Moms Turn to Phone Sex Business for Income

PHOTO: Star, a single mom, is one of thousands of moms in the U.S. who work as sex phone operators.
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A typical day for 45-year-old Star includes walking the dog, straightening her 8-year-old son's room and running a load of laundry.

It also includes stepping into her home office to work as a phone sex operator.

"I look at what I do as a business," Star, a single mom, told "Good Morning America." "It happens to deal with sex."

Star, who asked that we not give her last name or hometown, is one of thousands of moms in the U.S. who work as phone sex operators, and the numbers are growing at dramatic rates.

In the last 18 months alone, the number of mothers of young children pursuing sex work has jumped 400 percent, according to ratracerebellion.com, an organization that helps mothers find work-at-home jobs of all kinds, ranging from writing assignments to telemarketing.

Chris Durst runs Ratracerebellion.com. Durst has tracked the working habits of moms for more than a decade, and, while she says there's always a spike in the number of moms pursuing phone sex work after Labor Day, the last two years have shown unprecedented levels of interest.

The reason, she says, is the dismal state of the economy.

"Most sound a little embarrassed," she told "Good Morning America" of the moms who reach out to her, in search of phone sex work." "They say, 'I've tried everything. It's come to the point my family is on food stamps. We can't make the rent and are facing foreclosure. This is the fastest way for me to get my family back on my feet again.'"

Phone sex lines used to be run out of call centers. But today, the calls are typically taken from women, working out of their homes. Phone sex lines take pains to ensure that callers have no idea where the women answering the phones are based, or what their real names are.

Many of the mothers working as phone sex operators told "GMA" that, while they would like to work outside of the sex industry, those jobs are not currently available.

"I've applied to probably 20 to 30 jobs at like Walmart or Subway or a fast-food place," one mother, Aubrey, who asked that her last name not be used, said. "I just haven't gotten picked up in my area."

Aubrey, 22, and the mother of a 3-year-old son, says working as a phone sex operator is difficult, and often disturbing.

"There was a lot of having to get used to just, you know, the weirdoes out there," she said. "There is basically anything you could think of. There's married men with children. There's divorced men. Sometimes, every once in a while, there's a couple that'll call," she said. "More recently, there's actually been a few women calling."

Aubrey said she at times feels disgusted speaking intimately with strangers while her son sleeps down the hall.

"This is nothing I'd ever thought I'd be doing, ever," she said.

Working as a phone actress is as far as the 22-year-old says she is willing to go in adult entertainment.

"I'd never want to take off my clothes for anyone, or actually, you know, fulfill these fantasies for anyone," she said.

Aubrey's goal is to save enough money to finish her schooling and get a job as a medical transcriptionist.

"I'm definitely doing it for my child," she said. "We need the extra money to make sure he has everything he needs."

Financial Incentives Lure Stay-at-Home Moms

The women are typically paid $10 to $50 per hour, but many can make much more.

Lynn, a mother of three who also asked that her last name not be used, told "GMA" that she often considers getting out of the phone sex business, but says the finances of leaving don't make sense.

"I make more money per hour that way than I would at another job," she said. "I've made over $1,000 in the course of a day."

Lynn says that the work can often prove draining. She, like many phone sex operators, plays five different characters on various phone lines, to satisfy the interests of callers with very different interests. But she notes the flexibility of her hours, which she can set, and the ability to work from her living room are big incentives to stay with the phone sex job.

The financial benefits of her work have not been lost on her husband, Mike, who has come to accept what she does for a living.

"That she has the ability to bring in a little extra each month, and sometimes a lot extra each month, and be able to not have to worry about how and where we're going to get food or if the electric bills are going to be shut off, that's a big deal," he said. "That overrides any sort of other worries I might have."

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