But after we posted it, I decided to do a little interweb searching and found David Witz, AKA Arthur Ether on Twitter. After doing a little freaking out, I decided to hop on the Offbeat Tracks Twitter account (you should follow us, by the way) and tell him we were huge fans and send him the episode. Not only did he totally listen to it, he loved it AND he emailed us some super cool info about how File 13 came to be and how it ended. Here's what he wrote to us:
"Hey, Max & Danielle! Just heard your Taste So Good episode! Here’s a little more background.
Phone sex lines made their debut in NYC in 1984. They were recorded messages, not interactive with live operators as they are today. I was a radio advertising producer at CBS Records at the time, and Doug was an audio engineer at Clack Studios, where I made most of my commercials. We became fast friends when I did my first session with him in 1979.
One day, a voice actor I worked with came to the session with a flyer he tore off a 6th Avenue lamppost advertising phone sex. We called the number, laughed our heads off, and recorded a bunch of the messages off the phone line. We cut the voices up, sprinkled them over a drum track Doug came up with, and there we were. Profile Records signed us and sent us to Quadrasonic Studios to make a real record from the rough cassette we played for them. My cousin Dan Witz, now known for “Birds of New York” and other street art projects, added some ominous synth. (danwitz.com)
I suggested the name File 13 because it sounded dark and secretive. I had worked at the Chicago Daily News before coming to New York, and “file 13” was newsroom slang for trash, as Danielle said (“File 13 that story”).
We thought it was a one-off, and the followup Party Line was strictly a contract fulfiller. Doug wasn’t interested, so I did that one with Warren Schatz, who had an album out on Columbia. The record immediately rolled over in the weeds and died.
That’s my voice as the caller, and the final “terrific” got sampled on a bunch of other records.
Finally, I made up the name Arthur Ether because I figured no one born in New York City would be able to pronounce it.
Thanks for making my day!
HE SIGNED IT AS ETHER--NO BIG DEAL.
So anyway, Max and I have been freaking out all day about it. How nice is David Witz? How cool is David Witz? We know the answer: the nicest and the coolest. You made our day.