Talking to Strangers

Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.

Jane, 26

What do you do for a living?
I'm a poet and performance artist.

Have you ever done any performance art about sex?
No, but I have done performance art about boundaries and longing.

Where are you from?
I'm from Boston via New York.

What brings you to Berlin?
I'm visiting friends here because I lived here for two years.

Have you had time to have sex with anyone in the last two weeks you've been visiting Berlin?
I have. I've been having an affair with a beautiful person I met shortly before leaving Berlin the last time. He's in a monogamous relationship, but I think the monogamy point is under discussion. When we're making out, I can tell that he can feel when I pull my attention away from him — like if my mind wanders or I am the tiniest bit dissociated from what I am doing. And he stops. So it feels like for us to have any kind of sexual relationship at all, there has to be a great amount of attention to each other and a lot of physical and emotional awareness. It really challenges me to be awake when I'm having sex.

As opposed to falling asleep?
Ha, as opposed to falling asleep or just closing my eyes and just feeling all the physical sensation without thinking about who I'm really fucking.

Are you not into who you're fucking sometimes?
Yeah, I'm not always into who I'm fucking. Not really, deeply.

Has anyone ever offended you in the bedroom?
Yeah, it used to offend me when guys would jerk off in the bedroom, even in order to get hard before or after condom time. I was a prudish young woman. I'm totally okay with it now, and I really support men and women taking pleasure in their own bodies in the presence of other people.

Do you do that yourself?
No. But that's on the horizon.

Have you had any old or young lovers?
Weird you ask that, because I was just at a wedding and the half-brother of the bride was seventeen. We didn't have sex but we went out into the field of plum trees and made out. I had seen him the night before after the rehearsal dinner — we were dancing and I asked him how old he was and I thought, "Okay, well, that's out of the question." The next night we were put at the same table for dinner. His friend was there and my friend was there and both of our friends were talking about how we give great massages. And so we were talking about massages and healing and I stepped out to have a cigarette, and he followed me outside, and we were looking each other in the eye, and it felt sort of useless to go back inside and not look people in the eye, so we left. We could hear the disco music from all the way out in the fields. I felt strangely protective of him, felt weird that my mouth tasted like cigarettes, felt weird to think of how many people had touched my body and how few had touched his.

You're finally getting old enough to have an affair with someone ten years younger.
With someone who's still not legal.

It's probably legal in Europe.
Maybe. I still didn't let him put his hand down my pants, though he did leave a stain over the nipple of my silk dress from his spit. Did you know water stains silk? But I'd forgotten how young men have so much energy in their bodies. They're, like, wiry with sexual tension.


Anne, 24

What do you do for a living?
I work as an escort. But I'm a performer by profession.

Do you find more lovers through escort work or performance?
I find more lovers through being a performer. I never found a lover from my escort job — not a lasting one. I think all kinds of people are fascinated by performers, especially conservative people, or people who have a stable job in banking or business. They think it's exciting and special.

And are you attracted to conservative business people?
Depends. Yes and no. I mean they've got something going on in the way of money, and money attracts me. Being sophisticated and serious attracts me. But I'm not saying this is necessarily what you find in business people.

What are you most attracted to in a lover?
Being authentic, being smart, having a good sense of humor. And being a sexual person.

Do you date men or women or both?

Is dating men and women different?
Normally with women you have to play all kinds of little games. You have to make vegetarian sushi even if you're not a vegetarian. And we all have to be sensitive. It's a long project. Whereas with men, it's much easier to seduce them. Just yesterday I wrote a really naughty email to a spiritual master. And I met him in a course, I was listening to his talk but I didn't stay for the ritual afterward because I knew I would stay to impress him, to try to have sex with him at some point. And I'm like, I don't want to do that. So I just sent him a really straight email, asking him, "Do you want to meet for a sex date?" And he didn't answer yet. But I felt really naughty and inappropriate, approaching this spiritual person in this way — he's like a tantra-shaman-person. I felt like I don't want to play any games — I want to have sex. But I don't want to take his course; I don't want to take his workshop; I don't want to book him for a private session; I don't want to say I'm interested in his work. I want to say, "You're hot and I want to have sex with you." And that's what I wrote to him. And he can say yes or he can say no.

What's the craziest thing you've done to seduce someone?
I met an ex-lover of mine and we had dinner and said goodbye, and then I went after him and had to cycle through basically the whole town to get to his place because he was living on the other side of town. And in the middle of the night I rang his bell. But I didn't call him or say I would come — I just showed up. And he was already in bed, and it was really funny because he was with a woman in bed. At this time she was his assistant at work, they weren't yet a couple, but we had sex in his living room while she was sleeping in the bedroom. This was crazy for me because I wasn't sure if he would say I couldn't come in, and I was really scared. I was just like, "So... here I am." I think it was a brave thing to do, I was really proud of myself.

How did you break up with someone the last time you did it?
I have two different ways to do it. I have the nice way, where I try to be really honest to say to the person, "That's it." Or I'm just really exploding and bombing everything — I'm being really mean, really insulting. And I know this is the thing that will hurt them so much, and it gives me a lot of satisfaction. Because I know after doing this kind of thing there's no way back and it's really over. But this is what I do when I'm feeling really hurt — it's what I do when I'm done hurting myself, making myself into a person I'm not in order to keep my lover around. At a certain point I can't handle it and I dump this person. I show them my most disgusting, meanest side ever, the side I've been repressing the whole time to make them love me.


Les Margaux, 33

What do you do for a living?
Good question. I publish a pop-feminist magazine and I live from the ads in the magazine here in Berlin. And I perform.

Have you gotten any dates from this kind of work?
Actually, it's a pretty good job for dates.

Where are you from?
I'm from Greece.

Is dating in Berlin different from dating in Greece?
In Greece, actually, you can date people more easily, because everyone is flirting all the time. It's more difficult in Berlin. But in Berlin you have special spaces and events where it is even easier to meet someone. You can go and very quickly get a date.

So it's like the primary culture is really reserved and then you have special spaces that are not reserved at all?
Exactly, this is it. It would be better if sexuality were more integrated in everyday life because I don't always have time to go to these spaces. So I use the parties and then I have to wait for another month or something.

Have you ever hit on anyone outside the parties?
Yeah, I did it all the time in summer but I wasn't successful at all.

Do you date men or women? Men and women?
I have dated both genders. Actually I can date both but I prefer women.

Do you look for something different in women than in men?
Very difficult question. Sexually I'm more attracted to women but I can have relationships with men more easily. It's probably all because of patriarchy. I'm probably just not emancipated enough. [laughs] But I'm working on it.

What's the craziest thing you've done to get laid?
Once I was at a party and I thought I would do something besides simply staring at people. I thought, if you close your eyes and you touch someone, you have a completely different feeling of the other person. It's a whole new intimate thing. So I picked a person, and then I walked over to them with eyes shut and started to touch them. This worked good with the first two persons, but then the last one, I had a problem, because the person had a girlfriend, but I couldn't see the girlfriend with my eyes closed, and she got very angry. So you can also get in trouble with this tactic.

Commentarium (38 Comments)

Sep 16 10 - 12:40am

Wow, Les Margaux is the sexiest person I've seen in a while! Good to see some queer (sexy!) women...

Sep 16 10 - 12:56am

Les Margaux has a pretty sweet mullet.

Sep 16 10 - 3:19am

I think less of anyone who calls themselves a performance artist. It has to be the most lazy, pretentious form of art. Yves Klein was cool though.

Sep 16 10 - 5:58am

Anne is evil. Like, really evil. Even her sweater is evil. I'm going to have nightmares.

Sep 16 10 - 7:00am

Anne is a very charming sociopath indeed. Most of the time people who are that broken are actually pretty nonfunctional but she seems to have really found an environment. Yikes.

Sep 16 10 - 8:18am

Lora is so cute! Those glasses... that hair... adorable.

Sep 16 10 - 8:28am

I have to ask, and I apologize in advance, but I am really having trouble figuring out if Drea is male or female? It doesn't matter in regards to the questions posed to him/her but it's gonna drive me nuts if I don't find out.

Sep 16 10 - 9:26am

Does anyone have a real job in Europe?

Sep 16 10 - 9:45am

I do, as do most people here. Nerve just tends to ask questions of the "artsy" types.

Sep 16 10 - 10:06am

Anne doesn't seem like a sociopath to me. She just seems like a 24-year old who's unusually self-aware/honest. As far as the evil shit she's talking about in the last question, people (especially young people) do that to each other all the time. (Why, someone just did the same to me... and she was old enough to know better.) It doesn't sound like she's proud of herself.

Sep 16 10 - 11:04am

This is the best TTS in a long time. Odd but fascinating people. I need to book a trip to Europe..

Sep 16 10 - 11:15am
mr. man

Anne will burn you down. anyone who aspires to be 'serious' is on the pretentious train

Sep 16 10 - 2:11pm

Anne ain't right

Sep 16 10 - 2:28pm
Grady LaLa

I think Anne is full of shit. She puts up a tough front but it sounds like superficial machisma.

Sep 16 10 - 2:41pm

Excellent TTS! Good to hear from people with some semblance of insight about themselves. Loved Anakin's breastmilk/diaper story…I'd NEVER hear that one in Boston.

Sep 16 10 - 3:12pm

Remember: Anne is a prostitute. Sorry, but it's pretty par-for-the-course to be broken and nutty and also be a prostitute. "escort" is just a nice way of saying it.

Sep 16 10 - 5:39pm

Anne is awesome. Her sweater really is pretty ugly though.

Sep 16 10 - 6:24pm

Where do you find Thera freakish women pop feminist magazine .... I'd run a mile rather tthen fuck her.

Sep 16 10 - 6:44pm

I'm having an affair with someone who is a monogamous relationship." Jane strikes me as a self-important, no talent fool. I'm a performance artist also. And, I am also working on a screenplay.

Sep 17 10 - 12:09am
oh piffle

i think jane's cute. maybe slightly grandiose, but very cute.

Sep 17 10 - 12:45am

These are some of the worst people you've had in a while, Nerve. Just terrible, pretentious shits.

Sep 17 10 - 9:55am
G Unit

Wow. That's the most pathetic bunch yet.

Sep 17 10 - 11:15am

This was a great edition.

Also, @kas, complaining that the artists who Nerve found in Europe are "pretentious shits" is like complaining that water is wet.

Sep 17 10 - 11:40am

next TTS: wallstreet edition.

Sep 17 10 - 3:15pm
Cyril Figgert

Anne is an escort, but we can call her a hooker if she dies, right?

Sep 17 10 - 7:02pm

These people must be a group of friends because they are so similar. The answers are actually exhausting. They are overly self aware to the point of extreme narcissism. They intellectualize everything to be smart and different but emotion seems sucked away. Makes for a fun read though.

Sep 17 10 - 8:02pm

Ugly euros! I'm also in favor of a TTS Wall Street. That would be cool.

Sep 17 10 - 8:03pm

Ugly euros! I'm also in favor of a TTS Wall Street. That would be cool.

Sep 17 10 - 11:39pm

Ugh, yuck! All of them!

Sep 18 10 - 7:22am

Anne is horrible!! What a terrible person D:
I quite fancy Drea even if I'm not entirely sure of their gender :)

Sep 18 10 - 10:35am

"Does anyone have a real job in Europe?"

In Berlin where this Pop Vox was taken the answer is no. and those that do have jobs get 30 yes 30 days holidays a year.

These first 3 flakes especially Anne are the worse 3 people you have found in a long time. oh my god if I met Les Margaux,at a party i'd run a pop-feminist magazine I'd run away. Did you notice how badly they are all dressed. The last 3 no comment.

Sep 18 10 - 3:20pm

Wow, so much judgment in these comments! I wish the commenters making these negative remarks would start to explore their own flaws instead of criticizing those who are brave enough to investigate and articulate their own worst issues (which we all have our own versions of, by the way).

Sep 18 10 - 6:51pm

yeah, because basically we're not much different from the sociopathic hooker with the fugly sweater.

Sep 19 10 - 10:02pm

omg, too funny! *wipes tears from eyes*

Sep 21 10 - 9:05pm

So, where's the over 50?

Sep 25 10 - 2:52am

To be fair, Anne is terrifying but not because she is an escort, because she will rip your eyes out.

Sep 27 10 - 6:58am

[...] "I find more lovers through being a performer. I never found a lover from my escort job - not a lasting one." [...]

Nov 08 10 - 8:57am

I think Les says it best, "This worked good with the first two persons, but then the last one, I had a problem, because the person had a girlfriend, but I couldn't see the girlfriend with my eyes closed, and she got very angry." I actually knew "Jane" for a long time. She's the same person credited for this piece, which just goes to show how narcissistic she really was. Its nice to see the commentators not falling for her shtick. She was actually quite lonely despite all the people she went to bed with, presumably because when you're that self-obsessed you're always the only person in the room. She was always hiding behind political categories to vindicate her shitty treatment of others, and her lack of respect for them and their relationships. Their pain was always dismissed as a consequence of their unenlightenment. She was ultimately a soft spoken bully and very much the former prude acting out. @amazed-who exactly is investigating their dark sides here? Just sounds like apologetics to me.