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Phone sex still relevant, despite the growth of new tech at AVN

The Hard Rock Hotel hosted the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo late January, and 45-year-old Michelle Lovejoy strolled in casually like she wasn't a participant.

Dressed in blue jeans, a tank top and black-rimmed glasses, the sex industry worker tried making her presence known, as she hung out at a lounge on the show's floor.

Present during the show were more than 1,000 young actresses and livestreaming stars wearing sexual outfits such as thongs, bikinis, lingeries and fishnet stockings. They all mingled and engaged in photography sessions with their respective fans, as Lovejoy looked on.

“They are all known for their face and I am not. Nobody here knows who I am,’’ Lovejoy said, with a hint of pride in her voice.

The AVN Show—which ran from Jan. 24-27—attracted over 50,000 people during its four days duration, offering the very latest in sex industry technology, ranging from virtual reality adult movies to 3D printed, lifelike dolls of popular porn stars.

The V in AVN represents ‘video’, going to show that the event involves a fair amount of amount of visuals, as fans visited from different corners of the world to see their favourite adult stars in real life—equally providing an avenue to pose for photographs.

Lovejoy's participation in the event might have seemed quite unusual. A “phone sex artist”, her job description requires non-visual contact with her clients.

Depending entirely on verbal contact, Lovejoy's services were quite different from the common phone sex. She never makes sexual descriptions, moans or asks for intimacy in the most erotic manner—as was required when the service first appeared in public in the 1980s. Lovejoy rather engages in a different kind of “online BDSM”, where she berates and insults her clients.

According to Lovejoy, she earns more than six figures annually from phone sex by telling adult men that they are incompetent cowards. On an average she charges $1.99 per minute, but charges higher depending on the nature of the call. She also makes audios and sells the Mp3 recordings.

With this salary scale, Lovejoy definitely out-earns many, if not most, women at the AVN show.

Now, the invent of modern technologies that have shaped up the sex industry, livestreaming adult stars in real time is as easy as flipping a switch, and phone sex can be viewed as archaic—similar to riding horse carriages on the streets today.

Despite this, iWantEmpire.com introduced phone sex as an additive to its video clips services. Co-founder Jay Phillips noted that callers were not necessarily looking for a “more hardcore connection. They are often looking for just a human connection.’’

Phillips was behind Lovejoy's invitation to the Las Vegas event, and being one of their top phone earners, she was invited in a bid to promote the service to the multitude of fans visiting the AVN Show.

‘’I can’t tell you how many people say, ‘Phone sex, who calls phone sex anymore?’ People think this industry is completely dead and obsolete. My phone is ringing just as much as ever,’’ said Lovejoy, who never uses her real identity on the iWantEmpire.com site.

Lovejoy said her typical client is a manager whose daily life revolves around bossing other people around. On an average, a call lasts 10 to 15 minutes— though some can run into hours—during which she says derogatory words to the men on how much their subordinates despises them.

“It is very therapeutic for them. They eat it up. It is a very niche product,’’ she said.

“These men are not losers sleeping in their mother’s basement. Many are highly successful. It is not a poor man’s game,” she said, adding that many of her clients call regularly.

Surfing through the website bring up the profile of Valeriesins, whose inviting photos indicate she is a sexy brunette, though the lack of visuals means the voice on the other end could be anybody's, including Loveyjoy’s.

According to the website, Valeriesins charges $3.99 per minute to “ignore you’’ and $9.99 a minute to “remind you why you are a loser”.

Lovejoy had worked previously in the music industry doing radio promotions. Her job description was slightly similar, being that she had to call male radio producers and convince them to play certain records. It would provide the necessary skills for easily transition into her current phone sex work, she said.

A friend recommended phone sex to her after she lost her job 13 years ago, nothing that a friend had just sold a phone sex company for $1 million.

“It was sink or swim. I looked up phone sex online and said, ‘I think I can do this.'

The business is “nothing like it was 30 or 20 years ago, but it’s still around,’’ said Clyde DeWitt, a Las Vegas-based attorney who has been centered on the adult entertainment industry for decades, in a report. The phone-sex business was quite successful back in the 1980s when 976 and 1-900 numbers were created with recordings of a sexy voice, said DeWit.

High Society magazine established one and received an all time high of 19 million calls in April, 1983, said DeWitt. This prompted several competitors to delve into the business, receiving an average of 5 million calls per month in the mid 1980s.

This led to inquisitive children causing parent's worries and financial difficulties as phone bills began to grown astronomically, he said. DeWitt noted that to curb the problem of minors calling, Congress passed an amendment requiring the use of credit cards to pay for the calls.

“By the late 1980s, live women — and even a few men with high-pitched voices — replaced the pre-recordings and its has been pretty much that way since,” said DeWitt.

Lovejoy said phone sex will continue to be relevant as long as couples feel reluctant to discuss their sexual fantasies openly with each other.

‘’It will never go away. There will always be somebody wanting to have phone sex.’’