Documenting the life of phone sex operators

“I’m 60 years old, have a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from Columbia University, and married for 25 years. I have a son in his last years of college who lives at home. He’s a 4.0 with a double major in English Literature and Religion. Men call me for an infinity of reasons. Of course, they call to masturbate. I call it “Executive Stress Relief.” It’s not sex; it’s a cocktail of testosterone, fueled by addiction to pornography, loneliness, and the need to hear a woman’s voice. I make twice the money I made in the corporate world. I work from home, the money transfers into my bank account daily. I’m Scheherezade: If I don’t tell stories that fascinate the Pasha, he will kill me in the morning.”
Photographer Phillip Toledano wanted to talk about something in society that is known and talked about, yet hidden; phone sex workers fit the bill perfectly. In his book, he has shot portraits of 30 such workers and given us an insight into their lives — some of which you can see and read here. Reading their stories gave me goosebumps.

Like he says in his interview, what surprised me as well was how most of these people loved what they did (unlike in other forms of prostitution), as they truly felt like they were helping others discover a part of themselves, and in turn, even they would discover something about themselves.

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