12 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
    • 4.5 • 746 Ratings

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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

    Press One Now

    Press One Now

    Mike Pardes has already had a colorful career before he ever hears about pay-per-call phone sex. He’s been on all sides of the transaction, so it makes sense that he would be the one to bring sexual fantasies to millions of landlines across the country. With one phone call from a lawyer, American TelNet is born.  

    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 




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    • 33 min
    The Business of Pleasure

    The Business of Pleasure

    Pardes assembles his team of executives, including an ex-Marine named Victoria. She’ll oversee the operators who answer the phones 24/7, 365 days a year. And computer prodigy Michael Self builds the technology that keeps the calls (and cash) flowing in, even as a Category 5 hurricane approaches their Florida offices.




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    This series is produced by Topic Studios, Hardball Entertainment, Five by Eight Productions, the Department of Motion Pictures, and Wondery.

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

    • 31 min
    Who’s Going to Stand Up for Us?

    Who’s Going to Stand Up for Us?

    As the dial-a-porn business is booming, the folks at ATN constantly face new hoops to jump through: Federal regulators. Outraged politicians. Anti-porn crusaders. Victoria’s operators need to keep the calls sexy and selling without running afoul of FCC language regulations. Meanwhile, Michael Self works around the clock to build tech despite his own embarrassment at being in the phone sex industry.




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

    • 25 min
    Hang Time (Explicit)

    Hang Time (Explicit)

    Okay, you’ve waited long enough. This episode takes you inside the phone room to hear phone calls based on the manuals, the stories, and host Tina Horn’s own years of sex industry experience. We’re taking a break from the behind-the-scenes drama at ATN to go deeper into the sex part of phone sex — while also showing the hard work of sex work. (Note: This episode contains graphic sexual content.)




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    • 38 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.




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    • 28 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...




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    • 28 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
746 Ratings

746 Ratings

theapalad ,

Awesome

Informative, entertaining, fantastically presented. Also, the intro song is pretty great. Highly recommend.

BingeThatPod ,

So interesting!

This podcast is so interesting and so well done. It gives the history and details in an engaging way, but more importantly it gives so much respect to the operators who made it such a success. I binged this in just a few days!

jle1216 ,

Very entertaining podcast

I loved this podcast. The story was so well written and the host was fantastic. I’m a fan of most wondery podcasts, the episodes go quickly and they always have a good number of episodes per series so that they’re not repeating information. This was a nice change of pace to the typical true crime podcasts that I normally listen to. Highly recommended!

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