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phone sex

Jennifer Love Hewitt and Designer Drugs

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I began to think that every thing would be okay. I had two part time jobs and the anxiety drug experiment. For two weeks my life consisted of getting up at 8:00 am taking the dog for a two hour walk, by the marina  and rushing back to my horrid apartment where I would shower, dress and run off for the two hour bus ride to Nielsen where I would knock out seven hours of desperate dialing only to return to the horrid apartment to talk to the creepiest sounding men in the world about their absolutely disgusting sexual fantasies. Ladies, if you ever want to be celibate just take a phone sex job.

The phone sex company insisted that the girls took all calls on a land line and that we only took brief bathroom breaks on any given shift. The calls were back to back and you were not allowed to end a call even if it was the end of the shift. If a guy flipped to fast a supervisor would come on the phone and tell the girl what she did wrong as they monitored every single call.  The Boulevard Entertainment dominates the phone sex industry in Los Angeles. They own many a 1-800 number. If you  Google them you can find the legal documents detailing their attempts to register the name 1-800-Jack-Off with the US Patent office. It is funnier than any comedy I have ever seen Hollywood produce.

One of my weirdest calls included a man who asked over and over again if he should send a picture of his penis to his girlfriend. He went on and on for four hours about the socio- political ramifications of this decision. He talked a little about his job and his mother then he went back to the picture of his penis thing.

There was a man who had very labored speech and told me that he was in a wheel chair. He told me that he’d never had sex; just phone sex. He wanted me to walk him though the process. I have never been so uncomfortable.

My job at Nielsen wasn’t much better. In spite of making hundreds of calls a day it wasn’t uncommon to leave with no completed surveys. This was because we only wanted to talk to people who liked crap. The majority of people we called said they didn’t go to the theater very much and that they had no intention of seeing any of the garbage we were peddling. The film companies didn’t care what most people thought they just wanted  to advertise their films in the form of a survey and see how they could get even more money out of the people who were dumb enough to go see mall movies in the first place.

I was doing pretty well that first week I had several completed surveys a day and my boss Pam really seemed to like me. The office was sort of like the high-school experience I never had. I was kind of accepted there. There were all kinds of aspiring whatevers there. There was a man who resembled George Costanza  who was the star of many an indie horror film. There was a woman there, who had come to Los Angeles at the age of 34 to become an actress. She was one of the sweetest people I had ever met. We had an awful lot in common, a hatred of work an obsession with the Mary Tyler Moore Show. She wanted to be an actress since she was little. Unlike me; she was normal looking. When she told people she wanted to be an actress they accepted it, if I had said it they would have laughed. She had lots of friends there and was nice and friendly to me right away. The popular kids  never were nice in high school. There was Dante,  the  boy who was so handsome that I felt nervous every time he talked to me and he talked to me often. There was Greg, an ex- Texan who was older than me who had come to LA to pursue acting and writing . His favorite director was Ed Wood and he had a series of films that he made with his girlfriend about a very sexist detective. He was very shy about showing it to anyone. I felt honored that He would show them to me. He told me never to tell anyone about it. I knew how he felt, there were certain places that I would never show my work.

This is more common then you might imagine. People come to Los Angeles and they are afraid to show people their reels or scripts or CD’s. They will use the excuse that they don’t feel they have enough material yet, or it’s just a first draft or the quality of the recording isn’t good; but that’s not the real reason. We didn’t want the fantasy shattered, We didn’t want anyone to tell them that it wasn’t going to happen for us because if they did; what would be left? We would just be   a bunch of middle-aged losers doing telephone surveys for a living. It was better to let the fantasy live than to kill it with what we all knew the real outcome would be. If we didn’t try we could tell ourselves that it might come true, just like in the movies. But deep down, we knew what we were.

Leonard Cohen said it best, “Everybody knows that the dice are loaded everybody rolls with their fingers crossed”.

There was also a rather geeky kid named Mark who fancied himself a singer and an actor. He was a rather odd looking character, pear shaped and balding with plain features and a pot belly. He constantly spoke in a high squeaky voice. At first I thought it was his real voice, but it turned out he was imitating a coworker of ours. He was given to bursting out into song and constantly kept tabs on how many surveys everyone in the office had. I felt sorry for him at first, he clearly just wanted attention.

It was at Nielsen that I was to meet Chris, the class clown. Chris was about my age with blond hair and pretty blue eyes. He was tall and skinny and had a yellowing Cheshire smile. He was sitting next to me one day in the break room when a basketball game was on TV.  The crowed went wild when someone made a shot.

“God, a man threw a ball through a hoop you would think it was VJ day”. He said and I laughed.

I’ve always liked men who were funny and hated sports, it makes me think they can think for themselves. I can be quite foolish sometimes.

He gave me a ride home that night. We had a lot in common we both loved the Simpsons and sail boats. We both were desperately miserably poor and working at Nielsen.

Back at home I got one of about ninety calls in the barely legal category. I braced my self and said hello.

“Hi, this is Frank who’s this ?”

This is Tracy.” I said trying to sound young.

“What are you doing, Tracy.”

“Homework,” I said. “”What are you doing?”

“I’m just sitting around thinking about my daughter.”

I couldn’t speak. I felt like I was gonna throw up. I didn’t say anything and he hung up. I expected someone to come on the phone and chastised me, but no one did.

The next day I went to the psychiatrist office in Beverly Hills for my weekly check up to see how the drugs were working. When Dr. M examined me  I burst out crying. I told him about the phone sex job and the guy who was thinking about his daughter.  I asked him if there was anything we could do about it. He told me that if someone confessed a crime to him he was legally obligated to tell the authorities. I suggested that the next time he called I could get information out of him then the company would be obligated to call the police. He suggested that I didn’t do this. He told me that he was sorry that I had to work for them. He told me he’d treated many woman who worked in porn and they were all miserable.

I told him that I didn’t know what  was going to do If didn’t get another job soon.

“Look, I’ve had fantasies that I don’t act on you’ve had fantasies that you don’t act on. Look at it this way, maybe talking to you about this gets it out of his system. Maybe he talks to you and then doesn’t have to do it in real life..”

He told me that if I still had the job by the time the experiment was over he would get me some anti depressants and sleeping pills to deal with the problem.

As I walked back to the bus  with my hundred dollar check and my next two week supply of drugs I thought about what had just happened. A medical professional had just told me to tell a pedophile what he wanted to hear. He had ensured me that he would drug me up enough that I was able to do it. I popped two pills on the bus and headed back home.

That night a creepy old man with a southern accent called in wanting me to stick a variety of various household appliances up myself. Even though I was supposed to be off a 2:00 AM , I was up till 4:00 AM talking about this nonsense.

“ Do you have a can opener, not the electric kind, but the hand held kind?”  he asked.

“Yes”. I replied excitedly.

“I want you to stick it up your pussy and twist it.”

His bag of tricks included a glass bottle a plastic bottle, a hammer, the paper roll from a roll of paper towels and a screw driver to name a few. I wanted to kill him or myself by the time the call was over and I had to pee like a race horse. I never wanted to talk about anything that had to do with sex ever again.  I comforted myself with the fact that my check from the company was arriving that day. I checked the mailbox and it wasn’t there. I waited another day and then called the company. I was coldly informed that the check could sometimes take five days to arrive. When it didn’t arrive in five days I called back and they said it would be two weeks before they issued a new check. I screamed at them.

“ What are you fucking kidding me?” (this was getting to be my standard response to everything that happened in Los Angeles.)

“No”, it’s just our policy” , she said coldy and hung up.

My hands shook what was I going to do? I wasn’t going to be able to pay the rent. The supervisor at the  phone sex company called me that night and asked me why I wasn’t logged in. I told her I would log in when I got paid. She actually tried to make me feel guilty  about it.

A week later when rent was due, I called Vito and told him that I would have to post date my rent check to the tenth and just pay the late fee he said okay, when he got the check he cashed it before the tenth anyway and I was charged an overdraft fee by the bank.

Back at Nielsen Chris and I had begun dating. The goofy theater chick dating the smart ass. Pam my boss, did not like Chris and began to take it out on me. She suddenly began picking on everything I did.

The phone sex company paid me and fired me. I told them I would see them in court. I went back to doing audience work and I signed up with Central Casting.

Central Casting has a system where you wait in line for two hours and pay $25.00 to get your picture taken. Then than give you a number that you can call to find out what jobs are available for the next day. If you were not eighteen to look younger and size six or under you were disqualified from eighty percent of the jobs . If you were not attractive you were disqualified from  ninety percent of the remaining twenty percent  of jobs. If you did qualify you had the privilege of calling the casting director over and over again until you finally got through to him or her to see if they wanted to cast you on the show.

I called the following day and was booked  as a detective on Prison Break. I told them that that I had a business suit to wear on the show and I didn’t I ran off to Wal-Mart and found something claiming to be a Calvin Klein. I had to get up at 4:00 the next morning. It took two hours to get to FOX Studios on the bus. We sat at a round table all day at what was supposed to be the annual Angels and Eagles dinner for fallen cops. William Fichtner was there ( the guy who played the cop in GO!) Even though I know its stupid I felt a little intimidated upon seeing him.

The day lasted 12 hour. It was boring, but it wasn’t that bad. I called again the next day and got booked on Ghost Whisperer which was being filmed inLong Beach on the Queen Mary. I was excited it was a four day job at least 12 hours a day.  I would have to call in sick to Nielsen at least two of the days. I realized I had to do it , it meant way more hours. They were paying us $10 extra  for travel and and additional $10 for bringing our own suitcases.  Visions of sugar plums danced in my head.

Chris and I got up at five ( we got to sleep in!) he drove me over the bridge and dropped me off. There were at least a hundred other extras milling about. We began by filming a scene where we were on deck waving bye bye. We then filmed a scene where we were walking aboard the boat.

Right after the seen was filmed we took a break on our way back to holding I saw the director of the episode ‘Save Our Souls” Gloria Muzio talking on the phone to Central Casting.

“What did you send over I said upscale clothes. Half of them came in rags. I said I wanted good looking people half of them aren’t.  I might as well be in the background. Hey Artie. Can’t you see me in the background.”

Apparently Gloria is a self hating ugly chick. Instead of giving opportunities to those of us who aren’t cute she has decided to be part of the problem by only putting pretty people on TV.

She was about forty  with glasses and braces. (I’m not kidding). She kept telling us that we were supposed to be rich people on a European cruise who were all millionaires. Then she told us that this was a trip of a lifetime (if we were all millionaires why would a cruise be the trip of a life time?)

At one point a man told me to  sit in a lounge chair. I sat for a few moments then I saw the man being yelled at by Gloria. The man then came back and told me I was sitting in the wrong place as if I had decided to sit there by myself.

We were told that the job may actually only be two days for some of us. ( The ones who weren’t cute enough to be in the close up shots.)

As on the set of most shows the stars did not look at us or speak to us.  Most of the actors will just give you a polite smile and a nod. Jennifer Love Hewitt took this a step further by literally sticking her nose in the air every time she passed us. She was a producer of the show and every now and then she was asked to look through the camera. She would generally find a flaw and tell them to change the shot. I had to laugh I remembered seeming her on some show where she was being interviewed about being a producer.

She had giggled girlishly and said , “Well I am a producer but that doesn’t mean that they always do what I say.”

I I’d seen her “act” and I ‘d heard her “sing” was amazed at how someone so talentless could be so mean and pompous.

The day wore on and on Gloria wanted to shot every seen a million times. At one point a guy with a big nose and I were sitting out of a scene while everyone else worked. He complained that if he was never allowed to be in a seen he would never get a speaking part. I felt so sorry for him. After being treated the way we were why would you even want a speaking part anymore.

All of a sudden Big nose grabbed me and shoved me out of the way. A tray of glasses was flying towards my head. I got out of the way right before it landed right where I was sitting. One of the main actors asked me if I was okay. No one else did. We worked til midnight and came back the next day at noon we then stayed til 2:00 AM. Gloria got more and more demanding as the night went on. You would think she was directing a work of art and not some crummy TV show.

Half of us were informed we wouldn’t be needed for the next two days.

I felt like telling Gloria that she should have a little faith in people. That Roseanne had feature plain frumpy people and it had been one of the biggest hits on TV ever. That When given the opportunity Kathy Bate had proven herself to be an amazing actor who could bring in an audience. But, I knew she wouldn’t listen to me and I would only be burning a bridge.

I returned to Nielsen the next day where I was chastised by Pam for calling in sick.

I didn’t think it was possible, but things were about to get infinitely worse.

Judge Judy, Phone Sex and the Standard Operational Bitch

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I called the number the creep on the bus had given me to find that Adrianne didn’t have any audience jobs till Wednesday. She asked me to send in a picture and told me she would get back to me; I never expected to hear from her again. I looked on Craigslist and found a company called Standing Room Only. They were casting audience members for a “revival of a game show that had been popular in the 90s”. I called the number and after being asked my age I was told to be at the LA Coliseum at noon the next day. I wondered what sort of catastrophe lay  before me. Would I spend money on a bus ticket to find out it had been canceled or would they take one look at me and tell me to go home?  I lay on  my cheap airbed all night wondering what would happen.  It had been several days since I’d eaten anything but the gas station junk food I’d bought with my Shell charge card.

I arrived the next day to find several long lines of people. My fears of being rejected for my looks were quieted as they were clearly taking anyone. They’re were several street derelicts there including a woman who  told me she was going to go to McDonalds at lunch and beg for some French fries and a man who was getting drunk  on the whiskey he had hidden in his thermos.  There was a nice looking guy there about my age who passed the time in line flirting with a pretty  20-year-old girl who had cut marks all up and down her arms. We waited for two hours before going inside. I was upset to learn that the time clock didn’t start until you were inside. It turned out the show was American Gladiators.

I was handed a large Styrofoam  finger and given a seat in between a handsome, but sleazy looking fellow and a plump Hispanic woman. The guys name was Tony he had several tattoos  and told me he just got out of jail. He seemed to like me. In fact he made several attempts to grab my hand. He made fun of a woman in front of us who had a facial deformity. He sat in his seat and danced to the loud rap music that was played on the loud speakers. They’re were a lot of people doing this. I felt scared and out of place.

The contests involved ordinary people competing against body builders. Layla Ali was one of the hosts. I couldn’t help but notice that she did not inherit her fathers intelligence. She had a hard time reading from the queue cards. Our only job as audience members was to clap and cheer for the abominable garbage that played out before our eyes. The contestants tried to climb a wall while the Gladiator tried to knock them off.

We were moved around from seat to seat. It was getting pretty late and I began to wonder how I would get home. Tony said he would give me a ride home; I envisioned a date rape.  I wondered if I was wearing the torn underwear, because how embarrassing would that be? We were separated at the next seat change but agreed to meet by the front door. I hoped I’d get another ride.

We were dismissed at 10: 30 and didn’t get out until 11:30. In spite of being there for over 12 hours I went home with a mere $70 in my pocket. I went outside and Tony wasn’t there. I managed to get a ride home with a young man who wanted to be a publicist.

I sent Adrianne a  picture of myself in full make-up and ended up getting another audience gig. I went to  Judge Judy on Wednesday which was even further from home in Hollywood  at the Sunset and Gower studios. I found a much better looking more affluent crowed. My stomach knotted; would I be sent home? I gave my name to the woman who was checking everybody in. She gave me a dirty look when I smiled and said hello. I tried to be friendly and she told me to get in line.  I would later met many young woman and a few men that had exactly the same personality as she did. I like to call  this persona the Standard Operational Bitch. Basically the S.O.B is some little nothing  production assistant or low grade casting assistant with their first real paid job in show business. They generally make a few dollars above minimum wage, work crummy hours and take shit from everyone from the talent agent to the directors, to the crew. They had a tendency to take all their hostilities out on the extras and audience workers who were at their mercy.

We filed into the small studio and took our seats. The atmosphere was considerably more pleasant than it was on Gladiator. People in business clothing sat quietly chatting. The show itself was quite boring. Judge Judy has a very quiet voice and if you are sitting in back you cant hear a thing. Falling asleep is common for people doing audience work . The next time you watch one of these judge shows look in the background and you are sure to see a few people dosing. I chatted with the woman sitting next to me who told me about Central Casting. She said if you just went down and registered for $25.00 you could do background extra work on TV. She said with my look I could work every day (really, with my look. Had she been taking opposite pills? Had I gone through the looking glass? The point was moot anyway . I didn’t’ have $25.00.  We were dismissed and paid promptly for our eight ours of work. I was wondering where in hell I was going to get rent money when I picked up a Working World Magazine at the train station. I found an ad for  survey takers at the Nielsen Ratings company. The job was only part time and they were located in Hollywood. It would be a two hour trip, but I was desperate. I walked to the address  on the ad and filled out an application. I was hired instantly and told to be back the on Sunday for orientation.

In the mean time I was booked for  Judge Joe Brown the next day. You’d never know it to watch the show, but the man is a a sexist douche. There was a woman  being sued by her male friend who bought her a very expensive cell phone and wanted the money for it back. The woman seemed confused as to why she was being sued. Judge Brown told her she didn’t deserve the free cell phone because she was not that fine.  I’m not kidding. He was prone to going off on long tangents  that had little to do with the subject at hand.

I ate lunch  with several other audience members including a girl named Stephanie who told me that  her boyfriend was in the military and she was renting a room from some tweker guy in the valley. She told me that she’d told her boyfriend that she was living with her aunt and working in an office. When I asked her why she lied she told me that she didn’t know. I complained to another woman that I worked everyday and still couldn’t make ends meet. I also told her that it made me uncomfortable to participate in reality TV; I didn’t watch it. She told me that it was better than corporate America. (But, this was corporate America.) I spoke to a beautiful, but heavy set blonde named Jessica who would only speak of her hair make-up and nails.  Later on she later got in trouble for falling asleep in the audience.

On Friday I worked  yet another day of Gladiator. I ran into Tony and I asked what happened to him when he was supposed to give me a ride home and he said he waited for me, but I never showed up. He then had the audacity to hit on me again. I arrived at 10:00 am when weren’t allowed to go in and sit down until noon. Once inside we weren’t allowed to get up for five hours. There were no bathroom or water breaks, beside a thirty minute lunch.  I talked to a woman sitting next to me who lived in Long Beach. She said  she had been doing audience work for six mouths and didn’t know what she was going to do next. As the evening wore on  and Layla kept messing up her lines, we realized that we would not be leaving until 2:30. I had a panic attack . Poor MacBeth would be alone for over 17 hours and there were no buses back to San Pedro at that hour. I offered her $20  for a ride home and she said yes.

Shortly after this a fight broke out in the audience.  We were finally given water and bags of peanuts. Not feeding us or giving us water for that long is very Illegal as we were technically background extras and they are required to give us food and water if they were going to keep us on set .

This is something that I would see again and again in Los Angeles; A blatant flagrant, in your face disregard for the law. If you are poor the people in power will treat you as poorly as possible. This is true to a certain extent anywhere, but I never saw people be so blunt about it or so inhuman. I began to understand what had caused the Watts Riots and the LA riots. There is an enormous disrespect for traditionally disenfranchised people in Los Angeles. If you are not attractive you will be discriminated against in the work place. Look on the LA Craigslist. And you will find customer service jobs asking for head shots. There are many companies that will state an age preference in their ads even though this is completely illegal; they just don’t care they have you where they want you. Read the police blotter; its pathetic the cops couldn’t catch herpes from a two dollar whore. In order to meet their quota they will stand on the street corner and give out jaywalking tickets. But, the people they give the jaywalking ticket  to weren’t jay walking. They started walking a second before the light changes  or something . If you are caught riding the Metro without a ticket on the Redline which goes through Korea Town, Downtown and Hollywood, you will be given a ticket. If you are caught without a ticket on the blue line which goes through the predominantly black areas  you will be arrested. I saw this happen over and over and over again.

Everywhere I have ever worked there has been some unfairness. We workers  would sit in break rooms or stand in parking lots and discuss the common enemy; the boss. Oh sure there were some ass kissers but the majority of us supported our fellow workers. If you were having a problem it was easy to find a sympathetic ear. You would think that people would get upset about the way we were treated but when I complained about it to my fellow proletarians I was told how lucky I was to be participating in this crap for less than minimum wage. They accepted everything with a drooling, glassy eyed, Prozac induced complacency.

I talked to several people who honestly believed that if they just acted happy and did what they were told some one would see them, think they had a good look and give them a speaking role in a film. They actually believed that this would lead to superstardom. One woman I complained to told me that she was only doing audience work for a few days. She said she was a professional journalist. When I asked for what paper she said she worked for “ The internet media”. ( even if you are paid, blogging might pay a bill or two a month at most. If someone tells you they blog for a living and that all they do they are either lying, a welfare queen, a trust fund baby or a sugar baby.) Here voracious unwillingness to accept her lot in life was typical of LA. Lying was rampant there.  I realize people fib  everywhere. People fudge on resumes and lie to people the are hitting on in bars all over. But here they would lie when it didn’t benefit them to do so.  If the audience member who thought she was a journalist really had any talent or instinct for journalism at all she would realize that there was a compelling story of injustice and exploitation to be told all around her. Instead she scoffed and said she had another job so she didn’t care about anyone else.

Many of the audience members were welfare recipients who needed to make money under the table. It wasn’t uncommon for them to put down a fake social security number on their  w2 I Although I worked for them many time SRO never sent me a tax  form, they never sent one to anyone.

We were finally dismissed. We stood in line for another two unpaid hours. The woman who said she was going to give me a ride had taken off without me. I offered the same $20 to another co clapper. He was living in his van so I figured home was wherever he landed and my place was only 20 minutes by car. It is not uncommon for people in LA to live in their vans and trailers and cars We went to Hollywood first to drop off a co clapper. In spite of his obviously servile  situation he felt compelled to tell me what a great place LA was. The co clapper just couldn’t believe that I didn’t like LA . I told him my story, he still couldn’t believe that I didn’t like LA as there were famous people in LA. (really?)

I got home at 3:00 Am. The poor dog had been holding in his pee for 19 hours at this point. He hadn’t relived himself. I felt like the worst mom in the world.  I fell asleep on the airbed which deflated underneath me on to the hard floor below.

The next day I went to the valley to apply for a job with a phone sex company. It was work at home and paid $10.00 an hour. I figured I would work part time for them and part time for Nielsen. I didn’t want to do phone sex full time as I didn’t want any holes in my resume. I Went to The Boulevard Entertainment company which was located in a very nice building in Burbank. I was handed a hiring package and told that I had to work 20 hours a week. I was given a choice of schedules and choses 10: 00 pm to 2:00 am as there were children playing directly outside my door at all other hours. There were several different personas you had to learn, The MILF, The Lesbian, the Mistress and something called Barely Legal.

I woke up on the hard floor of my apartment that Sunday sicker than I had ever been in my entire life I downed some cold medicine  and headed for my first day of training at Neilsen.  I felt like I was gonna die. My fellow trainees consisted of  a high-school girl  who claimed to be a straight a student, a pretty Pepperdine grad and a man named Dante who was far and away one of the handsomest men I have ever seen. He had a beautiful voice like that of a professional radio announcer. I thought that if any of us had a chance of making it out of there; it was him.  We played a few getting to know you games and practiced reading the surveys.  We took a tour of the floor and who did I see but the journalist. I left at 8:00 pm and got home at 10:00 just in time to start my first phone sex shift.

I took the first few calls. They were pretty much as I expected them to be. The trick is to be very subtle at first so the pervert doesn’t flip his wad too soon. The clients paid  for blocks of time. You wanted to get them to talk to you just long enough that they go over the block they paid for and have to call back. The normal calls are basically just boring strait sex stuff. I you think its fun like in the movies and you get to play all kinds of characters trust me, you don’t. Most men don’t have that kind of imagination. Some times all you had to do was say hello and you’d hear a grunt and a click. Sometimes you would begin to describe yourself and  you’d get the click. Every once in a while you would have to go into details describing various oral acts and so forth. The guys all sounded like they were about 300 years old. After about an hour of “ normal” sex calls  I started getting the “barely Legal calls. The clientele of TBE was largely comprised of pedophiles. Technically it is illegal to say that you are under age on a phone sex call. TBE’s way around this was to say that you were eighteen , but you could tell them a story about something that happened to you when you were younger.

My first barely legal call was a man who said he was a teacher. He wanted to know if I had any experiences with teachers when I was a kid. I wanted to hang up. This was sick. I was sick I too. I thought of how nice and comforting a new airbed would be and how good a whole night of sleep would feel.  I told him a story aboout how my character had lost her virginity to her high school math teacher when she was only fourteen. Don’t  model your daughters after me.

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