Bill Bellamy Invented the Phrase 'Booty Call' in the '90s — and Now He Regrets Not Trademarking It

“I probably right now would be on a spaceship if I trademarked it,” the comedian said on the PEOPLE in the '90s podcast 

Bill Bellamy
Photo: Phillip Faraone/WireImage

Bill Bellamy has one major regret from the '90s — and it has to do with a booty call.

The comedian, 56, is credited with inventing the term "booty call" when he was on HBO's Def Comedy Jam. He discussed the iconic phrase during an appearance on this week's episode of PEOPLE in the '90s, telling co-hosts Andrea Lavinthal and Jason Sheeler that he now wishes he had trademarked it.

"At the time I wasn't thinking of it like that," said Bellamy. "I was just thinking of my joke. I didn't realize the phrase would catch on to become, like you said, a normal word that people know what it is now. Booty call was just a clever way to say you're trying to get a girl to come by."

He continued, "But who knew that everybody was going to lock in on it? I probably right now would be on a spaceship if I trademarked it."

"I mean, I'd be out there with Elon Musk somewhere," Bellamy joked.

Earlier in the episode, he explained why he thought the phrase caught on so well.

"The reason why that blew up, I think, in my opinion, was one, the joke was really, really funny, but the phrase was so easy," he said. "When I was doing it in the clubs, people started smiling, because they were like, 'That's what it is!'"

Bellamy also noted that making a "booty call" back then meant you actually had to dial the phone, something that has changed in the era of dating apps.

"Now they got Tinder, they're cheating. But back in the day you had to really make the call," he said. "Now you can swipe left, swipe right."

"We had to get the number," he added. "Now you just see a picture and you swipe."

Bill Bellamy
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Def Comedy Jam, produced by Russell Simmons, ran on HBO from 1992 through 1997. On PEOPLE in the '90s, Bellamy reflected on the show's significance and legacy.

"I knew it was going to be huge," he said. "The buzz about it, what it was doing for the culture of Black comedians at that time. HBO was really pushing the envelope. It was the place to be. HBO was like Netflix is today, right? So, for a comedian to be on HBO, you were going to be seen by millions."

He continued, "That's what was so bomb about it, and for all of the comics at that time, if you got on there, that meant you were top pick in the country, right? It's big. If you went on it and you killed it, it's lights out. That's why it was so important. You had like, eight minutes to do everything you could to be the funniest comedian ever, right? And so when I got on there, and I was literally the first comic on the first show, so they used my set as the promo for the show. It was crazy."

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Bellamy said he and his fellow stars who were featured on the show ended up being "the voices of the culture."

"When you go back and you watch those sets of all the comedians, guys and girls, we really, really were like the voices of the culture," he said. "We were topical. We were talking about subject matters that were really, really in the news and made it funny. And that's what was the beauty of being a really great comic is we take the scope or the lens of the world and we bring it to the stage and we make it funny from our perspective, right? And that was a place where you could do whatever subject."

Listen to PEOPLE in the '90s on iHeartMedia, Apple podcasts, Amazon Music, or wherever you listen to your podcasts. New episodes drop Thursday mornings.

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