Love & Sex

Talking to Strangers: Los Angeles Cult Members

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Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.

Fran, 36

What do you do?
I'm unemployed, but I worked at a software company.

Did any of this help you impress guys and/or girls?
Only the really nerdy ones, but I like nerdy people. Having a nerdy job and being a nerdy girl really attracted the nerdy guys and girls, which was very good.

Do you have any good hookup stories?
I have so many weird ones. I hooked up with a guy at a wake once. He was an uncle or something of the dead person.

Any that don't involve dead people?
When I was pretty young I was dating this guy and my parents were pretty strict. He wasn't allowed in my bedroom, so we had to be sneaky about everything we did. I wore a lot of skirts when he came over, and not a lot of panties. We tried to be sneaky and would listen for my parents. One time, though, my mom moved pretty fast while I was sitting on his lap, having sex. She was talking to me and talking to me, but I couldn't move because then it would be apparent that we were having sex. She wanted me to do something for her and I said, "I'll do it in a minute." But, she wanted me to do it right then. Had I gotten off of his lap she would have seen his dick, and that would have been a really bad thing. But she finally just went away. It was a close call.

Where's the weirdest place you've ever had sex?
On the roof of a McDonald's. You know when you're young and you have to find a place to have sex? I've had sex on pretty much every type of swing set and piece of playground equipment you can think of. Swings are fun, as well as those merry-go-round things. I've had a lot of sex in bar bathrooms, but I don't think that's very unusual. I've had lots of public sex. Lots of sex at parties. I had sex in an alley, once. I had sex on an airplane.

What do you think of the dating scene in L.A.?
I think it's awesome. L.A. is a town where you can be young forever, and you can be single forever. People are very open about their sexuality here, so it's really easy to hook up.

Do you have a sexual to-do list?
I've always had a fantasy about having sex with two Mormon boys who show up at my door and try to sell me religion. Other than that, I think I've already done everything that I've wanted to do.


Jin, 26

What do you do?
I'm a user-experience architect. Basically, we design products around people. It's all about usability and such.

Does that help you meet girls?
I think so, yeah. A lot of girls are into it. I design things like iPhone apps, stuff that people use every day. Really popular, big things.

What do you think of the dating scene in L.A.?
It's hit or miss, depending on where you go. If you don't know where right places are, it's pretty horrible. But, if you know the right times and the right places I think it works. Downtown's really changed a lot over the years. It's better.

If you had to make a generalization about girls in L.A., what would it be?
Girls here are very cultural: you can go hang out with the beach crowd, but we have a more conservative side, too. Places like New York and San Francisco have only a certain kind of person, but we've got a bit of everyone.

Do you have any turn-offs?
I don't like girls who are cheap. I'm a foodie. Lots of people in L.A. are foodies. We take food seriously, and if you're not willing to pay for your own on a first date, that's cheap. We live in a day of equality. I know that Hollywood says differently, but, seriously, that shit needs to end.


James, 26

What do you do?
I'm unemployed, but I used to work in collections. Because I'm an actor, though, that didn't really work well with my schedule. Go to auditions, and they fire you.

Is acting a good way to meet girls?
Yes and no. Being on the set means that you meet a lot of chicks doing extra work, background work. Actresses are crazy, though, man. They really are. If you're in a relationship with her, don't be in a movie with her. A buddy of mine did that recently. They broke up over it and recently got back together.

What do you think of the dating scene in L.A.?
It's great if you have money. There's a lot of hot women out there. A lot of shallow women out there. So I like to go away from the mainstream bars and find people who are more real, people who have a heart.

If you had to make a generalization about women in L.A., what would it be?
They're not from here.

Do you have a sexual/dating to-do list?
Somewhat. I would love to be able to try all of the different flavors. I'd like to have sex with a woman from every single race.

Do you have any dealbreakers?
She must have all of her teeth. No dentures. Also, no STDs. That's pretty much it, though.

Do you have any good hookup stories?
Not from L.A.,but I was in Milwaukee and was getting really drunk. I'm from Wisconsin. My buddy knew the bartender, so we were doing shots, there was lots of beer, and I had several Red Bull and vodkas. At the end of the night the whole thing was only thirty-three bucks. That's like three drinks in L.A. Anyway, we were toasted and this random chick comes up to us from an alleyway outside the bar. It's cold and she starts scratching my back. My buddy says to me, "Don't talk to her. She's a whore." I said to him "How dare you! She's a nice lady! She's got a great personality and she's talking to me!" We'd gone into the back of her car, we hooked up, and I felt great about myself until my buddy asked me where my wallet was. So, he was right. She was kind of a whore.


Sam, 24

What do you do?
I work for some music venues in East L.A..

Does that help you impress guys?
Ha! It helps me meet people, because I do see upwards of four-hundred people coming through the door each night. I don't know if it impresses them, but it's fun.

What do you think of the dating scene in L.A.?
It doesn't really exist. I don't think that a lot of people here actually date. It's more just random acquaintances and friends of friends, and things just kind of happen. I'm from the Bay Area — it's a little bit mellower up there. It's really high-strung here, really high-maintenance. But, if you find the right areas you can find some pretty cool people.

Do you have any good hookup stories?
I met this actor before he got super-famous and I told a friend that I had a question, about this actor, on a film final I took. I proceeded to get really, really drunk, and at that point we decided that we'd go over and say hello. My friend decided that it would be a prime opportunity for me to go over and talk to this guy about the question on my final. So, I was really drunk and walked over and said to him that he was the reason that I'd passed my class. It was all complete lies, but he totally ate it all up. Not my finest moment.

You're not going to name this actor?
He was in the Star Trek movie.

It wasn't the guy who played Harold/Sulu, was it?
No. And I wish it had been Simon Pegg, but it wasn't.

What's the worst dating experience you've ever had?
I met up with a guy to have a few drinks, except that he didn't drink. Maybe he shouldn't have recommended that we go to a bar. Because he didn't drink, he wanted to go to a bar where some of his friends would be. He was straight, but we ended up going to a gay bar where it was bear night. So, everyone was in not-much clothing and a lot of leather. There were a lot of really big dudes. That pretty much killed it.


Jake, 27

What do you do?
I am a research and development scientist.

Does that help you pick up girls?
No, I usually come up with something awesomer-sounding like "tiger tamer" or something like that.

What do you think of the dating scene in L.A.?
My first experience with it was when I'd just gotten here and I'd agreed to be on an MTV show. They asked me if I was new to the L.A. dating scene and wanted to be on a show. I thought, "Yeah, I'll go for it." When I got there, I found out that the premise of the show was that a super-burly romantic-looking dude coaches a dorky guy, Roxanne-style, via an earpiece, telling him how to pick up a hot girl. On the show, you win if you get the girl to come in with you at the end of the date.

So you were the dorky guy? No offense, but…
They technically gave me the choice as to which one I wanted to be, but it was kind of obvious where I was supposed to go. They asked me, "When you first see a girl, do you think 'Aw, man! I just want to grab her tits!' or are you like 'Oh God, I want to throw up'?" I asked if those were my only options, and I didn't end up getting cast for the show, but yes, I was very clearly a dork who could be awkward around women. It was obvious why I got scouted. That was my first impression of the L.A. dating scene.

What kind of girls do find attractive?
I like fiercely independent women with an artistic streak. I like a girl who's willing to make fun of Sex and the City, even though she actually kind of likes it. You know, girls who say that they're willing to shave their head, even if they never would. Girls with a little bit of a spark to them, willing to subvert their paradigm. Also, big boobs. But, yeah. I like creative, independent, artistic types.

Do you have any good hookup stories?
Well, I'm sort of ordinary and monogamous, so my hookup stories are sort of bland. They're something like "I dated her for a while, and then we had sex. At home." That's pretty much my experience. There's one that's sort of interesting and funny, but it's sort of embarassing. There was a girl who wrote a post on Craigslist, and she said that she was going to Biosphere, and she only had room for one person to be there on her conjugal visits. The Biosphere is a terrarium out in the middle of the desert whose atmosphere is supposed to recreate Earth's. Scientists live there for about six months, doing experiments on sustainablity.

Did you meet her?
Yeah. She'd written, "Write what you'll do in our conjugal visit, and I will pick the best." I thought that this sounded hilarious and awesome, and I'm not really thinking anything at all about this girl. I'm thinking to myself, "I have a chance to go to Biosphere!" I'm a huge nerd, so this seems really sweet and I'm excited by science. So, I write this kind of jokey, funny, half-bodice-ripper-novel-half-dorky-environmental thing. She writes back to me and says "You win! You're really funny!" I think to myself "Yes! I'm going to Biosphere!" So, I meet her for a drink — and I won't say anything about her, but she seemed nice enough — and we're chatting and things are going well. I'm eventually like "So, Biosphere…" and she says, "Yeah, I can't believe the amount of people who actually believe that!" I was suddenly completely depressed and couldn't believe that I'd fallen for this huge, elaborate lie.

You were disappointed that you didn't get to go to Biosphere?
Yeah! I didn't even get to meet someone who was going to Biosphere.

Did you ever see her again?
I saw her once. She was pretty nice. But, it wasn't a good way to start a relationship. Oh, I've got another story.

Go for it.
I was about fifteen, at an all-ages punk show. This girl said to me, "Hey, we should hang out in the bathroom." I had no idea what she meant by this, so I just said, "I don't have to go. I'm cool." Then she dragged me to the bathroom and said "Let's fuck." I was really young, really introverted and I didn't know what to do. I told her I didn't have a condom, so we just kind of made out, and I offered to sixty-nine or something because I didn't know what else to think of. It was a disaster, it was gross, it was nasty, and it was in a bathroom.

Were you a virgin at the time?
Absolutely! I was this young Jewish boy, and this girl had just dragged me into a bathroom. I couldn't negotiate the idea of having sex or what that meant to me or who this other person was. There was part of me that had weird manly-man pride, but another part of me that thought I was saving myself for something.

How old was she?
I have no idea. Seventeen? Eighteen? The only thing I really know is that she was in a bowling league.


Sylvie, 21

What do you do?
I'm in a cult.


Has that helped you meet guys?
Definitely. It's helped me meet guys from all around the world, especially in France, Italy, and Houston.

What do you guys believe?
You'd have to talk to Desaro. He's our leader.

What do you think of the dating scene in L.A.?
I don't really go outside my family. Maybe that's kind of incestuous.

If you had to make a generalization about guys in L.A., what would it be?
They're wonderful. As long as I meet them at the magic lectures, I'm excited.

Do you have any dealbreakers?
I don't think there are any dealbreakers at all.

Do you have any good hookup stories?
My best hookup story was probably when I started dating one of my father's closest friends. I can't say very much about it. It's also probably my worst hookup story. He did take me to Disneyland, though.

Do you have a sexual/dating to-do list?
I'm doing all kinds of things right now, so no.

Interviews and photography by Joe Streckert.