The Fantasy Factory explores the world of women on the other end of the phone sex lines advertised in magazines like Playboy and Hustler. The author's interviews with these women, as well as her own first-hand experiences as an operator, reveal the complex ways operators and callers negotiate the shifting borders between desire and disgust, fantasy and reality, deception and belief. The Fantasy Factory raises provocative questions about the manufacture of artificial intimacy and the technological mediation of intimacy, as well as about the social construction of sexuality and gender.
Flowers discovers that operators—who assume names like Tiffany and Corvette—create a virtual reality in which callers can act out fantasies that operators may find boring, disgusting, or even frightening. She also discovers that even those women who are skilled at keeping their "true self" and their phone sex persona separate find that they have to struggle to protect that self and to maintain the ability to experience real intimacy.
"A careful, level-headed sifting of the costs and benefits that attend contemporary forms of sex work. Having spent four months working as a phone-sex operator and having interviewed more experienced operators as well, Flowers lays out the contours of this world with a clarity that resists easy conclusions."—Publishers Weekly
"A careful, level-headed sifting of the costs and benefits that attend sex work."—Publishers Weekly