Talking to Strangers
Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.
What do you do for a living?
I'm in art school. I do production design, light design, sound design, and I'm also a musician and a performance artist. And I'm a personal-care assistant for a woman who had a stroke.
Have any of your jobs brought you any dates?
None. I haven't had sex in a long time. I haven't gone on a date in a long time.
I guess I've just been in this single Zen place.
Where are you from?
I live on Mission Hill. But before Boston I lived in Georgia for ten years and in Utah for eight.
Are your parents Mormon?
No! I'm gay so that doesn't work.
It's been known to happen anyway. How is the gay scene here, compared to Georgia and Utah?
Well, I wasn't out in Utah, because I was eight years old. But I dunno — it's never presented an issue for me anywhere.
How would you generalize about the men in Boston?
They're all assholes [laughs]. No, I'm just picky.
What turns you off?
Texting. Phone calls. Cute things in general. Mix tapes with love songs on them. That was a previous bad experience — boyfriend number one.
Which of those things did he do?
Cute things... and lying and cheating.
Do you think a lot of people lie and cheat?
Probably. There are white lies and then there are other lies.
Has anyone ever done anything to turn you off in bed?
I don't think so. I'm pretty open. Some guy was biting me was and I was like, "Okay... " I did have a vomit situation once. I was getting a blowjob, and then things went awry, and suddenly there was vomiting out the car door.
What's the most unusual place you've had sex?
In a bed with a hitchhiker in it. Who was totally asleep. In a hotel. The sex eventually moved to the bathroom cause it was getting loud, but I don't think the hitchhiker even would have known what was going on if he had woken up. He didn't know we were gay, so he didn't see the potential of that happening at all.
Do you believe in love at first sight?
Potentially. I'm agnostic about that. It's possible, but who is there to test it out on?
What's one thing you would change about men in Boston?
I would tell them not to go to gay clubs. Just go to clubs. Why should the gay scene be so segregated? In Atlanta it's kind of open, but there's still, like, a gay area. What I like in Boston is that there's no particularly gay area. Jamaica Plain kind of is, I guess, but it's still not Gay Central.
Do you have any last story or confession to tell?
Should I tell the Toothpaste Hair story? I'll tell the Toothpaste Hair story. There was a guy. I call him Toothpaste Hair. He had a ridiculous morning ritual. First, he would spray the apartment with everyone cologne he had, even stuff like Axe. Then he would make drinks — he was a total alcoholic. Really full of himself, too. But then, he would spray cheap white hairspray, like from the Halloween store, all over his hair. And he would press his hair against his head into a helmet shape and tie it down with a ribbon or a piece of plastic until it hardened. If we left the house, he might take the ribbon off, but if we stayed in, he would just keep it on all day. I don't give a shit what you do to your hair — I mean, look at mine — but after three or four days I was like, this kid's really a weirdo. And I thought, maybe I can still milk it for more sex? But whenever we had sex he would just say he was sorry — like he would apologize for wanting to be sexual. I was like, "What are you sorry about? I don't get it."
What do you do?
I'm a union film laborer. IATSE 481.
Does the job get you dates?
Actually, film production is slow until April, so I just came back from spending the winter in Burma as a monk.
Did you take vows and everything?
Yeah — I couldn't eat past noon, no sex, drugs, or alcohol. And I had to wear robes with no underwear.
So how did you meet the last person you went out with?
I go to the same bar again and again. Zuzu, in Cambridge.
Have you ever had sex in Boston proper?
Greater Boston. On top of Blue Hills — one of them, anyway — and also in Walden Pond.
Make a sweeping generalization about the women in Boston.
Boston has so many schools that it brings in a lot of culture.
What do you mean culture?
Like random, new-agey, weird shit.
If you could change one thing about the opposite sex, what would it be?
Taking a little more charge maybe?
Are you usually the one to take charge?
Unless I'm stupidly infatuated with the girl giving me her number, I try to read signals.
Have you ever tried dating services?
Never successfully. I usually say something to thin the chance of things working out. Like, once I went to a vegan dating site. I intimated I was a stoner vegetarian and that was the end of it.
What do you do for a living?
I'm a nanny and certified preschool teacher in a private day-care program.
Has the job gotten you any dates?
Yeah, I think it might have sealed the deal for some people. Sometimes people have a type... such as a teacher.
So your job plays out in your sex life?
Yes, I think that being a professional reprimander comes into play.
Do you like being a top?
Yes, I do. It comes naturally.
And a bottom?
Have you thought about working as a dominatrix?
I've been a dom, but I don't think I'd actually do it professionally.
How long have you been in Boston?
I first moved here seven years ago. I moved back to Durham, North Carolina, where I'm from, for a few years, and then moved back here.
Is the dating scene in Boston different from the one in Durham?
Yeah. In North Carolina the boys I was compatible with were few and far between. It was mostly girls. But here there are a lot of both. I fit in better with the dating pool here. But Boston is conservative — it shuts down early, there are hardly any clubs left, and there are more explicitly "gay nights" than in the South. There's also a weird prejudice against bisexual people here — like people don't think bi people exist.
What's the most interesting place you've had sex in Boston?
My ex's roommate's bed. Using the roommate's ties.