For employees of local phone sex company People Exchanging Power (PEP), the word “hello” takes on a different meaning.
Founder Nancy Ava Miller and her 20-plus female employees work out of a nondescript building in Nob Hill’s business strip. It is a safe haven for men and women of all orientations and gender preferences to call just to talk, whether in a sexual manner or otherwise, Miller said.
“The goals of PEP are to provide support, acceptance, dignity, communion, understanding and education for its members, and to serve as a liaison between PEP members and the community at large,” Miller wrote in her semi-autobiographical book “Pervert.”
PEP employees are called phone counselors rather than phone sex operators because they offer sexual conversations to callers as well as give education, support and guidance to anyone who needs it, said Sera Miles, a 2006 UNM graduate and PEP’s manager of publicity, marketing and training.
Most of the counselors came into their roles by chance meeting, by some sort of overlap in the local scene. One of the counselors, known as Pandora, met Miller at a lecture. The two struck up an in-depth conversation before Pandora joined the team.
Pandora said she has worked in several different fields, including fashion, robotics, and law enforcement.
“I have never had a more fun job (than at PEP). I get to be an actress, a shrink and more. It’s like the caller gives you an outline of what they want to hear and I get to use my imagination to fill in the rest,” Pandora said.
The business employs women of all ages, shapes and lifestyles, Miller said. The ladies originate from several different places, including Oregon, Arizona, California, Georgia, New Mexico and Ontario.
Miles stressed the importance of authenticity in the women hired.
“With every girl, we require that they use an actual picture of themselves on the site. They must have an interest in several different kinks, and they must have an interest in being themselves,” Miles said.
As seen on the business’s website, peplove.com, each of the ladies embraces a persona and carries it with them as they work.
Each woman has an individual phone number beneath their name that callers can use to speak directly to her. This availability makes the counselors accessible and intimate, a trait that Miles says she tries to instill in the ladies.
“The phone sex business has really changed. It used to be a large room with small divided cubicles for each girl or a smaller room with four or five girls. Our counselors work from their homes, or just wherever and whenever they feel comfortable,” Miller said.
The stereotypes about alternative relationships styles are changing, Miller said, and PEP works hard to continue to break down those walls.
“It’s not just about kinky sex anymore. It’s about education, learning, hypnotherapy and knowledge, it’s about trust and support,” she said.