Telephone chatlines sprang up in early 1981 in California. Callers dialed a 976/900 phone number and got information about astrology, tarot, lucky numbers, time and temperature and lottery numbers.
In early 1985, telephone chatline numbers for men and women and for gay men flourished. Most chatlines forced a caller to record a greeting message which other callers would hear. Callers would send messages back and forth until two callers agreed to talk to each other in a private conversation.
Typically the local phone company would bill callers, (who would call the chat lines) and then split the revenue with the owner of the chatlines. The typical split was 60% for the phone company, 40% for the chat line owner.
Chatlines With Webcams
By 1999, some chatline numbers offered the ability of callers to download videos on their home computers as part of the benefit of becoming a member. This was a popular feature. In early 2005, some chatlines offered callers the ability to see each other, while talking to each other, via videocams..
Some telephone chatlines featured performers who talk to callers privately. Some have became so popular that they earn several thousand dollars a week. Their most valued talents are their voice and acting ability.
Who Calls Chat Lines? What Do People Talk About?
The typical conversation between two gay men lasts about 20-minutes, while the typical conversation between a man and woman lasts about 10-minutes.
Callers are 82% male.
Surprisingly 18% of callers are women, and women tend to call more often and talk longer. 55% of the male callers are straight males.
Over 30% of all callers are either blind or homebound.
In 1988, the State of New York, at the height of the AIDS crisis forbade telephone companies from terminating phone chatlines. New York State Health officials believed chatlines were preventing the spread of HIV and STDs during the height of the AIDS and STD crisis.
Phone sex, after all, is totally safe sex. Today the major chatline providers are Lava Life and Quest.