Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we've just met.
Are you from Los Angeles?
I'm originally from Houston, TX.
How's the dating life different between the two spots?
I wouldn't know, actually. I moved out here when I was sixteen, and I got in my first relationship at thirty-one.
Are you still in that relationship?
No, we actually ended that about eight months ago. We're still really good friends, but it's kind of over.
Why did it fall apart?
Oh, God. You know, it was kind of weird. I think it came down to — we love each other, and still do a lot. But it got to a point where we tried to change each other. I kept trying to push him into therapy, and then one day I was like, "Holy crap, I'm trying to change this person." And if you really love somebody, you don't try to change them. It sucked, but I figured the best way to love my ex-partner was through friendship. Unless some stuff changes, so I'm holding out for the future. But who knows?
What do you do for a living?
For a day job, until everything else takes off, I work in phone sales. I sit in an office and sell financial instruments over the phone. I'm a comedian and a songwriter, though. I'm funny, I swear.
Do you have a joke then?
Well, okay, but it's not very PG. The ex and I actually met doing comedy. We were both scared to talk to each other, so he threw out his whole set, and instead did a five-minute bit about dating black guys. He came home with me the night we met and didn't leave until fifteen months later, a few months after we broke up. One joke I have was that in this relationship, I'm the Jew and he's the black. Because I'm always like, "Baby, we can't afford it!" and he's the one with the big dick and the bad credit. That's actually his dad's favorite joke of mine, which is a little creepy, but awesome.
What gives you inspiration in your comedy?
Most of the comics who I really like say controversial things. There are some things that I want to say, and I think comedy gives me a vehicle to be able to do that in a way that's more palatable than to just say, "Hey, you fucking douchebag, blah blah blah." Excuse me for swearing.
When you do see someone you're interested in, do you make the first move?
I do a lot of smiling, a lot of eye contact, flirtation. And this is going to sound so horrible, but I do a lot of accidentally dropping things. You're probably thinking, "Oh my God, who is this dude?"
No way. Those are all good moves.
I think I was kind of saved in certain ways by dating sites. Those sites really helped me to meet people. When first meeting somebody, I used to be frustrated because, when I'd go out to, especially gay bars or meet somebody online, it was like, we have to go on an awesome date, or we have to hook up, or whatever. Then I ended up frustrated if my expectation wasn't met. It works out a lot better for me now, because I just meet people and see where it goes. And if there's no romance, no date, or no sex, then I met an interesting person. After I took that frame of mind, I met a lot of friends either in bars or online. Just a lot of people who I love to death now, who I was so attracted to at first. I think it's good training wheels for some people. If a person's shy, maybe it's good practice for initiating conversation.
How old are you?
I'm twenty-nine. I lie and say I'm twenty-five, but I'm really twenty-nine.
Why do you lie?
Because I don't want to be old.
Fair enough. What do you do for a living?
I'm a musician.
Does that get you laid?
Sometimes. It's about a 70% ratio I'd say.
What's a good story from that?
I don't really have a good story from that directly, but I'm always the chick in the room to pay attention to if I have a gig, so that works out to my benefit. Plus, guys like the really emotionally fucked-up, destroyed, artistic chick. So when they hear you're a musician, they're automatically into that.
Are you an emotionally fucked-up chick?
No, I'm not really emotionally fucked-up or destroyed. I just pretend.
What's the worst line someone's pulled on you?
Um… anyone who starts by talking about what they drive. That's a big negative. I don't want to hear about what you drive. It's probably a good indicator that I won't care about what else you have to say.
Even if it's an awesome car?
Yeah, screw that. That's lame. I'd rather have the cool dude with the beer than the douchebag with a cool car.
Are you from here originally?
No, I'm from Houston.
How is the dating scene different here?
Well, if you like rednecks and Republicans, it's great there. Otherwise, you should not live there.
Is that why you moved out here?
Not why, but it's definitely why I stay.
What's the craziest thing you've done to get with someone?
Can I plead the fifth on that one?
Um, the craziest thing…oh! I was dating this guy for a brief period once and we went to a happy-hour thing at his coworker's house. We hadn't seen each other in two weeks and were really pent-up, really horny. We wanted to take care of this. So I went to the bathroom, hid in the shower until he came in, and we messed around in the bathroom at his coworker's house. Class, class, class.
Do you have any crazy exes?
Yes! I currently have a restraining order against one. I changed my cell-phone number, at which point he stalked out my number and found it and called me anyway. And then, I stopped communicating, asked him to stop communicating with me. When I didn't answer the phone for three days straight, he showed up at my place of work. He didn't know where it was, so he had to have followed me there. Which is… exciting.
That's even more creepy.
Yeah. Cree-per. Don't date boys. Don't date boys. I'm over it.
That's your advice? So you're moving onto girls now?
No girls, either. I just don't date at all. I'm done. I'll date my guitar. Nothing else with a penis. Just casual sex — no more dating. I'm over it.
Outside of a guitar, do you have any fantasies?
None that I want to say, but I think everyone should do at least one thing that they wouldn't tell their mother about. Like, under no circumstance ever they would tell their mom.
Would you tell me?
No. You might tell my mom.
Nah, she won't know. Unless she reads this.
She might. She's a pretty hip lady.
What's your best story about the dating scene in L.A.?
To be honest, my personal favorite involves my friend more than me. We were out for St. Patrick's Day, and, I mean, it's St. Patrick's Day, so everyone's been drinking. And my friend has fairly long hair and likes to wear bandanas. So he's out wearing his bandana, and this guy, who's drunk out of his mind, comes up and just starts cussing him out for being a "crazy pirate traitor," among other things. Then he winds up and gives him a good punch right in the nuts. Complete stranger. Who does that? It's not like I'm sitting here talking to you being like "I want to punch this guy in the nuts."
I appreciate that.
Right. And then after that, he just starts whaling on himself. Like, I can't even describe it. He just unleashed with four or five punches to himself until he keeled over.
That's really weird.
Yeah, but then his girlfriend ran over and was all apologetic. You know, "I'm so sorry, are you okay," that sort of thing. And she offered to flash him.
Seems reasonable. Did he take her up on it?
No! I was about to kick him for it, but we saw her hook up with two other guys who weren't her boyfriend throughout the night. You don't want any part of that.
Do you think most women in L.A. are like that?
No, I don't think so. But there are some who seem to not pay too much attention to any sort of, you know, "boyfriend" tag. At least in my experience.
Even though your best experience actually happened to your friend.
No, no, that's not my best, it's just my favorite thing that's happened while we've been out at a bar. Most of what I remember from that night is the pain. That punch looked like it hurt.
So what's your best experience then?
I don't want to give too many of my secrets away, but I will say that the overseas market is a great place.
Well, you think a British or Australian accent or something like that is sexy here, right?
I think most people do, yeah.
Well, it's the same concept over there. The girls love the idea of an American guy with, you know, tons of money or whatever the case may be. There's an idea of power. Even if we don't have any money, pretending doesn't hurt. And to them we do have an accent. So it's a great place to have some fun. As far as a long-lasting relationship? I don't know. But to have fun? Yes, definitely recommend it.
Can you name a specific country you've tested this theory out in?
Nah, that would be giving too many secrets out. But try it out — it totally works!
What do you do for a living?
I am a security guard at a bar six nights a week. I coach football and track and field at a high school, and I sing, as well.
Do any of those get you dates or attention from women?
Um, no. I, for some reason, am a magnet for women who are looking to have some friends. I don't know what it is about me that every woman wants to be my fucking friend, but it's honestly annoying as fuck. But, I really don't have a chance to go out. I'm at the bar six nights a week, and even if there's a situation then, I'm at work.
Do you get any crazy lines from people trying to get in?
This girl told me one time that she had a fire in her vagina. She actually said "I have a fire in my pussy, and I want you to extinguish it." She was Persian, barely spoke English, and she used the word "extinguish," and added, "I want you to extinguish it with your mouth." Some girls say some really interesting things, but most of the time they're not into having me do something; they're just having fun. Since this is a karaoke bar, a lot of people come here who have significant others, or friends, or are married, or whatever. There really aren't that many problems, except for Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, when there are a lot of young folks in there.
I'm sure there are many stories from those nights.
You know what? I'm actually writing a book about dating and relationships. I have been for about three years now, and so I do get some ideas here. But how it honestly started, I worked at a high school for about four years, working with mentally handicapped students. I was a one-on-one assistant for them, and I went through all these classes with them. And I was coaching football and track and field at the time as well. And I would always get questions from both male and female students about things of a physical nature. I always made myself open and available to answer any questions for them, because sometimes not answering a question for them could lead them to doing some shit that's not right, just because they don't know. So, here's an example — one of the chapters of the book is about attitude. Cultures have different perceptions of reality, of their lifestyles and of love. I have a lot in my head, but that's one thing.
When can we expect to see the finished version?
Oh, not for a while. [laughs]
What's your best hookup story?
Well, I had a girlfriend who was bisexual, so she suggested the idea of a threesome. And it wasn't just one — we had a bunch of them, because she liked it.
Did you enjoy it?
I sure did. Personally, I enjoy making them enjoy everything. That's what I get out of the whole thing.
Was it the same girl every time?
Oh no. We mixed it up.
What's been a funny thing you've seen from being a security guard?
I see a lot of interesting things here. One of the things I've been observing lately is women's reactions to simple communication from the opposite sex. I stand outside, at the front door, and I glance down the street and see people coming. When they get close, I give them a look and say, "Hello, how are you doing?" or "Hi ladies, how's it going?" Sometimes they act like you didn't say anything, and look right at the ground. Sometimes people will greet you, because they're not uncomfortable. And sometimes people will look at you dead in the face and then keep walking, as if I'm speaking fucking Swahili. And some people just smile and nod their head and keep walking. They at least acknowledge that I'm breathing.
Do you believe there's a certain person or "the one" for everyone?
No, I don't. I'm trying to boil it down to like five or six or seven things that are necessary for a relationship to work. There's definitely communication, that's one thing. And you have to get used to not being by yourself with more consistency, and putting up with any bullshit that comes with that. I was joking the other day with a friend of mine that a relationship is like going down on a woman. You have to pay attention to her reactions and communication, whether you're having a conversation or going down on her. And if you do that, you can have success and a good relationship.
Are you from Los Angeles originally?
No, I was born in Westchester, PA.
So how's the dating scene out here? I saw you talking to a little filly a moment ago.
Haha, yeah, a filly. I've got plenty of fillies. Being an aerospace engineer, I don't have the most access to the dating scene, and I landlocked myself in Grenada Hills, which also doesn't help. But, yeah, I don't know.
How's tonight been?
Well, I picked a random girl who I thought was cute, and we conversed for a little while. Got her number, and a kiss — well, a peck on the cheek, so I guess a success. Positive results, at least.
Do you have any good hookup stories?
The most fun one was 2006. I was at a fraternity in Berkeley. I was in the fraternity. The night before we were doing car bombs, and there was this girl, Gigi. And she was kind of all over my friend, who, for some reason, was very loyal to his cheating, psycho, bipolar girlfriend at the time. So he keeps pushing her off and at some point she was just like "Okay, this isn't working, so I'm just going to jump on this guy," which is me. It turned out she was a Turkish stripper, and she was the greatest… at the time I was twenty-one, and she was six years older than me. That was the greatest age gap for me. We screwed like rabbits for like three hours. Then woke up the next morning and continued. She was really good. [laughs] I guess being a Turkish stripper will do that.
What were some of her moves?
She was very flexible. Flexible is a huge positive. Aggressive is a positive too. And Turkish and blond, like she was.
What would you recommend if a girl wants to get with a guy, either for the evening or if she's pursuing a relationship?
I always recommend that a girl should be straight up with her intentions. I think sometimes guys, especially engineers like myself, aren't going to broach that as much, so you just kind of approach it as a default dating scene. But if she just tells you, "Hey, I'm here to have fun tonight," or, "Hey, I'm not looking for anything serious," or "Hey, I am looking for something serious," it would actually eliminate a lot of confusion and mishaps. And it would set everything off on the right foot. But then again, I guess people don't always know what they want. Sometimes they just want a hug.
And since you had some success tonight, what other advice do you have for your fellow men?
There's nothing too complex. Just stand in the path of traffic, and you'll get run over a few times. When that happens, say something, and, eventually you'll find the one that's meant for you. Or something like that.
Are you from around here?
Yes, born and raised.
How would you describe the dating scene out here?
Well, I got married really young. I went from my mother's house to married and pregnant when I was in college. So I was only in the dating scene for a little bit between my first love and my husband. Dating was crazy; I dated like forty-six guys in thirty days. A breakfast, lunch, dinner type thing. Nothing ever happened with any of them. And I was kind of young and hot so it was easier to get guys — they were just crawling on the floor. But you know what they want, so if you're a girl, and you're smart, you take a friend with you. You're safe, you've got an out, or your friend gets a free meal. Now that I'm single again, I can find guys, even though I'm a little older, but the scene to me has changed a lot because the culture has changed.
In what ways?
Not for the better. Guys just want to buy you a meal and then bang you. They just try to go for it right away. Especially online — they'll talk to you and then immediately it turns to smut. And I'm like "Come on, man." It's just weird, because when you have the culture of Teen Mom and Snooki, and girls basically wearing clothes that prostitutes used to wear as daily gear, you've got a problem. A guy will do whatever he can get by with. He can be the best, nicest, coolest, sweetest guy in the world, but if you're throwing it all at him, he'll eventually catch it.
What's been the weirdest or craziest thing a guy has said to get with you?
You got a minute? I had one guy say, "You're so beautiful, more than one person should experience you. We should have a threesome." I said, "Go eff yourself."
This is someone you just met?
Yeah. We were eating for like three hours, and it kept turning back to that. I said, "You know I'm just here for the meal, right? Good luck with that, I'm going home. But this is some good food, so I'm going to enjoy it first." What else? I've had guys say, "I've never dated a girl as thick as you, but that's okay, I'll bang you anyway." I've had some guys go, "You know you're attracted to me. You want me. Let's do this." Um, what?
These make me embarrassed for my gender.
Yeah, there have been some bad ones. Here's a funny one: I'd been dating this guy for awhile. He brings me back to his place and he's like, "You know what I'd like to do right now?" And he brings out this really cute tiger-skin dress, and I got excited, like he got me a gift. And he said, "I want you to throw things at me while I wear this dress and your pink panties." What the fuck? I think I'm a freak magnet, man. People just come up to me.
You mentioned you had a child earlier. How old is he?
He just turned fifteen.
Does that affect your dating life at all?
No, because I have joint custody with my husband. I only date when my son is with my ex. I don't bring guys home unless it's serious, and that hasn't happened in a while. I was with his dad until he was almost two, and when he was about three I met another guy at work, and dated him until my son turned thirteen. I loved him, he loved me, but we just didn't work. Same thing with my son's dad. We were young — it's the folly of youth, sometimes you take what you can get, and you settle. You go out and date someone, and when they break up with you, you get this fear that you're never going to be with anyone ever again. So you stay with people longer than you should.
So now you just break things off at the first sign of trouble?
Well, something about relationships is that people plan more for what they are going to eat for dinner than how they pick a mate. I think you should write down things you really do and don't like, and try seeing people that way. Love is very complicated, and at least if you figure out what you like, it makes it easier. And keep it in your pants until you figure it out!
Seems like good advice.
We all want to ultimately be loved, but it gets confused because of media images telling us if we don't look, act, or dress a certain way, we will not achieve this love we seek. But to me, if you go back to simple, you're golden.
Interviews and photography by Joey Held. Want to talk to strangers in your town? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.