"Shit!" he yelps. "I'm coming baby."
"Oh, yes, give it to me now!"
There is a rustle, then a thump. Magic Boy has dropped the phone.
I look up from my newspaper and check the time. About eight minutes. Not bad, but not great. I sigh, waiting for the magician to disconnect so I can get to the next call.
To my surprise, he comes back.
"April?" he pants. "Can I call you tomorrow?"
"You can call me anytime," I tell him, knowing full well that the way the dispatch service is set up, there's no way to find me. They don't provide us with our own extension numbers, making it virtually impossible for a caller to locate a particular operator from the menu. The only things they're able to select are physical attributes or different ethnic backgrounds. This ain't a dating service.
Next up is Ted, whose voice is preceded by the "Barely Legal" whisper tag. He skips the small talk and dives right into the fantasy.
"You're my neighbor's daughter," he says.
I hesitate, not wanting to get into trouble.
"Your neighbor's eighteen-year-old daughter?" I ask, hoping he gets the hint.
"Yeah, yeah. You're eighteen." he says. "You just graduated from high school."
"And I've got nothing to do but lay out in the backyard all day in my little bikini," I say innocently.
"Yeah, but you keep taking off your top," Ted says. "And you know that I can see you through the fence."
"I want you to see me," I tell him. "I like taking my top off for you."
"Yeah, I know," he breathes.
"I feel horny," I whisper into the phone. "I want to fuck myself."
"What are you going to fuck yourself with?" he asks. Then, "Wait, what'cha got wrapped up inside that towel?"
"It's just my dildo, honey," I giggle.
"What are you going to do with it?" his voice is growing raspy.
"I'm going to stick it in my pussy," I tell him. "I'm going to stick it in my pussy and let you watch."
"Oh yeah, do it baby," he says. "Fuck yourself."
"I want you to come over here," I tell him. "Come here and help me."
"Really?" Ted asks excitedly.
"Then," I tell him, trying to keep the smile out of my voice, "I want you to lick my dildo and taste my juice."
The caller sounds taken aback, but goes along with my suggestions. Whatever their fantasy, I can always go one better.
The men who seek me out aren't always looking for gratification. Sometimes they just need an anonymous person to listen. One night I get a call from Pedro, who is harboring a wicked little secret.
"I want to have sex with my best friend." he tells me.
"Does your best friend know this?" I ask.
"No, I haven't told him. I can never tell him."
"Why do you feel like you can't tell him?" I ask, slipping into therapist mode.
"Cause he wouldn't be my friend anymore." he tells me. "And I don't want him to think I'm gay."
Since I'm obviously ill-equipped to handle this sort of thing, I decide to switch tactics.
"So what would you like to do with your best friend?" I ask. Phone sex, after all, is about fantasy.
Pedro warms up to me.
"I really want to suck his cock." he says.
I ask him to describe the whole scenario for me. He imagines walking in on his friend while he's taking a piss in the bathroom. Pedro tells him to turn around, and sees that his friend's dick is hard.
"What would you do then?" I ask.
"I would get down on my knees, and put it in my mouth," he says.
I listen to Pedro go on with his fantasy. He describes the details of their imaginary encounter, which finally ends with Pedro naked on the bathroom floor, bracing himself as his friend rams his fist up his ass repeatedly until he comes.
I expect the call to end right there, but Pedro wants to keep talking.
"Well, do you want me to pretend like I'm your friend?" I ask uncertainly.
"No, I don't think so," he says. Then: "I just don't know what to do about this. I could never tell him how I feel."
He resumes talking about his angst over his forbidden lust, until he runs out of minutes and the system disconnects him in mid-sentence.
I'd been doing phone sex about four months, when one morning I literally woke up to find that I no longer had a job. I was sitting at the kitchen table, sipping coffee and preparing to log in for an hour's worth of work. When I punched up my log-in code, I got a series of clicks, then a busy signal. Confused, I called the 24-hour support number to see what was up.
"Your contract has been terminated because of low holding times," the support operator told me dryly.
"Excuse me?" I stammered. "Low holding times?"
"You didn't work enough last week," she replied.
I hung up the phone, stunned. It was the first time I'd ever been fired from a job. I sat there numbly for a moment, thinking of all the lost souls out there who would now never experience a telephonic orgasm with me.
It didn't take long to get over the shock of seeing my phone sex career come to a screeching halt. Although I once again found myself struggling to make ends meet, it was refreshing to be able to concentrate on my jewelry when I came home from work, instead of worrying about meeting my weekly faked orgasm quota.
A few weeks after I got canned, I happened upon an ad seeking "internet actresses" -- women willing to strip down and masturbate for paying customers using a web cam. It sounded like the new millennium's answer to phone sex. The only essentials listed were "a computer, a web cam, and a pleasant appearance." For about thirty seconds, I actually considered applying. Then I thought better of it, remembering Thoreau's quote about distrusting any new enterprise that requires new clothes.
Or in this case, no clothes.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andie Ryan is a native of Indianapolis who currently resides in St. Paul, Minnesota. In addition to her short-lived but illustrious career in the phone sex industry, she has worked as a cocktail waitress, a secretary, a graphic designer, a nude figure model, a telemarketer, and a library assistant. She also worked briefly for an evil corporate insurance company, but prefers not to discuss it.