2. Sex Over the Phone

 

For years, telephone companies had been encouraging customers to “reach out and touch someone.” In the 1980s, phone sex lines and dial-a-porn transformed the intimacy of phone conversations into a multi-million-dollar sexual enterprise. A simple and relatively cheap phone call could connect you with dial-a-porn, a telephone service offering short erotic recordings. Phone sex lines were more expensive, and featured operators, known as fantasy artists, who would act out sexual fantasies for and with you.  Over the course of the 1980s, telephones, credit cards and imaginations brought countless people together to co-create sexual fantasies, and experience new forms of sexual gratification.

 

This bonus track features an extended version of Gillian Frank’s interview with Mark S. King. Mark worked on gay phone sex lines and also owned his own phone sex business. His story helps us better understand the complex relationships between gay history, the history of sex work, the history of the AIDS epidemic and the telecommunications revolution of the 1980s.

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Hosts and Creators: Gillian Frank and Lauren Gutterman.

Producers: Rebecca Davis, Saniya Lee Ghanoui, Devin McGeehan Muchmore and Jayne Swift. 

Intern: Alexie Glover.

Music: The Kinks “Party Line” and Village People “Sex Over the Phone".”

Music:  “Black Ballots,” “Swapping Tubes,” “Chromium Blush,” “Guinea,” “No Smoking,” “The Shoes They Wear,” Smooth Stone,” “Dog House,” “Chrome and Wax,” “Patched In,” “Peacoat,” “Lumber-Down,” “Stale Case,” “Via-Verre,” and “Suzy B” by Blue Dot Sessions

Our gratitude goes out to Laura, Susie, Zoe, Brian Herrera and Mark King for sharing their stories with us. Special thanks to Carolyn Bronstein for sharing her historical expertise with us.

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Selected Readings