RED PHONES FOR RED LIGHTS
Let me apologize up front to whoever is reading this right now. I’m going to make a sweeping generalization of my audience. I know there are more nuances and gradients to my readers than the two broad stroke categories I’m going to pigeon hole you into right now. There is method to this madness, I promise.
I think there are bound to be a lot of readers that enjoy my writing for either the nostalgia of or curiosity on day to day life and the artifacts of participating in the early world of bitcoin/blockchain/crypto. And It’s also been my experience that the novelty of…having a vagina…AND also having the perspective I do from bearing witness to this rise of blockchain is also a draw. Anyone here reading for those reasons I put into GROUP 1.
GROUP 2 on the other hand is comprised of those who are just here to hear me talk about selling my body for bitcoin.
If you are in GROUP 2, skip ahead to the section I have marked SEX FOR BITCOIN. I titled it short and to the point, just for you.
GROUP 1…as you were. Continue.
The color red has many connections and connotations with sex and sex work. Red lights. Red light district. Red wine as an aphrodisiac. A woman’s lips flushing red to signal arousal. I have another, much less well known, and almost never discussed connection to the color red for you.
At least for me, they are synonymous with my earliest memories around bitcoin. And in reading the word "red telephone", just now, probably woke up a bunch of memories for any other elderly states persons around from the early days of bitcoin adoption.
You kids today with your new fangled NFTs and your DeFi and your flashy loans, and your non-fungible, yet fully transferable tickets to GaryVee events will never, ever understand how fucking spoiled you are. Please get off my lawn.
In my time, the level of nonsense, complexity, and stupidity that went into simply acquiring your initial wallet balance of bitcoin was terrifying. The next time you read about a hedge fund, institution or diamond hand whale moving billions and billions of dollars worth of bitcoin around, have a little chuckle to yourself, secure in the knowledge that an absolutely insane percentage of those coins were first purchased by stuffing heaps of cash into envelopes and then mailing that cash to a dead drop mailbox of a strange dude in Kentucky you heard about on the Internet. This is facts.
Not just in Kentucky. And personally,I like to envision the actual co-conspirator was a sly enterprising woman assuming a male moniker. But cash by mail, for a time was a totally “normal” way to buy bitcoins. People are still doing it now. Go google it.
However, no matter how high the reputation score was on bitcointalk, or what bitcoin famous person vouched for them, that was always too high on the sketch-o-meter for me to utilize. My introduction to the janky world of buying bitcoins in late 2011 early 2012 was an entirely different, equally ridiculous, but ever so slightly, less sketch ritual for getting my coins.
If you assumed from my previous writings that my introduction to bitcoin was from a mysterious stranger writing me about fucking him for bitcoin, you were incorrect. Over a year earlier, before I dropped out, I had learned to navigate the newly blazed and unpaved roads of bitcoin all by my little girl self. (cue “Im just a girl” by NoDoubt) I learned the dark arts for a much more collegiate reason. Buying drugs.
Two sections in and I’m already at prostitution, drugs and cryptocurrency. What will the parents think?
BITINSTANT…was NEVER INSTANT.
On paper, this was supposed to be the process. You walk into any Moneygram location in your area and you give the teller cash monies. For me this location was a CVS pharmacy. The Cashier would then wire the money as a billpay to a separate company (that I always remember as “Zip-a-dee-doo-dah”, but was actually called Zip-Zap) ZipZap would then pay BitInstant, who would then send you, your prized bitcoins. Eventually.
Their website said “Bitcoin in Minutes” which I guess is technically true no matter what the length of time in question. I suppose a “Time in Minutes” until the heat death of the universe exists that is technically accurate. In my experience, quite often, time til heat death was probably closer to an accurate estimate of time than “Bitcoin in Minutes” for BitInstant.
I’ve gotten way off track, What was I talking about this for? Right, RED TELEPHONES.
See, in trying to align the stars, and appease the gods in this primitive ritual to acquire any amount of actual bitcoins, there was a ubiquitous artifact. The Red Telephone of the MoneyGram Kiosk.
Because the process just wasn’t awkward enough. You were expected to pick up the receiver to an ACTUAL telephone, with a cord. Maybe you’ve seen one in a museum. And THEN you had to speak to a melancholy human, being paid well below a living wage, somewhere overseas, in a call center, just so they could verify for you that the cash you just gave the person at the cash register did in fact get transmitted to MoneyGram and not slipped into the cashiers pocket AND that they had indeed forwarded the proceeds onto “Zip-a-dee-doo-dah” who in theory would choose to pay BitInstant. Who, again in theory, would choose to send you bitcoins.
Can’t you feel the Instant-ness in all that.
Initially, BitInstant customer service was pretty good , actually. You would write them and tell them a problem and someone would email or text you back pretty quick to tell you they were on it. And most times they figured it out pretty quickly. But, that deteriorated, very quickly. One text from them ensuring you that “They got you” soon became entire volumes of correspondence tracking down your bitcoin. And then that became often very heated correspondence.
At one point, I pissed off their customer support in a text conversation so much, that they stopped texting and picked up the phone to presumably, better berate me by voice. However, after being inundated with my opening volley of expletives and insults I hurled off as a greeting , the only response my would be verbal attacker could muster was… LONG PAUSE…”Wait. You’re a girl?”
I assume that the BitInstant office had rallied around this brave phone warrior to hear him tell off this idiot who was cussing them out over bitcoins they hadn’t gotten around to sending, Because, after his befuddled, and only question to me I could hear the office erupt in groans and “OH shit! It’s a girl” type mumbling.
He promptly hung up. (I'm 90% sure this was Charlie Shrem. I asked him about it one time many years later and he got flustered said a bunch of buzzwords and changed the subject)
See, It was never an enjoyable process. Also, never instant. But it could often be WAY more uncomfortable. As people figured out that you could utilize these bitcoin things to buy better drugs in a more reliable manner, there began to be crowds of people, waiting to use the antique red phone so they, like you, could also buy their drugs.
Now. It probably seems like I have ventured WAY WAY WAY out of the way in telling this story. I have not. I have led you down this path for a purpose. Envision now, everything I wrote above this about the discomfort of this process to buy bitcoin. All the hassle, the time wasting, the endless waiting with no recourse, just to buy this stupid new money people kept talking about.
Now imagine doing that same process detailed above in a silver and lavender Aeropastale club dress, inside a CVS in North Baltimore, huddled around with 30 other would be drug acquirers, as a 19 year old female…just waiting for your turn to use the fucking red phone.
What I said all this for, was to illustrate this one thing. When I received that first spicy email, asking me if I would consider accepting bitcoin for sexual services, I had an epiphany.
And that epiphany was this…in my then reality of late 2012…fucking a strange man from the internet in exchange for bitcoin would be significantly more straight forward, faster and less demeaning that acquiring bitcoin thru any other available channel.
And for that, I was ecstatic. All of this is also why I have to restrain myself from choking anyone who says something to the effect of “I used ApplePay to buy bitcoins on CashApp and they took like 15 minutes. I’m never using them again.”
Group 2!!! I haven’t forgot you. SEX FOR BITCOIN is the very next chapter. I promise.
I love this. More please. I would really like the next chapter right now. I hate waiting. :}
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This is so good. How long is the total project?