Virginia state employes made about 2,500 phone calls in March to a New York number with a sexually explicit message, officials said yesterday.

George Hall, director of the Department of Telecommunications, doesn't know what they got out of it, but he does know the state got an extra $1,000 on its phone bill.

"It's illegal to use state phones for personal business," Hall said, although he acknowledged calling your mother would not raise the same eyebrows.

"There's an element of levity," Hall said, "but it's a serious matter. I don't want to see it brought to the level of levity."

The employes were calling High Society Magazine's "Living Centerfold Telephone Service" over the state's Wide Area Telephone Service (WATS) line.

A routine review of long-distance telephone calls showed the same number appearing again and again, Hall said, adding: "A colleague of mine called it. He said the message was of no great literary quality."

Hall said the heads of the agencies and institutions will be given the phone numbers at which the calls originated and asked to determine if disciplinary action is warranted.

Hall supplied a list that showed the number had been called from phones in 88 of the state's 200 agencies.