Hard-Hitting Phone Sex Exposé Inspires ’80s Nostalgia

by Thomas Roche on April 8, 2012

If you’re old enough and/or geeky enough to remember the 1979 Nicholas Meyer film Time After Time, you may recall that when Malcolm McDowell’s H.G. Wells jumped forward in time from about 1895 to modern San Francisco, he explained his being out of touch with world affairs and fashion by 100 years — by telling people he was English.

They all believed him without question.

Well, my beloved Brits…articles like today’s bizarrely time-shifted piece on phone sex in Britain’s The Sun is why I could see San Franciscans actually believing him.

Remember, Time After Time was made before the days when mutton chops, jodhpurs and riding boots became a reasonable choice for daily wear to a dot-com job you could never, ever hope to explain to your parents. In 2012, it’s the steampunk era. Nowadays, if a British guy with a tweed suit and a bad mustache told us he was from Kent then wink-wink-nudge-nudged us as to where he could call for some hot phone sex, we’d be annoyed because he’s a hipster, not worried because he might be a time traveler. We’d assume that phone sex was the new retro trend the cool kids are getting into, and we’d make fun of him behind his back, same as we do with everyone.

Here in The Future, phone sex has its devotees, but it’s a dying profession. There are still sites like Niteflirt, but even there the traffic is often pushed to cam or “phone with cam.” Commercial phone sex feels as out-of-date to me as a brandy in the drawing room followed by giving the maid a good birching. To me, “Phone sex” is something guys in chat rooms demand from women they just met, not something people pay for.

But, as our UK readers are sure to inform me (and yes, I already know), The Sun is published for a grandmotherly audience. To them, phone sex is still a big enough and weird enough “thing” that its myths need to be addressed in a news article. And entitled “How Sex Line Worker Fools Punters,” it is intermittently sex-negative and salacious, but sure to give full-on robot wood to anyone who fetishizes English housewives.

“Punters,” incidentally, is slang among British sex workers for “john,” or among proprietors of porn shops for customers; interestingly, I’ve also heard it used by erotic book publishers to mean “readers.” The article, obviously intended for women “just like Maureen” — i.e., housewives — is fixated on how dumb men are for believing her.

The article never once suggests the positive takeaways — that fantasy is a vibrant art, or that Maureen’s experiences illuminate how the male sexual psyche works. It’s more concerned with the fact that men are stupid.

As Sexy Scarlett breathes heavily into the phone and describes her saucy fishnets and satin undies, the punter on the other end of the line would never imagine she was really 55-year-old Maureen Gardner.

Wearing tracksuit bottoms and nursing a cup of tea, with the phone wedged under her chin, she spends each evening pretending to be a lusty young callgirl to earn extra cash.

…She says: “I’m such an actress, I even add sound effects to make their experience realistic. My favourite is flicking the elastic on my manky pop-socks.

“The snapping noise against my skin emulates the sound of the sexy fishnet stockings that I promise the men I am wearing. Of course, the reality is that I’m taking the bins out.”

…“I tell the men I’m tall and slim with jet-black hair down to my waist and I’m almost always holding a whip. In reality, I’m short with curly red hair and often carrying the iron.”

Maureen’s punters love to feel as if she is really in the room with them, so she has found some odd ways to make her sex noises as lifelike as possible.

She says: “I find that if I put my knees up to my neck, it compresses my diaphragm, then my groans sound pitch-perfect. I also watch When Harry Met Sally as homework. Meg Ryan was my sex noise idol. It really is quite amazing how gullible men are.”

…After a year in the job, Maureen stepped it up a gear and started working on the dominatrix lines too. This time her alter ego was Katia, a 6ft blonde Norwegian prison guard.

She says: “I would threaten in my best Scandinavian accent, ‘My bite is as bad as my bark.’

[Link.]

As if to drive home just how unlike Scarlett and Katia Maureen is, the article features conspicuously staged photos of Maureen talking on the phone while ironing and washing dishes.

Frankly, I think she’s pretty hot, but that’s just me.

Photo: From the photoset “Larkin On the Phone, Hollywood, 2011,” by Mark Maggiori.

Thomas Roche

Thomas Roche's first novel, The Panama Laugh, is a gonzo military science fiction zombie apocalypse that has been compared to the writings of Jim Thompson and Hunter S. Thompson. He is also a widely published author of sex-positive erotica and the occasional purveyor of horror and crime-noir short stories, and a commentator on sex, crime, culture and politics.

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{ 8 comments }

1 Gauche April 15, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Erm, Punter is a generic term for a customer. Punters are in bookies (Bookmakers/Betting Shops) pubs and at market stalls.

2 Hug April 10, 2012 at 3:57 am

I would second pronzilla’s broader definition of punter as a customer or member of an audience although I would say the implication is often that they are a gambler or the mark.or victim of a con.

3 pronzilla April 10, 2012 at 12:57 am

re: the sun’s audience, they’re aiming mostly at shifting as many papers as possible, often by going for the lowest common denominator. IIRC, it’s the UK’s largest-selling daily newspaper. (See, for amusement value as well as information, http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Yes,_Minister#Episode_Four:_A_Conflict_of_Interest

‘“Punters,” incidentally, is slang among British sex workers for “john,” or among proprietors of porn shops for customers’

Actually, it’s much more widespread than that, being (AFAIK) general-purpose slang for “customer”, with a possible undercurrent (in specialist markets) of “general public, not an expert in buying product X”

4 Thomas Roche April 9, 2012 at 4:11 pm

@Lisa — Right you are, I discover that I had it all wrong; it’s more widely read by men than women (though it’s not that big a gap) and it’s primary market is age 18-45, secondary 46 and up, more predominantly working class and skilled trades than professional or upper middle class (although, again, it’s a pretty broad demographic).

http://flashnewsuk.wordpress.com/2009/10/27/target-audience-facts/
http://www.sunnewsonline.com/about.html
http://journalism.winchester.ac.uk/?page=368

My mistake, sorry.

5 Thomas Roche April 9, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Mario — I love that scene! It was so very ’80s!

6 Mario April 9, 2012 at 3:48 pm

A little off-topic perhaps, but I remember really enjoying that movie. I liked when the Jack the Ripper character turned on the TV in the hotel room to illustrate to the H.G. Wells character the wanton violence of the 20th century and explain that he belonged here, and was in fact only a small time killer in such a society. Yeah, good old ’80s moralizing for you!

7 Farfetch April 9, 2012 at 1:57 am

It’s rather lazy journalism from the Sun as they are just “reporting” on a subject which was on a TV show shown on the free-to-air Channel 4 a month or so back. There the women were shown basically doing the same thing (e.g. chatting while painting or with their friends and using props for sound effects) but the TV show was very much done in a flattering manner with the women shown having fun and enjoying the money they make providing a service without it being sleazy. Yes they put on voices and personae for their clients but the client got off and they made their cash and didn’t make fun of the customer so what harm is done?

8 Lisa April 9, 2012 at 1:56 am

You couldn’t be more wrong about the sun’s target audience.

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