TV sex lines exist in a strange in-between place: not quite pornography (at least during the daylight hours) but salacious enough to break the monotony of a boring sex life.
Have you ever wondered what happens on the other end of the telephone line in real life?
Well, indy100 has taken care of all your curiosity and spoke to Robert*, a former runner and production assistant for a well-known sex line about what it was like to work there.
When Robert saw a job listing titled ‘Office Runner – TV’ he applied without thinking twice.
It’s only when he received the job interview and researched the company that he came to know just what type of ‘TV’ he’d be working in.
Still, motivated partly by ‘lad’ curiosity, partly to have a story to tell at boisterous pub nights, he accepted the job, which would take him on a two-year journey into the inner workings on the TV sex line industry.
What's the first thing that struck you as weird?
Everything became normal very quickly. These women are laying there with not much on, and you're just chilling in the gallery eating Haribo or chatting to them in the studio about the crazy stuff they got up to the night before.
Everyone's like ‘Ah, man you must have looked at boobs all the time.’ But after a while they just sort of blur into the background of the job.
One of the women was actually doing a Masters in Geology and just doing work on the channel to pay her way through that.
She told me in great detail once about why the positioning of the Earth's tectonic plates make Japan particularly prone to Earthquakes. All the while sat on a kitchen table wearing an incredibly revealing dressing gown.
What did an average day look like?
When I was a runner I'd come in and do the jobs nobody else wanted to do; tidying the kitchen, tidying the dressing room, and doing any laundry runs that needed to be done. I'd also get the women lunch orders.
[When I became] a production assistant I also had to be on ‘nipple watch.’
This meant fading to logo whenever a nipple became exposed, or there was too much flesh on show.
There must have been loads of fan mail for the women…
I saw my fair share of artistically shot dick pics, including one that involved a slice of what I think was gammon, a candle, and a flower.
Picture: Tbaeff and nu1983 and Dexailo/istock
The creative writing that used to get sent in was next level. There'd often be these long and winding poems that would start off with classic lines like ‘You're the most beautiful thing I've ever seen,’ before descending into pretty sordid territory with lines such as ‘When I look at you, I w--k like crazy. Writing this to you now, I am w--king like crazy.’ The phrase ‘w--king like crazy’ will haunt me till the day I die.
Some other dude wrote a 37-page long, scene by scene, description of a wet dream he'd had about one of the women. It was insane. Like they did it on an aeroplane, and then they landed and did it in the airport. And then they did it in the taxi. And then they did it in the hotel. It just went on and on like that. Peter Jackson could have made a trilogy out of it.
It just went on and on. I never really bought into the 'everyone's got a novel in them' idea until I read a 37-page sex letter.
What was the most awkward thing you ever had to do?
The laundry runs: pink and purple silk bed sheets. Mad corsets. Lingerie, that sort of thing.
On one occasion I go in to collect and I notice there's this odd bit of lingerie hanging up behind the Polish lady who ran the launderette.
It's difficult to describe but it was like some sort of stringy all-in-one bra and knickers combo. Like a kinky fishing net. I feel like there were some leather bits on it somewhere.
She tells me off– in a crowded laundrette-that I must tell her in future if things like that were in the bag as they're not made to go in the tumble dryer.
What about the women - are they always speaking to someone on the phone or do they sometimes pretend?
They're usually talking to someone on the phone. There is an option where you can just listen in and not talk to them.
This can get awkward – sometimes there are like five people listening in but nobody would actually be talking except the girl.
Any secrets of the trade?
The women don't actually want to have sex with you. No matter how much you might want to believe it when you phone up, or how many expensive presents you send them, they don't actually want to have sex with you. It's all acting. It's all pretend.
That's not to say some of the women don't get really worried about their callers if they haven't phoned for a few days. Especially, during the daytime show you'd have people calling up and telling the women they wanted to kill themselves. That's a side of it people definitely never think about. Lonely and depressed people just looking for some company.
During the daylight hours women can earn up to £40 an hour, and that goes up to as much as £200 at night, when more people are calling in.
Would Robert recommend the job?
If you think it's a good way to get your foot on the TV ladder, it's not. It's definitely not. ‘Proper’ production companies don't want to see that sort of stuff on your CV. I got around that eventually by labelling it as an ‘interactive television channel’ rather than a ‘babe' channel.
I couldn’t in clear conscience recommend it to another human being.