Before Tinder and OkCupid and Match.com, there was a phone-based dating service called Lavalife. Apparently they've hung onto their market share for dear life and have since evolved into a website, but back in 2002 when I was a recent college graduate and intern at a public radio station, they were the dating service of choice in Chicago. Lavalife's visual aesthetic, seen on subway posters and billboards throughout the city, was quite distinctive and cheesy. But it worked! I saw the ads enough that I committed the number to memory and one night, lonely in bed and mourning a break up, I dialed in.

From what I can remember, you could either listen to ads, join a group chat (yuck), or leave an ad and wait for people to contact you. My outgoing voice message was absolute theater. I remember breathing heavily but talking softly (sex combo!) and saying something about how hot and lonely I was? You know, the perfect woman. I immediately got a million responses, ah-no-duh.

One guy claiming to be Kanye West left me multiple voice messages. Remember, this was 2002, pre-car crash but post The Blueprint, so Kanye was Chicago-famous but not a household name yet. (Except in my household, where all we talked about were the raps.) At the time, I doubted that the Kanye was as desperate as this man sounded, but you know what? In retrospect, holy shit, that dude sounded just like Kanye West. I wish I'd recorded them, but that didn't occur to me until I received a call from The Freakiest Freaky Freak.

Get ready for the greatest two minutes and thirty-nine seconds of personal advertising you will ever hear. The day after I received this message, I learned how to dial in to a phone line and record audio to DAT, which is another antiquated bit of technology that you kids haven't heard of. Eventually, I transferred it to CD and shared it with best friends and lovers, and now, you. If anyone knows Jax (Jacks? Jacques?) please encourage him to contact me again. He holds a very special place in my heart.

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And the full transciption:

Yes, hi out there, it's Lavalife, I'm talking to all the freakiest women out there, all the freakiest women. This is box 1-8-7-9. One, eight, seven, nine. My name is Jax. I'm 5'10, 180 lbs, muscular build, medium-tan brown sugar complexion, African-American. My hair comes down to my earlobes, it's kind of long, I wear it braided up in all types of styles. I'm the freakiest freak around, ain't nobody freakier than me. I'm lookin' for the black, the white, the Chinese, the Korean, the Polish, the Italian, the Puerto Rican, the Mexican—all type of women. I love all women, as long as you a freak, no limitations, I mean no limitations! I go all the way, whatever you want me to do, from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet, from the back to the front I will do it all. I want a freaky-freak female that has no limitations, that would do whatever I want her to do, with no problem. My name is Jax and I'm 5'10, 180 lbs, [unclear] freak waitin' on you! I like big-busted women, the bigger the bust the better! Bigger the ass, the better! If you don't have a big bust, big ass... that is okay. I am still a freaky freak and I can freak with you. As long as you're as freaky as me. I'm the freakiest freak alive, so come on baby, I want 'em all to call me. Don't call me if you're not a stone cold freak cause that's all I want, the down, dirty, nasty freaks, the wild freaks, that I have to pick up oxygen masks for because I can't keep up with 'em. Those are the women I want to talk to me, 1-8-7-9. Call for the first intimate encounter and I promise you after that first one you're gonna want another and another. So come on, call me, 1-8-7-9, my name is Jax. I just got on this line, I'm looking for the freakiest freaks out there. Age don't matter, race don't matter. No drugs, no alcohol. Once again, no drugs, no smokin'. No smokin', no drugs... Alcohol is okay. 1-8-7-9, Jax. I'm looking for the freakiest freaks out there—call me! [Unclear] doesn't matter. A woman that has no limitations in the bedroom.

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