I think I started around , and I would leave around five or six AM to go sleep.And I’d run into all these people waking up, going to work, and I’d just spent the night talking about sex with people all over the bizarre-to-normal spectrum.He’s only using that word – artisan – half-ironically.
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I wasn’t face to face with them, so I don’t know how much of what they told me was the truth.
But what I do know is that the Minitel cost money, and the longer you were connected, the more expensive it was.
During the daytime, the room would be full of animatrices – fifteen or twenty at a time. Jean Marc preferred to work nights, when he was often alone. Jean Marc’s English isn’t great, so we did the rest of the interview in French.
There was a great view of Paris from the office building he worked in, and it was quiet. JEAN-MARC: I ate beforehand, because it was hard to eat when you’re on four Minitels at once. I think I filled up a bottle of water, I’d turn on the Minitels and log onto the forums, and then I was off for the whole night…
So he tried to incorporate his own unique world view, his artisan, cyber-feministe politics into every aspect of the job, even the identities that he chose to inhabit as a woman.
JEAN-MARC: On one Minitel I was a 56-year-old woman, on another I was a 35-year-old woman named Brigitte, and on the other I was a 19-year-old bisexual student.That anonymity revealed an intimate side of people he’d never really seen before.JEAN-MARC: I got a lot of people who were suicidal – there were even a couple of women, young women, who were really freaking out.Animatrice is the feminine form of a frustratingly un-translatable word. And somehow, it also came to mean what Jean Marc did with his nights for a couple of months in the mid-nineties.Jean Marc worked on the seventeenth floor of a tall building in Paris.I would dial in to a local bulletin board there was…four phone lines and I would just get hours and hours of busy signals while everyone desperately jockeyed for one of those four phonelines and then I would connect and then my dad would get call waiting and fifteen minutes later I would get bumped off which was unbelievably frustrating. PJ: I have a memory of going into a chat room and talking to some adult woman who…I guess she was flirting with me but I didn’t understand flirting and she was like “hey, do you want to talk in a private chat room? PJ: I realized that I disappointed her in some way but it took me a long time to figure out how and why. Like, mine was lonely and alienated and yours was pop culture, weird stuff? It was unveiled yesterday by the Minister of Telecommunications, it was – the electronic phonebook! You could look up phone numbers and addresses – banking information, the weather, stock prices, things like that.