1-900 numbers weren’t just for sex lines and psychics (thought they were probably mostly used for that). They were a way of transmitting information for money in a pre-Internet world for things like jokes, music, games, and fan club information.
Sadly, after testing them out, these numbers are no longer in service.
1. Corey Haim and Corey Feldman’s fan hotline:
Can’t get enough Coreys in your life? Ready to pay for more hot Corey action? Here’s the number for you.
2. He-Man hotline
A lot of these fan lines were aimed at kids. They’d always have a warning telling kids to ask their parents’ permission before calling, but their profits must’ve all come from furtive dialing from kids who didn’t realize it would show up on their phone bill.
3. Paula Abdul’s line:
Straight up now tell me, do you really want to pay $0.99/minute?
4. Hulk Hogan’s fan line
Back before you could listen to him complain about having sex on a full stomach in his sex tape, you could pay to listen to him tell you cool Hulk things. According to a factoid flagged “citation needed” on Wikipedia, the Hulkster’s line was the most profitable 900 number from 1991-1993 on AT&T. Oh, brother.
5. Jessica Hahn’s secret-revealing hotline
Jessica Hahn was involved in a sex scandal with televangelist Reverend Jim Bakker that was one of the biggest tabloid stories in 1987. She claimed it was non-consensual, he admitted to cheating on his wife, Tammy Faye, but that it was consensual. Her ad promises to tell you the “real story” of her encounter.
6. “Room Mates” sexytime hotline:
This isn’t just your standard phone sex line, it’s one that’s angled specifically at the fantasy of two bored female roommates who want to talk dirty to you. Like if the characters on Girls ran a phone sex line.
7. Warrant’s fan hotline
For Warrant fans. Yes, at one point, there were so many Warrant fans that they had a pay phone line. Now the singer is dead :(
8. A phone lottery game
The premise of this 900 number was that if you were the lucky caller, you could win prize money. Basically like a phone lottery ticket.
9. WWF Hotline
This number would give marks insider info on Wrestlemania. It’s been replaced by something called a blog.
10. Grandpa Al Lewis from “The Munsters” fan hotline
The actor who played the grandfather on the classic sitcom The Munsters had a strange career where he made money on doing that same character for decades.
11. New Kids on the Block fan hotline:
Probably the greatest fan hotline of all time. The best part of this ad is when Joey McIntyre pretends to be talking on the phone in an over-the-top pantomime.
Do you like to laugh? These chuckles ain’t free, friend.
13. Tiffany’s fan hotline:
Tiffany’s fan hotline. Best line in the ad is when Tiffany manipulatively says, “you’re my friend, so call me.”
14. Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff’s fan hotline
Best part is that they recorded a whole rap for this. Will Smith rapped for a 1-900 number.
The biggest insult is that you have to pay for this.
16. The Spin Magazine playlist
You could call up this number and pay to listen over the phone to a playlist of the music reviewed in that month’s issue.
17. Video Game hints
Video game hints were a huge market for 1-900 numbers. Nintendo, Konami, Sega, and all the popular video game makers of the ’80s had paid tip lines.
18. A “Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey” game
It’s unclear exactly what this game was, but it seems to be a trivia game where you could win prizes for correct answers. A truly bizarre movie marketing tie-in.
19. Kiss’s hotline
This one isn’t surprising, since we all know Kiss will do anything for money.
20. The Crying hotline
The weirdest of them all. A number you can call that will make you cry? “What makes people all over America break down and cry like this?” For $2/minute you can find out. Probably you look at your phone bill after calling this.
21. Freddy Krueger’s phone line
The Call Freddy! line advertises “Freddy’s favorite bedtime stories… [laughter]….deadtime stories.”
22. Creep phone
With the creep phone, you can even leave your own scary message recording that will be played for others. Crowdsourcing your creeps.
23. Santa’s hotline
Like the He-Man hotline, this was very clearly targeted at small children. They called it “Santa’s special phone,” where kids could tell Santa their toy wishlist and get a special message from Santa.
24. Rappin’ Santa
This time Santa’s rapping.
25. G.L.O.W. (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling)’s hotline
Keep up with your favorite female wrestlers.
26. “Little Monsters” promotional contest hotline
This was a sweepstakes hotlines to promote the Fred Savage movie Little Monsters (which is awesome). The rap in the ad is absolute ’80s perfection.
27. MC Hammer’s fan hotline
If only he got more calls, he might have not gone broke.
28. L.A. nightclub guide hotline
The “party tracker” line would recommend nightclubs in the Los Angeles area for you based on what kind of club you were looking for. Why they used such a nerdy pitchman for this proto-Yelp, I have no idea.
29. Jose Canseco’s hotline
According to a 1990 article in the L.A. Times, Jose had his own 1-900 line, hosted by the same company, Audio Communications, Inc, which hosted many of the other celebrity fan lines.
A clip of the ad exists within an old sports news show - at the 0:54 mark of this video you can see the ad where Jose promises, “if you want to know if I do steroids, how fast I drive, or why I was carrying that gun, call 1-900-234-JOSE.”
30. U.F.O. hotline
For information about U.F.O.s, “we warn you – this may be the most shocking phone call you’ll ever make!”