By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
I note that it's a bit clinical—no natural coming together in a leafy park—and the vet admits that it is. But the options are limited. If you're in some distant land and want the semen of some rare dog, then FedEx, the Internet and modern medicine make it possible to breed across boundaries. It's like an AT&T long-distance commercial for dogs: technology brings them together.
"It's not very interesting," she says. "But it's work."
NAME WITHHELD, IRVINE
Oh, the guests are very nice. Sometimes I get tips. And my boss is very generous with, you know, my schedule. I have kids, so . . .Are the guests always very nice?
I shouldn't say, because, you know . . .So they're not always very nice?
No, not always. Of course not.What are they like when they're not nice? What do they do?
They make like a lot of demands—ask me to do things I'm not supposed to do.Like what?
Hang up their clothes. Clean their clothes. Pack their clothes. A lot of that.What's the worst thing you've been asked to do?
I can't say. One man went to the bathroom in his bed.He urinated in his bed?
No, he didn't urinate.[. . .]
I had to clean that up.
PHONE SEX OPERATOR
CASSANDRA, CITY WITHHELDHow do you get into the business?
I did it on a dare. I needed some fast money, and I didn't want to be a stripper. People told me I had such a great voice that I should do phone sex. So I called and arranged an interview, but they'll pretty much hire anyone. The people who stick with it are the ones who get repeat callers.What's the secret to getting repeat callers?
I think having a good voice is important, but if you don't listen to the client, you're not going to do very well. You need to listen to what they're asking for and create an awesome fantasy. It's all about creating fantasies. I've been everything: a dominatrix for people who want to be controlled, told what to do; those are usually very well-off, rich people who have a lot of power and just want the release of having someone tell them what to do. I did dual calls with another woman so callers could fantasize about two women together. But you have to set limits. I wasn't willing to do calls that involved children or animals. If a client called for that, I'd refer them to someone else.Can you make pretty good money?
I started when I was in college and did it strictly as a part-time thing. I averaged between $1,000 to $2,000 per month, but there were big swings. When it's tax season, you get fewer calls. When it gets hot, you get less calls. When it gets cold, the calls increase. Guys, for some reason, like to masturbate more when it's cold.A lot of us have images of phone sex operators from movies and that Aerosmith video—you know, they're actually fat, old, or folding their laundry while they're talking to some guy.
I was a college student when I started, but I was the exception. I'd say that 90 percent of the women were older women who didn't have skills to get a normal job. There were some college students, some young, single mothers. But a lot of the women were in their 40s or older. We had one woman who was in her 80s. I can tell you this: it definitely isn't Girl 6[a Spike Lee film about a phone-sex operator]. I didn't work in some big office. I worked out of my home at my leisure. I told people, "This is a job, not an adventure." And I meant it because most clients' ultimate goal is to meet you. You're this unattainable goal they have created in their minds, and they want you. Clients have sent me all kinds of things to try and convince me to meet them.What kinds of things?
Flowers, teddy bears, candy, but mostly porno tapes. Yeah, I guess they think I'm going to say, "Porn, ooohh! I want you." The creepy thing is some of them send videotapes of themselves on the phone with me. And when I watched those, I found out that the stuff that I thought was just fantasy roleplaying, they were actually doing. One time, as a dominatrix, I told this guy to shove eight toothbrushes up his ass. I didn't think he was actually doing it. Then I got the video. I told another guy to stick Twinkies up his ass, and I got a videotape. This one guy was describing having sex with fruit when he was on the phone. I thought he was joking. Then, in the mail, here comes the video.Were you ever tempted to meet someone?
Never. I value my life too much. I've had so many things offered to me. I had a doctor offer me 5,000 bucks to come down and meet him at the hospital. He called me while on a break during heart surgery. I didn't know those guys took breaks, but I found out they did. Anyway, he just wanted me to come down and pick up the envelope. I said no way. I didn't feel like getting killed in the parking lot.What did you like most about the job? Probably the freedom to work when I wanted, to be my own boss. There was no pressure: if you didn't want the call, you didn't have to take it. What didn't you like?What I regretted most was probably that I used my real voice, so that once when I was at a bar, a client recognized me. He kept looking at me, and then he said, "You're Cassandra!" I was with people who didn't know what I did. I took him upstairs and told him, "Yeah, it's me." He was cool. But I told him straight out, "You're cute and really nice, but I don't date clients. Ever." Hey, it's a job, not an adventure. FAST FOOD WORKER Overheard at Japanese Anime Festival at Carpenter Performing Arts Center, Long Beach Dude 1 [snidely]: So, how are you liking working at Burger King, dude? Dude 2: Don't laugh, dude. At least they pay minimum wage. That's better than Knott's. Dude 1: Knott's doesn't pay minimum wage? Dude 2: They get you on this bogus six-month, like, training, thing. You're on probation, they tell you, so they don't have to pay you much. Dude 1: Dude! Dude 2: I know! OPERATING ROOM TECH NAME WITHHELD, HUNTINGTON BEACH So you do liposuctions? Is that gross?Well, all the fat that gets sucked out, I get to handle all that. It's yellow, just like you see on chicken. We put it in canisters because we use the tumescent technique. We inject saline into the fat, and it breaks it up a little bit, gives the patient hydration. So it comes into the canister—being sucked out by a very small canula, like if you look at a No. 2 pencil, maybe half that size. Does anyone ever try and steal it to make soap, like inFight Club? No, no, no—it has to go through certain biohazardous . . . There are certain laws in the state of California you have to adhere to. So we just dispose of it. What's it sound like when you're sucking out fat?It sounds like a motor, like you're inflating a tire, or a vacuum, that's basically what it is. Sure, there's some ugly slurping sounds. But after a lot of times, you get used to it. Do you ever have, like, flashbacks, where you'll be hanging out like at a kid's birthday party and hear one of those inflatable bounce houses being inflated, and all of a sudden, you're back there in the operating room with your arms full of sloshy fat?I can't think of anything offhand that reminds me of things like that, but I am more conscious of what I eat. I cut all the fat off chicken, all the fat off meat—you know, because I deal with it, so it's like, "Ewwww!" Or sometimes, when you burn the hair on the back of your arms when you turn on the stove, sometimes it'll remind me of flesh burning because when we do laser resurfacing, we're basically burning skin and hair, and you get that smell. And I hate that smell! Is the fat, you know, warm?Yeah, sometimes things are warm. When you're handed tissue, it's warm. The worst part of it is when you throw away the fat—during the handling, you'd probably get really grossed out. I can't even think of what it looks like. You know like when you have a milkshake, and after a while, the thick part stays at the top, and there's the water at the bottom—that's basically what it looks like, but it's yellow. Or sometimes it gets a little pink tint because of the blood—yeah, it's pretty morbid, but you know, I enjoy what I do. Anything bad ever happen?The worst experience was when I first started, they did a leg amputation for a diabetic patient because he had no circulation in his leg. And all of a sudden, they say, "Okay, here's the specimen!" and they hand me the whole lower leg! Talk about freaking out. I'm like, "Hello? This is a leg I'm holding here!" And then you have to pass it off—put it in a bag. That was probably one of the worst ones. That was when I was a rookie, when I was in trauma. And then also having to help with open-heart surgeries on babies. Do you ever ponder deeper philosophical issues while you're working? Like think about the true nature of beauty while you're watching little globs of fat get sucked through a tube?Well, beauty of course comes from within, and I feel good helping people, helping them look better and feel better about themselves. I've never had any plastic surgery done, and I've been doing this for 15 years. Maybe I just don't want to have it done. I guess I'm more self-assured than other people, maybe. But cosmetic surgery helps people who have birth defects, too. There's a lot involved in this kind of work.