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White Pages Typecast Poet, Prophet, Jazz Lover : Advertising: Designer listings in phone book can include descriptions, bold face, italic, or other typographical devices.


NEW ORLEANS — You're flipping through the White Pages for a friend's phone number when a bold-faced listing jumps out at you: "Tierney, Claudia Hebert. Free-lance Writer. Personal Poet."

Lower down the page is "S. Tilloston, Music Madonna & Bob Barker Fan." Riffle back through the alphabet and you'll find "Isaac Morgan, God's Prophet."

Each paid at least $36 a year for what South Central Bell calls designer listings, available in 18 states.

The extra charge was more than worth it for trucker Edward W. Carr IV. Not that he got many sales as "Carr, E. W., Clock Maker and Wood Crafter."

It's all the calls that don't come in that make it worthwhile.

Carr kept his number unlisted for years to avoid calls meant for his father, who had retired after 50 years fixing heaters and air conditioners. The extra line would make it clear who he wasn't, a saleswoman suggested.

It worked: "We don't get all those weird phone calls at 2 o'clock in the morning: 'Come fix my heater! It's cold!' "

Not every designer listing includes a description, but most do. Extra lines account for 60% of total sales, said Mary Brooks of Birmingham, Ala., South Central Bell's product manager for the listings.

They aren't the only way to stand out: Bold or italic type is $24 annually, and bold type set off by lines above and below is $36.

Designer listings are available in all five South Central Bell states and 13 of the 14 states with phone service from Pacific Bell, Southwestern Bell, Ameritech and Southern Bell. North Carolina regulators haven't yet approved them.

Pacific Bell, which covers all of California, charges $6 for each extra line in a residential listing, and plans market research next year for fancy typography, product manager Brenda Flood said.

The extra lines have been available for at least a decade, and about 35% of all residential listings include them, she estimated.

The New Orleans directory, a test market in 1992, has by far the largest number of such listings for South Central Bell. The 1993-94 directories were the first time fancy fonts were offered across the system.

Bell won't say how many are sold, but the numbers are going up steadily, Brooks said. "People see them and want them," she said.

Most use the phone directory almost as a business card: Attorney at Law. Insurance Agent. Realtor. Photographer. Ladies' Formal Wear Designer. Wall Cover Installer.

"Marie E. Spicuzza, Tupperware Consultant," hasn't made any sales from her listing, but figures $5 a month is worth it. "I'm optimistic. It'll work out. Why not?" she said.

(Apparently never one to waste an opportunity, as the interview wound up, she asked, "Have you ever hosted a Tupperware party?")

"Guy Lillian, Attorney at Law," never expected his $60 a year to bring in business. That comes from word of mouth and the Yellow Pages.

"It's a little ego thing where you can mark yourself and differentiate yourself from the mass on the page," Lillian said. "You're no longer just a little line in the huge gray expanse of the phone book page. Now, you're a bold streak in the huge gray expanse of the phone book page."

People hoping for serious business were disappointed. "Norman L. Carter Sr., VCR Repairman," and "Cliff Kloesel, Coin Operated Scale Man," plan to appear in the future under their names only.

But Tim and Janet (Jaimie) Causey of Marrero are enthusiastically planning for another year as "Causey, T&J, Puppet Ministry Performers."

Janet Causey estimated that they've received 50 calls and landed 15 to 20 jobs for their Sonshine Express Puppet Ministry, including regular work with a local hospital for troubled adolescents.

They and about 30 children--five of them their own--give original shows designed to promote self-esteem and a willingness to listen to authority rather than submit to peer pressure. The group accepts donations, but does not charge for the shows, Janet Causey said.

"It's actually developed to the point of where it's taking over a lot of our lives. I'd say a lot of it was from the piece in the telephone book," she said.

Some people, such as "Jazz Lover Marshall G. Henderson Sr.," just want a self-expressive riff.

Oh, yes. Callers in search of a Personal Poet don't even get an answering machine, "Music Madonna & Bob Barker Fan's" number has been disconnected, and a call to "God's Prophet" was not returned.

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