Love & Sex

Talking to Strangers: Montreal, QC

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Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.

Holly, 31

Where are you from?
I'm from Montreal.

What do you for a living?
I am a freelance performer — actor, singer, dancer, writer, producer.

Do any of those jobs get you laid?
I guess sometimes I get laid. I don't think it has anything to do with my job, but… oh, no, maybe it does. Yeah. Actors like to bang other actors, musicians like to bang other musicians, actors like to bang musicians and musicians like to bang actors, so, yes. Never mind. Yes, it does get me laid.

How do you impress a potential hookup?
I try to make myself as awkward as I possibly can in order to see if they'll be easily deterred, and if they get past those many levels of awkwardness, then I loosen up. Once I loosen up, then we can have a real conversation.

I think that's sensible, because sex can be very awkward sometimes, and you want someone who's going to be able to roll with the punches.
Pretty much, yes. I'm trying to think of the most awkward sexual experience I've ever had. Yeah. I don't even know if I can talk about it — it was terrible. There was some toothy oral sex involved. And a friend, in a bed right beside us, a snoring friend — yes! Oh my God, I blocked it out until now, it was so terrible.

It's a real shame that there are some guys out there who take the same approach to oral sex as they do to eating steak.
Oh, God almighty. I am a vegetarian, so I really don't appreciate anything being eaten like steak. At all.

Do you have any favorite hookup stories?
There was one recently, actually, and it was with a woman — which is a rare occurrence, because for the last while, it's been mainly men. It was a whirlwind weekend of symbiotic conversation and some illicit substance smokage, listening to music and having a wonderful time, and it was a perfect fit for that moment, in my mind, because I had been pretty down on having sex with anyone. I had been far away from myself, and it reminded me of the enjoyment that you can derive from someone else's body, and someone appreciating your body.

What are you most proud of about your sexuality?
Well, being a burlesque dancer, I exhibit my body in all its glory for many, many people to look upon and judge. I have jiggly bits of very womanly flesh, I'm very pale and curvaceous, and I'm not shy about it, and I'm not ashamed of it. I've had a lot of hardship when it comes to my sexuality, over the years. A lot of pain surrounding sex, and a lot of confusion surrounding sexual issues. And I'm very proud of myself for how I've taken my sexuality in my own hands and taken control, and become more of a woman because of it.

Any dating dealbreakers?
I'm pretty hell-bent on no smoking. No smoking cigarettes. If you don't want to go down on me, you're just not going to get with me. If you can't deal with the fact that some women squirt, you're not going to be able to deal with me. If you don't bathe, and you have bad oral hygiene, that's generally a deterrent — but it's not a complete dealbreaker, because I can't count the amount of times I've… kind of… eh… it's pretty superficial stuff. Don't be a misogynist fuckface, basically.

I think that's a reasonable request.
You know, I don't ask for much.


Kevin, 32

What do you do in life?
I'm a university student. I study psychology, but tree-planting is my career, sort of, technically. I plant trees for a living.

Tell me about tree-planting and how it pertains to sex.
The goal of tree-planting is to make a lot of money and have sex with a lot of people. Talking about tree-planting has gotten me laid, with tree-planters. Just being at tree-planting, and drinking with other tree-planters, has gotten me laid. Simply through sheer geographic isolation, being a tree-planter has gotten me laid.

Can you make a sweeping generalization about tree-planters?
Slightly out of control, money-hungry, a little too drunk, greedy, horny, masochistic.

Are you single right now?

Tell me about your girlfriend.
My girlfriend is very awesome, and she treats me very, very well. We met online. She's a professional graphic artist, which blends well with my artistic interests. She's very caring, very attentive, very loving, very fair, very understanding, and takes very good care of me.

Tell me about your craziest ex.
The craziest? I think most of my crazy exes were, like, regular crazy. So, you know, normal crazy. Jealous and controlling can be part of it. Grandiose, delusional… I'm running through the list. There haven't been a lot of crazy girls, but I had one slightly crazy girl at tree-plant drag my drunken ass back to my tent, and she had her way with me. Then she was really awkward with me the day after.

How is your current girlfriend different from the crazy women in your past?
She knows she's crazy. And I can tell her she's being crazy. Her craziness is very similar to my craziness, so there's some simpatico, some understanding.

How long have you been living together?
Eight months. I think at three months we moved in together. Very fast. I was ready to move out of the place I had with my roommate, and at thirty-two years of age, with a few experiences behind me, you just kind of know that it's safe, and it fits. And if you're wrong, it's not going to be a life-shattering mistake.

The sex must have been pretty good from the start if you moved in together that quickly.
The sex got off to a bit of a rocky start, mostly due to me and my performance anxiety, which very quickly melted away. It's quite the opposite now. So yes, very quickly the sex was very, very awesome. Very mind-blowing.

How do you maintain a happy long-term relationship?
The same old basic cornerstones: honesty, trust, caring, and the small stuff that gets you through the day. That's usually what breaks people apart. Quickly owning up to stuff, quickly asking if something is wrong, not letting things simmer. Dealing with everything immediately. Telling the other person if you feel bad or if there's something that has to be dealt with. Doing nice things for each other — even just listening and paying attention. Cleaning up the kitchen. Putting the toilet seat down. Turning off the lights, locking the back door. Also, paying attention to when she's graciously putting up with something annoying that you know you do, and remembering it the next time you find yourself in the same position on the other side.


Seska, 39

What do you do for a living?
I'm a web designer-slash-porn performer-slash-student.

What was one of your most memorable shoots?
One time I got together with a bunch of my swinger friends, and it was lovely, lovely, joyful sex. It was sort of planned — it was like, "Hey, yeah, we're all gonna do this at four p.m.," and it was fantastic. A good five girls, and I think three guys, and we just had this great orgy, right by the pool, in Kansas City.

Can you make a sweeping generalization about people in the porn industry?
Hard workers. We work hard.

Do you date men, women, or both?
At this present time, I'm dating men. I'm open to dating women, though.

What do you find attractive in a person?
Competence. If you're really awesome at something, that's so attractive to me.

Do you have a favourite hookup story?
Oh, yes. Todd from Australia. He was delightful. It was on Halloween, and I was trying to promote a show. I had just done this little bar gig, and I was handing out flyers. I started talking to this guy, and he's dressed as a "rugby zombie." Very cute and lovely, but he has full makeup on, and under that, he could be downright ugly. He says he's going to this other venue, we exchange numbers, but I know I'm not going to hear from him again. And then all of a sudden, he was like, "Hey, are you coming?" I was like, "I'm going to go for it." I went for it, and we had the most amazing weekend. We're still friends to this day, and he occasionally comes to Canada, and I always try to figure out a way to see him. Todd from Australia, this is for you.

Has anyone ever offended you in the bedroom?
Many, many times. Part of it is me not speaking up enough, but usually it's people who don't listen to my cues, both implicit and explicit. That's offensive. You do a little bit of a moan to let someone know, "This is good." If you don't do the moan — what they're doing isn't great. That's implicit. Explicit is, "Hey, go to the left!" And they go to the right.

What is the most unusual place you've had sex?
One liaison that I had very early on, which was at someone's cottage. We ran into the woods, because we had to hide from his family. It was against a rock wall, and you know, I've never done that again. I was nineteen or twenty.

How old were you when you lost your virginity?
Eighteen. I was a late bloomer. I was open to sex at a young age, but I was a nerdy girl, and everyone wanted the popular girl. The boys I liked didn't like me, but you know what? It was all for the best.

When did you figure out that you were attracted to women?
That was very early on. It was all about the movie Young Doctors in Love, with Dabney Coleman. He had this lovely scene with this girl bouncing on his lap, topless, and I kept rewinding the scene over and over when I was about twelve or thirteen. The girl was bouncing, and she was topless, and I just kept watching her boobs. So I kind of realized that I liked girls, but I didn't know it was possible to like girls and boys at the same time. I decided I must just like guys, and I must be messed up for finding girls attractive. Then I discovered bisexuality when I was around nineteen.

What are you most proud of about your sexuality?
My openness to change. I'm good at listening to my body as I've aged — because I'm now nearly forty — and I've been able to honor those changes. I'm really proud of that.

At this time in your life, are you looking for sex or love?
I'm recently out of a divorce, so there's part of me that's looking for each. Really, I'm looking for both. If love came my way, I probably wouldn't know it. If sex came my way, I probably wouldn't even know that. I'm a confused, confused girl.

How do you impress someone you might be interested in?
I fail miserably. I try and be… hmm. I've gotten so few dates recently. I'm so new to dating. I have only gone on one "official"  date, and I had no idea how to impress this gentleman. Let's be honest. I have no idea how to impress.

Conor, 26

What do you do for a living?
Oh boy. I'm finishing my Master's in film and television and other media scoring. I sing in a synagogue choir. I play in a choral folk-pop band. I kind of freelance — I'll write or arrange music for other people, you know, do occasional gigs singing or playing. Various, I guess, is my profession.

Have you ever dated anyone you've met through your jobs?
While participating in Fringe Fest-related activities, I met my girlfriend, who I've been seeing since July. She was volunteering at Fringe. It didn't take very long before we were hanging out a lot. Then we started sleeping together. We agreed that we were both emotionally invested, and that there's no reason to deny that. But similarly, I'm not really in a hetero-normative monogamy place. I'm in a more, like, poly place. I think, at least long-term, she is also.

Have you successfully conducted relationships with more than one person at the same time prior to this?
No, actually, I haven't. It's gotten messy in the past. But I think it's going to work this time.

Do you have any good hookup stories?
Oh man, do I! I dated a girl for two and a half years who lived, when we first met, in Ontario. And the first time that she and I ever had sex, I went to Toronto to see her, and we went back to her place. But she was living with her folks, and her mom had just gotten home from work, so instead we went like, five minutes away to the harbor near where she lived, and we had sex in a park on a picnic table at four in the afternoon, in full view of the jet-skiers.

Would it be fair to say that you're an exhibitionist?
Not really. I guess my girlfriend and I both just have really healthy sexual appetites, and we're not very patient. We almost left this party an hour ago.

Why didn't you?
Because there are certain social obligations that we have been avoiding for a long time. We do it a lot, and for sure, when we get back to my place tonight, we probably will again.

Have you ever been offended in the bedroom?
Yeah. There was someone who basically booty-called me, and then came over and a, was really drunk; b, I hadn't seen her in like, two years, and she was vastly different than before, and not in a good way; and c, when we went to bed, she told me that she was a virgin.

How do you get booty-called by a virgin?
Thank you! Also, it's really offensive to drop that on someone right as they're about to fuck you for the first time.

That is something that you want to know in advance.
Exactly! If I had known that, I would have been like, "Maybe don't come over for sex."

Did you do it anyway?
Yes. Yes, I did. [laughs] Otherwise, I haven't been offended. I always try to bring my A game, so I don't usually have any negative comments. I haven't ever been asked to do anything way over the line, but I've heard the best ever. My former roommate was asked by a girl if she could cut her arm, bleed on his dick, and then give him head. He was like, "You can cut your arm at home by yourself, and separately, you can give me head — but you can't do those things simultaneously. And you certainly can't cut your arm in my house!"


Michelle, 27

What do you do in life?
Right now I'm in school to be a seamstress, and before that, I studied costume design for theatre.

Has that ever gotten you laid?
Yes. My current boyfriend. I did not design a show, but I went to the Fringe because I'm a costume designer, and I met him there. He's a musician. And then we had sex.

Just like that? "Oh my God! You're a musician! Let's have sex"?
No, it was more complicated than that. I've always wanted to learn how to play piano. He offered to teach me how. I went over to learn how to play piano, and we clicked. It's been six months now. I'm still playing piano. I'm getting better.

Is it a good incentive to improve, or is he less hard on you because you're dating?
He's been slacking off as a teacher. [laughs] But as a student I've been working really hard.

What was your first date like?
Our first date… it's really hard to pinpoint which was our first date, per se. I think our first date was the time that I asked him to accompany me to my brother's wedding. We have an estranged relationship, my brother and I, and I needed a backup. And he came, and he also drove me there — it was really far.

That sounds like a solid guy.
Yeah. And then on the way back, we stopped in Baie d'Urfé at a yacht club, and we had sex there, outside by the water. It was hot.

Is that the craziest place you've ever had sex?
No, there was a time that I climbed up a fire escape onto a roof and had sex in the middle of winter with this guy.

Why on earth would you have sex in the middle of winter outside?
Because we were really horny.

Wasn't there somewhere inside you could have done it?
We couldn't wait. He was a friend, and we had history, and it was one of those times we were waiting for the night bus, and it wasn't coming. So we were like, "Goddammit, let's go find a place and warm up." So we warmed up.

You should have said from the beginning that you were waiting for the night bus. That explains everything. Do you have any other favorite hookup stories?
I have embarrassing ones. When I was younger, before meeting people on the internet was so popular and cool, I met a guy on the internet, and we went to play pool, and we had a bet, and if I lost, we would sleep together. And then I lost.

Did you follow through?
I did.

Did you want to sleep with him anyway?
He wasn't bad-looking.

How did you come to the terms of the bet?
I was a horny teenager. I may have been, like, seventeen. Maybe I was sixteen; I potentially could have been fifteen.


Chris, 23

What do you do for a living?
Actually, it's really funny. You're going to think this is a lie, because of the nature of this interview, but I was recently hired, and I started yesterday, editing pornography full-time at a studio. But otherwise, I work at a café.

How did you get that job?
I was on Craigslist looking for an editing job. I went to film school, and the only way to break in is to edit adult content. It's not a funny answer — it's the truth, and that's how I got that job. It's just a bunch of nerds like myself — a bunch of guys, a bunch of dudes. At break we talk about movies. It's weird. I thought I'd be dreaming about pornography every night after work, but I don't. The group is really nice, really cool.

Do you consume pornography at home?
Yes, as often as humanly possible.

Do you find it titillating?
No. You see it all day at work… actually, yes I do. Sometimes, when I'm editing it at work and the door behind me opens, I feel like concealing what I'm working on — but then I'm like, "Wait a minute — I'm at work, and I'm being paid to do this. It's okay. I don't need to stop."

Do you think this job will affect your personal life?
Absolutely. Look at me already — being interviewed for an internet column. I'm a Rockefeller. I might as well be Justin Bieber.

Are you single at the moment?
Yes… no. I have tons of "friends."  Friends with benefits. Lovers with limits.

You know, I've never heard that one before.
I'm borrowing that from a friend. I'm not going to name him, or her. My apologies to that friend, if they ever read this.

Very honest of you, to give a citation for a line that wasn't attributed to someone famous.
That's right. A lot of my lines are created by either myself, or someone not famous.

Tell me about one of your "lovers with limits."
Oh, my goodness. So many of them. My last girlfriend was a lover with limits, in that I considered her to be my girlfriend, and she did not consider me to be her boyfriend. But that's the way it goes. Next question.

Are you friends with most of your exes?
No. But that's because there are too few of them, I guess. That is to say, I don't date often.

Why is that?
I don't know what people want from me. I guess when people are looking for a significant other, they don't necessarily announce what it is they're looking for. But when they do present those things — "Oh, he's got to have a sense of humor, he's got to be a boy, he's got to be nice" — you find you're all those things, but it ends up not being what they really wanted. Have you ever gotten the line, "You're too nice?"

No, I never have. But I'm not very nice.
I get it alllll the time, especially from girls. But it's like, oh, too nice? Like, that's a big problem in the world. On the planet Earth, that we live on, with two or three wars going on at any given time — the problem is that I'm too nice? That's a laugh and a half.

Have you ever offended anyone in the bedroom?
I was trying to seduce… seduce? Is that a horrible word? I was trying to seduce a friend of mine, who I thought was trying to seduce me in turn. We had a drunken night out, and she was going to bed, and she invited me into it. I was like, "Whoa, yeah! Bed!" We get there, and I just nudge really close for a bit of a warm hug under the sheets. It's not like she didn't take kindly to it. She just didn't reciprocate. About nine minutes into my fore-foreplay, I realized that this was not happening, so we just slept. These things happen.

They do. They happen to everyone.
Oh, okay, good. I was just saying that.

Interviews and photography be Jana van Geest.