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ASK A PHONE WHORE: how does your stage work affect your phone work?

ASK A PHONE WHORE is a semi-regular feature, appearing whenever I get a good question. Anything you want to know about my phone work, ask away! Make sure to read through the archives here to see if I've already addressed your question in a previous post, or to see if I've written about something already and you have follow-up questions. I may set up a separate page here to solicit questions, or maybe just put a widget up, but for now I'll be running my mail bag over on Facebook.

Q. Is there much/any bleedthrough that you notice between your performances on stage and your phone performances? Does your phone work change after a long stretch of stage shows?

Oh, that's right, not everyone says "suck my dick, you little worm" at work...

Oh, that's right, not everyone says "suck my dick, you little worm" at work...

My stage work and my phone work are intimately related, ever since I wrote Phone Whore. When I began writing it, I had only been doing phone sex, what, maybe three months? By throwing my resources and my energy after that play, I was betting that I would be able to perform whatever I wrote, and I was scared shitless, as much by the prospect of publicly "doing phone calls", in all of their foul glory, as by the task of memorizing 19 pages of material.

I still get calls like the ones I take in Phone Whore; in fact, the BBC Locker-Room Gang-bang guy is a pretty solid regular. When I get those calls in real life, I have a weird sense of inappropriately intense dejà vu: I have done those calls again and again and again, more than the cards in my real-world card box can account for. And I definitely have moments, when I'm talking with any one of my BBC guys, when I find myself using some phrase or image that is forever captured in the play I mean, why not? I spent a lot of time making that language really sing! It's good stuff! But I catch myself, take a deep breath, deliberately wrench myself off the Phone Whore track. I don't use a script in my calls, and I don't want to start, even accidentally.

When I go for a long time without performing Phone Whore, I forget how shocking the content can be to mainstream folks. I just go on for weeks or months at a time, talking to my wankers about this or that, and that becomes the conversational arena that I get used to operating in. Even though I still get together with friends and lovers, they are sufficiently pervy that I don't have to make much distinction between what is okay to say on the phone and what is okay to say to someone's face. Graphic is the new normal. Then, when I'm out there on stage, "doing those calls", I hear the shocked silence and the gasps and the squirming and I'm, like, oh, right. This isn't normal language.

Conversely, if I go for a long time without doing phone calls, I forget a little bit how to be authentically and immediately down in the gutter. Phone Whore is dirty, but it is scripted dirty; I know ahead of time where the call is going, even if my audience doesn't. On the phone line, I have NO FUCKING IDEA what is going to happen, even from minute to minute; getting back into the sheer unpredictability again, the utterly improv nature of phone sex, feels a little like the first day I did phone sex. I feel a little like a rookie all over again, except that feeling lasts for two seconds instead of six weeks.

Ideally I get to keep doing phone sex while I'm touring. Keeping close to my original source experience generally has a good effect on Phone Whore, and indeed, all of my shows. Doing phone sex keeps me on my toes, and reminds me, reminds my body, what it feels like to just listen. I'm not listening to a caller out there on stage, but I am listening to the audience, or at least, I should be.

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