Wednesday, April 04, 2007

For A Good Time, Call Jennifer: My Brief Career As A Phone Sex Worker

Here it is, guys! I'm a little unhappy with a couple of the cuts-for-space they made; it reads a little choppy to me, compared to the version I turned in. But I'm quite happy with it overall. And since linking to the story completely shatters any half-assed attempts I once made to maintain a semblance of online anonymity:

Hi, y'all! My name's Jennifer Abel and I'm a thirtysomething libertarian born in Yankeeland and raised down South before returning North after college. I spent the first decade after school wasting my potential in the vain pursuit of career respectability and a living wage before finally becoming a writer for the sort of publication that lets me do things like leave work for the afternoon to talk dirty on a phone sex line.

By the way, my check from the chatline arrived last night. Turns out my records and calculations were wrong: I actually made over twice as much as I predicted in the story.

WELL-AFTER-THE-FACT-EDIT: Until the Advocate finishes revamping its Website, my story is no longer available at the previous link. But it was copied here, on a Website called American Sex Gazette. Thank god for copyright violators.

28 Comments:

Anonymous A Moose said...

Jennifer-We need to do some remedial ham radio education...its the scanner freaks who are more involved with such things..HAM operators like hearing themselves talk too much...(back to reading)...

Interesting story. I kinda figured you'd run into some of the sadist types. Similar to the internet, people tend to get a little wild with anonymity. The problem is that this guy may very well indulge himself, or have indulged himself, which is quite disturbing to me.

6:12 PM  
Anonymous Gimme Back My Dog said...

Good article, but it was much darker than I expected. Who could have guessed that men willing to pay by the minute to talk dirty to complete strangers would be disturbed?

6:35 AM  
Blogger David Woycechowsky said...

Darn that sadist. Nice article, tho. Good topic.

9:01 AM  
Anonymous NoStar said...

It might have been prudent to write this story under a pseudonym. I pray Niccolai doesn't read your article.

Also, cash the check. You can use a color copier to make yourself a memento or keepsake and frame it. There is no good reason to let the creeps who run the phone sex business make even more from your hard work.

I suggest you spend the money on a nice shampoo or conditioner and "wash those men right out of your hair."

I would have never thought phone sex work could be so hard and emotionally draining. Good article.

9:35 AM  
Anonymous NoStar said...

Jennifer,
One more thing for future reference (I keed, I keed), your response to the guy who asked what it tasted like when he used your mouth as a toilet should have been, "Tastes kinda sweet. Are you diabetic?"

9:56 AM  
Anonymous A Moose said...

Good point, Nostar, about Niccolai reading the article. Didn't think about that, but it's an idea probably worth considering at least.

Jennifer- These are very nice and a number of women I've given them to are quite pleased with them. If you want one, tell me to email you and I'll send you one just because, well, I don't like the "woman=victim" bullshit. As a side note, I do know they've been taken through TSA screening points at least a few times, without impounding.

These are very nice also, but the batteries can't go on planes. Does give you the ability to temporarily blind someone from a distance, then apply the front edge if needed. Also are nice if you're in a dark movie theater when the power goes out.

I personally prefer one of these myself, to go with the above (hey, even the colors match). Lightweight, thin, and accurate beyond what they should be to look at them, as well as being rock solid manufacturing so they don't jam. Unfortunately most places in the northeast are not so progressive in their thinking to allow you to freely carry one around. This is much better if you're just going to have it around the house. Putting a number of deep holes very quickly in someone who has desires to mutilate women is a very good thing in my book.

Ok, 'nuff said. "That's all I have to say about that."

One comment, or question...."Hell on a biscut"?

11:57 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

It's a Southernish sort of thing, Moose. And yes, those keychains do indeed sound nice. By all means drop me a line.

So far I've not received any odd e-mails over my story (though I have no idea what's in my editor's inbox). Quite surprising. As I said to one of the other editors this morning, "I'm downright offended by this lack of attention from perverts. Who or what do I have to blow here, anyway? Clearly 'my own right hand' isn't the answer."

7:50 AM  
Anonymous A Moose said...

It's a Southernish sort of thing, Moose.

But...a biscut? Why not a cracker, some of which are much closer to the taste of hell than a biscut?

And yes, those keychains do indeed sound nice. By all means drop me a line.

Done.

10:12 AM  
Blogger Anne O'Neimaus said...

Great work, Jennifer!

Sorry it's taken me so long to respond - the new Google Blogger tried to move my account, then refused to let me log in. It's taken a while to straighten things out.

About your last, particulary-freaky, caller: he definitely sounds like the sort to raise hair on the back of the neck. It's always possible (in fact, likely, given the raw numbers) that he is strictly a fantasizer.

However, since you used your real name, there is always that additional risk, as others have pointed out. So, for a segue into a related can-of-worms, what sort of protections do these "services" offer - both for the "operators" and the clients?

For example, if you did start having stalker issues, could you get the phone records of that call? Could you even get it with a supoena?

Obviously, from your point of view, it would be nice to be able to backtrack the guy if you suspected he's decided to "pay you a little too much attention". On the other hand, it's clearly a huge concern to the clients if their relative anonymity can easily be broken.

Since the whole scam clearly relies on 900-number style phone-bill based charges to the client, there are obviously records generated (automatically), and presumably kept somewhere. Are these records "made available for law-enforcement purposes", guarded closely, or possibly even maintained at some out-of-country location?

All have various personal-privacy and security issues. Not only is there the ever-present question of law-enforcement accessibility (whether or not you generally trust "law enforcement" to exercize its powers wisely and justly), there is also a clear "opportunity market" for criminal use of this data. It would seem to be a blackmailer's playground, especially if the information was detailed-enough to allow "fishing" for high-profile clients ("...so, Senator, I understant you frequent 1-905-Pervs-R-Us...").

Any follow-up on these kinds of issues?

2:02 PM  
Blogger Anne O'Neimaus said...

Moose & Jennifer:

The idea of being prepared to defend yourself is a very good one. However, if you start such a thing, be prepared to finish it.

If you scratch/slash/puncture a typical rapist-type with that keychain, you'll definitely make him mad...and it will go so much the worse for you, if he's still able to do anything.

I think your KP9093 is probably the best overall bet (they don't call them "equalizers" for nothing), but - as you pointed out - local laws may be stacked against owning (much less using) such an item.

My basic point, however, is that if you are going to carry any type of weapon, even (especially) the "fancy keychain", then it is more important to have clearly worked through likely scenarios in your head, so you will be able to act without hesitation, and follow-through to the extent necessary to ensure that you haven't "just pissed him off" - you've taken out his ability to threaten you (legally) or his ability to function (practically).

2:12 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Thanks for the concern, guys, though I'm not particularly worried about the stalker angle. The names of the people in the story were changed (this was announced in the print version, but didn't go online for some reason).

I'm more concerned about what, if any, letters have been piling up in my editor's inbox. I know of at least one local blogger who thinks I'm a disgrace.

Moose, I have yet to receive that e-mail from you.

4:11 PM  
Anonymous smartass sob said...

"Since the whole scam clearly relies..."

How refreshing to hear a member of the female gender refer to this "business" as what it actually is. But please, don't misunderstand me - I think it should be perfectly legal. Any guy who is dumb enough to fall for this sort of con should probably not be allowed out without his keeper.

I found your article to be very interesting, Jennifer; the study of psychological types has always fascinated me. I wonder if there is some way you could do a follow-up piece on the women who do this kind of work. I wonder if some of them might be as dysfunctional as the clients?

9:05 PM  
Anonymous A Moose said...

Moose, I have yet to receive that e-mail from you.

Interesting. Will resend from another account.

3:16 AM  
Anonymous A Moose said...

My basic point, however, is that if you are going to carry any type of weapon, even (especially) the "fancy keychain", then...

Correct, but I understand you're operating under the handicap of not seeing the email I sent which describes training methods. Well, it seems Jennifer is also, which I don't quite understand, but we'll fix that in a minute or two hopefully.

You want one also Anne? I think I have two left in my current stock.

3:20 AM  
Anonymous A Moose said...

I'm more concerned about what, if any, letters have been piling up in my editor's inbox.

I thought that there weren't any, which was a problem, earlier?

I know of at least one local blogger who thinks I'm a disgrace.

Disgrace to what, the area or journalism?

You should have one email copy at each of two email accts from two different email accts. That should take care of it, dammit

3:24 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I'm a disgrace to the area, in that I wrote about something pointless like phone sex when I could have been writing about another zoning dispute with the potential to impact literally dozens of people in the town I cover. And I'm such a disgrace to journalism the blogger in question will never take me seriously again (not that he ever did).

But another commenter was quick to chime in that it's not entirely my fault; it's just that I work for a lousy sensationalist rag which gives too much leeway to "shock jock" personalities like mine. (I have discovered there's a small local underground movement that really, really hates my paper and everyone who writes for it, because we're owned by a corporation and act all corporationy and stuff.)

There haven't been any letters piling up in my inbox, Moose; I only got one from a person outside the company (and it was a very nice one, too.) But God only knows what my editor's been getting; he hasn't said anything to me and I figure it's not my place to ask.

Damn. Do you realize my initial 90-day performance review is still several weeks in the future? I should've held off on the phone story for a few more weeks; this week's offering of stories about a zoning dispute and the cops busting a teenage party will be even more boring than they are, by contrast.

4:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have discovered there's a small local underground movement that really, really hates my paper and everyone who writes for it, because we're owned by a corporation and act all corporationy and stuff.

Yeah, this problem has happened to a lot of "alternative" weeklies. Then you have to go find the alternative to the alternative, which is hard, because the one the corporation bought always has better distribution.

Do phone sexers advertise in your weekly? if so, some might argue that you were manipulated into basically writing a glorified ad.

12:26 PM  
Anonymous A Moose said...

Knock knock

Hey, Jennifer, you awake in there?

7:29 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Yep, Moose, I'm here but busy working on my next story about changes in medical marijuana laws.

Did you know that drug warriors really, really hate it when you interview them, and keep talking about this paralyzed guy you met who smokes to make his muscle spasms go away, and then ask the drug warrior point blank how long she thinks the paraplegic needs to spend in prison?

They really, REALLY hate that. Especially when they try to change the subject and you won't let them.

7:47 AM  
Anonymous NoStar said...

Jenn,
You are my kind of muck-racker!

9:21 AM  
Anonymous A moose said...

They really, REALLY hate that. Especially when they try to change the subject and you won't let them.

The rat bastards should take oxycontin like the rest of us, and not take drugs! Let 'em burn in their own bud!

Sorry, was channelling Rush for a minute there, I'm back now.

11:36 AM  
Blogger Anne O'Neimaus said...

ARGH!! Google still hates me a bit - I can login directly, but can't login as part of posting a comment. Grumph!

1:54 PM  
Anonymous A Moose said...

ARGH!! Google still hates me a bit - I can login directly, but can't login as part of posting a comment

That's ok, Anne, we still love ya. You notice the echo in here? echo in here? echo in here? echo in here?

1:56 PM  
Blogger Anne O'Neimaus said...

@a moose: The rat bastards should take oxycontin like the rest of us, and not take drugs! Let 'em burn in their own bud!

I think that is ultimately the source of the current problem: Marijuana is too easily produced (it's a pernicious weed, native to the continental U.S., as well as many other parts of the world). That means Big Pharma can't really skin people by selling it for incredible profits. Also, it competes directly with other (very lucrative - and patented) drugs in some venues where the patients are really desperate (i.e. willing to part with their hard-earned cash).

Now I'll be the first to grant that the majority of usage, historical, present, and probable future (regardless of legal status) is not strictly (or even putatively) medicinal. Of course, the same can be said of alchohol, a well-known mood-altering drug; our experience with banning that has not been too positive (nor enlightening, apparently).

However, comparison of the general traits of these three substances - Marijuana, Alcohol, and Tobacco - and the "social perceptions" associated with them, seems like an interesting study. All three are considered to be addictive. All three are known to be mood-altering, to some extent (cigarette addicts frequently claim that they need a smoke, in order to "calm their nerves"). All three have some
historical claim to medicinal benefits. And all three have a pervasive history of "abuse", either by moralistic (sanctimonious) standards, or by demonstrable negative effects on society.

Clearly, we (the people of Western Civilization) have the most experience with Alcohol. The tradition of abuse is so ingrained into our culture as to not even be "legendary" - it's just "known". Every (Western) culture has idioms and specific words for and about drunks, drunkenness, and alcoholism. The "drunken husband/father" is downright stereotypical, and stories that hinge upon someone being "in their cups" goes back as far as recorded history. As do attempts to ban, regulate, or otherwise control use of, and access to, alcohol. Moslems, in particular, have a long track-record of (relatively successfully) suppressing the use of alcohol, but I can't think of any Western prohibition with similar long-term effectiveness.

Tobacco clearly doesn't have such a long history (at least, in the West - Native Americans have been using it since pre-historic times, apparently). However, it DOES have a history of being a commercially-exploitable commodity that was: addictive (repeat customers); mass-produceable by the technology available when it was "discovered" (again, by the West); and in limited availability to the main consumer base (Europe), because it was a New-World product. It was a driving engine in the burgeoning New-World economy (along with Rum), and it's use quickly became a status-symbol of the well-off. I am not certain (a good research project), but I believe that there were actually several sophisticated advertising campaigns related to Tobacco, pretty much since the beginning of its large-scale cultivation.

Of course, there was also plenty of "moral outrage" in Europe over the act of smoking. The first European smoker, Rodrigo de Jerez, was imprisoned by the Spanish Inquisition for lighting up!
King James I published
"A Counterblast to Tobacco" in 1604, in which he described the plant as 'an invention of Satan' and banned tobacco from London's alehouses. (Later, of course, he 'nationalised' the burgeoning tobacco industry in England, instead.)
His Holiness Pope Clement VIII threatened anyone who smoked in a holy place with excommunication!

I have no idea why Marijuana's use as an intoxicant took so long to become popularized in the West. Hemp has clearly been a well-known plant (for fibers: hemp rope) for millennia. According to the Columbia Encyclopedia: Herodotus in the 5th cent. B.C. describes the Scythians as inhaling the fumes of burning leaves until they were intoxicated. The leaves may have been marijuana, which was smoked in Africa and Asia long before the diffusion of tobacco from America...

However it may be, Marijuana is clearly the Alcohol/Tobacco addictive-drug du jour. Modern moralists who would sanctimoniously impose their own narrow-minded view of propriety on everybody else have clearly lost out against the juggernaut of commercial success in terms of alcohol and tobacco (although they're making a comeback in the latter). For now, they draw the line at Marijuana, instead.

3:56 PM  
Blogger Anne O'Neimaus said...

Incidentally, I see many valid reasons for restricting access to, and use of, various "recreational drugs" (including alcohol and tobacco). I am a non-smoker who gets physically sick with too much exposure to tobacco smoke. This is the main reason I have avoided bars throughout my life. Perhaps as a result, I never developed a taste for alcohol, either. But, unlike smoking, someone enjoying a drink doesn't automatically force me to imbibe as well.

I really do think that our cultural attitude towards alcohol in particular affects our attitude and expectations about recreational drugs in general.

In theory, we hold people responsible for their actions and misdeeds. It is well known that intoxicated people tend to commit more socially-unacceptable acts than people who are not chemically uninhibited. However, we (English-derived societies, in particular) seem to grant some sort of cultural leniency towards those who were drunk - and thus, not fully in control of their senses - at the time. They may (and probably do) still get punished, but not as severely. Just look at the results of vehicular homicide: if you were drunk, you may get off with a suspended sentence; otherwise, its 3rd degree murder, at the least.

People instinctively know that this is just plain wrong. Few, if any, people got drunk involuntarily, then were forced to drive at high speeds while disregarding traffic laws, before killing someone in an accident. Self-intoxication is almost always voluntary, so the full responsibility for "inappropriate" acts while in such a state should fall squarely on the perpetrator. Not only no special leniency, but probably more stern treatment under the law, because the loss of control is a well-known side-effect of alcohol consumption. People should be responsible for ensuring they are unlikely to become a threat to others, before becoming intoxicated (arrange for alternate transport, avoid settings likely to be confrontational, etc.).

With this in mind - which seems "only fair" - I think that people "deep down" fear creating yet another class of "socially acceptable exceptions", in which bad behavior gets treated with a slap on the wrist.

Clearly, most "recreational drugs" don't currently fall into that category - quite the opposite, in our current culture. There are extra penalties for illegal drug usage piled on atop whatever other charges are brought to bear. I think, however, that this is an over-reaction, in response to widespread but unspoken dissatisfaction with the tolerance of alcoholic-induced misbehaviors.

Personally, I don't think that informed self-ingestion of any substance (mood-altering or not) should be inherently illegal. On the other hand, there should be no "pass" for antisocial behavior while "under the influence", and in most cases should be extra examination of whether the user should have been reasonably able to predict the problem before partaking. If so, then it should be considered (to some degree) premeditated, and carry whatever extra penalties this legal status confers.

Now, in the case of giving minors access to intoxicants, hallucinogens, etc., I currently side with the idea that it should be allowed only under direct supervision of their parents or legal guardians - who will ALSO be held accountable for any resulting misadventures.

For this last point, unfortunately, the general dissolution of the nuclear family, and the widespread intrusion of "the law" in the details of childrearing, has made the old legal standards of "children as chattel" not only obsolete, but rather dangerous. Many parents just can't control their (especially adolescent) kids. Especially since society has made corporal punishment more difficult to use. (When children are young, especially, the immediate feedback of a sharp discomfort, even though quickly over, causes an unreasoned behavioral response that can be beneficial in discouraging certain types of activities. Actual injury-causing is abuse, and should be strongly - legally - discouraged; but "zero tolerance" attitudes erroneously treat any physical punishment as abuse.) I have no good solutions for the problems of out-of-control teenagers, who are also generally held to be "not responsible for their own actions" (i.e. "tried as a minor" -vs- "tried as an adult"). That's a whole 'nother can of worms.

4:30 PM  
Anonymous A Moose said...

When children are young, especially, the immediate feedback of a sharp discomfort, even though quickly over, causes an unreasoned behavioral response that can be beneficial in discouraging certain types of activities.

Anne, I love you in general, but I stongly disagree with you here. I have three kids who are in various stages of their teen years. I have NEVER hit any of them, nor have I let anyone hit them. Hitting a child is a failure of parenting, it's more about the parent's frustration than the kids actions. Which leads me to...

I have no good solutions for the problems of out-of-control teenagers, who are also generally held to be "not responsible for their own actions" (i.e. "tried as a minor" -vs- "tried as an adult"). That's a whole 'nother can of worms.

The problem is that what you're referring to is damage done long before. Raising children is not a series of short term events, it's a long path where the impact of today's actions may not be evident for years.

My son, for instance, is planning a bike trip with a couple of buddies. They're basically planning a three day, two night trip. Now, I have done these with him when he was younger, and while I'm not helping him plan, I can see the impact of what he's learned as he plans things out.

Contrast this with my brother's psychotic pathological liar ex wife. No, seriously, she is, not just because she's my brother's ex wife. Just ask the guy that she was seeing..er..never mind, they found him dead one morning, and nobody could use the journal she had describing how she was going to kill my brother before he got out of that.

Anyway, she is prone to model extremely bad behavior around her children, to the point where they're already getting in trouble at age 12. Like it or not, kids are MUCH more responsive to what behaviors they see modeled in parents than what they are told.

Too many parents who resort to hitting their kids suffer from the following in my observations:

1) They try to have their kids 'do as I say, not as I do, because I said so', which is destined for burning failure from the start. This is different than pulling aside kids when they're teens and saying 'you know, I did this, and I wish I hadn't, because that happened'. When the kids model what they've been shown, they hit 'em, thus teaching the kids that the appropriate reaction to frustration is to hit someone. Nice lesson, very helpful to society.
2) They don't treat their children with the respect they'd give a complete stranger. One of the fundamental things people seem to not realize is that kids are people. They are people who have varying degrees of tools to deal with other people, but they are people and deserving of respect. As kids do what's modeled, if you don't respect them, they don't respect themselves.

That said, holding anyone not responsible for their concious actions is foolish. Blaming society, etc, leads to a complete abdication of personal responsibility, and can be stretched to justify anything.

5:14 PM  
Blogger Spot said...

Congratulations.
You have been listed on Boingboing.

http://www.boingboing.net/2007/04/19/my_brief_career_as_a.html

10:31 AM  
Blogger Anne O'Neimaus said...

Moose:

I grew up with loving parents who, on appropriate occasions, would resort to corporal punishment. In particular, a swat on the rear, or (rarely) a slap on the back of the hand. While technically "hitting", I distinguish between these honestly-light punishments and what I would call "hitting". Only once did either of my parents (my father) "hit" me, in my understanding of the term - and that was the last time either ever attempted corporal punishment on me. (It was a well-deserved punishment, by the way; he just went way to far - and quickly realized it - when he used a board to spank me.)

In general, these punishments were administered immediately upon transgression (or discovery thereof), about which we had repeatedly been warned, and had previously been more-lightly punished (stand in corner, loss of privileges, etc.).

It was all decades ago, but I have a surprisingly clear and complete memory of my childhood going back to age three. I don't think I'm rose-coloring things too much when I say that all such "severe" punishment was always followed immediately by loving and bonding. My parents were honestly sorry that they were (or felt) compelled to resort to such extreme measures.

My father explained his "principals" of spanking, once: "Never spank a child when you're angry." He had good-enough control, I think, that he pretty much was able to adhere to this; he could "put aside" his anger to deal with the situation. Afterwards (including after the obligatory hug), he might let his displeasure become apparent again, for a while, but I think he mostly succeeded, here.

My mother agreed with the theory, but was not in as good control of her temper. She did occasionally strike in anger, and those times were truly terrifying to a child. On the other hand, one of her core "principals" of spanking was to always use her bare hand, and stop if her hand hurt.

While my father did (rarely) use switches on us, those sessions were more psychological than anything else. He made us cut our own switches, with vague threats about how he'd do it if he didn't like ours. It was really a way of focusing our minds on the punishment, because the actual switching was only one or two strokes, not on bare flesh. And, I can only recall three occasions when he used this technique (I was, naturally, involved in all three misdeeds).

At any rate, I feel I turned out pretty well. I have my personal problems, like anybody else, but I don't attribute many of them to "poor upbringing". I still get along fine with both my parents, as well as my siblings. Modern life has scattered us all over the continent, so we don't see each other as often as we'd like, but I don't think that's a result of corporal punishment being used.

All that being said, I think the "impact" of various teaching methods varies widely from individual to individual. People are at least as varied as dogs, of which I have raised several (I haven't been blessed with kids). Some dogs respond excellently to tone of voice, and are virtually destroyed by any physical punishment. Other dogs are very dominant and aggressive, and need a pretty strong hand (but these, usually, don't respond well to physical punishment, either - it's seen as an opportunity to challenge for leadership). Many, however, learn well and quickly, without developing cowering habits or becoming mean and unloving, if an occasional light physical correction is used.

Not that I think in any way that children should be "treated like dogs". Just that I honestly don't have much personal experience raising children. I can only claim some part-time surrogate parenting to a very angry little boy, who has turned into a young man I am extremely proud to know. And, I'll admit, I never raised a hand to him. It would probably have been very counter-productive, given his anger.

So, I guess what it all comes down to for me, is that what sorts of incentives, motivations, and punishments to use in raising a child should be driven by what "works best" with that particular child. A parent is expected to be the best judge of these things for their own child. If the parent thinks corporal punishment works well with a given child - and doesn't cause actual injuries (physical or psychic) - then I'd say it is none of society's business.

Of course, there are plenty of people who are clearly incompetent at being parents. Both from people who "hit", and people who don't. Child abuse is, and should be, illegal. Raising your child to be a selfish monster who doesn't acknowledge the rights of others isn't doing the child or society any favors, either. While I sometimes catch myself thinking "that lady needs to give her kid a swat", I NEVER say so, and usually remonstrate with myself. It really is not my place to tell others how to raise their children; that includes not telling them to not spank their kids when appropriate.

10:27 PM  

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