Love & Sex

Talking to Strangers: Los Angeles, CA

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Talking to Strangers: Los Angeles, CA

Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.

Titi, 30

What do you do for a living?
I am a new mother and an interior designer.

Are you married?

How long ago did you meet your husband?
I've been married to my husband for four years, but before that we were dating for almost ten.

Wow. Did you ever date anyone else?
My husband and I, back when we were younger we did a lot of partying together and a lot of not so good things. So there was a quick instance when he moved away so he could clean up his act. That was the only time we had any distance.

Are you from around here?
Yep, grew up here.

What did you think of the dating scene here?
The dating scene is L.A. is like one great big makeout session. The guys want to hook up with as many girls as they can. But as far as dating in adulthood, it's more of a fantasy. I've never really had a one-night-stand thing, 'cause I was always with my husband. But I'd like to think that if I were single and had a one-night stand, it would be something super-sultry, where we'd just meet at a bar and it would be hot and sexy and we'd bang all night, and he could leave in the morning.

"I'm not making eggs, so — "
I'd let him have a cup of coffee and I'd be in a kimono robe —

You have it all planned out!
I'd have this open-area apartment, I'd be in my kimono robe, I'd make him coffee, and then he'd drive off to his office on his Harley. Or a red vintage Porsche.

I really want to have a one-night stand where the guy's at my place, and as he's leaving in the morning I'm like, "Your money's on the dresser."
Oh yeah! That's good. If I wasn't married I'd be a relationship whore. My husband and I tried the open-relationship thing that brief time we were apart. He's much more the sensuous, sensitive one, and I'm much more analytical. I confronted him — I asked him if we could have things open-ended. He could do what he was going to do while up in Idaho, and I could do what I was going to do down here. He said no because he thought it would open up Pandora's Box.

What is it about your husband that you love?
That we are friends. Communication is key. Sense of humor is key. In high school I just wanted someone to make out with and party with, and that totally changed over time. When I first met my husband, he was a conservative guy with conservative values. He was a Republican and I was the total opposite, a Democrat and very liberal. If I had met him in adulthood like that, we probably wouldn't have even hooked up.

Is he still a Republican?
No. It was a slow process. I took him to a couple of Barbara Boxer GOTV parties, and when I found out he voted Republican, I socked him in the head. It took him awhile but now he definitely has his own opinion, which I love.

In 2000, I was dating this kid who was really dumb — great body, cute, but really dumb — and then I found out he voted for Bush and I never spoke to him again.
Check, please!

I feel kind of bad. He probably had no idea why I stopped returning his calls.
I would have done the same thing.

Do you and your husband have flirting rules?
We have flirting rules. I think a little flirting keeps the relationship healthy. When you flirt a little bit with a guy and get a little flirting back, it makes you feel good about yourself, confident. It's playful though — they have to know nothing's actually going to happen.

What's the most daring or unusual place you've had sex?
We're pretty adventurous. We have sex outdoors a lot. Anytime we go on separate vacations, we always do it in the parking lot at LAX whenever we pick each other up.

Yeah, it's like our tradition.

How sweet.
We try to have sex any chance we get outside. I've had sex out in the snow before.

Really? You had to take all those clothes off first?
It was cold. I was naked except for snow boots.


Bilal, 29

What do you do for a living?
I'm an actor, so of course that means I work in a restaurant.

Where are you from?
Tucson, Arizona.

Make a sweeping generalization about the women here.
They are not talking to me. No, no, no, we're gonna change that! They don't see the inherent value I possess.

So, they're stuck-up?
No, they're just, uh… a bit… oblivious.

What do you look for in a girl?
I need at least one neurosis. I need them to have, like, one obsession.

How do you impress the ladies?
A Michael Caine impersonation.

Do it! Please?
No, I was lying. [laughs] I guess I lie to impress women. That lie was an illustration of my wit and intellect. So I like to impress them with my wit and intellect.

Do you have any good hook-up stories?
Yes, I do. This one time I hooked up with a girl I used to work with, and we were at her apartment, and we were both stone-drunk — like Mickey Rourke in Sin City stone-drunk, and we're fucking, and I let loose the biggest fart — 'cause, you know, she's on top of me, and she's riding me so she's pushing down on my stomach. It sounded like Wynton Marsalis just walked into the room, let loose a note on his trumpet, and then walked out. But the thing is, she was so drunk that she either played it off perfectly or she didn't even notice.

You know this is being published, right?
I don't give a shit! I've told that story to my mother.

Do you have any crazy exes?
There's one, yeah. I had been working at this restaurant for a number of years, and I was the kitchen manager. We hired her, and I was like, "Oh, that looks interesting," so we hung out a few times and we eventually ended up dating. She had a three- or four-year-old son at the time and was a recovering meth addict. Her husband at the time was still in jail for identity theft — tweakers are kind of drawn to that line of work, because it takes a lot of focus and time and effort to rifle through a dumpster to look for a credit-card slip from a Denny's or whatever. The residual effects of a hard-core meth addiction take awhile to get over.

Has anyone ever offended you in the bedroom or vice versa?
I'm relatively open-minded. I mean, yeah, I dated an ex-tweaker with a four-year-old son, so I think I'm inoffendable. I have such a high tolerance for people and their ways. We often trap ourselves by labeling things that we don't understand or that we're not adept at understanding. We label them as awkward or creepy or weird; we throw those terms around. And that just seems like an easy way out. Why not just try to understand what is different about this person? Yes, my threshold for tolerability is very high. You'd have to be a screaming, schizophrenic, homeless, sociopathic racist before I'd be like, "No."

They'd have to be hot though, right?
Um… the range of what I find attractive is very broad. So, no?

So do you have any dating dealbreakers?
Checking your fucking smartphone! Continuously! Fuck it. If you cannot engage in a conversation you are not worth a shit in my eyes. "Is there an app on your iPhone called eye contact? Fuck you!"


Gillian, 31

You're obviously from Ireland, but how long have you lived here?
Eleven years.

Your accent is still very strong.
Only because I've been drinking!

How is the dating scene here different from what you remember in Ireland?
Well, I came out here for my husband, but I gather people actually go out on dates here.

They don't just drink too much Guinness and hook up at the pub, you mean?
There you just meet someone and… whatever. People here actually ask you out on dates! They hook up here too, but there's more dating here I think.

What do you do for a living?
I'm a visual merchandiser.

Do a lot of people hit on you working in that field?
No, I only meet gay men. So if I were single I'd have zero chance of meeting anyone through work. My colleague is actually in that predicament. She's like, "How the fuck am I supposed to meet anyone when everyone is gay?"

What did you look for in a guy when you were dating?
My type is smart. I like 'em smart, funny, and skinny. I started dating my husband in probably 1999 or 2000, so my type was probably the Weezer nerd. The indie-rock nerd. Not too cool — I don't want them trying too hard. The collegiate type. My husband has turned into my grown-up version of that type, which is "professor cool." But smart has always been my type.

In the courtship phase of dating your husband, did you do anything in particular to impress him?
Name-dropping bands. When he'd go, "Did you hear about this band?" I'd be like, "Oh yeah!" I'd lie about the depth of my knowledge.

Has anyone ever offended you in the bedroom?
Not really. I think any guy that I've been with has just been really happy to be there.

What are things that you found off-putting while dating?
Rude people. So if you're out at a restaurant and they're rude to the waiter — gross. Somebody who's not humble, who brags too much. Name-dropping — I hate it! Especially out here in LA. I mean it's cool, if you have a real story…

I clogged Darth Vader's toilet. Hayden Christensen's, the actor who plays him in the prequels.
That's great. That's not, "I sold him a shirt at Anthropologie!"



Brass, 30

What do you do for a living?
I'm a professional musician and graphic designer and engineer.

You're a jack of all trades.
Semi, yes. I'm a jack of three trades.

What is the dating scene like here?
I don't know, because I've been married for four years!

What was it about your wife that you liked?
She's a musician as well. She's semi-athletic; she likes to hike with me.

We want specifics here.
Specifics like big boobs and a huge ass?

Yes, that's what I look for in a girl anyway.
[in macho voice] "Yes, that's what I look for a girl: big boobs and a huge ass." Oh wow, you're going to totally put that down, aren't you?

Absolutely. What did you do to impress the ladies when you were single?
You know what's funny? My wife was dating this guy who was super-Italian Italian…

What does that mean?
She's American-Hispanic and is a very independent woman, and he couldn't handle a girl who was independent. He was kind of belittling to her, and she came in one day and was having a bad day and I told her some jokes and made her laugh, and little by little we started talking and whatnot. She ended up breaking up with her boyfriend and we started dating after that.

So he was really macho, this ex of hers.
Yeah, he was a really nice guy to guys! He was cool — I knew the guy really well. But not to girls. To girls, he was kind of a dick.

Do you have any crazy exes?
I did have one. She was really, really crazy, and she dated a guy who had been in prison, and I had a party at my folks' house, and he showed up, and they screwed on my parents' bed, not only while we were dating but when I was out back with my buddies with everyone drinking and having a good time, and everyone knew about it except for me.

What's the most unusual place you've had sex?
On a beach in Puerto Rico in front of some people. They didn't care, so whatever. I wasn't really worried about them!

What's the craziest thing you ever did to get laid?
My friends and I broke into a Mexican restaurant and stole all their neon signs. I can't name the restaurant or where it was, but we stole their neon signs and put them up in our apartment. I totally got laid that night because of it. It was like ten signs too!

Do you believe in love at first sight?
I imagine it does happen. For me, I'm not a cautious person, but it's like trying out a car. You've got to test-drive it a few times to make sure it's the one!


Weejee, 37, and Jimmy, 33

What do you do for a living?
W: Advertising for movies.
J: I'm a prop guy for films and TV.

Make a sweeping generalization about the people here tonight.
W: They voted for Obama… if they voted.
J: I don't know… a bunch of good-looking hipsters.

What do you look for in a girl?
W: Moral flexibility. It's tough to achieve, but that's what I'm always looking for.
J: A nerdy self-deprecating kind of deal. A caustic self-awareness.

How do you impress the ladies?
W: A BMW. Yeah.

You drive one?
W: No, I steal them for them. That always impresses!
J: Yeah, he has a really sweet ride. I don't, so I cook for them.
W: He roasts a mean meat. I've suckled the products of his smoker so many times it's not even funny.
J: I have a smoker…
W: He takes his sauces seriously, which is rare.
J: My smoker and my sauces have gotten me laid on numerous occasions. Amazingly.

Do you have any good hook-up stories?
J: I used to live in Portland, Maine. I saw this girl. She took me up to this sculpture studio at the Maine College of Art. We ended up having sex on this big piece of leather. Anyway, she ended up stealing this big piece of leather and making it into a book. A few days after she had stolen it though, these signs went up all over the college that said, "I lost this huge piece of leather, or someone stole it, and it's really important because I need it for my huge senior project, if I don't find it I fail, so if anyone has any information…"

And you, Weejee?
W: I was living in a closet for awhile and my girlfriend actually came out to visit me. The best accommodations I could offer were of course, in my closet with me, and we ended up doing it on what turned out to be my roommate's beanbag chair in my closet. And then they threw away the beanbag, which I thought was unfair because actually we had just gotten out of the shower and it was clean post-shower sex. I didn't think the beanbag needed to be thrown away.

They obviously thought that you were filthy.
W: For which I was somewhat flattered. And I was not a young man at this point, either. I was pushing thirty, having sex on a beanbag in someone else's closet.

Has anyone ever offended you in the bedroom?
W: I remember living in an apartment that was in very close proximity to all my neighbors, and it was just a given that if anyone was having sex, we all heard each other. Everybody dealt with it. There was a girl I had been working on for awhile — it was like a solid month of foreplay leading up to when we actually finally had sex — so it was over fairly fast. A month of foreplay leads to fairly fast first-time sex. You know, that's going to happen.

Says you!
W: Well, the build-up in your mind, you know? Anyway, she actually uttered the words at a fairly high volume, "Wait, that was it?" And there was no doubt in my mind that at least two neighbors heard sex sounds really briefly followed by the phrase, "That was it?"

What's the craziest thing either of you have done to get laid?
W: I hired someone.

Like a prostitute?
W: Like an employee. I felt it was a really good step down that road. Now, she turned out to be a qualified employee, which was a bonus, but I took a gamble in a work setting by hiring her.
J: I guess it would be getting really really really really drunk and thinking, "Oh, if I'm really drunk, then they're drunk by proxy, and will sleep with me. They'll also be really really drunk."
W: By osmosis, right! If I stand next to them really hammered and horny, they will somehow become hammered and horny enough to sleep with me.
J: There have been multiple occasions of getting really drunk and ending up masturbating at the end of the night, alone.

What's the one thing you wish you could change about the opposite sex?
W: It really bugs me that they have an emotional range of about 355 degrees more than I do. I feel like we're playing on an uneven field or that it's an entirely different game. I don't begrudge the other sex that, but it's like they're playing a game with a million rules and I'm playing a game with just one rule, and they keep calling me for fouls.
J: That's a really good answer.

Do you believe in love at first sight?
W: I really like Dutch girls. They don't even have to be from Dutch-land. There's just something about women of Holland-ish descent — they could turn out to be assholes that I don't get along with, but there's this instant, like, "I really need to go talk to that person right now and I don't even know why." They've got the little button-noses and rosey cheeks. I don't know what the fuck it is, but there's clearly something genetic in my weird Scotch-Irish heritage — clearly my ancestors at some point maybe were conquered by some Dutch women and a natural affinity has passed down over the years, so I have an instant response to that type or whatever. I can't say it's "love" at first sight, but there's a specific instant chemical reaction for that type.

And you, sir?
J: Sometimes women aren't as openly pervy as guys. From the outset, a lot of women are like, "Ugh, that's gross!" But if some sort of weird pervy thing comes out from the outset —
W: On a first date: "I masturbate to lemur porn." You're going to respond to that on a certain basic biological level. Like, "Really? Do you?"
J: Yeah. And you think, "Wow, could I be into that? Oh yeah, as it turns out I can."


Brennan, 41

How long have you been married?
Almost nine years.

Is there anything you miss about dating?

Really? Nothing? What about the newness of the experience, the excitement?
It only gets better the more deeply you know someone. I mean when you're randomly dating, you don't really know the person, but I always find that attraction grows the more you learn about someone.

When you were dating were there any dealbreakers?
Oh, I once had a boyfriend who thought it would be funny to imitate everything I said. I was like, "Goodbye, you need to leave now, I'm never going to see you again," and he was like, "Goodbye, you need to leave now, I'm never going to see you again."

Were you dating a six-year old?
He was sixteen.

What do you look for in a guy?
An original mind. A sense of humor. Compassion. Integrity.

If they have all those other things, how good-looking do they have to be, on a scale of one to ten?
A seven.

Are you friends with most of your exes?
Yes. Sometimes querulous friends, but friends nonetheless. [Laughs] You find that they change outside of your influence, you know? They change in ways you wouldn't expect. Different things resonate years later.

Is there anything you specifically do to impress the gentlemen?
I'm just brashly honest. I don't know, I feel like if they can volley that…

Do you believe in love at first sight?
Definitely. I didn't believe in it until I experienced it.

You experienced it with your husband?
Yeah. I fantasized about calling him and singing him a song on his answering machine. I did end up calling him, but his then girlfriend answered! I asked for him, but I don't think she was too happy about it.

Did she just hang up on you?
She said, "Wendell doesn't live here anymore."

Look who got the last laugh, though! What's the most daring or interesting place you've had sex?
A pile of rocks. Yeah, I'll go with that. It seemed comfortable at the time.

Where was this?
Claremont. A friend of mine had a quarry in the backyard.

Interviews and photography by Amanda Cotylo. Want to talk to strangers in your town? Email