Arts Brief: Flesh Direct

| 11 Nov 2014 | 02:11

    You, me, the drycleaner, the banker, your little sister.

    We’re all doing it: phone sex.

    “Every kind of person calls it,” says photographer Phil Toledano. “That’s the thing that’s amazing: It’s really, really democratic on both sides of the line. People who work in it and people who call, it’s across all sorts of socio-economic boundaries.”

    Phone Sex: Real and Imagined is a photo exhibition being held for one solitary night from 6-9 on Nov. 6 at Pochron Studio (20 Jay St. at Water St., Brooklyn). Portraits of actual phone sex operators will be on display from Toledano’s new book, Phonesex, alongside the works of Rebecca Memoli, whose project A Strange Intimacy looks into the caller side of aural pleasure.

    During his chronicling of the industry, the 39-year-old Toledano found himself surprised by a few things, not least the fact that your co-worker may be indulging right this very minute.

    “I remember in particular this guy would call from his cubicle at work,” says Toledano. “He’d say ‘hang on a minute,’ put the phone in his pocket, he walked to the toilet, and they’d get it on in the bathroom.”

    And how did Toledano meet his fellow artist? Well, phone sex of course. But not in any saucy, slappy late night banter. Toledano reveals that a mutual friend put them in contact, and Memoli, an ex-phone sex operator herself, became one of his subjects.

    “I was really good at ‘barely legal’ which was like young girl,” says the 23-year-old Memoli. “It’s probably one of the most difficult jobs I’ve ever had because I was working off commission and it would be hard to keep a straight face. Especially during some of the most ridiculous conversations—one fellow wanted to fuck a blow dryer.”