Phone Sex Still Exists? And People Make Money From it?S

The Sun — the UK tabloid for those who enjoy activities such as hand-wringing and tongue-clucking — has published a bizarrely retro "exposé" on a phone sex operator. You may remember phone sex as a service hawked by foggy late night commercials with pastel-lingerie clad women putting things in their mouths and writhing while imploring the viewer to "pick up the phone!" There are some companies still around, but the whole thing is going the way of those $70 porn DVDs in giant plastic cases. It is a dinosaur, a sex work relic.

The story reads:

Being a sex line worker wasn't always the plan for Newcastle housewife Maureen.

She says: "A few years ago I saw an advert in the local paper, saying ‘Tarot readers required'."

"It was a subject I'd always been interested in and I enjoyed doing readings for friends and family. When I called to enquire, I was told they were full on the tarot-reading line but had space on the sex line."

After some doubts Maureen decided to give it a go. She says: "I had nothing to lose and what they were offering seemed perfect. I could do it from the comfort of my sofa and pick my hours."

The profile includes photos of middle-aged housewife Maureen, which look nothing like the actresses in Girl 6. However, for the men who call, she becomes a tall, lithe brunette wielding a whip, or blonde Norwegian prison guard. Maureen even shares some tricks of the trade — she likes to snap elastic of her socks while waxing poetic about her fishnets stockings. All in all, she sounds like that cool aunt who gets a little too drunk and over-shares about her body and insults your male family members (in other words, awesome).

But the real story here probably should have been how most sex workers can no longer make a living doing an out-dated gig like this.

Over at Violet Blue's blog, Tiny Nibbles (NSFW), Thomas Roche also pokes fun at the time-warp the UK reporters seem to have walked into. "Here in The Future, phone sex has its devotees, but it's a dying profession... ‘Phone sex' is something guys in chat rooms demand from women they just met, not something people pay for," writes Roche.

What we have now is Niteflirt — a modern day equivalent of the 1-888 HOT-GIRLZZZ. Instead of commercials with models posing as sex workers, actual Niteflirt workers promote their accounts via blogs, twitter and other social media. The hashtag #niteflirt brings up a lot of promo tweets like this one, "Let's see, I might turn on My #niteflirt lines later. Probably going to be on late tonight since I woke up about 30mins ago lol."

For the modern day sex worker, phone sex alone often doesn't pay the bills. One Niteflirt girl's personal website advertises that she also sells panties, offers live cam-shows, sells videos, makes custom videos and works as an erotic dancer with the rest of her time. This tweet from hash-tag #niteflirt user @xxxdynamitexxx sums it up, "only 11am—already filmed 8 new clips, then logged into #niteflirt and immediately had an intense 15 minute call. Phew, I need a nap! :)"

It is part of a larger trend. The Internet hasn't only changed the phone-sex industry, but all of the adult industry. It is easier for people to enter and this brings down the pay per person. Adult film documentarian Michael Stabile just wrote about this for Salon. In a recent article for The Daily Beast, Richard Abowitz argues that the rank of "porn star" is disappearing entirely. Abowitz talks to several porn stars, porn companies and consumers about this.

These days, the term ‘porn girls'-as opposed to ‘stars'-has started to gain currency reflecting the more vocational quality of a contemporary career in porn.

…One 35 year-old fan attending the Vegas porn convention, who did not want his name used, put it this way: ‘A few years ago I would rent porn DVDs based on who was on the box cover. Now, I am on the Internet always wanting to see someone different.'

...The recession may be one reason, again, for the unprecedented number of women who want to shoot sex scenes. Another reason offered by Spiegler is the change in a porn star's status from the stigmatized margins. ‘Ten years ago a girl fell into porn,' Spiegler says. ‘Now there are a lot of girls who dream of doing porn.'

Phone sex in the way of those commercials that blared while you tried to covertly watch USA late at night might be pretty much dead, and sites like Niteflirt (while still active) may eventually go that route too. Audio-only has a hard time competing for the wildly popular cam websites like Live Jasmin.

Sallie, a Niteflirt worker I talked to via e-mail had this to say: "Some Flirts get enough work to support themselves, others get no calls at all. It is NOT possible to just sign up, post a picture and get calls. It requires skills in marketing, design, writing, and basic HTML. Hard work and even luck are not enough. We see new Flirts complaining in the forum that they're getting no calls, or begging for help. Well, it is not as simple as talking dirty and collecting a check like many people think."

But in the midst of all that, props to this middle aged housewife and her elaborate fantasy scapes about being a six foot norwegian prison guard dominatrix. The whole thing is just sort of...quaint.

Image via Alexander Gorban/Shutterstock.