Phone Sex: A History, Part 4

INTERNATIONAL ADULT PHONE SEX BEGINS

In the UK in 1993, 0898 adult chat lines were just being closed down, as mentioned in our previous blog. At this time, calling an international number from your home phone was very expensive and tariffs varied to call different countries. Calling from mobiles, which were still on the whole using per-minute billing at this time, cost even more to the point of exorbitance. The arrangements of what was billed and the resulting shares of profits between the country were the call originated and the call terminated countries were basically worked out between the carriers.

It took just one bright spark to work out that the cost of calling certain small countries was very high (Usually around £1.06 to £1.30 per minute at this time) and that there was a considerable margin of profit to “do deals.” Thus, by approaching small islands, often based in the Pacific which usually had few inbound calls, these entrepreneurs found a new string to their bows.

Now that there were no longer adult domestic premium rate numbers using the 0898 prefix, as the regulators had stamped upon them, the reign of the international phone sex generation began.

TUVALU, SOLOMON ISLANDS, CURACAO and MORE

Soon, users could call an international number and have live, unregulated phone sex content. They paid the regular international calling rate at this time, of whatever it cost to call that country in particular. The profits from this call were split between the billing telecom company (at this time British Telecom), the carrier who received the calls (the small island that was being called) with a hefty split to the provider that created the traffic (the phone sex business promoting the numbers). There was nothing illegal about this business, as users were simply making an international call. And the small islands all wanted in!

Suddenly, new telecoms jobs appeared as companies sent their “man on the ground” to negotiate with the international telephone companies and carriers.

This article gives a summary of just some of the successes at that time, and gives some indication of what the island of Tuvalu (population 10,000) made in terms of profits.

But Tuvalu was just the tip of the iceberg. The Solomon Islands, Wallis and Fortuna, Kirabati, Tokelau, Vanuatu, the Cook Islands, Curacao, the Dominican Republic all jumped on board at some point over the next few years to gain their revenue shares.

XXXPLICIT PHONE SEX ADS

In the UK, ads promoting these international numbers had very few boundaries now. Unlike the regulated 0898 numbers, the only restrictions that advertisers had using the international numbers were imposed by the media they used themselves. Ads started being more daring, hardcore and explicit.

Then, in 1994, anal sex became legal. Previously it had technically still been illegal, even between man and wife in the UK. This meant advertisers could get out there and go for it and promote anal sex legally for the first time. Ads with international phone sex numbers began to appear everywhere, in the men’s magazines, in the press. And of course, even a kind of phone sex style of tart cards left in public telephone booths could still bring great results at this time. You name it, anywhere you could get an ad containing an international number in, the entrepreneurs were doing it. And the callers called in droves.

In fact, to begin with the men’s magazines had greatly suffered due to the losses of 0898 number advertisers, so the price per page to buy a full page of advertising for the first international providers was relatively low. The entrepreneurs took full pages initially. The pages were divided into 4, each showing a different girl and headline to make sure there was something for everyone. Very soon the same advertisers were trying to buy all the space in very men’s magazine to promote their international numbers.

LIVE SEX GOES INTERNATIONAL

The phone companies in the small islands that were making the revenue were quite happy giving hundreds of numbers to providers. This meant that the international chat line providers could actually be pretty discerning with their advertising and strategically use each number in only one place or in one ad, with one sexual subject to test their ad campaigns and know exactly where results were coming from. But initially this was not needed, because so many people called, that the advertisers didn’t really care!

Usually, each number was advertised to appeal to a certain type of guy with a certain fetish. This could be busty girls, lesbian sex, anal sex, housewives. Often when calling one of these lines, the introduction would be about the subject they called and then they would be connected through to a live chat operator, who frankly, had no idea at all about what ad the punter had seen or what their fetish was. The good thing was that now the operators said yes to pretty much everything.

THE F WORD BECOMES COMMONPLACE

Most companies did have some rules about what the girls couldn’t talk about. But now the F word was being liberally bandied about freely. The boundary rules were mainly made up of things that most of the girls wouldn’t ever want to talk about, which included things that were illegal, and some considered distasteful or downright disgusting.

You may wonder where the live chat operators were now situated. If the calls were terminated in these small, distant islands, were the chat rooms and their operators actually based there? Indeed, a few companies did try and base their live chat rooms in the islands they dealt with, themselves. However, this was often problematic due to the tiny populations of the islands and often phone sex workers had to be flown in from elsewhere! Other entrepreneurial companies went to great lengths to work out ways to reroute the traffic back to the USA or the UK from the islands and managed to do so using all kinds of extraordinary methods.

THE DOWNSIDE OF INTERNATIONAL PHONE SEX

While the entrepreneurs who had started the international businesses sent their men into as many small countries to cut deals as they could, they were raking in millions. This came exclusively from their legal share of phone line revenues that they had negotiated with the international carriers. The little countries they were dealing with were happy too. But as always, there are problems.

Initially, callers could initially often stay on the line as long as they wanted. And they did. Some unfortunate individuals fell asleep while connected and ended up with phone bills of 100s of pounds in one night. Others called regularly and ended up with phone bills of £1000s. While British Telecom were also raking in their fair share, by the later 1990s, international sex lines were becoming rather problematic.

Enter ICSTIS, live licencing and the dawn of the 09 adult number to the UK. For these were the next steps which ultimately led to the birth of Babestation and the adult television phone sex industry that we know today.

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