11 episodes

During the 1-900 number craze of the Nineties, one company provided the vast majority of phone sex. American Telnet was an empire founded by the man who called himself “The Telephone Pimp.” He ran the company “like General Motors” and got filthy rich doing it. But for the (mostly) women who answered the calls and delivered fantasies 24-7, it was a different story. The powerful stigma against sex work was always lurking just beneath the surface, until it threatened to tear apart the whole company. Hosted by Tina Horn (Why Are People Into That?), OPERATOR is an eight-part series about big ambitions, Shakespearean-level corporate backstabbing, men and women at the cutting edge of a technological revolution...and on the front lines of a sexual one.
Listen to new episodes 2 weeks early and to all episodes ad free with Wondery+. Join Wondery+ for exclusives, binges, early access, and ad free listening. https://wondery.app.link/Operator

Operator Wondery

    • Society & Culture
    • 5.0 • 1 Rating

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Requires subscription and macOS 11.4 or higher

During the 1-900 number craze of the Nineties, one company provided the vast majority of phone sex. American Telnet was an empire founded by the man who called himself “The Telephone Pimp.” He ran the company “like General Motors” and got filthy rich doing it. But for the (mostly) women who answered the calls and delivered fantasies 24-7, it was a different story. The powerful stigma against sex work was always lurking just beneath the surface, until it threatened to tear apart the whole company. Hosted by Tina Horn (Why Are People Into That?), OPERATOR is an eight-part series about big ambitions, Shakespearean-level corporate backstabbing, men and women at the cutting edge of a technological revolution...and on the front lines of a sexual one.
Listen to new episodes 2 weeks early and to all episodes ad free with Wondery+. Join Wondery+ for exclusives, binges, early access, and ad free listening. https://wondery.app.link/Operator

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Requires subscription and macOS 11.4 or higher

    What to Listen to Next: Harsh Reality

    What to Listen to Next: Harsh Reality

    It was supposed to be a reality show with a twist. In a sun-drenched villa in Ibiza, six hot guys compete for a cash prize and for the love of the beautiful and mysterious Miriam. It’s meant to be her big break: the moment she becomes the superstar she was born to be. But this is the era of “cruel reality TV” and the show producers have a different goal: they want to surprise the men with the fact that Miriam is trans. A new six-episode investigative series from Wondery, the makers of The Shrink Next Door and The Apology Line, and from Novel, HARSH REALITY is the story about love, lies, reality TV and a woman before her time: Miriam Rivera. Written by Agnes Borinsky and hosted by Trace Lysette.




    Listen to Harsh Reality: wondery.fm/OP_Harsh_Reality

    See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

    • 2 min
    Tina Horn and Bernardo

    Tina Horn and Bernardo

    This bonus interview episode provides a deeper dive into the experiences of a former phone sex operator. Bernardo, an operator during the heyday of phone sex in New York City circa 1980s and 1990s, takes us through the risks and dangers of the job. He reveals to Tina all the amazing characters he created in order to please the hundreds of clients he serviced.

    Support us by supporting our sponsors!

    Talkspace- Match with a licensed therapist at talkspace.com, and get $100 off your first month with promo code OPERATOR

    Simplisafe- Operator listeners get 40% off an entire security system at simplisafe.com/Operator

    Modern Fertility- Get $20 off your fertility test when you go to ModernFertility.com/CALLME  

    See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

    • 29 min
    The End of the Line

    The End of the Line

    With the internet slowly encroaching on the phone sex industry, Mike Pardes hires a group of Cuban exiles to replace Michael Self’s team of tech nerds. By 2004, the FCC has banned 1-900 numbers, and with profits plummeting, American TelNet is forced to close. Life after ATN looks different for everyone:  Michael Self attempts to use his tech skills towards something other than servicing ‘horny dads’, Victoria continues to be every employer’s dream, and Mike Pardes lives a bachelor life in Florida - while also trying to reunite his actual family.




    Support us by supporting our sponsors!

    Talkspace- Match with a licensed therapist at talkspace.com, and get $100 off your first month with promo code OPERATOR

    Simplisafe- Operator listeners get 40% off an entire security system at simplisafe.com/Operator

    Modern Fertility- Get $20 off your fertility test when you go to ModernFertility.com/CALLME  

    See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

    • 45 min
    The Coup

    The Coup

    Michael Self betrays Mike Pardes and stages an elaborate company takeover, in a last ditch attempt to save First Call, his off-ramp from the phone sex business. What Self doesn’t realize is that the bad blood between the ATN partners has long been brewing, and he’s about to be double-crossed himself.

    Support us by supporting our sponsors!

    Talkspace- Match with a licensed therapist at talkspace.com, and get $100 off your first month with promo code OPERATOR

    Simplisafe- Operator listeners get 40% off an entire security system at simplisafe.com/Operator

    Modern Fertility- Get $20 off your fertility test when you go to ModernFertility.com/CALLME  

    See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

    • 29 min
    It’s Not Personal

    It’s Not Personal

    At ATN headquarters, Victoria works harder and longer than ever, only to watch everyone else get a raise except her. Meanwhile, Michael Self starts a “cleaner” offshoot of the company, but Mike Pardes is less than enthused when it doesn’t take off. Desperate, Self decides to take matters into his own hands...




    Support us by supporting our sponsors!

    Talkspace- Match with a licensed therapist at talkspace.com, and get $100 off your first month with promo code OPERATOR

    Simplisafe- Operator listeners get 40% off an entire security system at simplisafe.com/Operator

    Modern Fertility- Get $20 off your fertility test when you go to ModernFertility.com/CALLME  

    See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

    • 34 min
    Being on Top

    Being on Top

    ATN’s business is at its peak, but a national exposé on Dateline brings unwanted attention to the 1-900 industry. Pardes thinks there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but Michael Self disagrees and starts looking for a way out.




    Support us by supporting our sponsors!

    Talkspace- Match with a licensed therapist at talkspace.com, and get $100 off your first month with promo code OPERATOR

    Simplisafe- Operator listeners get 40% off an entire security system at simplisafe.com/Operator

    Modern Fertility- Get $20 off your fertility test when you go to ModernFertility.com/CALLME  




    See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

    • 34 min

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