Blogging the Fringe: Audiences large and small
For the 2011 Victoria Fringe Fest, On the Island is featuring blog posts by several Fringe performers.
By Cameryn Moore
I've been touring Phone Whore around North America for close to a year and a half--the tally is well over 100 shows by now--and the most common question audience members ask me, after "do you ever get any calls from girls?" (not yet) and "do you ever get turned on while working" (once or twice) is "when did you stop doing phone sex?"
Note the past tense, as if I must have thrown it over a long time ago for the glamorous and high-paying field of solo Fringe performance. Or maybe it's that people imagine Phone Whore to be a confessional, a sort of semi-repentant "look at the crazy stuff I said for money, can you believe it?!" Everybody knows that confessional tales are most effective when the things one is confessing are over and done with.
But I am not done with paid phone sex. Not by a long shot. I'm a real-live, still-doing-it phone sex operator. Yes, still doing it, even while on tour. Just this morning, before writing this piece, I took three calls at my billet. (I'll probably get interrupted at least once or twice more before I edit.)
I haven't always been proud of this work. I mean, sure, people had been telling me for years that I had a great phone sex voice. I always laughed them off, not knowing anything about the job but having plenty of opinions about it: I've got an education, I'm a feminist, that's just weird, what kind of woman does that kind of work, anyway? But when I got laid off from my day job in marketing 2+ years ago, the economy was in the crapper, and frankly, it's amazing what you do when you're desperate. I got a gig, struggled with shame and insufficient training--a couple of eavesdropped calls and then it's sink or swim, baby!--and then, after about two weeks, that steep learning curve leveled out and I realized that, wow, this is actually a GREAT day job for someone with my particular skills, that is, a motor mouth and a gutter mind.
The job is harder when I'm on tour, for sure. Normally, when I'm not touring I'm on call between 14 and 18 hours a day to make ends meet, which means I pick up regulars at all hours. When I'm traveling and promoting and performing, my afternoons and evenings just aren't available and I lose the regulars from those times. I also have to sign in at 7a.m. every morning. Doesn't matter how late my show was last night, or how important that late-night showcase, or how much good lovin' I got from that hunky bar-back... doesn't matter. I have to be awake and ready to help strange men with their morning wood at 7a.m.
Minor peeves aside, though, I love my work. My performing work. I mean, both kinds of performing work! One is on stage in front of 125 strangers, and one is on the phone, talking with just one other person, but both allow me to create and hold a safe space in which others get to explore sex. That is an honor, and a privilege, and usually a helluva lot of fun.