The Apology Line

A man calls a phone number in Manhattan. 

His name is Johnny. And he has a confession. 

The phone line connects him to Mr Apology. A man whose real name is Allan Bridge, an artist performing a long-form social experiment. 

There are posters up all around New York City, inviting “amateurs, professionals, criminals…” who have “wronged people.”

It continues: “It is to people that you must apologise, not to the state, not to God, get your misdeeds off your chest.” The instructions read, “describe in detail what you have done and how you feel about it.”

The messages were to be recorded, and at some point, played for the public. 

Johnny’s voice bellowed down the receiver. 

He spread AIDS to both genders, he confessed. 

It was the 1980s - and the AIDS crisis was rapidly accelerating. It seemed Johnny had no desire to change.

Johnny’s voice was among thousands and thousands who would call the hotline over fifteen years. 

Some were ordinary civilians. Some were criminals. Their confessions were shocking. And the project itself would take its toll on Mr Apology. 



Guest: Marissa Bridge, host of 'The Apology Line' podcast

Host: Jessie Stephens

Audio Producer: Ian Camilleri

Producer: Gia Moylan



Tell us what you think of the show via email at [email protected]  

Join our closed Facebook community to discuss this episode. Just search True Crime Conversations on Facebook or follow this link 

If any of the contents in this episode have caused distress, know that there is help available via Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636

See for privacy information.

Mamamia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the Land we have recorded this podcast on, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.

See for privacy information.