Phone Sex in the City: What It’s Like to Work in TV Porn

Under a fake name, a 22-year-old feminist camera operator opens up about her experience working for a phone-sex TV channel.

“Babe! My whole c*nt’s out on TV!” Amy snapped, her legs spread wide in front of the camera, as we realised the onscreen logo we had thought was covering her vagina was in fact see-through. I was twenty-two, working as a camera operator for a Phone-Sex TV channel and experiencing an explicit and inherently sexual side of life while most people slept.  

As a feminist with a penchant for occasional sluttery, I’ve been closely following the sex-positive movements which have sprung up in the previous ten years. Feminist sex workers, porn directors and sex researchers; their articles, films and online content all shaped who I am as an adult. These women and companies were largely responsible for my sexual education (the important kind, covering consent, removing shame from female sexuality, sex toys, and closing the orgasm gap). 

In my first two weeks, I was awe-inspired, infatuated, and horrified all at once. I was also crazy horny all the time and had mad sex dreams.

Phone-sex, however, is different to the edgy, on-trend, feminist and body-positive media I’d been consuming. It’s seedy, unfiltered, and primarily it’s for an audience who don’t give a fuck about new ideas around sex; they just want to have a wank. A good-old-fashioned, patriarchal wank. When I took my job, I wanted to dispel my naivety about the sex industry and to form my own first-hand opinions. This seemed the perfect environment to do so.

Phone-sex channels are unique in the sense that they are veiled in taboo, yet broadcast to every home owning a TV licence, every day, whether you like it or not. If you don’t watch them, or call the models yourself, the chances are you won’t know much about what goes on inside the walls of our studio. In my first two weeks, I was awe-inspired, infatuated, and horrified all at once. I was also crazy horny all the time and had mad sex dreams. Overexposure to sexual activity will do things to you if you’re not used to it. It’s an odd atmosphere in a phone sex TV studio because the crux of sex work is the lack of taboo and the freedom of sexual expression, yet rules and structure stifle these workplaces (or mine at least) there is minimal expression at all. 

To sum up, for those who don’t know the strict structure of 24 hours a day on a phone sex channel, it’s similar to this on most of them: 

5am – 9pm: 

Turn on the channels during the day, and you’ll see girls lounging on sofas dressed ‘modestly’ as Ofcom insists (although ‘modest’ is certainly open to interpretation). They aren’t allowed to do any sexual movement, and must simply sit, twirl their hair or apply makeup, while they talk to callers. Their conversations must be tame, so they’ll mainly chat about the weather and what they are doing at the weekend, although you won’t be able to hear the conversations unless you call in. It’s pretty dull at this time in all honesty.

9pm – 10pm:

Things are hotting up, and clothes can come off (apart from underwear). The explicit chat begins, but no sexual movement can be done. When I first started working, I had thought this meant no dry humping etc. But when working with more experienced producers, I realised they’re not allowed to move at all. The presenters find this very difficult because they have no way to attract calls and have to engage in phone sex without moving.

10pm: 

Bras come off, and believe me, 9.59 has barely passed before tits are bouncing! (although if it hasn’t, we have to report it) Still no sexual movement, however.

Sexual movement can gradually begin, which means they’re supposed to start with slight grinding etc. and build up to whatever bouncing, spanking, hair pulling etc. they want to do. This is the tough part, working as a producer. They’re like excited puppies in those first five minutes; they cannot keep still!

11:00pm: 

Blowjob mimes! (But only with a flat hand. Of course.) Sex moves are now in full swing.

11:30pm – 4:30am: 

..Annnd producers can relax. Anything goes from this point, except licking, spitting, sucking, touching each other, use of props, blowjob mimes with closed hands, hands in panties, rubbing clits, forced blowjob mimes, and basically anything non-sexual. Nudity is allowed, but only if you can’t see any labia. The girls can open their legs to the camera (with underwear on), but they have to be slightly angled. 

Working night shifts, you tend to start living in a bubble of home and work; I didn’t meet a single man in the time I worked there. Our studio was made up almost entirely of women; female camera operators, producers, and of course the models. The one exception was Dan, the big boss. Dan the maniac. Dan the wannabe pimp. Dan was the showrunner, and he sure as hell ran that show. We were all pretty terrified of him, to be honest. He was the type to fly into a tyrannical rage over a drop of a sweet wrapper, or if someone used the wrong font in our admin work.   

When I first got the job I was treated with a lot of mistrust from Dan; he is wary of anyone new he allows into his workplace to talk to ‘his’ girls. Presumably paranoid about the immense fines Ofcom can throw at sex channels, he seemed to have an ingrained mistrust of all the women he worked with and treated them as so. Everyone had to go through an initiation process of abuse from him.

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