When you're getting ready to write a book, the writer's guides always say to do your research: dig around to see what else has been written in your area so you can compare and contrast existing works with the awesome thing that you are creating.
It is rarely this fun. Or well-groomed.
Ever since I started thinking about creating a film adaptation of Phone Whore, I knew I would have to do the same thing, that is, get out there and see what existing movie depictions of phone sex are like. After all, I thought, people are going to draw those comparisons anyway—"Oh, have you seen Spike Lee's movie? Is it like that?"—so I might as well know what they're referring to.
Now that I know what they're referring to, I... I just... oh man, this subject matter is still WIDE OPEN, is what I'm saying, because what's out there doesn't even come close to touching it.
I'm going to start with For A Good Time Call..., and we'll see if I get my rant out all the way. Because there were things, my friends, things in For A Good Time Call... that make me sit up and say NO FUCKING WAY. There may not be enough space on the Internet to contain my blow-back in one post. If that is the case, Girl 6 and Valentine's Day will have to wait for another post or two before they land under the hot light of my BURNING INDIGNATION. (Other recommendations for depictions of phone sex in movies? Leave 'em in the comments!)
Where do I begin? How about ALL OF THE FUCKING FACTUAL INACCURACIES?
- When the uptight roommate starts giving advice to the girl who is already doing phone sex (in addition to three other jobs), she starts by recommending that she go independent. That is a valid career decision to be made here, yes. But you don't go independent by USING PAYPAL. Paypal will boot your ass off of their platform permanently for handling adult content.
- The PSO roomie gets all excited and says she can tell her repeat callers the new number. BZZZT. Ethically wrong, very wrong. Believe me, I understand the urge. After almost four years with my company, I've got a bunch of regulars who I LIKE. But if/when I leave, I understand that those guys are lost to me. I suppose you could try poaching customers, but good luck. If her company is like mine, the dispatchers listen in from time to time, and even if they didn't, one of the regulars would let it spill to the company. She would be bound to get caught within a couple of days.
- The first night that the uptight roommate steps off her admin/dispatch duties and starts working the actual lines, her roommate congratulates her for making $800 her first night. ... I haven't laughed that hard during a movie in a long time.
SERIOUSLY. I scanned the cast/crew list over on IMDb, hoping to be able to figure out who might have been a script consultant, just so I could email them and yell at them. Who are you talking to, that you think a start-up phone sex company works this way?
There are those who might say, have said, that accuracy isn't that important. This isn't a documentary, it's a rom-com bromance where girls are the bros. Especially in a field that the general public hardly knows anything about the subject matter, who cares? It's just an escapist little piece of fluff. But you know what? Anytime a piece of pop culture is defended as escapist, I automatically have to wonder two things: what are people escaping from and what are they escaping to?
What are people's sex lives like that they need to create fantasy worlds in which women can play with vibrators and share sex talk and talk dirty to men and bond with each other? GUESS WHAT THAT IS ALREADY POSSIBLE, I DID SOME OF THAT TWO DAYS AGO IT WAS GREAT. But it wasn't while I was getting paid to do phone sex.
I'm not going to get into the other tired tropes and stereotypes about phone sex and/or sexually empowered women that were trotted out in For a Good Time Call... I mean, suddenly the uptight girl starts wearing leopard print around the house? Or the slutty roommate making personal arrangements to meet one of her callers in person? Or, uh... Oh, right. ACTIVELY COOKING WHILE TAKING A CALL? I can tell you from personal experience that neither the stir-fry nor the phone sex are going to turn out that well, if you're not focusing solely on either one. The same can be said for jacking off to a business call. I tried that once, and NEVER AGAIN.
I'm not sure why there is so little room for diverse and honest depictions of sex work in movies and TV. Either it's something tragic to be rescued from, or it's romanticized like a motherfucker (the Pretty Woman thing all over again), down to the leopard print and the dancing on the bed and the pink fucking phones. It's like an endless slutty, slutty slumber party, and lord, some days I wish that was the way it was, but it AIN'T.
I don't get it. I need to think about it some more. This is just a start. Because yeah, my first market research in the field of phone sex in film yielded some pretty depressing results.
Or positive ones, if we look at how much room there is for more authentic, more REAL representation.
WANNA SEE A MOVIE ABOUT PHONE SEX THAT'S SMART AND MAKES SENSE? I KNOW I DO. So much so that I'm going to make it happen. Donate TODAY to support the production of Phone Whore on film! All the details here: