This article contains sexually explicit material.
This is how it happened. I needed some money. I had a job but I liked nice things, drank fancy coffee beverages and smoked a pack of American Spirits Menthol a day. Those natural cigarettes add up. There was an ad on Craigslist. Imagine that you are unexpectedly witnessing the end of your life as you know it. That everything certain has been upset. Perhaps you, like me, have yet to obtain anything of certainty but there are plans in place. Many lovely plans. I had this irrational fear of becoming homeless. I guess not completely irrational, having suffered from homelessness before. Maybe it’s what has led me to have empathy for all the struggling people I saw. It’s also what gave me a little pocket of hope. Tiny like the space between our toes, or perhaps even smaller like the vacant hole in my ear left from a piercing the doctor gave me the moment after my birth. Like a good Catholic girl, two eyes, ten fingers, ten toes, one vagina, and two ear piercings. The tiny holes made to bear the weight of my grandmother’s little gold butterflies. My Lola is gone, the earrings long gone, now just the holes, a tiny smidgen of hope.
The ad on Craigslist stated, “Bodybuilders wanted for live real time chatting.” I figured I went to the gym, I’d been on a Precor machine before, why not? And that’s how Emerald was born.
Gone are the days of the call center where Girl 6s sit stationary in their cubicle. I just indicated what hours I was free to take calls and then they would patch them through to my home phone from their website. The company was really supportive; they gave me a script. These calls were what people in phone banking and telemarketing industries referred to as “canned calls.” The script looked like this:
Q: “Do you like wrestling?”
A: “I’m really big and really strong. My biceps are 16″ inches. I can bench 220 lbs. My legs are huge. I can squat 350 lbs. You know what I can do with these huge quads? How would you like me to wrap them around your waist, put you in a scissors hold, and squeeze you really hard? Would you like that?”
[Wait for reply. If not, you continue….]
[If the client seems to enjoy being hurt:]
A: “I’ve beaten up plenty of guys before. I knock them out by putting them in choker holds, punching them in the face, in the stomach, and squeezing them so hard that they have passed out. I have sat on them and crushed them with my glutes, twisted their arms, and made them beg for mercy.”
“Tell me that I’m stronger than you are or I won’t let you up.”— OR—
“If you don’t say that I’m stronger, I’m not going to let you up, I’m just going to squeeze harder.” —OR—
“Beg me to let you go. Tell me how weak you are.”
“I’d squeeze you so hard that you would never get away from me. Maybe I would wrap my legs around your neck and squeeze and pin your arms over your head and hold you like a little boy. I’d make you say that I was stronger than you. Would you say it? So say it then. I want to hear it.”
“I love to be in control. How would you like me to put you in a headlock? How do you think it would feel to have my 15″ bicep wrapped around your head? I’d squeeze you so hard that your eyes would be popping out of your head.”
[Get him to talk throughout the conversation and ask him what he likes, what are his favorite holds, etc.]
“How would you like to be cradled like a baby? I’d squeeze you so hard, I’d never let you go. I’ll just get up on top of you and put my knees into your chest and hold down your shoulders. I’ll hold your arms back over your head and pin you to the ground.”
[After you have them in a hold, say:]
“I think you are a wimpy guy. You can’t get away from me, can you? Just try.”
The trick was to try to get the conversation to last as long as possible and to get them to ask for you again next time.
Once I was able to review the script, they referred me to another “phone-hostess” to go over some pointers for live conversation. She gave me the names of different holds.
There was the head lock; the mission hold; the scissor hold (which can be either around the head or waist and should make specific reference to “crushing them with your quads”); the school boy pin (pinning their arms over their head); the “grapevine from behind”; and don’t forget bear hugs, where you absolutely cannot miss an opportunity to imply that you in fact can crush your opponent to death.
The phone hostess on the other end of the line spoke with a heavy vodka rasp. I had been afraid she would sound like a better bodybuilder than me but she sounded like forty years of Benson & Hedges. “Now some of these guys will want to know what magazines to find you in or what competitions you’re in. For this I suggest you say that you compete in “a lot of local shows,” of course taking home first and second place.”
I gobbled it up. “What if we don’t know have anything to talk about? What if I get tripped up?” This is when I realized at some point an actual conversation was going to take place and what the hell would I really say? What if I ran out of stories? The truth is I can be very shy in person.
“When there is a lull in the conversation you could always bring up that last night you were in a session that paid you $350.00 an hour to beat a guy. Or you could mention that sometimes you do private sessions of something called “body worship.” This means you stand there and flex, wearing nothing.”
“What if they push for an in-person meeting?”
“Tell them you have an upcoming body building competition. Good names to use, competitions that run frequently, are the Women’s Extravaganza and The Night of the Champions.”
If anyone were to ask what I looked like, I was to refer to a well-known body builder with dark hair and light eyes that a lot of guys have a hard-on for: Annie Riveccio.
I was giddy with the sort of excitement that accompanies entrance into a new sisterhood. Like that pinprick of blood sisters, or the tiny finger tip that steadies a camper’s “light as a feather, stiff as a board.”
My next step was to develop my character and write a story to put up about me on the site. My girl was Emerald: 5’10″, green eyes, black hair, biceps 16″, calves 16 ½”, quads 26″, waist 26″, bench press 235, 50 lb. dumb bells, curl 120, squat 130.
The first day I began taking calls, I stumbled for the phone and pulled up one of those scripts from my computer. It works like this: people go online to these chat rooms and pick someone based on their profile, then book the call online and pay via Paypal. In fact, there’s no more actual 976 numbers. They always settle on a suitable billing company name so nothing embarrassing pops up on people’s charge cards or bank accounts. What that means for phone hostesses today is that we can take calls from anywhere.
That first day, the phone rang and listed the name of the company on my caller ID. I let out a deep sigh. I tried to alter my voice so it sounded deeper. I imagined these guys would expect me to have a deep voice.
The first call was pretty short. The guy wanted to know my stats, what I benched, how much I weighed. He sounded suspicious. The good news was he also sounded nervous. I took advantage of that and kept on talking. After two minutes he hung up. That was what struck me the most at first—how abruptly people hung up. I guess they knew they were being charged by the minute so they got really picky. It was a straight forward exchange: they would call, cum, and hang up.
The unintended consequence of this was that I began to build more confidence. I began to find that when I spent hours impersonating a body builder, talking about how I beat a pub full of guys at arm wrestling, it made me feel more confident in my daily life. I spent more time at the gym and I was less likely to let people cut in front of me in line or steal my parking space.
The calls continued. I filled out my time sheet and waited. The calls were far and few between, but they also came at all hours of the night, regardless of the times I indicated I was free. It was kind of annoying. I became a prisoner of my phone. Sometimes people would treat it like a regular phone sex call and get vulgar and it would piss me off and I’d hang up.
I got the hang of it. I ran around my apartment with my Wet Jet swiffer, swiffering away and gabbing on the phone, “Being a bodybuilder I’m used to being watched. Recently at home I felt like I was being watched more often. At first I thought I was being paranoid but one night I was looking out my bedroom window and I noticed my neighbor was looking at me.”
The trick here was to go on and on until you notice the guy is getting aroused.
“I decided to toy with him so I continued changing, slipping into a revealing silk slip. Leaving my heels on, I walked over to my full length mirror and flexed my arms for him, stopping a moment so he could see the nice full curvature of my biceps. I could tell that he was beginning to be “satisfied” with this pose so I put my foot up on the stool beside me. The bottom of my slip skimmed up my thigh revealing my nice firm quads. I flexed my calves as I adjusted the strap of my heel. Oh yeah, he liked that.”
This is where the heavy breathing usually began and I could hear a response.
“I bet he did.”
“Standing at 5’10”, I decided that my lean strong stature was so beautifully complemented by my slip that I took off my heels, slowly bending forward revealing the lace trim on my thong. This was the night before a competition so I decided to focus on my flexibility. I dropped into the splits, posing now for myself more than anything else. Stretching my long firm legs, I started to stroke my ankles and got excited that I can share my beautiful strong sexy reflection with someone else. I went over to my nightstand and began oiling up my body so I can see myself gleam in the night light. I was saving my favorite and best pose for last: I stood solitary in front of the mirror, my legs shoulder-width apart I brought both of my arms slowly and solidly above my head and then craned them back in front of my rock hard abs clasping my fists together I stood and strained flexing every muscle in my body so hard you could make out the veins in my neck. I was beautiful. I stood there solidly and statuesque for a moment letting my neighbor get insight on what a REAL woman looks like.”
I could hear the guy on the other end of the line spanking away, grunting. The other trick was to try to draw the call out as long as possible. Most times they didn’t last the whole length of the story but there were exceptions.
Like my regular—with him I was angry and mean. This was established in his earlier calls with his small prompts, “Am I bad?”
“Yes. Yes you are really bad!”
“I came. Do you want me to leave it?”
I demanded he cum on his face and leave it there. He did the moment before he hung up. He called every day to be humiliated. At first he thought he loved women that were stronger than him, women with muscles. It turned out that he was one of the few men on the line that actually had a life beyond the computer or the telephone. He went to a play party (a party where people that are into sadomasochism get together to practice S&M in a safe environment), met a real bodybuilder. She ordered him to perform oral sex on another guy.
From that point on in his calls he always asked me if he was a fag or not. I myself am gay. I am a crusader for gay rights. I detest the word fag. Even coming from other homosexuals. But it was my job and it was what he wanted. I remember looking in the mirror frowning, taking my small silver phone away from my mouth, carefully covering the mouthpiece with my hand and sighing. I straightened up, tried to invoke my nasty muscle-bound alter ego, and exclaimed. “Yes! You’re a fag!” Then again I demanded he cum on his face and leave it there.
A short while later, maybe a week, he called me crying.
“I just wanted to thank you.”
“Well, you helped me.”
“You were right. I’m a fag.”
When I completed the call suddenly and anticlimactically, I came, hand-free, fully dressed and staring at the wall. It saddened me. I decided that would be my last call. They were interrupting my sleep and it was getting more and more difficult for me to ever have anyone over if the phone rang.
But if I were to be honest I’d admit that I quit because that exchange proved something to me. Something I wanted very very badly at the time, which was to be special and different. As an objectified phone hostess bodybuilder, I finally felt valued.
Melissa Chadburn is a lover and a fighter, a union rep, a social arsonist, a writer, a lesbian, of color, smart, edgy and fun. Her work has appeared or is upcoming in Guernica, PANK Magazine, WordRiot, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, SLAKE, Salon, Northville Review, The Rumpus, and she is a regular contributor at The Nervous Breakdown. Reach her at fictiongrrrl(at)gmail.com or follow her on Twitter. She loves your whole outfit right now.
Illustrations by Jason Redd; Luchador mask by daquellamanera. Photographs via Betteranever and Annieriveccio.com.