default image for post

Memoirs of a Phone Sex Goddess

December 13, 2011 | by  |  Features

Even though Christi is in her twenties, her voice has a distinctly girlish quality.

Her laugh is a pleasant, high-pitched hiccup, like the pop of a soap-bubble. When going into details, her voice betrays a vague, youthful discomfort. But, when discussing her eighteen-month stint as a Vancouver-based phone-sex operator, (fittingly enough, over the phone) the writer and aspiring filmmaker is surprisingly frank, exposing a grounded attitude toward sexuality that contrasts with her vocal quality in a way that verges on uncomfortable – especially when she gets to the parts about pedophiles, reptile fetishes, and men who have an insatiable urge to compare their penises to McDonald’s french fries. For a little over a year, Christi (who has since retired from the business) was one of a dying breed, part of a vast, decentralized network of independent contractors, voices speaking from the darkness all across North America, most working from home to satisfy the increasingly specialized needs of an ever-shrinking list of clients.

“It was about 95% weird stuff,” Christi says of her former career. “The thing is, if you just want to have regular, vanilla phone-sex, you can probably find that somewhere for free on the internet. It’s a lot harder to find someone willing to indulge your dinosaur fantasy. That, you have to pay for.”

Unsurprisingly, since the proliferation of the internet and the advent of the webcam, the phone-sex industry has seen a substantial decline worldwide; once the only option for anonymous, long-distance erotic services, it now plays host to a number of what could be euphemistically called “niche” markets – requests too bizarre, improbable or criminal to be achieved through live video streaming.

“The vast majority of the big companies, they go to independent contractors (as in women who work from home),” Christi explains. “They don’t go through a call centre. Even the call centres work off of a website that is used mostly by independent phone-sex operators. It’s called Niteflirt.com, and you can set up a line for free.”

There’s virtually no way to tell how many phone-sex operators work and live in the city of Vancouver. The city issues no business licenses specific to the profession, and the decentralized nature of an industry that now, ironically, gets most of its clientele from the internet, as well as Niteflirt’s commitment to anonymity for both caller and operator, makes it impossible to track. Even finding Christi was maddeningly difficult. In the end, it was only possible thanks to her maintaining a Twitter feed under the moniker of “Night Operator”, oftentimes updating it as she was taking calls, reporting on some of her stranger customer interactions; the feed gained some widespread popularity only days after she set it up.

Unusually for a phone-sex operator, Christi began her career at a call-centre: a small, second-floor office buried deep within a mini-mall somewhere in Burnaby, with little inside but a few desks, phones, and some computer equipment, and no other sounds beyond the gurgle of a coffee-maker and the occasional click of the keyboard.

“I was hired because, apparently, I sound twelve on the phone,” she recalls, her voice rich with sarcasm. “I went to the interview and had the worst interview of all time, because I thought it would be funny, and then got hired anyway.”

As the sole employee working the night shift, Christi was responsible for answering calls to nearly 200 separate phone numbers – everything from Ebony Princesses, to Retired Hookers, to Fat Girls and the Pregnancy Line (“If these guys bothered to read reviews,” her Twitter feed jokes, “they would realize that I’ve been pregnant for well over a year”) to the Ignore Line, where, as the name suggests, callers get off on the idea of paying to be dismissed.

“I think my favourite call was from this guy who was super into small-penis humiliation,” she recalls. “That was a really popular line. His thing was that he wanted to be forced to drive to McDonald’s to buy french fries to compare his penis to. And, I didn’t know what to do, so I told him to wear a dress. I don’t know where he found the dress, but he definitely did drive, and I figured out where he was based on the radio station, because he’d left the radio on, and I told him that he had to buy a Kid’s Meal instead of a regular meal, and he did. Then, he bought the Kid’s Meal with a girl’s toy, and it was one of those Barbies – and, keep in mind, he’s just gone through the McDonald’s drive-thru in a dress to buy french fries to compare his penis to in the parking lot – but when I told him to put the Barbie on the dashboard, so it would look like it was looking at him, he told me that was too embarrassing. I thought it was funny that the Barbie was the catalyst. It was okay if a real live person saw him, but the Barbie? That was too much.”

And this isn’t the first time a penis fixation comes up amongst stories of Christi’s callers either. Other client requests included the aforementioned dinosaur fantasy, men with a fetish for married women, and, in one instance, a 70-year-old man with an unusual desire for penile enlargement.

“For four-and-a-half hours, [he] wanted to role-play the process of buying penis-enlargement pills over the phone,” she laughs. “We were on the phone the entire time, and then he would be like: ‘And now I’m hanging up, and now I’m calling you back and giving you my testimonial.’ The amount that he ‘grew’ from the pills changed every single time.”

Despite the popularity of some of the lines, the Burnaby call centre showed signs of unsustainability. The pay was $12 per hour. The operators earned no additional commission, even if tips were paid by grateful clients. During the day-shift, two operators worked side by side, while the third had custody of a small, private room in the back. And, as Christi describes, by the time she arrived, the business was already taking desperate steps to cut costs.

“The boss also was a phone-sex operator,” she explains. “He would just pretend to be a girl on the phone, in his little office. It was a terrible [impersonation], but often guys aren’t paying attention; as long as you’re saying what they want to hear, they don’t really care if you’re a dude, I guess.”

Then, less than two months into her employment, Christi’s boss vanished without paying his employees.

“It wasn’t as bad a situation for me as it was for the other girls who worked there,” she explains. “I was the only white girl who worked in the office. I was the only one who had gone to college. One of them had three kids, and was still working part-time at McDonald’s so she could get food for her kids at the discounted price; not paying them was really, really messed up.”

So, Christi went independent, setting up her own accounts, and taking over clients from girls leaving the business.

“I definitely made less once I went independent,” she muses, “but I was taking a lot fewer calls. Because, instead of 200 lines coming to me, I had 30-40. They were usually cheaper, because, the lower the cost of the line, the more frequently people will call [...] A lot of girls who decide they don’t want to do phone-sex anymore will have already built up a clientele,” she explains, “so they’ll either give other girls their [Niteflirt] account, or they’ll sell them. And, I knew some girls who had accounts that already had built-in people. And ratings. Because, on the website, you can rate on a 1-5 system, so if you have higher ratings, you’ll get more calls, and can charge more.”

However, by this time, certain dark realities had already become apparent. The fact is, in a business driven so far underground by market pressures and technological advances, phone-sex operators are servicing an ever-shrinking clientele, and, even to the most grounded and liberal of contractors, the desires of those remaining customers are often uncomfortable, unsavoury or downright horrific.

“The first call I ever took was, to date, the worst one I ever took,” Christi explains. “It was from a dude who chose the ad because it reminded him of his seven-year-old daughter. I had to sit there for 20 minutes. It was my first call ever, and I was still in the office, and our boss had told us: ‘No hanging up, no matter what,’ and so, after the call, I went into his office, and said: ‘What do I do in that situation?’ and he said: ‘Well, you act seven.’”

According to Christi, pedophile fetishes were among the most common: by her estimation, every second call or so. “As soon as I started working on my own, I just started hanging up as soon as that sort of thing came up,” she explains. “There were some people who would want the same thing every week, and there were some people who were escalating. And, you can tell ‘Oh, this isn’t going to end well.’ Sooner or later, they’re not going to want to just talk about it on the phone. And there’s nothing you can do because it’s a totally anonymous system.”

After roughly 18 months (many of the later ones only part-time), and for a number of reasons, Christi decided to end her association with the phone-sex world. She expresses no regrets for her time spent in the industry and, in fact, encourages others to try it as a means of earning extra money. She has logged her experiences online, told her family and friends, and even taken calls with friends in the room.

“I was surprised,” she laughs. “No one seemed upset when I told people that was what I did. Most people were like: ‘Oh! I didn’t know that was still a thing! That’s awesome.’”

So, is the phone-sex business truly a thing of the past, an industry nearing extinction? Or will it be carried by the small but enthusiastic community that continues to support it, in spite of the thousands of other options, interactive and otherwise?

“There’s always going to be an audience for phone-sex,” Christi points out, “because there are things where it’s physically impossible for people to act that stuff out in real life, like the dinosaur thing. If they see that on a webcam, they’re going to be able to tell: ‘That’s not a real dinosaur!’”

Either way, you’ll never look at french fries the same way again.

 

Jesse Donaldson is a journalist and historian whose work has appeared in VICE, The Tyee, subTerrain, and SadMag. If you think THIS is neat, an expanded "This Day In Vancouver", is now available in book form, in bookstores everywhere, and online at Anvil Press.

Read more by


1 Comment


  1. Man alive! Magnificent. Her tweets make me actually want to sign up for Twitter.

    And, I mean, you could maybe do some badass CGI stuff if people really want dinosaur-related sexytimes. I’m just saying.

Leave a Reply

Comment moderation is enabled, no need to resubmit any comments posted.

About Us

The Dependent Magazine is a Vancouver-based publication of daring and creative works of journalism and entertainment.

 

Want to get involved?

 

Send text, pictures, videos, and crude drawings to editors@thedependent.ca.

The Facebook

Copyright © 2017 · The Dependent Magazine | Vancouver | Powered by WordPress