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August 2020

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Smooth Operator
Featured Article

Smooth Operator

Phone sex may seem like an anachronism, especially in the age of social media and HD streaming, but guess what: It’s alive and well—booming in fact, with a bottom line to the tune of eight figures annually. How did it start, and where are we now? We ask three renowned operators who talk the talk.

Remember hot, naughty girls who are up for “anything”? Soft, gauzy late-night TV ads for 1-976 numbers? Remember pages upon pages of ads in the back of your local rag and the promise of fantasies fulfilled for just $1.99 a minute? You may think that phone sex went the way of the landline, but you would lose that bet in a big way.

Phone sex was there in the beginning, and it will be here long after you’re gone. We can reasonably argue that its birth dates back to when AT&T introduced interstate toll-free numbers in 1967. Flash forward to 1977, when Gloria Leonard, adult entertainer and editor of High Society, taped herself “talking dirty.” The marketing stunt, whereby readers could call a toll-free number listed in the magazine and listen to these R-rated recordings, was an instant success. By 1983 they had gone from one phone line to, well, a lot more; Ms. Leonard et al. had unwittingly tapped into something way bigger than a simple gimmick. The rest is history— and still unfolding.

The evolution of phone sex is so much more than the advent of smartphones and social media. It’s tied to larger, intangible societal shifts where people, desperate to understand their lives and the world around them, are reaching out to phone sex operators for help—getting off or otherwise. Cluttered call centers have given way to a much more autonomous infrastructure, where operators can set their own rates and hours.

Naturally, like any niche within the adult-entertainment complex, sales and revenue figures are closely guarded. One well-established operator featured in this very article reached out to several companies on HUSTLER’s behalf, and none wanted to go on record. Here’s what we do know: NiteFlirt, considered the most popular phone sex platform today, is said to bring in upward of $18M a year.

Good operators can earn a secure living, great operators are pulling in $10K a month, and the best of the best are making bank that would melt your brain.

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