Love & Sex

Talking to Strangers: New York, NY

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Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.

Editor's note: These interviews were conducted at a San Francisco Giants-friendly New York bar the night the Giants won the NLCS.

Sarah, 24

It's a San Francisco victory night. If you could sleep with one San Francisco Giant, who would it be?
Oooh, Tim Lincecum, man! Hell yeah!

The Freak, obviously. Okay, so why?
He's very skilled. I admire his talent. I like his hair. And also, he smokes weed. Plus, he's from Seattle.

You're from San Francisco. What do you do for a living?
I work at a non-profit organization, working with adults with special needs, developmental disabilities.

Does that get you dates ever?
Actually, the last guy I dated worked there too, so I guess it kind of does. I always think work or school is the most likely situation in which to meet a significant other.

How long have you been dating the guy you're dating, and what do you look for in a potential partner?
About a year. I really love hair, if it's full of character — when it's all wild. I like dreadlocks. I do.

That's very San Francisco. You like patchouli too? Birkenstocks? Tie dye?
Well, I like a mature person. Somebody who knows what he wants and who lives up to his word. Someone who actually follows through.

I'm guessing the guy you're dating is older than you.
Eleven years older, actually. The last guy I dated was a year younger than me, and he was just immensely immature. It wasn't a total disaster. I was living in a house, and a room came up for rent. He moved in, and then we started dating, and I learned that I need my own space. It was backwards — we lived together first. He was crowding me and being really, really sensitive. I don't mind sensitive people, but if you're illogical about it then, that's a turnoff.

What are other dealbreakers for you? Turn-ons?
Clingy people for sure. Turn-ons… hair. But really, mature people. People I can fucking learn from.

Are you relieved to be out of the dating scene?
I don't know. I mean, I feel like I'm way too young to be committed. At this age I don't know what I want. I feel like anything I get into right now won't last. That might be sad, but it's honest. How can I know what I want right now?

Does the guy you're dating feel the same way?
Well, I really like him. It's the first serious long-distance relationship I've ever been in. I forgot to mention that. I live in San Francisco and he lives in Los Angeles. We see each other once a month. I totally trust him and he totally trusts me, but we're at different stages. He has a daughter. She's three. I haven't met her. He doesn't pressure me, but he understands why I wouldn't want to. Next time I see him, I'm going to meet her. I think it's an appropriate step to take, in terms of learning what his priorities are. Also, I want to move again to get my masters in social work.

To Los Angeles?
No, to Chicago. Knowing that he has priorities, if he ever said he wanted to move with me, I just wouldn't feel comfortable. He has a daughter, he should take care of her. And I have my own goals. But, I love him. I do!


Francisco, 26

What do you do for a living?
I'm a bicycle mechanic in Astoria.

Does that get you a lot of dates?
Actually, I've got a wifey.

You're married?
No, I mean not legitimate or anything. I got a boo-thang. A girlfriend. We've been dating since way back when. My roommate went to New Orleans after the hurricane. He's a social activist, and she's a photojournalist. They were both on the same trip being sick individuals.

Are you ever tempted to stray in the city?
No way. My girlfriend is the most amazing person in the world. What it comes down to is — I'm going to get real vulgar for a second — there's three kinds of pussy in the world. Wait — she's not out here, is she?

I don't know, dude, but she's going to see this on the internet.
Oh, yeah. Okay, so, three kinds of pussy in the world. There's new, there's old, and there's forgotten. Strange would be new, familiar would be consistent, forgotten would be from the past. They all have their highs and lows. But my girlfriend: she goes out and does her own thing in the world and that is the most attractive thing in the entire universe. She is so fucking sick. She could call me up and tell me that she's about to fly to Abu Dhabi for a month and I'll say okay, go be amazing, and you'll tell me about it when you get back. Every time I see her she's got something new to say, which means she is constantly learning and growing as a person. It's always strange and new, because whatever she's gone out and done, she's bettering herself. Her spiritual being is growing always. So I'm totally fucking sprung. If you ask any man in the world, he'll say: familiar is awesome, but it gets old. There's this famous quote from some awful guy: "You show me a fine-ass woman and I'll show you a guy who's tired of fucking her."

Wait, that's totally antithetical to what you're saying. Also, you are blowing my mind right now because you seem to be an impossible combination of incredibly vulgar and completely enlightened. That's very Bay Area.
Well, yeah, I'm from Gilroy.

Like the garlic festival?
Hell yeah. The garlic fucking festival.

Is this girl the first girl you've been in love with?
Nah, I've been in love hella times. But I was much younger, I was so much more naïve. I'll be the first to say though — I don't know shit now. I don't know anything about anything. I fell in love when I was fifteen and sixteen and seventeen. But whatever I've said about my girlfriend now, the amazing things she does when we're not together, and the level of intimacy and romance when we are together — it's so dope.


Joyce, 27

How long have you lived here?
Two months. I live in Union Square now.

How does the dating scene here compare to the scene in San Francisco?
It's different, and I don't know if it's because statistics have played into my head or not. Did you know that the ratio of women to men in New York City is six to one? It's completely different. Knowing that, I'll walk into a bar and see a bunch of dudes and I'm like, okay, if you don't want to fuck me, you'll go fuck another girl. If I turn you down, there will always be a girl who is younger and ten times hotter who will fuck you, and not expect you to buy her a drink. I've been on two dates. One guy was fine as hell but he just wanted to fuck, and I said no. We've been talking off and on, but he's probably just going to be a fuck buddy. But I haven't had sex since I got here. Two months! Two fucking months!

What are you doing out here?
I'm going to school in New Jersey. I'm a student.

Have you met any guys at school?
Oh, no. My school is full of people I'm not attracted to.

Have you ever been in love?
Yes, and that's the best sex you'll ever have. Plus, you can have naked days where you just hang out, naked, and you can just do it all the time. You care so much about the other person that you just want them to feel good.

When and where did you lose your virginity?
I think I was sixteen. My first boyfriend was absolutely Christian so every time we kind of fucked he would deny it. He was in denial for a year. He'd say, no! We didn't really do it! Because you know, he'd put it in, but not actually move. Then he'd pull out and say, we shouldn't be doing this! And I'd say, "Dude, you're not a virgin."

Did he get over it?
Yeah, I think he's all right now.

All right with God or all right with girls?
Girls, I think. Maybe both.

If you could sleep with one San Francisco Giant, who would it be?
I think Timmy. It's his sweet, sweet hair. I just want to smell it. Plus, he's half Filipino. My mom would be happy.

Kyle, 25

Kyle, what do you do for a living?
I'm a security dispatcher for a hospital in San Francisco.

Does that get you laid ever?
Not so much. I mean, I always manage to get myself dates. But I have a girlfriend right now.

How long have you guys been together?
Six years.

Okay, so you're in love then.
Yeah, I guess you could say that.

Did you date a bunch before settling down with this girl?
I mean, not a lot but yes, I definitely dated some girls.

What's the most embarrassing thing that's ever happened to you during sex?
Well, this girl didn't tell me she was on her period and we did the deed. That was pretty crazy.

Really? That's the craziest thing — that's your craziest sexual mishap?
I mean, it was pretty gross. I was like, seventeen. My sexual life was pretty tame. I thought she probably should have told me. I would have liked a little forewarning. I don't want to put my dick in a vagina that's bleeding, you know?

What's the craziest request you've ever gotten from somebody you're sleeping with?
To choke a girl, I think. Now, in my sexual life, I'm very experimental. I'm pretty much into anything.

Like what?
I had a girl lick my ass while I came. That was pretty crazy. Sexually, it was pretty awesome. But throughout my life, especially in San Francisco, I've come across so many different kinds of people. It's expanded my mind. Some people might not like it — I mean, I don't get my ass licked every day. It was a surprise, but I definitely won't question it. I'll do it to girls though, I don't mind anything. My friends make fun of me all the time. I don't think sex is embarrassing — I watch porno like it's regular TV. I learn. I don't sit there and get hard — it's a learning experience. I watch the guys, I watch the girls, and I learn.

There's always room for improvement. I know some people who say that they only give head to get head. Thoughts?
No way, I love doing it, I'm into it. For sex, you have to be into it. I've had girls give me blowjobs and if they're not into it, I tell them to stop. I've grown to the plateau where it's not just sex. It's all intimate; it's not so much about busting a nut. It's more about a human-to-human connection. It's different for everyone. It's about passion. There's love-sex and then there's pure enjoyment. I've done both, and I think the love part is the best.


Kristen, 25

What is your definition of love?
That's a big question. It's finding someone who makes you feel good about yourself for the rest of your life. I've been in love twice. I felt like the deepest part of me was reciprocated. If they can make me laugh…

How did you meet the guy you're currently with?
I started DJing in high school. I moved to San Diego for college and when I was in San Diego I felt like an apprentice to every single DJ I met. I wanted to climb up the ladder and learn, master to student, what the secrets of the trade are. Everything they were willing to teach me I wanted to learn. I stepped my way up. One night my friend told me about a guy, saying he was really good and a world-renowned DJ. So, he came and he offered to give me lessons. He invited me over a few times and we'd talk about DJing. He's Muslim too, like me. At the time I was taking a world religions class. Sophomore year, that's your soul-searching year. Long story short: He was using the DJing to get close.

How long have you been together?
Five years.

Could you ever be connected to somebody who didn't share the same religious beliefs?
Not necessarily the same religious beliefs, but he would have to have a sense of spirituality and a deeper understanding of life. That's a big part of me that needs to be reciprocated.

Was your last boyfriend religious?
He wasn't, but I wasn't at the time either. To be quite honest, I went to see the Dalai Lama in San Diego and since then, I've been on a spiritual retreat to find myself. Everyone had questions, and he had the most simple answers. I've been Muslim for five years.

Are your parents Muslim, or are they okay with you practicing your own religion?
No, they aren't Muslim. They aren't completely accepting of it, but I did hear my mom say that as long as I believe in something, she's okay. I went through Catholic school, and all those efforts at least paid off in that I have a sense of guidance. I used to wear a hijab every day. The most challenging thing was wearing it around people I knew. If I met a stranger, that was their first impression of me, with no context of who I was before.

Have your beliefs changed your approach to love and sex?
Personally, I feel that there has to be a sense of sincerity when two people are intimate with each other. That genuine sincerity comes when you're spiritually connected. I'm not promiscuous, and I don't take it lightly. But I don't think I ever did. Before I became Muslim, I already believed in a lot of the things Islam was teaching, and it was only a matter of taking the actual oath to the faith. I was Muslim without being Muslim.


Jeff, 27

You're originally from San Francisco. How long have you been in New York?
Uh, two days. I'm visiting.

How do you the girls in New York compare to the girls in SF?
There's a lot more eye candy out here than there is in the Bay. I see a lot more pretty faces, but at the same time, a lot less booty. There's way more booty in the Bay.

Have you ever been in love?
Oh, shit. Love is just a feeling. I've never been in love. Love is just an infatuation with another person, and I don't infatuate with anyone right now.

Have you ever had an ex-girlfriend do something crazy?
No, because if you're crazy, I leave you alone. As soon as I start talking to you and find out you're crazy, I'm out.

But what's the gauge? What's the indicator for knowing if a girl is crazy?
If you're calling me to find out what I ate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, if you have to know what I'm doing every single minute of every single day, you're done.

What do you look for in a girl then?
Kind, humble, respectful, you feel me? But, at the same time, somebody who knows that I can be with my homies and be with her at the same time. We can go to the movies and shit, go to dinner. But if I tell you I'm going out with my homies, leave me alone for the whole night. Trust is the whole issue. If you trust somebody, you let them go, right? You come back and they're still there. Don't ever change who you are for somebody else. Have I found any of this? No. It's impossible. But you know what? It's all good. If I don't get married, whatever, it's all good. I want to have kids, but that's life. One day at a time.

What's your strategy for picking up ladies?
Honestly, I'm me — I don't do shit. Let's say y'all were walking down the street. I won't say hi to you. I just do what I do, and if you like what I do, you will come to me.

Wait, you never approach women, you just wait for them to come up to you?
Yeah. Because you might be after something you think you like, but you don't really like. You see something physical and think you like it, but it's all physical. I do what I do. I buy my own drinks. If she comes up to me, it's all good. I'm not your typical, "Hey baby, what's your name?" kind of guy. I know girls don't like that. If you go out and have your friend who knows a friend, and he or she introduces you, that's easier.

What do you do for a living?
I'm a manager at a UPS store.

Does that get you laid ever?
I work fifty hours a week. To be honest with you, I don't have time for females, especially ones who are clingy. If you trust me, you'll have a blast being my girl because when we go out, it'll be special.

Interviews by Juliet Linderman. Photography by Talisa Chang. Want to talk to strangers in your neighborhood? Email