RichieSodapop recalls: ‘Confessions of a Southampton Prank caller’
I can’t remember what spurred me to get into prank calls, in my sheltered, South Coast teen-hood it wasn’t something that my contemporaries were engaged in, I guess that’s what made the ones we did so effective, people simply weren’t doing it so we could really reel these suckers in. In fact, in our naivety we referred to them as ‘crank calls’ or as we affectionately coined it, “crankers”, ie, “ There’s fuck all going on, let’s get the yellow pages out and do some crankers”. It was the early 90s and I’d heard of the Jerky Boys but didn’t know anybody that actually owned the tape, it was one of those mythical, ‘my mates older brother went to America and got it’ type scenarios, but that’s what made our style of crankers so appealing, we weren’t imitating, it was strictly local. The main work was done by my best mate Greg who had an amazing ability to think up ridiculous scenarios off the top of his head, all the while managing to mentally and verbally control a total stranger on the end of the line. Typically we’d either scan the Yellow Pages and look for local businesses to wind up and outsmart, claiming they’d stole our idea and we were going to sue, eg, a local party magician going by the handle “Jimmy Bow tie” was called at 3am by a young man with a camp, Northern accent going by the name “Jimmy Neckerchief” demanding that he remove his advert from the Yellow Pages. Or we’d just dial random digits and play it by ear. Incidents included pretending to be DJs from local radio stations [Bob Gill from Radio South] and stringing along bored, dumb housewives, convincing them that they’d won a prize and to get them to request a song. They’d then be given some make believe frequency to dial into to hear their songs, meanwhile we’d be on to some next ish like calling the local family portrait photography studio to book a gay porno shoot and then play the homophobe card when they informed us that it would be inappropriate.
As the years went on, and telecommunications advanced, crankers maintained a presence in our lives; after a shit night out in the city and a nose full of coke with no pussy to be found, we found amusement in the wee, small hours from mobile phones. Calling random numbers from the back of a car to tell some dozy mare that their water supply needed to be switched off for four hours, this conversation would drag on for minutes while I gave made up information and closed the call by informing the sleepy recipient that would be legible for compensation if they called this number and quoted my name “Brian Shitbag” at which point the penny would drop and I’d be hailed with a string of four letter expletives. See, we discovered that it was no fun if they still believed you at the end of the call, the real hilarity lay in being told to fuck off by some irate docker or called an immature little prat by a well to do gentleman. I have to say that a massive part of the fun was knowing that we were smarter than grown ups, however this activity carried on up until this day to tickle the part of our personalities that refuses to acknowledge that we are now grown up ourselves.