Phone Whore, Cameryn Moore, and Musings on the Sex Industry

Moving on with my week of reviews and thinking about Momentum, I wanted to talk about Cameryn Moore for a minute. Cameryn is a phone sex operator and actress who, on Saturday, April 2, performed her one-woman show, “Phone Whore” for all of us oversexed writers. And she kind of blew my mind.

“Phone Whore” is a short, kind of funny kind of not funny, fascinatingly candid look into the life of a phone sex operator. Eminently normal, slyly humorous, and so honest that the viewer feels immediately comfortable even in an off-kilter world of incest fantasy and homoerotic rape play, Cameryn lets the audience into her daily life as a phone whore. And it’s fascinating.

I don’t know about the rest of you out there, but at various times in my life I’ve considered becoming a phone sex operator, dungeon mistress, stripper… pretty much anything that seems like quick and easy money using sex as the tool. You know, sex work. What’s usually stopped me is a petrifying fear of making an ass of myself. The phone sex operator, particularly, scared me off because just as I was about to call the company to apply, I realized, “Wait a second. I’m going to have to act all this out with just my voice. I’m going to have to talk dirty and come up with scenarios, all on the spur of the moment. I can’t even write erotica well–I’d be terrible at this! The guys will end up calling my supervisor, furious that I didn’t know enough about their fetish…” I’d have to have a “phone sex voice” which maybe I didn’t have naturally, so I’d have to talk funny, and maybe my accent would be bad… And on and on. I always wondered if maybe I was overestimating the difficulty of the job. I mean, I could sit around in my bathrobe and do this for a living… Maybe I was just being a fraidy-cat.

But watching Cameryn glide about her “apartment” (read, one of the meeting rooms in the hotel’s conference area, set up like a living room for the show) in her green silk robe, doing things I’d be doing in her place (making a PBJ, working for a few minutes on her art installation, going to the bathroom [ie, the closet, in our case]), then instantly dropping into her quiet, self-assured, not-too-different phone sex voice, I realized I’d been right. Phone sex is not for the faint of heart, nor for the unpracticed improv actor. Cameryn was, in some ways, made for this job: she can tell a story with her voice, as her acting career has shown, and yet remain calm and centered the whole time. And the most important thing: she doesn’t judge her clients. Just from the four phone calls she “took” during Phone Whore, one could tell that this is a job where the weird quickly becomes normal and the outrageously bizarre becomes only eyebrow-raising. I might have been game to deal with the lonely guys on the other end of the phone line, but the masochists? The mommy-issues? The closeted homosexuals? The violent pedophiles? I don’t know if I could do it. Much less recreate it faithfully in front of a room full of people, sitting there narrating a floridly criminal fantasy for seven minutes, straight-faced, without wiggling around uncomfortably in her chair, without a hint of irony… Far beyond my ken.

It was impressive and scary at the same time, and it made me reflect for a few minutes on my own career. In this line of work I’ve written fantasy stories about women I’ve never even seen a picture of, reviewed porn movies that disturbed me and turned me on at the same time, pondered the unknowable aspects of human sexuality, interviewed people who have done things I can never agree with but must respect…. The daily work of someone in the sex industry at my level is fraught with moral grey matter. I sometimes go to bed at night thinking, “Is this really ok with me?” Learning not to judge people for their sexual proclivities is one thing, but actually forcing oneself to get over one’s own prejudices and look at the world realistically is another. Tolerance is easy–it’s engaging with the things you tolerate and learning to respect them that’s difficult.

And Cameryn highlighted this set of issues unique to sex workers, sex writers, and those of us who want to open our minds and the minds of others. Where does my comfort level stop? How far can I push it? How far should I push it? Just how far is too far? Is there a too far? Is there a right and wrong in the realm of fantasy? In the realm of consensual adult sex? The lives of sex workers are rich and varied, incredibly entertaining, and filled every day with the kinds of questions some people may go their whole lives without asking, and thank goodness Cameryn is out there to pose those questions through her art.

She’s now touring with Phone Whore and a new show called Slut (R)evolution, and I really encourage any of you who can possibly make it out to see her: GO. Your mind and horizons are begging for it!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll Up