Talking to Strangers
Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.
What do you do for a living?
I'm a travel agent.
What kind of girls does that get you?
Uh… usually foreign ones. Believe it or not.
U.S. girls and Canadian girls.
You're on holiday right now?
We got here on Wednesday, from Australia.
So you're starting in New York, and then what?
Boston tomorrow, and then down south to New Orleans and then across to Austin, Las Vegas, San Diego, and L.A.
So are you looking to hook up with women while you're traveling?
Being Australian will probably help.
I hope so. I've been to the States before and it helped last time. I didn't actually close the deal, but it definitely helped. I was traveling with a guy who was a lot older than me and was married, so it was a little bit harder. Usually the girls I was talking to would have a friend and he'd be like, "I'm married."
So if you're interested in a girl, how do you make it happen?
[Paul: "He doesn't, really."] Ha ha, I don't, yeah. No, it's true. I'm not big on taking the initial action. Usually a lot of alcohol helps. An Australian accent generally helps.
Has a woman ever told you that it's specifically because you're Australian that her underwear's off?
No. That hasn't happened specifically, no. Oh wait — yeah, actually, that has happened once. A girl, a customer at work, a Canadian girl.
She said it was because you were Australian?
Yeah. Which is funny, because we were in Australia, so you'd think she could have had her pick of most anyone.
What do you do, Paul?
I'm a paramedic.
That's kind of an exciting, dangerous job, right?
It is. Not so dangerous, but it is exciting.
Do you find women are impressed by your paramedic work?
More so than being a travel agent.
Have you ever gotten a woman because of the paramedic work?
Girls from work, yeah. It's usually after-work drinks.
That's usually how it happens. What sort of ladies do you like?
The initial physical attraction is one thing, but then once you get talking to someone, you want someone who can hold a conversation. In Australia, we're big on a sense of humor, so someone who can take a joke.
What are paramedic girls like?
They're outgoing, generally. It comes with the line of work. They're more vocal.
Are there any stereotypes about Australian guys?
From mates who have traveled here before, I've heard it's pretty easy with the ladies.
Ladies like accents.
I'm hoping that that works in my favor.
Yeah. Are you single while you're here?
Yeah, I am. Sort of.
Wait, what does that mean? You said, "Sort of."
I've got a girl back home, but we've just hooked up a couple of times. We're not really going out. So, I'm single, yeah.
Do you have a game plan?
Definitely play up the Australian side of things. Definitely milk it for all it's worth. I say "dingo."
What do you do?
I go to school.
What kind of guys do you like?
I like athletes, personally.
Any particular sport?
Bowling? I like. Big bowlers, I love 'em.
If you like a guy, how do you let him know?
Normally I don't go out of my way to tell them.
So they go out of their way to talk to you?
Oh, God, well, that sounds bad, but yeah.
Are you from around here?
I'm from upstate.
Are guys in the city different from guys upstate?
Yeah, I'd say they're more cultured.
Do you have any crazy ex-boyfriends?
Oh yeah, yes!
What happened? That was a very strong yes.
He's texting me right now.
He's texting you right now?
He's somewhat of a stalker. He likes to know what I'm up to, and he always wants to come over.
How long ago did you stop dating?
Two or three years ago. I had a boyfriend for two and a half years after him, so I think he should have gotten the hint, but I guess he never did.
Do you go to school?
What are you studying right now?
I'm thinking about going into education, but I'm not sure.
What's the dating pool like in your school?
There are a lot of athletes there. That's mainly who I go after. I go after football and lacrosse players mainly.
Do you have any embarrassing crushes?
Yeah. Two years ago I was in love with my brother's best friend, and my brother's four years older than me. I'm friends with his younger brother, so I'd go over there just to hang out with him and look at his brother basically, because I was obsessed with him.
Do you have any favorite hookup stories?
I hooked up with someone at my sister's wedding. Well, after. At the reception. During the reception, while everyone was inside dancing, we were just kissing outside. It was innocent.
It's cute, though.
Yeah, it's one of my favorites.
Do you think guys upstate are different from guys in the city?
I feel like some guys at school are more into themselves than guys upstate are. Guys upstate want to hang out with their friends. I feel like guys here are all into their looks.
What's the craziest place you've had sex?
Oh boy. I don't even remember.
You don't remember?
[Erika: "I've done it on a golf course."]
What do you do for a living?
I'm a student.
What's the dating pool like?
I haven't been in the dating pool in a while.
Oh, do you have a boyfriend?
No, I used to have a girlfriend.
How'd you guys meet?
We play softball. It was something we had in common, and we just went from there.
Do a lot of girls meet each other on softball teams?
Yeah, I'd say so.
What kind of girl do you like?
I don't really have a type. I just like someone with a good personality. Kind. A really bad attitude is something I don't like.
Do you have any crazy ex-girlfriends?
One. Pretty violent, mean. Just psychotic. She had a problem with her hand. She would hit me a lot. She's just crazy.
What do you think the craziest place you've had sex is?
A pier. It just happened, I don't know. I'm not really sure.
You're just walking along a pier and bam!
Have you ever been cheated on?
Yeah, a lot, actually. Before my ex-girlfriend, the last three people cheated on me. So I don't know, maybe I'm doing something wrong.
Don't blame yourself. Some people are assholes. Do you have any favorite hookups?
My ex-girlfriend was probably my favorite hookup [indicates friend].
That's her right there?
It's pretty weird.
What do you do for a living?
I'm a training manager at Chili's.
Have you abused your power?
I've always tried to, but I don't want to lose my job.
Has anyone ever offended you in the bedroom?
I can't be offended in the bedroom. I'm a very adventurous, try-anything-once kind of person.
Oh? What's the craziest thing you've tried?
I went to a sex party one time and got a sex swing.
Is it hard to get into?
Yeah, but once you're actually in it, it's like it's your body. You're just floating on air.
Is it installed in your apartment?
It was, but then I had to move back with my mom, so I had to put it back into the package.
Do you have a weakness in guys?
I go for the guy that doesn't primp himself. The guy I'm seeing now is definitely straight-up my type. Really skinny, tattoos down his arms, great personality. He's in a beard competition.
You don't have to answer this, but do you notice a difference when bearded guys go down on you?
Yes. This is the first guy I've ever been with who's had a beard, and he went down for the first time and I'm like, "Ow, okay, ow! We can work this out." He's got a really short beard, so it's really prickly.
One time I was with a guy who shaved his balls and I got, like, five-o'clock-shadow burns.
That's how I like it!
But he had ball stubble.
Oh, see, I like it clean, but just-shaved-it-today clean. Three days later, when it's scruffy , especially when I've just shaved and we're rubbing together , it's like, "Okay, burn, stop."
Do you have any favorite dates you've been on?
I have never been on a date. I actually just got asked out for my first date on Valentine's Day.
Do you know what he's planning?
He wants to take me to dinner, but we both work in restaurants, so I feel like dinner's not going to happen. It's just a way to get me to the date, like he's got something bigger planned. He works at a different Chili's, so I feel like he's going to say, "Well, we get a discount here, so y'know, might as well just eat here…"
You feeling good about this relationship?
I'm feeling good about it! I just got out of a really bad two-year relationship, like really bad. Like, he stalks me. He's twenty-six with a six-year old, and he couldn't take care of himself. I paid all the bills, I did everything. I got played, but I won't be played again.
I like your attitude.
This boy won't play me.
Interviews by Meghan Pleticha. Photography by Sean McGurn.