Episode 3 Transcript: P Line
Walter Thompson-Hernández: Eh hold up, hold on... there will be sex in this episode. Just felt like you should know. Cool?
Yesika Salgado: I dial 213-620-8838. And the little guy answers…
Operator (Zack Furniss ) “You've called the Hollywood Party Line”
Yesika Salgado: “The number where something, something, something, something something…”
Operator (Zack Furniss): “ You must be 18 years or older to continue”
Yesika Salgado: Get ready to join the fun.
Operator (Zack Furniss) Guys press 1. Ladies press 2.
Operator (Zack Furniss): Please hold
Walter Thompson-Hernández: Telephone party lines have been around for a while. They first became really popular in the 1930s. But this was because people had to share a phone line. And then, the 1980s hit and everything changed. You could actually call into these. You get the number from a friend, you would call, and boom.
Walter Thompson-Hernández: You’re now on the phone with tons of other people. I started calling in the late 90s. I was just 13 the first time I called the p-line.
Walter Thompson-Hernández: Ey what’s up y’all, it’s me Lil’ Brownie.Walter Thompson-Hernández: This was pre-Myspace, pre-Facebook, pre-everything, really.
Walter Thompson-Hernández: Who’s all up in here?Walter Thompson-Hernández: So look — in real life I was a goofy 13-year-old. But on the P Line — I was someone else. I was an eighteen-year-old mechanic who lived in Culver City.
Walter Thompson-Hernández: I’m 6’3’’ I’m in the gym everyday. You know — looking buff.
Walter Thompson-Hernández:You know, I really thought that’s what girls wanted to hear. The P LIne gave me a rush, and to be honest, it’s where I learned how to talk to girls for the first time. You see — I was pretty shy, I had a lisp - I still do. I stuttered, and I didn’t have the courage to approach girls I liked. But on the P Line — I could be Little Brownie.Walter Thompson-Hernández: I’m looking fresh you know.
Walter Thompson-Hernández: Little Brownie didn’t stutter.
Walter Thompson-Hernández: Damn you sound good where you stay at?
Walter Thompson-Hernández: That’s why I called, and kept calling. I was young and trying to fit in. But looking back — I can see that the P Line was SO much more than a bunch of teenagers just hanging out on the phone.
Guadalupe Rosales: Chaoo — Hey, what's up? It’s Lupe. Also known as Adorable. From East LA’s Aztec Nation...Latez
Guadalupe Rosales: I mean I grew up in the fucking hood. So — This is a time when a lot of violence, a lot of like, incarcerations, gang violence, specifically, was on the rise, you know, so we're already being criminalized. I'm already being, like handcuffed by police. I'm already being told that brown kids are criminals. I do think that for most people The Party Line is a safe space. And we can be who we want to be.
Walter Thompson-Hernández: For me, and for Lupe — The P Line felt like we were entering an entirely different world.
Zack Furniss: For room 1, press 1.
Walter Thompson-Hernández: It’s lil Brownie — who’s all up in here?
Erick Galindo: How you doin’
Angela Aguirre: Are there any girls in here?
Angela Aguirre: Hi I’m Victoria. Oh play this song play this song.
Megan Tan: EYYYYYYYYYY
Walter Thompson-Hernández: Oh shit I love that song bro — turn it up. Turn it up. Bro, whatchu know about that song? — You way too young.
Walter Thompson-Hernández:Oh what’s up girl you sound good.
Yesika Salgado: What’s your name?
Yesika Salgado: What’s your name?
Guadalupe Rosales: We live in this fantasy world —
Yesika Salgado Man Impersonation: Hollywood, what do you look like?
Yesika Salgado: Well I’m short.
Yesika Salgado Man Impersonation: How short?
Yesika Salgado: 4’11’’
Guadalupe Rosales: You have a bunch of teenagers and trying to like, describe ourselves, you know, rather than like, well, how do people see us?
Yesika Salgado: I’m not thick, but I’m not like super thin.
Guadalupe Rosales: I’m wearing a crop top
Guadalupe Rosales: I mean even if I’m wearing fucking sweats, I’m not going to say I’m wearing sweats and chanclas… hahahaha
Walter Thompson-Hernández: Damn you sound good, where you stay at?
Erick Galindo: Eyyyyy yo — where all the hyenas at?
Yesika Salgado Man Impersonation: So do you have a big butt?
Yesika Salgado: Yeah you know, I don’t have any complaints
Angela Aguirre: I have big boobs.
Walter Thompson-Hernández: Oh, is that right?
Walter Thompson-Hernández: On one of the p-lines I used to call there were about 10-12 different rooms. If you wanted to switch rooms, you’d press a number on your phone.
Walter Thompson-Hernández: And every time you pressed that number you would switch from room to room.
Operator (Zack Furniss) For room 2 press 2
Walter Thompson-Hernández: And when you entered a room, you announced yourself.
Walter Thompson-Hernández: Ey what’s up y’all it’s me Lil’ Brownie
Angela Aguirre: How do you dress?
Walter Thompson-Hernández: I’m lookin fresh.
Walter Thompson-Hernández: I got Jordans on my feet. I got a fresh fade all the time
Guadalupe Rosales: This person sounds hot to me.
Walter Thompson-Hernández: Well, let’s kick it — let’s go to a private.
Walter Thompson-Hernández: Getting someone’s private number was always the goal of The P Line. Because if you go into a private room you can talk to that person without anyone else being in there. But man — getting someone’s private was also one of the hardest things to do
Voice (Valentino Rivera): Ey — what’s your code, what’s your code?
Voice (Tamika Adams): 562!
Walter Thompson-Hernández: Because every room had its haters.
Voice (Tamika Adams): My code’s 562!
Walter Thompson-Hernández: The way to make sure no one would hear anything was to blow on your phone as loudly as possible.
Voice (Tamika Adams): Meet me in there, meet me in there, 562![BLOWING]
Walter Thompson-Hernández: For me, the goal was to meet up with the people from the P Line. Sometimes it would be at a kick back or at some rave or a warehouse party. Some would meet to hookup, while others would meet up to fight. But a lot of times people would got catfished and stood up. But we all still called. And for some of us — getting off the phone — was actually the hardest part.
[Phone pick up]
Ellie Hernández: Walter — GET OFF THE PHONE!
Walter Thompson-Hernández: MA come on — PLEASE — just five more minutes. Come on come on.
Walter Thompson-Hernández: Sorry about that. This is California Love — And I’m Little Brownie.
Operator (Zack Furniss): For room three - press 3.
Erick Galindo: Oh you’re down on Florence?
Angela Aguirrea: What’s up. This is East side cloverettes.
Walter Thompson-Hernández: I used to call from the phone in my mom’s room. And honestly, I was on there to flirt.
Walter Thompson-Hernández: Drop that zero get with a hero girl
[Tai French laughing]
Walter Thompson-Hernández: Flirting, pretending, trying to have game.
Walter Thompson-Hernández: So what’s up are we gonna link up or what?
Guadalupe Rosales: I don’t know, well... are you gonna come pick me up [fade]
Yesika Salgado: Hey!
Yesika Salgado Man Impersonation: Hey baby you sound good, what’s your name?
Yesika Salgado: Hollywood.
Yesika Salgado Man Impersonation: Are you single?
Yesika Salgado: Sometimes.
Yesika Salgado Man Impersonation: What do you mean sometimes?
Yesika Salgado: : Sometimes I’m single, sometimes I’m not.
Yesika Salgado Man Impersonation: Well, then what are you today?
Yesika Salgado: mmmmm I don’t know yet, we’ll see keep talking.
Yesika Salgado: Oh, I'm Jessica. But my Party Line name is Hollywood.
Yesika Salgado Man Impersonation: Where are you from?
Yesika Salgado: Heaven. Laughing.
Yesika Salgado Man Impersonation: Oh I bet you’re an angel.
Yesika Salgado: Sometimes… laughing
Yesika Salgado: I was the weird girl with the parents that wouldn't let her hang out with anybody. I didn't know how to brush my hair. I couldn't figure out the right product to put in it — I felt like I was a sore thumb, like I was just this odd creature.
Yesika Salgado Man Impersonation: Hollywood what do you look like?
Yesika Salgado: Slim but not thick, athletic. I’ve done track and field my whole life.
Yesika Salgado Man Impersonation: You sound so sweet, you sound so beautiful.
Yesika Salgado: I'm on the Party Line and I'm talking to a boy. Finally, I'm beautiful and everything I do is the right thing. I’m funny enough, and I'm beautiful enough and I'm smart enough and there's something really special and magical about me that he can't understand, and he just feels honored to have me in his life and I'm this little treasure he discovered.
Yesika Salgado: [laughing]
Voice (José Paz): [laughing] Pretty much yeah.
Yesika Salgado: The appeal of The Party Line for me is that I'm the popular girl here. I’m the girl who sets the standard, I’m the beautiful girl. And I would rather preserve that — then tell him the truth.
Zack Furniss: For room four, press four.
Walter Thompson-Hernández: Ey so where do you stay at?
Yesika Salgado: Sometimes here, sometimes there
Erick Galindo: [Breathing] Heyyyy what’s up?
Walter Thompson-Hernández: But where?
Yesika Salgado: In my house
Erick Galindo: Oh my godddd I’m so fadeeeeed.
Walter Thompson-Hernández: But where?Yesika Salgado: Where I’m at.
Walter Thompson-Hernández: EY — Where do you live?
Yesika Salgado: In my house.
Yesika Salgado: And then it’ll just be an endless loop of that. Until either they laugh or get fed up and start cussing me out.
Walter Thompson-Hernández: Ey — you ain’t better than me though.
Yesika Salgado: I don’t think that, you think that. Cuz you’re the one who said it.
Erick Galindo: Hey Yoooooooo
Walter Thompson-Hernández: EY if you were a dude I’d fuck you up.
Yesika Salgado: Oh that’s great to know, that you go around fantasizing women are men.
Yesika Salgado: Just being able to say whatever I want without somebody making back, well you're fat. I’m fat, that's considered the biggest sin. That's considered the biggest insult. And the fact that that's not a possible thing when I'm on The Party Line makes me feel like I can say or do whatever I want, because I can say and do whatever I want because I have it I don't have an easy x on myself.
Operator (Zack Furniss): For room five, press five.
Guadalupe Rosales: That’s what’s uppppp
Tai French: Heyyyyyy
Erick Galindo: What's up it’s Pistol Pete from Paramount…
Voice (Walter Thompson-Hernández): Pistol Pete — fuck you BRO — you a leva homie
Erick Galindo: But really my name is Erick. I’m here to entertain myself. Because I’m really bored.
Erick Galindo: What’s everyone wearing?
Tai French Man Impersonation: I got Jordans on my feet. I got all the new Jordans always.Voice (Walter Thompson-Hernández): I got a green flannel right now
Guadalupe Rosales: Right now I’m wearing these black Ben Davis or Frisco Bands.
Voice (Tai French): Hi my name is Caramel Cutie, I’m small in the wait, cute in the face and ready to party.
Voice (Walter Thompson-Hernández): Ey what’s up Carmel! You brown and smooth or what? I like that name.
Erick Galindo: If it was a girl who for some reason sounded very attractive to me,
Voice (Tai French): Hi It’s me, Pieces Queen.
ERICK: I might spit some game. I don't know what I would say though cuz I don't really have game. [laughing] Cuz, it’s difficult to pick up when you can’t see the person. Because if you can see the person you can say, oh man, baby looks so beautiful or you’re the most beautiful woman in this room — And it’s a busy room.
Angela Aguirrea: Hey, what’s up?
Erick Galindo: How you doin?
Angela Aguirrea: What are you guys up to?
Voice (Guadalupe Rosales): Ey — What’s up Mija?
Erick Galindo: Is that your daughter? Is your father on the party line? [laughs]
Voice (Walter Thompson-Hernández): Dang somebody’s Daddy’s on the PLine…Angela Aguirrea: [Laughs]
Erick Galindo: Yeah, humor would probably be my attempt at trying to pick up a hot girl.
Voice (Guadalupe Rosales): Ey Mija so what’s up are we gonna hangout?
Yesika Salgado: Ahhhh this is so annoying.
Voice (Yesika Salgado): you wanna go one-on-one?
Yesika Salgado: Yeah, let’s go one-on-one. My code is 1-1-3 what’s yours?
Walter Thompson-Hernández: Ok, so imagine you’re a teenager and you can do ANYTHING you want on the Pline — Come on, you know exactly what’s about to happen.
Operator (Zack Furniss): You are now in a private room.
[Please dial your code]
[BEEP BEEP BEEP]
Operator (Zack Furniss): you have dialed your code. Please hold.
Yesika Salgado: When I’m on the Party Line, I like to think of it as me being like ultimate, feminie, goddess powers.
Yesika Salgado: Hey — I missed you today.
Voice: I missed you too.
Yesika Salgado: Hollywood got pregnant at 18 and had a kid with a man who is a Marine. And Hollywood and this Marine, eloped. She was in college. Hollywood had degrees…? None of that was happening in my life. [laughing] As time went on, the story grew...Goodness. I had a friend once tell me, there’s some truth behind every lie.
Operator (Zack Furniss): A guest is entering the room
Yesika Salgado: Every time I was on The Party Line I talked to a lot of boys.
Yesika Salgado: laughing
Yesika Salgado: There’s just something about him that feels very familiar. He feels like the boys I grew up with. He is a Latino kid from L.A. that is into graffiti just like my first actual boyfriend.
It’s always late. And I lower my voice as much as I can. I slow it down... and I sigh a lot.
Yesika Salgado: Oh — I wish you were here with me.Voice: Me too
Yesika Salgado: And I toss and turn. [laughing]... it’s funny, I’ve never actually talked to anybody about this outloud… ok. When you turn yourself over to somebody else for sex. You're always worried like, are they gonna see this part of me or they're not gonna like this part of me. I did — did I shave — did I do this? Did I do that? You know. And then during phone sex, none of that is present. It’s this… it’s the most reciprocal kind of sex I’ve ever had. Because we’re both contributing to the story. And we’re laying in bed and it starts with…
Voice: So what are you wearing…?
Yesika Salgado: Oh — a t-shirt and panties
Voice: If I was there next, to you, what would we do?
Yesika Salgado: If you were next to me, I would kiss you.
Voice: I would look into your eyes. I would caress your back. I would run my hand down the curve of your body.
Yesika Salgado: I feel — myself getting wet.
Voice: I would take a rose and slide it from the top of your head down your nose
Yesika Salgado: Getting aroused.
Voice: Down your lips, down your neck,
Yesika Salgado:Them breathing heavy for you.
Voice: between your breast to your navel.
Yesika Salgado: Your heart racing for them.
Voice: And then you would open yourself up to me.
Yesika Salgado: And I was just like, What was that!?! Like I don’t know what just happened [laughing]. And he laughs and he said, “Oh you came.” I’m like what do you mean I came? And he was like, that’s what an organism feels like. And then after that… I was having them 2-3 times a day…
Walter Thompson-Hernández: I told you it went down on the P LIne. I wasn’t playing.
Erick Galindo: The only thing I knew about sex was from like TV, you know? From movies from porn. And so I was just imitating what I had seen, what I had heard. Like I remember just just following the lead of this person who seemed to be very, very experienced in both actual sex and phone sex. So she's describing what's being done. And I'm just repeating what she's saying. She's got my penis in her mouth, and I'm like, “Okay, my penis is in your mouth.” It was probably not great, you know? [laughing]. First of all, it's like, the family phone, you know? Like, I don't know if I want to be holding my penis in one hand and holding my family phone against my face?
Angie Aguirre: Listen to it for a little while and then skip to the next room.
Operator (Zack Furniss): Don’t hang up, you’ll be connected after this message.
[MIDROLL] @ 16:06
Operator (Zack Furniss): Welcome back to the Party Line
Walter Thompson-Hernández: The P Lline sometimes got real, especially as people got older. You wanted to meet these people in real life but you also didn’t want to ruin the fantasy. So, sometimes the line between fantasy and reality got blurred.
Erick Galindo: By the time I was 17 and 18, we're still going on The Party Line and then the stakes are a little higher. We had money, we had part time jobs, we can go out and act on these experiences. At that point. My friends were using it to get dates. So my friend, José, calls me, he wants to go on The Party Line. He's addicted to the party line. He wants to go on, I say sure.
Erick Galindo: I'm on three-way now.
Voice (Valentino Rivera): Hey yo — what’s up?
Voice (Tamika Adams): Hey… What’s your name?
Erick Galindo: And he says…
Voice (Valentino Rivera): Ey what’s up girl — I’m Eric, from Downey.
Erick Galindo: I’m Eric from Downey
Voice (Tamika Adams): Ey — you sound cute, Erick from Downey
Erick Galindo: And that was the first time I ever heard that he was using my name as his alias.
Voice (Tamika Adams): What you wanna meet up or what?
[Duck under: ...You can come here if you want, my son has a basketball game and then you can take me out.]
Erick Galindo: He's having an entire relationship with the woman from Long Beach, who's got a kid who's like 40 years old, and she thinks his name is Eric from Downey.
Voice (Tamika Adams): You want to come here?
Voice (Valentino Rivera): I’ll do that.
Erick Galindo: I’m like “Fool, stop using my fucking name. So you're fucking this girl and she's yelling my name like, that's weird. Like, don't you get creeped out by that?” And he was like, “Nah, I don't care.” Like, he was on a mission to get a girl. That's all it was. And this was his like outfit. You know, this was like, he like he was wearing a shirt. Like, I
was like a T-shirt to him, you know?
Walter Thompson-Hernández: OK, so you have all these teenagers flirting, pretending to be older, probably some gross older dudes trying to be young too. But there were two rules on The P Line. Number one. You do not fuck with kids. Like we were kids but you know, like little kids who you could tell were like 10 years old trying to be older. Number two. Don’t get caught catfishing. Even if we are all making up identities, using our friends' name or whatever, you don’t get caught. Because if you did, someone would put you on blast. There was a P Line blog. And if you got caught pretending to be someone you weren’t, they’d put your picture up there and it was like, that was it, you’re outed. Exposed.
Operator (Zack Furniss): Press 9 to go to the back nine rooms.
Yesika Salgado: I didn't want to end up on the party line blog, where they quote unquote, expose people, which was where they put their pictures.
Voice (Yesika Salgado): When can I see you? Why can't I see you?
Yesika Salgado: My parents won’t let me.
Voice (Yesika Salgado): Why can't you email me a picture? Why can't you add me on my space?
Yesika Salgado: I don't have a computer.
Voice (Yesika Salgado): Why can’t I go to your school to pick you up?
Yesika Salgado: I — I can't go. I have to do XYZ.
Yesika Salgado: I...
Yesika Salgado: When a man finds out that I’ve been lying to them about who I am, that I’m not what they thought they were signing up for? All of the intimacy and everything gets pulled out from under me. Instantly… And I’m left with myself and all of the feelings that brought me to The Party Line. And I’m still the girl that has to lie to feel romantic love. And then I’m still like... sorry it took me back. You know I’m still the girl that has a really complicated life that I can’t even begin to untangle it and the other life that I built for myself isn’t real and it’s a reminder of how much of a mess I am.
I didn't think that what I was doing wrong was lying. I thought that what I was doing wrong was getting men to fall in love with a fat woman.
Operator (Zack Furniss): For room 10 press 1-0.
Guadalupe Rosales: I don't even know if it's lying, like lying sounds like, “Oh, you did something bad. You're lying.” It's more like this ideology of who we think we are. You know, or how much information we're going to put out there. As a 15-16 year old, I wasn't out. You know, as a brown queer person, I’m not out. So, I feel like my awkwardness, my shyness, stems from that because I am trying to be someone who I'm not. But I don't know this, you know what I mean? I don't know that I'm supposed to be someone else.
Operator (Zack Furniss): For room 11 press 1-1.
Voice (Yesika Salgado): What’s your name?
Yesika Salgado: Oh, I’m Hollywood, who are you?
Voice (Yesika Salgado): Oh, I’m Robert.
Voice (Walter Thompson-Hernández): Robert you sound like a broke ass fool Robert. You pick Robert homie — you a Bitch…
Voice (Yesika Salgado): No you sound like a bitch. Come to my pad.
Voice (Walter Thompson-Hernández): Drop the addy right now. Drop the addy. I’ll pull up — it’s nothin foo.
Voice (Walter Thompson-Hernández): Pull up bro
Voice (Yesika Salgado): No, you give me your address
Voice (Walter Thompson-Hernández): pull up foo
Yesika Salgado: Do you really need a hug that bad? That you’re going to drive all the way across town just to go hug somebody? I think you like him.
Voice (Walter Thompson-Hernández): Don’t be scared. Don’t be a leva.
Erick Galindo: Come down then… like
Voice (Walter Thompson-Hernández): You’re a bitch Homie.
Erick Galindo: Getting your life threatened by someone that can't really hurt you is the most fun thing. I think. it's like, if a fly could talk, you know, they're just like yelling and screaming.
Voice: What’s up what’s up, this is big bad Highland Park — representin all the Avenues.
Erick Galindo: Oh yeah — Motha fucka
Voice: Where you from? Fuck your barrio.
Voice (Walter Thompson-Hernández): Pull up fool.
Erick Galindo: The way I see it, If I’m in this room and I’m just like a little nothing, then you’re probably just a little nothing, you know? What are the chances that like, the head of Florencia Tresa is banging on the party line, you know? The guys who are on going on the party line, who are really gangsters. They're going on to escape. Here's where they're gonna pretend to be the nicest guy you've ever met. The love of your life, a sweetheart.
Walter Thompson-Hernández: Pistol pete. I don’t know if I agree with you — I got hit up by those guys all the time and they weren’t being sweet to me or girls on the pline. I never got beat up. But I knew people who got jumped and did the jumping.
Operator (Zack Furniss): For room 12 press 1-2.
Guadalupe Rosales: Like gang banging on the telephone, like maybe there were 13, 14 year old boys who found that they could do that and not get shot.
Walter Thompson-Hernández: Yeah, I’m pretty sure I was one of those kids. I was trying to be hard in the streets and on The P Line, way harder than I really was. Entire friendships would form on The P Line, people who you swore had known each other their entire lives. The friends I made when I was young were different. It felt like the stakes were really high for us and like the only people who understood us were the other people on The P Line. It's like we were all part of a special club.
Guadalupe Rosales: I've experienced a lot of dangerous kickbacks. We're hanging out in like, maybe in the park and someone starts to fight and then they leave us there. They leave us stranded, like far away from our house so then we have to figure out how to get home.
Also, this is like, also when we were hanging out with cholos, and you know, like rival gangs. Cops would fuck with us all the time, they were hanging out on the street. So yeah, it wasn't safe. But at the time, we were not thinking about that, we're not thinking about is this safe or not because that's what it was. We didn't know what wasn't safe.
Walter Thompson-Hernández: Look — I'm not going to blame The P Line for things that happened in my real life. And nothing bad really happened to me from The P Line. Because, I followed the rules. Don’t fuck with kids. Don’t get caught catfishing. But some of the people on The P Line were bad people and they broke the rules.
Operator (Zack Furniss): For room 13 press 1-3.
Angela Aguirre: Hi, I’m Victoria or Alejandra.
Angela Aguirre: [laughing]… The goal was to always sound older [laughing….] So I'm 12 years old in sixth grade. I was like the older version of Dora the Explora and I was just like, just kind of dorky, I don't know and artistic and silly. There would be times where we got caught like giggling and then the guy would get mad like — “AHHH y’all are some little ass girls.” LAUGHING… Yeah, I knew what we were doing was bad. I knew we weren’t supposed to be doing that. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have to hide. One other girl that lived in my apartment building came over and she was always the like, more adventurous one. Teresa was talking to a guy and he started like being really specific about where we were.
Voice: Have I seen you in the neighborhood?Angela Aguirre: ha
Voice: So, You live over by the payless right?
Angela Aguirre: ummm..
Voice: I’ve seen you. You’re in those grey apartments.
Angela Aguirre: And it was weird because it was like, How the fuck could he possibly know that?
Voice: You live alone?
Angela Aguirre: And I hung up the phone. And she got mad, but I was like, Teresa, how did that not scare you? Playing on the phone is one thing, but being in person with somebody is a whole different thing.She met up with someone from The P Line and um… she said no and he didn’t listen and.... I don't think she felt like she could tell anybody else. So I just didn’t say anything, I just hugged her and it was just so sad… I just hugged her. I did say promised me I'll never get on it again. And I won't either. It felt like there was no more childhood like after that.
Walter Thompson-Hernandez: For me and most of my friends, you just got jumped.
But it seems like it was more dangerous for girls than it was for me. Not just in L.A. and not just because of The P Line. I got off The P Line when I was 15, when I changed my life around and started going to school again but I remember having withdrawals from the p-line because I was addicted to the fun and to the rush. Lupe left The P Line for real life and started going out with her party crew more, she was only on it for a couple years. Erick stopped calling after he got a car. Of all my friends who used party lines, Yesika aka Hollywood, was on it longer than anyone else I knew.
Yesika Salgado: It’s a character - uh - I nurtured for 15 years.
Walter Thompson-Hernandez: 15 years and no she wasn’t on the phone 24/7 but she was on it enough that she was leading a double life. On the phone she was Hollywood, in Silver Lake she was Yesika, the poet.
Yesika Salgado: Poetry has always been the most important thing to me ever.
Walter Thompson-Hernandez: Yesika started going to poetry open mics when she was 23 and she loved it. She is an incredible writer and performer. She would get up and read and 200 or more people would be in the audience.
Yesika Salgado: Getting complimented meant so much to me because I had just never connected my body and my writing at the same time in the same space. And so for me to know that people were still listening to my poems past my physical me — was so encouraging for somebody with the body dysmorphia that I had and with how much I was running away from myself at the time. But I was still coming home to be on The Party Line and I remember thinking why do I keep doing this?
Walter Thompson-Hernandez: Being Hollywood gave Yesika a lot. She sharpened her wit. She formed deep relationships with men. I mean, she even had her first orgasm on the pline. And for 15 years she could handle it, she managed the fantasy world where she was this queen. But year 15 she is talking to this one guy and he asks for a picture. I mean — they all asked for pictures but this time she was tired of lying. And she just came clean.
Yesika Salgado: I was at work and I took a break and I was sitting on the curb, crying. I couldn’t get myself to send this man a picture of myself. And I was like, when you see me, you're going to hate me. When you see me, you're going to hate me.
Walter Thompson-Hernandez: And he was like, “Okay, let me see your face.”
Yesika Salgado: I finally sent him a picture. And then he was like, why didn't you give me the option of choosing? And then I told him, “If you knew what I looked like from the beginning, you would have never talked to me.” And he said, “How do you know that you took that choice away from me?” Like I don’t give myself the option for the real me. I could, I would pick the other I would pick fake Yessica. Oh, shoot, I freakin really hate myself. So then I found a therapist. And then I quit everything cold turkey.
Walter Thompson-Hernandez: And that’s why Yesika got off the P Line.
Zack Furniss: For room 14 press 1-4
Yesika Salgado: My code is 113 what’s yours?
Operator (Zack Furniss):You are now, in a private room. Please dial your code.
[BEEP BEEP BEEP]
Operator (Zack Furniss): You have dialed your code. Please hold
Operator (Zack Furniss): Yesika is now entering the room.
Yesika Salgado: If I could speak to younger Yessica on the Party Line, I will tell her that everything that everybody else has, she can have too. So go ahead and have fun on the party line and enjoy it. But your universe could be so much bigger than this. You know, so much bigger than this. And you deserve it all. You deserve everything you told yourself. You don't deserve and your body is not something you apologize. And your body doesn't determine whether people get to treat you as a person or not. And your body isn't an excuse for you to do ugly things that will hurt you in the long run. Nobody's keeping you on the phone other than yourself.
[Phone pick up]
Ellie Hernández: WALTER GET OFF THE PHONE!
Walter Thompson-Hernandez: Shit, sorry, I gotta go
The voices on this episode are, and we are so thankful for them:
The lead producers on this episode are MEGAN TAN and TAMIKA ADAMS
Our editor and is ARWEN NICKS
She also helped write this episode.
Another producer on this show is ELIZABETH NAKANO
Our Engineer is VALENTINO RIVERA
Original music by ANDREW EAPEN
Our Executive Producer is ANGELA BROMSTAD
And our party line voice is ZACK FURNISS
I helped to write this episode and I’m your host —
Lil’ Brownie aka Walter Thompson-Hernandez.
Thanks for listening. I really appreciate you.
This program is made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.