When I left prison in November, I was afraid that I would have a hard time making money during my house arrest. I had a serving job, but there was a question of how often I’d be scheduled. I wouldn’t be able to pick up extra shifts on a whim because everything that would involve leaving home, including work, would have to be pre-approved the week before. I didn’t know how much money I’d be making at the restaurant. I did, however, know that my bills weren’t going anywhere, including the $209 monthly cost of my ankle bracelet, and that somehow I’d have to find a way to afford all of my expenses.
I made a friend named “T” during my stint in the big house. She was a loveable, curvaceous black lesbian, who would be as comfortable (and knowledgeable) talking to you about dual-action 3 ft. dildos as she would be about an advanced trigonometry equation. She had a master’s degree in math, and her prison job was teaching other inmates. Before being incarcerated, T held a wide variety of jobs.
One day, in the laundry room, a group of inmates and I huddled around the machines to listen to T divulge ribald stories about the time she spent working as a phone sex operator. She told us it was her favorite job she’d ever had, and that she was thinking about getting into it again upon her release. She said it was pretty good money and she’d loved that she didn’t have to leave her house to go to work…
I remembered this when I got out. After returning to the restaurant, I saw that I was scheduled only three days a week, which was alarming. I felt broke and worried about making ends meet. I Googled “phone sex operator” and found a wealth of job postings. I noticed that the correct term, for the record, is “phone actress.” How apropos. I thought, “what the hell?” and responded to one.
I was greeted by an automated voicemail system, and decided to leave a message. My perky introduction went something like this: “Hi! Uh, my name is Meili. I saw a post for the, er, job online, and I‘m interested in the- position. Uh… yeah… I’m available to work. I look forward to hearing back from you. Thanks.” I never heard back.
I thought about it after, and I wondered if maybe I hadn’t sounded “sexy” enough on my voicemail. Maybe they hire based on that? I guess I could understand that, considering the nature of the work. I thought about leaving another message, using a different name so they weren’t onto me. Perhaps I would stand a better chance if I gave a breathier voicemail of something like, “Hiiiiiii, my name is Chantelle. I saw you online, and I’m reeeaaally interested in having a position with you. I mean- the position. I mean, whatever position you want me in- I want to be there- with you… in a position. Yes. I like them all. I’d like to talk to you about them. Please, call me… I will be waiting for you.”
I didn’t end up leaving that message. I could, though. Thankfully, right now I’m covering my expenses, but If things go south slinging alfredo at the restaurant, it’s nice to know that I have a back-up.
Since I was a little girl, as an actress, I dreamed of having the “triple threat” advantage as a performer. Traditionally, the “triple threat” refers to actress/ singer/ dancer. In my early auditions in local musical theatre, I was often asked to leave after my singing/ dancing audition, and stripped of the opportunity to perform my prepared monologue. It occurred to me then that this “triple threat” resume might not be in the cards for me.
I suppose that I’ve come to have a “triple threat” all my own now, for good or ill: Actress/ felon/ would-be phone sex operator?? I’m sure that Stanislavski and the gals back in Unit G-South at the Victorville Prison Camp would be proud.
267 days to go.