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- A Story of O’s
A week from today, I leave on tour. After only doing one festival last year, it feels good to be gearing up for a four festival run. Of course, I had to switch things up. So for the first time ever, I’m performing two different shows in one season. You can find show time and ticket purchase information for all A Story of O’s and Threads by clicking those links, but here’s a basic itinerary…
A Story of O’s at London (Ontario) Fringe Festival
Threads at Ottawa Fringe Festival
Threads at IndyFringe Festival
A Story of O’s at Vancouver Fringe Festival
I did a podcast with my friend, Liam. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to talk to me for an hour and not pay $3/minute, it’s kind of like this…
It has finally happened. I, Tonya Jone Miller, have been immortalized in comic book form!!!
Oh holy jesus fuck. This is happening…
100: A Story of O’s
written & performed by Tonya Jone Miller
8:30pm Friday 23 May 2014
10:00pm Saturday 31 May 2014
Minion Solo Festival (May 23 – May 31, 2014)
Seattle Creative Arts Center
2601 NW Market Street
Seattle, WA 98107
When Tonya takes a job as a phone sex operator, she has no idea how much it will change her life. Play voyeur as she learns the ups and downs of an in-and-out industry. Meet some of her more memorable clients and be possibly aroused (and likely disturbed too) by their unique fetishes. It isn’t long before Tonya discovers there’s a lot more to phone sex than just talking dirty, and some of her callers’ fantasies have become her own. Ride along on her hilarious, hot, and heart-warming journey to find out there might just be a little pervert in all of us.
Tonya Jone Miller is a lifelong lover, performer, and creator of theatre from Portland, Oregon. She is best known for her work on Dance Naked Productions’ Inviting Desire with Eleanor O’Brien, and for her award-winning solo show, Threads, about her American mother’s experiences in Vietnam during the war. Tonya is a renowned phone sex operator and the owner of BayCityBlues.com, as well as being an openly kinky, sex-positive educator who teaches workshops on how to talk dirty and role-play. She has been featured in BUST Magazine, the upcoming full-length feature documentary Hotline, HBO’s Real Sex, Thrillist, Tits and Sass, and Forbes. Tonya is the proud owner of a dirty mind, a filthy mouth, and a clean conscience.
**Awards and Accolades for TJM’s previous work, Threads**
Best of Fest (Patron’s Pick)
2012 Winnipeg Fringe Festival
2013 London Fringe Festival
2013 Toronto Fringe Festival
2013 Winnipeg Fringe Festival
Outstanding Performance of 2013 – NOW Magazine Toronto
Outstanding Female Performance of 2012 – CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)
#1, Top Ten Shows of 2012 – UMFM
“Subtle, smooth, sad and emotionally engrossing.” ~The Boston Globe
“Leaps off the stage with life…A consistently thrilling celebration of the places we go and the people we meet.” ~CBC
“A quietly engaging, understated performer with a thoroughly trustworthy air.” ~Edmonton Sun
“A true object of beauty – don’t miss….the best one-woman show of the fringe.” ~Winnipeg Free Press
“A wondrous ride…Miller is a charismatic, engaging storyteller.” ~Vue Weekly
“Miller’s understated performance is the perfect vehicle to tell this story.” ~London Free Press
“Quietly and effectively builds to a truly emotional conclusion.” ~Orlando Sentinel
Subspice – (n) The floaty, sweaty, light-headed state of being acquired from eating extremely spicy food. May be accompanied by clear sinuses, intense feelings of euphoria, and explosively uncomfortable bowel movements.
Take that, Urban Dictionary.
Ok this time I mean it. I’m back. Really. 🙂
It took a couple weeks for me to “come down” off of the Threads tour. Part of it is after two weeks in a new city, two weeks in a new city, two weeks in a new city, I had to be home for more than two weeks before my brain realized I wasn’t just doing another fringe and wouldn’t be moving on in 14 days. And then to try and process the whole experience, it’s…indescribable.
But because I’m me, I’m going to try to describe it. Lol!
A fringe festival is a unique beast. Each one has its own distinct personality, quirks, benefits, and drawbacks. Each city poses different challenges, which require resourcefulness and resiliency to overcome. Each festival is a potential goldmine of audience members and five-star reviews with accolades galore. Or a heart-wrenching, soul-sucking, 24/7, bang-your-head-against-a-wall of jaded apathy, play-to-7-people-a-night test of your artistic intention. Because if you’re doing it for the money, for the fame, for standing ovations and sell-out crowds, the fringe festival circuit will destroy you.
Don’t get me wrong. Fringe theatre festivals are one of the few venues where an independent performer can earn a (usually meager) living directly from their art. If you are lucky enough to have a good show that gets good reviews/word-of-mouth and catches on, you can definitely expect sell-outs and standing ovations. There is also notoriety and a certain kind of “celebrity” on the international fringe circuit. But let me put it into perspective…
TJ Dawe. Martin Dockery. Jem Rolls. Chris Craddock. Do any of those names ring a bell? Probably not. They’re very well-known fringe artists on the circuit, but if you’re not a “fringer” (either audience or performer), you’ve likely never heard of them. Basically, the biggest fish in the fringe pond are still just tiny sardines in the world ocean. Yet they are some of the most amazing artists you’ve never seen. When I think of the incredibly diverse shows I saw over the course of this summer, I am truly blown away. They continually change my concepts of what “performance” and “art” and “theatre” are.
So there I was…Winnipeg. First show in a couple months, first time on this tour so far that I was in a city I had done in 2009. Lots of familiar faces, including most of the performers I mentioned above. Would people remember me? Was my program blurb interesting enough? Would anyone come see the show? Did my posters stand out compared to the hundreds of others? My first show in Winnipeg was prime time on a Friday night, but still I was pretty shocked to have an over 3/4 full house, around 80 audience members in my 100-capacity venue. It had to bode well, right? Then the reviews came out.
Remember what I was saying earlier about how each festival has its own personality? Here’s the thing about Winnipeg: reviews REALLY matter there. The two major press outlets for coverage are the CBC and the Winnipeg Free Press, and both of them use a star rating system, with 0 as the worst and 5 as the best. Get zero- and one-star reviews, and you can kill yourself flyering all day long, won’t matter. You’ll be lucky to have 10 people in your audience per show. On the other hand, a five-star review can make you. Get a five-star review in Winnipeg, and suddenly when you start to flyer a line-up, people know about your show already. Believe me, it’s difficult to stand out in a field of nearly 200.
But it’s a total crap shoot. There are so many shows that the press employ non-theatre-critic reviewers just to get every show covered. If the CBC sent five of their reviewers to one show, they’d probably come back with five different star ratings. It’s completely a matter of random chance whether the critic who is assigned to your performance will “get” it 100%. So I was pretty floored when the first review came out…
* * * * *
“…practically leaps off the stage with life…a consistently thrilling celebration of the places we go and the people we meet.”
~ CBC Manitoba
I was in shock. And I definitely felt…weird about it. Did I deserve 5 stars? I love this story, and I believe in my show, yet all it has ever gotten is fantastic audience response but bad-to-ok reviews. I guess I was expecting more of the same, even though I had high hopes going into Winnipeg because it was my favorite city on the 2009 tour. My next show sold out. The first time ever I have completely sold out a show, by myself, not in my hometown, without a bunch of friends and family to paper the house. And then the second review came out…
* * * * *
“Miller is a revelation. She couldn’t possibly make up a better story and brings it to life with such heart-wrenching care and breathtaking yet understated style. The audience is transfixed…Rarely does a bare stage transform so elegantly into its tale’s setting, bringing us hand-in-hand with Miller’s mother, experiencing her heartache and jubilation. Miller has created a true object of beauty — don’t miss the chance to witness it.”
~ Winnipeg Free Press
Suddenly, everybody was talking about Threads. I sold out five more of my remaining six shows and was informed that Threads had been picked as “Best of Fest” and would be given an extra performance. UMFM named it one of their Top 10 shows of the 2012 festival, and the CBC review crew named me as Outstanding Female Performance, a tie with the lovely and talented Yana Kesala of Seattle.
I kid you not, it was like being a rock star. Everybody knew who I was, all the other performers wanted me to come see their shows, strangers insisted on buying me drinks, and in one case, dinner. It was the experience of a lifetime. It was like winning the lottery. I got to be a princess. As an artist, you hope and pray for your work to be received like Threads was in Winnipeg. Through it all, you try to take it with gratitude, humility, and grace. Because you know that two weeks later, you’ll be in a brand new city, at a completely different festival, and nobody will give a damn what they thought about you and your show in Winnipeg.
Minnesota? Eh, it happened. It was no Winnipeg, but then I knew my chances of winning the lottery twice were pretty slim. The show averaged 4.5 stars and glowing reviews from audience members on the fringe website, which is the single most important buzz-builder at that festival. But I didn’t get any mainstream press, and by the time I’d built some momentum from positive word-of-mouth, the festival was almost over. It doesn’t help that you only get 5 performances in Minnesota, unlike other festivals where you get 6-8.
I also lost my Minneapolis billet (volunteer host) because she objected to my line of work. Her prerogative if she doesn’t want a dirty dirty phone sex whore staying with her, but I can’t help wondering if she really thought she’d be hosting a virginal, tee-totaling, prayer-meeting-holding fringe artist. Not a ton of those, in my experience, but whatever. Better to know before I got there and was uncomfortable or kicked out. I considered canceling, but friends and fellow artists found me various places to stay. Still, it sucked having to move every two or three days. I never felt settled, and as soon as I got my bearings in the city, I had to change to a new place. I also ate like crap, since it was such a hassle to keep carting groceries from crashpad to crashpad, and it was of course more expensive to eat out almost every meal.
Minneapolis seems like such a hip, artsy city on the surface, but after two weeks there, I found it to be a conservative, repressed, religious hotbed of passive-aggressiveness. Trying to flyer the line-ups, which is every touring artist I know’s mainstay promotional tool, was damn near impossible. Few people would even take the flyers, and nobody would engage enough to give me an opening to pitch them. It was exhausting, and after a few days of banging my head against the wall and realizing none of the locals did it, I pretty much gave up. You don’t go into a festival thinking you’re going to make a ton of money, but you at least hope/expect to make back your production fee and cover the cost of your food while you’re there. Minnesota cost me a pretty penny. I met some cool folks, but I wouldn’t go back to that festival, and I’m not particularly fond of the city itself, either. Thankfully, the downside of knowing while it was going on that Winnipeg would only last two weeks has an upside: knowing the slog of Minnesota would only last two weeks too.
And then Edmonton. Oh, Edmonton. Edmonton is the biggest festival in North America, which isn’t necessarily always a good thing. It’s even harder to stand out there. But unlike Winnipeg, the reviews are not the end-all, be-all in Edmonton. I remember getting the worst reviews of the Inviting Desire tour in Edmonton but still selling out a bunch of shows. And it happened to me again, worst review of the tour (2.5 stars). Also a great four-star review, but boy do you remember the bad ones easiest. So I flyered my ass off and earned every audience member, and had some of the best audience responses and feedback of the whole tour. It wasn’t anywhere near as satisfying as Winnipeg, but I made a comparative amount of money, given that I did two fewer shows in Edmonton.
A lot of the touring artists end their season in Edmonton, so there’s always a rash of indulgence and crazy parties. Plus, I had the 4F’s with me- Alexa Fitzpatrick, Christel Bartelse, and my hometown pal (and person responsible for introducing me to the fringe circuit) Eleanor O’Brien. The four of us met up at the Orlando festival and decided to pool our resources to cross-promote and help market each other in Edmonton. We called ourselves the Four Fabulous Fringe Females, or 4F’s. It was nice to have a support network- touring as a solo artist is completely different that touring as part of an ensemble like I did in 2009. By the time I hit Edmonton this year, I needed some girl time! And I could definitely feel the nostalgia starting to creep in the last week there, but when it was finally over, I was ready to be home. Two months is a long time to live out of a suitcase.
All in all, a remarkable summer. My “new” beetle held up great over the 5K (!) miles I put on her, and my cats didn’t ignore me for too long before relenting and allowing me to worship them with tuna fish and tummy rubs. I’m still processing the whole tour, and it’s already time to start thinking about festival applications for next year. Yes, there’s going to be a next year. And a year after that, and a year after that. In fact, I can’t really imagine NOT doing at least one or two festivals a year for the foreseeable future. Once a person finds the fringe festival circuit, it changes their life. It’s like coming home.
Coming home from coming home. Now there’s a conundrum.
Confession: I miss playing multiple phone sex characters. Correction: I miss the kinds of calls some of those characters got. You see, “coming out” as myself was both liberating and restricting, though much more the former than the latter. I certainly prefer just being natural, not having to remember what each particular character’s model looks like and her backstory and yadda yadda yadda…
But I don’t get as many Daddy’s girl calls as I used to when I was Eve or Pamela or Amy or Trixie or whoever, and I miss them. Same goes for student/teacher and other roleplays featuring older, more experienced men and their younger conquests. Those types of calls trigger my own personal fantasies and fetishes, thus they really turn me on. I can’t blame a guy for wanting a visual that fits his fantasy, but that leaves me wanting, craving that sexual dynamic in my phone sex calls.
So what do I do? I crossed a line when I chose to reveal my true identity, and I’m realizing it’s impossible to just step back over it. Even if I wanted to, which I don’t, at least not entirely. Well, I’ve thought about it long and hard (heh), and I’ve decided to actively pursue the calls I’m missing. Part of that is mentioning them here, so the perverts among you who might not realize I enjoy those phone sex topics will be inspired. I considered building a more traditional site with models and operators playing multiple characters, but as I’ve said before, while I have nothing against that kind of phone sex business, I don’t want to run one anymore. I tried it and honestly, I wasn’t very good at it. But I’m good at doing those calls, damn good, and more importantly, I enjoy them. So I’ve decided to start taking calls through other services.
Don’t be shocked- I actually encourage all the Bay City Blues girls to explore working for other phone sex companies and pursuing alternative avenues of income. Being independent and getting to “play” myself as my phone sex “character” is a luxury that comes with a price- some men understandably want pure fantasy, and I can’t be everything to everyone. But the sweet lil subbie babydoll in me wants to come out and play, and I’m going to let her…
Here’s the deal…Wherever I end up going and whoever I end up playing, I’m not telling. I’m going to follow all the rules, and if you happen to run across me elsewhere as a different phone sex persona, I WILL NOT BREAK CHARACTER even if I recognize your voice. I feel like this is the only way I can both augment my calls and be ethically respectful of the other services I work with. If you want to talk to me, Tonya Jone Miller, you have to call me via this blog or the BCB website/dispatch service. End of story.
Also, I owe someone an apology. I doubt she still reads this blog, so I’m going to have to do some hunting. I suspect she won’t accept my apology or want anything to do with me, but I have to try. I miss her.
This is a picture of me and my pal, Cindy, on the way to a party a couple of weeks ago. I think the look on my face is hilarious, like I’m high on her tits… *giggles*
And speaking of boobs…I’m over halfway to my personal Race for the Cure fundraising goal, and we’re very close to meeting our team goal! Thank you thank you THANK YOU to those of you who donated already- I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your generosity!
Boobies make me happy. If you’re a friend of mine, chances are they make you happy, too. So please consider investing in general titty health? Viva las ta-ta’s!
Phone sex is a strange beast. In my six-plus years of experience, I’ve come to realize that everybody’s concept of what it is differs. Some callers like to talk as if we’re actually in the room together, describing what we’re doing to each other. To me, this is the most straightforward kind of phone sex:
“I’m bending over the dresser, sticking my ass in the air, watching your dick twitch in the mirror as you slide one hand up my inner thigh.”
Others can’t get past the willing suspension of disbelief. Hearing me say, “I’m licking your balls” when they don’t FEEL it somehow takes them out of the zone. Perhaps it makes the fantasy aspect of phone sex too apparent. In any case, the way around this is to use speculative speech:
“If I was there, I’d love to suck your cock. I’d wrap my lips around it and bob my head up and down until your toes curled.”
A simple adjustment of language makes all the difference.
You’d think that, being an actress, roleplay would be the easiest kind of phone sex for me. And in a way, it is. But again, roleplay can mean many different things to different people. Usually it is a combination of dialogue and description:
Me: “Excuse me, Sir, do you have a moment?”
Caller: “Yes, Miss Miller, how can I help you?”
Me: I slip into your office and you hear the lock click behind me. Your eyes travel down over my nubile, young body, and you can’t help but let your gaze linger on the swell of my pert tits under my slightly too-tight cardigan sweater. “Ms. Connell told me I’m in danger of being suspended from the cheerleading squad because I’m getting a C in your class.”
Caller: “I’m afraid there’s nothing I can do about that. Rules are rules, and you young lady have to learn that there are consequences to your actions.”
Me: “Isn’t there anything I can do?” I look at you with big, innocent eyes and start to unbutton my sweater…
With a small number of callers, we have such a good rapport, we can actually incorporate the description into the dialogue. This always feels the most organic, and when I close my eyes, I can picture the scene in my head like it’s really happening.
Me: “Mmmm you like it when I stick my ass up in the air like this, don’t you?”
Caller: “God yes, you’re so wet and tight from behind. And I love seeing that little puckered asshole of yours quiver. So tempting…”
Me: “Oooh fuck yes! You know I’m a dirty girl- you know I love it up the butt. Go slow? I want to feel every inch of it slip it into my ass.”
You see? We’ve established that we’re having doggy-style anal sex without really breaking character or slipping out of back-and-forth dialogue. But truthfully, most callers need a little more description for the dialogue to make sense to them, and I’m happy to oblige.
A small number of guys actually send me scripts they want me to follow more or less verbatim. Obviously as an actor I’m comfortable actualizing text, but it makes me wonder how many pso’s the poor guys have to go through to find someone like me who’s capable of pulling it off believably. I mean, trained professional actors fuck up, even after hours of rehearsal. I can’t imagine that Generic Phone Babe #287 would be very effective. But then again, maybe I just set the bar high for myself.
Still other clients barely speak at all and prefer to listen to erotic storytelling. This can be fairly challenging, as it is essentially an extended, improvised, erotic monologue. For those calls, the more details I have in advance, the better. And while they often require more concentration and less masturbation on my part, they are somewhat liberating in that I can go wherever I please within the given parameters of a caller’s fantasy.
People often ask me what I like when it comes to phone sex, but my answer rarely satisfies them. Phone sex is a service. I like being of service; I always have. I like knowing that something I’ve done has made someone else’s life better or even just put a fleeting smile on their face. So what is my fetish? What turns me on? Well, lots of things. Heh. But when it comes to phone sex, I like making my callers happy.
Truly, the content of any call is less important to my enjoyment of it than my clients response and pleasure. I love a man who makes noise, a man who encourages me to get into it and expresses his own excitement. And yes, I realize some of them call from home or work when there’s a chance of getting caught and need to be quiet. That’s hot in its own way.
I like knowing I have the sexual energy and erotic intelligence to figure out what a person wants, and sometimes more importantly, how they want it. It makes me feel powerful, desired, appreciated…
I never know why I stop writing. Sometimes it just happens and then a few weeks or months or whatever later I feel the urge again…I shall resist my natural compulsion to try to get you caught up on every detail of my life the past month, because I’ll just get frustrated. I’ve been busy- let’s leave it at that… *smiles*
Sunday I marched in the gay pride parade with the Portland Leather Alliance contingent. I wore my Naughty Dorothy outfit, which went over well, as you can imagine. Heh. Tons of people were taking pictures, officially and not, so I’ll try to hunt down a couple to post here.
Then yesterday morning I woke at 5am to find my murderous beasts toying with two baby birds on my bedroom floor. The poor things must have fallen out of the nest at a very inopportune moment, and proud hunters that my killers kitties are, they toted them home to show me. *sigh* It was too late to save them. Darwin wins again.
I’ve been shockingly unmotivated lately (obviously lol), but now that it seems summer has finally arrived in Oregon, I’m feeling a bit more productive. Must have needed the Vitamin D desperately…
Going to slip into a sexy summer frock and head down to the munch shortly for a couple of drinks and some socializing, but I’ll be back after 8pm if you’re having a phone sex jones…