Love & Sex

Talking to Strangers: New York, NY

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Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.


Elle, 20

What do you do for a living?
Professional student.

And what do you study?

Is Italian a sexy language?
Yes, when it's spoken by men. No, when it's spoken by women. Women sound like assholes when they speak Italian.

But men sound sexy?
It depends. I have a big, fat professor. When he talks it's just a big mumbo jumbo of nonsense. You can't tell when he's speaking English and when he's speaking Italian because it sounds exactly the same. But generally, yes, men sound sexier when they speak Italian.

Is there anything that guys do besides speak Italian that gets you going?
As an appearance thing, I like geeky guys. I guess the connotation of them being intelligent gets me going.

Have you ever been offended in the bedroom?
Yes. My ex-boyfriend told me that my stuff smelled funny.

At what point did he say this?
He was all for having sex with me — and I gave him head, I gave him a blowjob — and he was ready to go, and he was like, "What's that smell?" I freaked out a little. I mean, I got pissed. You don't say that, that's fucked up. You suggest taking a sexy shower or something. You don't say, "What's that smell?"

Had you showered that day?
I had showered maybe like, twenty minutes before I went to his house, which was the fucked-up part of it.

Maybe he'd never been with a woman before?
No, this was well into our relationship. This was like to the point where he stopped eating me out and I was like, all right, either you're going to start eating me out or I'm not going to give you head any more. And he was like, okay, fine we can compromise.

What a jerk!
It didn't smell bad. I smelled it. I smelled very nice.

Do you have any crazy hook-up stories?
I was dating my very first boyfriend, who I had known pretty much all my life. He was like my best friend ever. I was giving him head in the hallway of my apartment complex. It was really late. I thought people were asleep and my mom walked up the stairs and in her Spanish accent she was like, "Elle, could you please esplain to me what you are fucking doing?!" And then she proceeded to beat the crap out of me and beat the crap out of him, too. And then she made us break up. It was great. I mean at that moment it wasn't because she beat the crap out of me, but looking back on it, it was hilarious.

Gregory, 23

What do you do for a living?
I'm a carpenter.

Are you from around here?
I'm from upstate New York.

How is dating different here in New York City?
I don't know because I have a girlfriend. But I'm sure it's gotta be tough. A lot of judgment is passed in the city.

Do you have a favorite hook-up story to tell?
I was fifteen years old, going to a party at this kid's house who hated me. He was trying to charge me fifteen dollars for a cup, and I got one for ten. There were these two girls there, and one of them — she was that girl that everybody wanted, and I was this chunky kid and I had long hair. So we go to smoke some reefer at the bridge — this is like out in the country. One thing led to another, and I had her lifted up on the ledge of the bridge, like on the side of the road. Then her friend came and busted us, you know, freaked out, calling, "Kimmie, you slut!" There was a bunch of us, it was in front of people, but you don't care when you're a kid.

Wait, were you boning or were you —
Yeah, oh yeah, it was going down. It was happening. I was in my glory. The whole time I'm like, I can't believe I'm having sex with Kimmie. It only lasted two or three minutes, and I didn't get to finish. I'm sure she didn't finish. So we start walking back to the house; I'm all pissed and blue, you know? I walk into the house, and everybody's pissed at me. The kid who's throwing the party's pissed because not only did I bone the hottest girl there, but he hated me to begin with. And there's this girl lying on the mattress, Melissa — and she's like the second-hottest girl, banging hot, and I had gone out with her in the past and nothing had ever happened. She's like, "Greg, come lay with me." And I'm like, no fucking way. So I do and we start like, foreplay-ish, and the same girl who busted me before walks in, flipping out, "Why is everybody fucking Greg at my party?!"

That's a pretty good story. I honestly don't know if we can beat that.
I have another one. I was at this place called Red Bridge, everybody swam there, there's this big tree you can jump off, and I met this girl Nikki — she's cute. I'm like fifteen.

Fifteen was a big year.
Yeah! Ever since then I've had girlfriends. But, I was fifteen and we were at Red Bridge, we're all going swimming. So we all take most of our clothes off to jump in the water. Nikki takes all of her clothes off besides her bra and her thong. So we go into the water, and it's just me, her, and some other kid just wading around, and she like, wraps her legs around me and she had pulled her thong to the side and she had me touch it, and I was like, no way, and she pulled closer, and I was ready to go. You know, I was fifteen. And next thing you know, I was inside her, and all these guys are like, "Is this really happening?" We were going at it at the edge of the pond, and this kid — who's now dead — starts crawling across the branch of this tree, like right above us. He wasn't jerking off or anything, but it was weird. Everybody was watching, but he was like POV-watching. And while we're going at it, people are talking to me, they're like, "You want us to go kick his ass? You want us to go kick his ass for being up there watching?"

And I'm like, "Yeah, go kick his ass!" So they, like, rip him from the tree and drag him up the hill. They didn't beat his ass, but they probably left some bruises on his arms and stuff. I don't think I finished there, either. It was an uncomfortable situation, but it counted. It counted for sure.

It seems like when you were fifteen you boned a lot, but you never finished.
Right! But with that girl I ended up finishing multiple times later on.


Elle, 25

What do you do for a living?
I work in skin care. It's all right. I work the clerical side of the whole thing.

Have you ever used your job to get laid?
I used to be a bottle-service waitress in South Beach, so yeah. I got laid a lot from that! I had this flirtation going with a guy who worked in the club with me. Finally one day, we just took it to the bathroom. I was way younger though, way long ago.

Was that on shift?
It was right before we opened, so yeah.

Do you have any favorite hook-up stories?
Well, my ex-boyfriend and I pretty much acted out a rape scene to the fullest extent. I had him wait outside my apartment. I was pretending to be cooking when he broke into my apartment and it was full-on, chasing me around the apartment, me screaming. Thank God my neighbors didn't call the cops. It was pretty intense. I've never had a hook-up like that before. It was so hot. I'm pretty into acting out fantasies and dressing up.

What's your favorite outfit?
Schoolgirl. I think that's pretty standard, but I really feel sexy in the schoolgirl outfit.

What gets you going in a guy, besides rapists?
I like the whole foreplay thing. I like when guys massage and lead up to it. That really gets me going.

Has anyone ever offended you in the bedroom?
One guy I was hooking up with left his socks on. I was like, "Take them off!" That is like, the least sexy thing you could do in the bedroom.

Andre, 28

What do you do for a living?
I'm a freelance stylist assistant and I work with Housing Works at the distribution center.

Has anyone ever offended you in the bedroom?
I can't really say so, because I pretty much go with the flow with almost anything. I'm not really offended easily — maybe surprised.

What surprised you?
The request she made. She wanted to know if she could, you know, fuck me. I thought that was a strange request, man, coming from a female — she basically wanted to strap it on with me. I knew her pretty well, but it was a side of her I had never explored. I always thought of her as being conservative, but I guessed wrong.

Do you have a favorite hook-up story to tell?
I was standing in line with a girl who I just met not too long ago. We were at Mickey D's over on West Fifth Street, and she had to use the restroom. I did, too. And she said, "Hey, let's go in together." She basically did me inside the restroom. I thought that was pretty insane. I was like, oh snap, I didn't expect that. Then we both come out together, all messed up, and everyone's looking. I think it was our first date, actually — though I had a feeling she was kind of wild.

Was there a second date?
Yeah, we went out a few times after that. It was cool. There's also this other chick I met recently, actually. She invited me to her place, I go back for drinks, we're hanging out. I sit at her bar in the kitchen, and my friend's freakin' business card is on her bar. And I'm like, oh man, don't tell me this dude is actually hooking up with her, too! I didn't mention anything to her, because I didn't want to mess my action up. I wait, and we kind of get it on or whatever. Then one of her girlfriends from Europe comes in, who was staying with her. As soon as I leave her place, I call my best friend: "Dude, do you know this girl named so-and-so?" And he said no, and I'm like, "Have you met any girls from France or Italy recently?" He says, "Oh yeah, I met a girl from France." I ask, "What'd she look like?" He described her, and I'm like, "Oh cool, that's the roommate." He was like, "Yo, hook it up." So I'm texting them now, inviting them to his potluck over the weekend.

You're a good friend.
I try. Gotta share the wealth, you know.


Meaghan, 22

What do you do for a living?
I'm a philanthropic-services consultant. We help nonprofits get the money to do the work that they need to do.

Do you think that's a sexy job?
Not so much. Nonprofits aren't sexy, but it's doing good.

Are you from around here?
I just moved from Boston, actually.

How is dating different around here?
Boston is a college town, so it's a lot easier to meet people your own age. You also need to be twenty-one to get into bars in Boston, unlike here, where you can be like sixteen. So I feel like thirty-year-old men have more access to sixteen-year-old girls here than they do in Boston. It's different here because it's so big — if you don't go to the East Village, you're never going to see anyone in the East Village. Boston is a lot smaller, so it's more contained. There's only a certain number of bars you're going to go to.

What's the hottest thing someone's done for you?
Well, my boyfriend for Valentine's Day gave me a massage. He had candles set up, and brownies — he knows I like chocolate — and I got a massage, no strings attached. I didn't have to reciprocate, didn't have to get my hands all tired. That was pretty hot, because I could relax and not worry about what I had to do afterwards.

What about the opposite sex always gets you going?
The smell. Definitely if they smell good — not overpowering, just natural, and you can tell that they're comfortable with their smell — that really gets me going. And the little touches: touching on the arms, the small of your back, the subtle cues that guys have a hard time mastering, but once they do, it's all over.

What's your favorite hook-up story?
Not that I want anyone from my college reading, but we hooked up in the silent library.

Were you silent?
Yeah, it wasn't that exciting. I definitely didn't have a problem being silent that time. But I felt very proud of myself for doing that on my college campus. It had to be done, I felt. It was during the night. There's a special room that nobody goes to, but people walk by it when they go to the bathroom, so there was that element of being caught. But I'm not that much of an exhibitionist.

What section was this?
It was like the Art Lounge or something. We wanted to do it on the football field, but I was worried about security cameras. They put millions of dollars into the football field, so I figure they have good security.


Richard, 25

What do you do for a living?
I'm a chef and musician.

Which profession is sexier?
Musician. Sex and food and wine are commonly associated with each other these days, but at the end of a rock-and-roll show — in terms of the sweat and the alcohol and everything — there's a slightly sexier atmosphere.

You ever get laid because you're a musician?

Ever because you're a chef?

Got any good stories?
What's this rated?

Triple X.
A couple years ago I played in this Philadelphia rock band called The Union Dead. We just finished playing this show at the M Room. I met this girl and we're hanging out, drinking, she had some blow, so we did some blow, and we ended up going to this warehouse party afterwards. We're in this warehouse party, we're hanging out and all these rooms were taken, and we're basically just looking for a place to go and fuck or whatever.

There were really no doors or anything in the warehouse. The bathroom was too public. But across from the bathroom there was this empty room, and the light switch worked and there was this door that kind of did work. I sort of took the door and leaned it up against where the door area would be — and there was a ladder, so I leaned it up against the door, hoping that someone who pushed on the door would feel the weight and be like, "Oh, I guess I shouldn't go in there." So I sit in this La-Z-Boy in the middle of the room, and she'd going down on me, and at one point I open my eyes and I see this little beam of light and it starts to get wider and wider and wider. I realize that the door's open. At the same point I realize that what was holding the door open was the ladder, so I watch in slight horror and much glee as the ladder starts to fall towards the center of the room, onto the girl, and it hits her on the head as she's giving me head. Luckily nothing got bitten off and no stitches were needed. That's probably the best story I have.

Did that hurt?
Didn't hurt me!

Cool. Has anyone ever offended you in the bedroom?
No. But I hope so, one of these days.

Have you ever offended anyone in the bedroom?

Interviews by Meghan Pleticha. Photography by Sean McGurn.