Relationships

Talk Dirty to Me: I Was a Phone Sex Pioneer

The idea of turning on men who were not my husband was appealing until I handed him the phone

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When I was in my 20s, I married a man who suddenly became an aloof stranger who basically ignored me—especially in the bedroom. Why I'm telling you this now will become abundantly clear later.

It was 1983 and I was sitting at work one day when I got a call from Richard, an old friend, who said, "How would you like to make a hundred dollars on your lunch hour?"

Excited at the prospect of fast, easy cash, his offer was almost too good to be true.

"What do I have to do?"

"Just use your voice. You know, 'that' voice—your breathy, flirty, answering-the-phone voice," he said. "Just read some copy, and we'll cut you a check."

"Seems too easy. Is this legal?"

"Here's the full deal," he explained. "We're recording a few 60-second spots introducing our new business: phone sex. And we need a hot, sexy voice. We were using Annie Sprinkle, but she's got the flu and can't come in today. So, I thought of you."

"Well, thanks, I think," I said. "A woman's sexy voice? Can I bring a friend?"

"Sure, sexy stereo. Be here by noon."

I immediately called my cousin Michelle, who worked four blocks from my office. When we were teenagers, she'd been my partner in crime, and now in our mid-20s with mundane office jobs, this was our chance to move from exploits to sexploits. Besides, sex talk could be fun and the idea of turning on other men who were not my husband was equally appealing.

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Michelle and I met in the lobby of High Society magazine's offices. The smut rags were pioneers in the phone sex industry—enticing horny, lonely guys with beautiful women who would talk dirty to them for a price, charged in 60-second increments. Walking into Richard's office, I started feeling sexier already. He led us into a small recording studio and handed us scripts and a bowl of ice cubes.

"What are the ice cubes for?"

"You'll see," he said, ready to start recording. "We're really in a time crunch. We need to sweeten, edit and be on the air this afternoon." Richard was no-nonsense about his work in the porn industry.

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I quickly read the script and then read it aloud. Richard directed me on inflections and enthusiasm. It was simple, really: I had to sound like a woman on the verge of orgasm. Michelle tried not to laugh or look at me. We were Laverne and Shirley in smut world.

"You say, 'oh baby,' then you put a cube in your mouth, slurp and make it sound like you're sucking a cock," Richard matter-of-factly said, as if explaining how to assemble Swedish furniture.

"Michelle, you try it now," he said and instructed her to use the cubes. She actually sounded great and Richard smiled, blushing. Apparently, her mock sucking warmed his heart ... and other places.

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Richard paced the room, filled with new ideas. "Arlene, you read this part. Michelle, you read this." We did. He recorded it and then played it back. He liked it but wanted further refinements.

"OK, now, you two are twins. You're part of a threesome," he directed. "Cut to this part in the script, then you moan, Arlene, and you suck cubes, Michelle, then you both breathe heavy and fade out."

We did it just that way, two more times. I was getting a headache and Michelle started to gag on the cubes, which seemed to get Richard even more excited. Finally, getting the track he needed, Richard looked at us, pleased.

"If you want to hear your vocal artistry," he said, "call 976-SUCK after three this afternoon."

And so I did. At ten past three, I called and heard myself and Michelle, complete with our cubes and moans. The voices sounded a little deeper, but overall we sounded pretty good.

So much so that, later that night, I dialed 976-SUCK again and handed the phone to my husband.

"It's for you," I said.

He listened intently, his eyebrows tightening and then relaxing. When it was over, he handed the phone back to me as if it were a dirty diaper.

"What did you think?" I asked, eager for his opinion, thinking that he'd at least be amused.

"It was awful. Why did you make me listen to that?"

"What made it awful?" I asked.

"It didn't feel real. It wasn't live."

"You really didn't like it?" I asked again and waited for his eyes to meet mine. "It was me."

"What do you mean that was you? What are you doing moaning and sucking on the phone? How could YOU be so disgusting?"

I didn't know what else to say. I couldn't talk about sex with my husband—ours, anyone else's or even a phone fantasy.

My husband, however, didn't have the same problem, as I learned in the next few weeks when I discovered that he had a phone sex habit that cost hundreds of dollars a month, plus other sexual services costing thousands. This revelation was the beginning of the end of our marriage and I owe it all to my brief detour into the world of smut.

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