The 67-year-old grandmother who caused a social media storm after calling in to a talkback radio session with the Prime Minister says the experience has been like “a crazy dream”.
The woman rang 774 ABC Melbourne yesterday under the alias of Gloria to talk to Tony Abbott about her concerns about how the budget would affect pensioners.
When she told him she was working for a telephone sex line to supplement her pension, Mr Abbott winked and smiled at presenter Jon Faine.
The footage went viral on social media, catapulting Gloria into the centre of a media storm.
“At first it was funny, and I still can see the funny side of it, but now it’s like I can’t believe it’s gone as far as it has,” Gloria said.
“It’s a bit like I’m going to wake up and it’s all been a crazy dream. Maybe that’s how Tony feels too.”
Mr Abbott has since described his response as “regrettable” and said he was reacting to Faine, though the presenter said his only reaction to the woman’s call was to raise an eyebrow.
‘Hectic and overwhelming’ global reaction
The exchange between the grandmother and the Prime Minister has received global media coverage and dominated social media.
“I didn’t know about the wink and the snigger until people rang me up and told me, and I didn’t see it until last night when I saw the news,” Gloria said.
She said while she still has not been able to get online to see the global reaction, she has been inundated with requests from the media.
You only get paid 50c a minute while you’re actually on a call. No-one gets rich on it.
“Different radio stations, newspapers and television … I’ve had heaps calling 774 wanting me to talk, but I’ve narrowed it down to the ABC in Melbourne and The Age,” she said.
“It’s been pretty hectic and overwhelming anyway, there’s no way I could’ve dealt with all the media who wanted to talk to me. I think it’s just out of control now, it’s ridiculous.”
Since the call went to air her real name has been made public, and she said she now fears for her safety as her sex line clients could find out where she lives.
The pensioner, who suffers from emphysema and a heart condition, said she has been working for the sex line for almost four years, after she lost a long-term part-time cleaning job when the agency she worked for failed to have its contract renewed.
‘No-one gets rich’ working on sex lines
She said she found the sex line job through a local newspaper advertisement and while she was not ashamed of the work, she said it does not pay well.
“Last fortnight I made $84,” she said.
“The most I’ve ever made in a fortnight was around $250 but that’s unusual.
“You only get paid 50c a minute while you’re actually on a call. No-one gets rich on it.”
Yesterday she asked the Prime Minister how he would feel if his grandmother had to work for a sex line.
“He never answered my question … but I didn’t really expect him to. I just wanted to put him on the spot,” she said.
Yesterday was like insanity, and today’s been mad too.
But she said she has been overwhelmed by the hysteria that the exchange has caused.
“Yesterday was like insanity, and today’s been pretty mad too, I’ve had to cancel stuff I had planned,” she said.
“I’ve heard people are ringing up radio stations saying I don’t exist, I’m a Labor stooge, that I should go and bake cakes and sell them instead of working on a sex line.
“If I had been able to speak to Julia Gillard when she ripped money off supporting parents benefit, I would have got stuck into her just as loudly and just as angrily.”