Utne Blogs > Arts and Culture

“I Wish the World Was Run by Phone Sex Operators”

 by Hannah Lobel


Tags: Arts, Visual Arts, photography, phone sex, Phillip Toledano, Mother Jones,

Phone Sex Operator

The phone sex world thrives on anonymity, on the ability of strangers to confess their innermost desires to a person both real and of their own creation. Phillip Toledano’s Phonesex project, featured in Mother Jones, lifts the veil on this interior world with a series of elegant, respectful portraits paired with text written by the subjects themselves.  

The phone sex operators’ stories are quirky, amusing, insightful, and disturbing, but all of them reveal the complex personalities that are obscured by ads of airbrushed beauties entreating us to dash off into the bedroom and pick up the phone. They also reveal a great deal about their customers on the other end of the line and about the repressive cultural mores that make this industry so successful. 

Toledano’s book is due out in September from Twin Palms. You can find more portraits on the project’s website, along with the full subjects’ complete writings.

Image courtesy of Phillip Toledano.

amie_1
5/9/2010 10:16:32 PM

Hi there, I am a phone sex operator and it is most definitely an interesting job. I'd say that everyone I told about my occupation was amazed and wanted to know more! But you know, I'm just an average girl, 19, going to school and living my life. I'm also a lesbian! But that doesn't mean I can't make the men, and the women drool! I have a girlfriend and we are faithful to each other, being a PSO doesn't mean your a slut. But you do have to know a lot about fetishes and as Lisa said above, how to keep a straight face, because your not always talking about things are are pleasant and sexy to you. A lot of the men I talk to are cranky because they are calling instead of the real thing and you have to be able to ease that tension, with your tone and words, letting them feel at ease. And it's not the easiest thing in the world! Thats for sure, and sometimes it's impossible, depending on how frustrated your client really is. But I do learn how to read people, to have an idea of what they may like sexually through their words and tone, and it's fun! I just don't recommend this job to anyone who doesn't have a strong heart, tough skin, and good people skills. And not all calls are bad, sometimes I talk to very interesting and fun people that make all the bad calls worth getting to that one great call. Have a good day everyone, and remember not to judge a book by it's cover! xoxox Amie


lisa_1
7/8/2008 10:47:23 AM

Seeing the portrait of the woman with her young child in the foreground reminded me of the mom doing housework and carrying her kid around as she worked as a phone sex operator in Altman's _Short Cuts_. I mentioned this exhibit to a friend, which spurred her admit that she had briefly worked as a phone sex operator. I believe she called the position "phone actress," though. From her description, it sounds like a delicate balance of imagination and the ability to keep a straight face. -Lisa Gulya


dave41
7/5/2008 2:58:25 PM

I once worked my day office job with a single gal who was a phone sex operator at night. She used to come to work every day and tell us all about her evening before. She was a riot. She had a young daughter and every evening after her young, pre-school aged daughter would go to bed, she would turn on her special phone and go to work. We didn't believe her at first (that she had this job) but she did. Some of the stories she came up with weren't anything you could make up! She said she'd have on her sweats and be doing laundry or doing dishes and "talking" to the people who called. When they'd ask what she was wearing, she'd tell them all kinds of outrageous things. I laugh just thinking about this!


billy_1
7/3/2008 9:06:09 AM

Published by "Twin Palms"? Is that for real? Know what a study like this reveals about the customers? Dial "L" for loser...'nuff said.