A Fan's Phone Service Helps Tramps Keep Tabs On The Boss

Posted: June 07, 1986

NEW YORK — Bruce Springsteen rented The Killing Fields at a video store. He and his wife, Julianne, had dinner recently in Santa Monica, Calif., with Bob Seger. Rumor has it that he just bought a $975,000 Manhattan townhouse.

You mean to say you made it through your day without knowing this? Well, you don't have to anymore. Just call the Bruce Party Line - a 30-minute tape- recorded phone message of news, gossip and fans talking about The Boss. (That's probably about 28 minutes more than the publicity-shy rocker would be willing to spend talking about himself.)

The line is the brainchild of Springsteen fanatic Bert Epstein of Beverly

Hills. He began the line in Los Angeles in November 1984, when Springsteen concert tickets were selling fast. In April, he established a line in New York at 212-989-2233.

While Epstein, 22, concedes that it's a "money-draining" venture - he foots the monthly phone bills and other costs - the line has turned out to be a hit. Between 100 and 200 Bruce Tramps - as devoted fans have tabbed themselves - phone weekly.

"Is there going to be a live album? A show? A tour? Everyone wants to know what's going to happen," Epstein says.

Fans across the country supply the gossip and news. Mostly, though, fans use the line to buy, sell or barter Springsteen albums, videos and memorabilia. They've formed a countrywide fraternity by leaving messages at the end of the tape, which run on future segments.

"I stay up until 3 or 4 a.m. on Sunday (when the weekly tape changes) to get through," says Betsy Marker, 17.

"I keep hoping some little bit about his personal life would get out on the line," says Carol Bjorkman, who calls it weekly from Chicago.

As usual, Springsteen's not volunteering any information.

Epstein is, though. The latest: It's confirmed that Bruce was in a Los Angeles recording studio for two weeks, working on new material. What will it sound like? Stay tuned, says Epstein.

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