Love & Sex

Talking to Strangers: New York, NY

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Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.

Talking to Strangers - Rachel

Rachael, 24

What do you do for a living?
I'm a hairdresser at Bumble & Bumble.

Does that ever get you dates?
No, mostly gay guys come to B&B.

So what does get you dates?
I go to a lot of underground parties. You meet a lot of interesting, creative people that way.

Is this your first makeout party?
No — my first, I was lucky enough to be volunteering/working at, so it made me less nervous because you're staff and can walk around and just be like, "Hi, how are you?" I usually start all the spin-the-bottle games, which is great because I was never cool in middle school. I've found people kiss in different ways at these things. Some give a little peck and that's the end of it; others just full on grab you and make out with you. And you're always standing awkwardly — there's a table in the middle! So you're leaning over and they have their tongue in your mouth and it's a really incredibly awkward position. People should learn to step around the table.

What's the best date you've ever been on?
After going through a difficult period, my current boyfriend and I recently had a day which reaffirmed why I'm with him. He lives in Philadelphia, which I hate, and it's been very hard. But we always have adventures together and like surprising each other with them. One time I surprised him by waking him up and saying, "In ten minutes, we're going horseback riding!" Then he's surprised me with hiking in the mountains. We've done trapeze lessons. But the most recent thing we did was rafting in the Hudson.

What's the craziest place you've ever had sex?
On top of a mountain in New Hampshire. We hiked, it was nice. There were people nearby, so we had to wait until most of them left late in the day. Coming back down we got scared because it was dark and we forgot our flashlights.

Ever been offended in the bedroom?
Sex with someone who did a lot of biting. A little biting is fine, but there are some things that should not be bitten. Things with a lot of nerve endings in them, you know? I gave him a second shot, but it was so much worse. I had bruises all over my body for a solid week afterwards, not in visible places. He tried to contact me repeatedly after that — Facebook, drunken texting. Did not get it.

Have you ever offended anyone?
I think I've tried to sleep with people who weren't interested. They'd be like, "Whoa, we're just friends!" I mean, I'm pretty, but not everyone wants to sleep with me.

Any crazy exes that stand out more than the rest?
I tend to export my exes. When we break up they move very far away. But the craziest one I have is a married man I worked with. I broke it off because his wife got pregnant and I didn't want to deal with that. But he's pursued me on and off since then.


Talking to Strangers - Jay

Jay, 35

What do you do for a living?
I'm an academic — urban studies, media studies.

Does that ever get you dates?
I certainly know I've never said that to get dates.

Ever been with any students?
It's not a cool thing to do, but I did cross the line twice, a long time ago when I first started teaching. I called this girl up on the flimsiest of excuses just to try to get her on the phone. But that was it, nothing ever came of it. There was a former student I thought had a thing for me — we hung out for a couple of months, ambiguously, then during the break I sent a few postcards and came on a little too strong. She ended up dating my best friend for two years, which was good — like, "Oh, you're just rejecting me — not my whole life and circle of friends." I wasn't wrong to do it, but it is a gray zone that I decided I'd rather not be a part of. And just by nature, from being a guy, you venture into that at some point — but I like to keep that to a minimum.

Have you ever offended anyone in the bedroom?
This girl I got together with — we started off very accelerated. She was about to go overseas for this study abroad program, so things happened intensely. At some point within the first few times we were making love, she started venturing with her finger towards my ass, and I was like "Whoa, let's not do that." She wasn't offended by that, but when a woman asks what your fantasy is — and this is when you have to be good at reading women, because I'm not — I said, because she was big on blowjobs, "I want to come on your face." She was like, "Eww!" And I'm like, "You want to stick a finger up my ass but I can't do that?" I don't think it's all that offensive, but it's certainly not PG.

Is this your first makeout party?
Yes, I like it so far.

How many people have you made out with tonight?
Three or four. It's been fun. It's funny to kiss strangers. I don't think I've played spin the bottle since —

Junior high?
Actually, grad school.


Talking to Strangers - Sandy

Sandy, 30

What do you do for a living?
I'm an admin for an IT company.

Does that get you dates?

What does?
My natural charm!

So do men come to you or do you go to them?
It's in between. There was an internet dating period, too, that worked out well. I dated someone I ended up being friends with for a while. We went to dinner, then walked through the park. I'm a quaint, romantic kind of girl, despite being at this makeout party…

Where's the craziest place you've ever had sex?
On a Caterpillar tractor at a construction site. Boyfriend at the time and I were playing frisbee in the park. So walking home, we passed by this construction site on the way to the car and were like "Look! There's no one there." We started wandering around, one thing leads to another, I'm wearing a skirt, it's very convenient, then we're having sex on a backhoe seat. It was like, "Watch out for the buttons! Don't hit the lever!"

How was that?
It was fun, but pretty awkward. What if I hit one of the levers? We were worried about running things over! It was right by this new building!

Talking to Strangers - Missy

Missy, 30

What do you do for a living?
I run service groups for college students in impoverished areas.

Does that ever get you dates?
Of course. You tell people you're a do-gooder and they're like, "Oh my God, I want to sleep with you."

That's happened?
Yes. Right after Katrina, I was at a bar talking to this guy, and I was like, "Yeah, I'm taking this group of twenty passionate students from Americorps down to New Orleans to help rebuild." He looks at me and goes, "I should sleep with you to thank you." And I said, "No, you shouldn't sleep with me. You should actually go down on me for five days in a row." He looks at me and he's like, "You're on." And that happened!

You got oral sex for five days straight?
Yeah, at 8:30 every night like the news. I was like, "When Al Roker gets on, so do you." And I didn't think this guy would go through with it — it was just a line. But, at the end of the day I was like, "Score!" I had a roommate and I told her that every night at 8:30 she needed to go away.

Have you ever been offended in the bedroom?
Yeah, one time in New Orleans, I was with a guy who said, "I'm your hurricane and you have to tame me." I was like, "Are you kidding me? There's like millions of dead people because of you!" I got really angry. It was very offensive. And one guy was like, "Since you're such a do-gooder, do you mind if I fuck you in the ass and do me some good?" Like, really?

Have you ever offended anyone in the bedroom?
I'm perfect! How could I offend anyone in the bedroom? I'm a do-gooder! No, I've never offended anyone, though I have been a little more aggressive than other people. Because what I've learned since being a very little girl growing up in Brooklyn, is that if you don't ask for what you want, no one will give it to you. But if you tell them what you want in a mommy kind of way, they get offended and stop doing what they're doing. I did once offend a man by asking if I could bring a friend with me.

Male friend or female friend?
He assumed I meant a male friend, but I meant a female friend. But he was like, "What, I'm not good enough?" He went immediately to the male thing. I was like, "Okay, you like boys, I get it, but that's not what I was asking you."


Talking to Strangers - Barry

Barry, 26

What do you do?
I live in New York and sell diamonds.

Does that get you dates?
Yes, I'm the Israeli Barry Manilow that sells diamonds!

How so?
Well, my boss tried to set me up with one of the buyers. He wanted me to hook up with her to try to get her to sell us a bunch of diamonds.

So you got pimped out?
Yes, he tried to. I didn't agree to the terms.

Was she attractive?
She wasn't!

What if she had been?
I might have done it, but not for the business aspect.

What's the best date you've ever had?
I met my girlfriend through work at a Halloween party. We both hooked up with different people early in the night, but ended up with each other at the end. We both went there only because we each knew the other would be there.

Any psychotic exes?
I dated a girl for a year and a half, but after I broke up with her, she started calling me drunk from different places with her new boyfriend. And there was another girl I went on four dates with who — well, the first time I went to her house, she asked me if I needed a condom and pulled out a shopping bag full of them. There were at least 500 condoms in there. Every variety you could think of. I was very afraid for my STD situation. The second time I met her, she wanted me to come to Maryland with her to meet her family.

What's the craziest place you've had sex?
An Israeli military base near of all my soldiers. I served for three years. Towards the end of my service — I was a commander, so they sent me to a recruiting base to help direct the new recruits. There was another girl from the military police I was working with. It was late at night. We ended up inside the office of our high commander and started having sex. And all the soldiers outside couldn't fall asleep because of the noise. When we came out, they were clapping.


Talking to Strangers - Carolyn

Carolyn, 27

What do you do?
I'm a fashion designer.

Does that get you dates?
I've been with someone since I was seventeen — we've been together for ten years! We were high-school sweethearts.

Was there ever an in between period?
No, but we went to different colleges and I was constantly commuting back down south for four years just to see him.

How is it going out to bars, do guys ever hit on you pretty badly?
One guy literally came up from behind me, and whispered in my ear, "Asian persuasion!" I swear, the hairs on my back stood up — it was so creepy! Anyone who says that is a douche.

If you were single, who would be your type?
Typically, I like the bad boys — so I'd go for that if I were single.

What is it about bad boys?
You always want what you can't have! And they make it so freakin' hard! Plus, I think girls like being tortured a little bit. They like the chase, because once they get the guy, they're like — next!

Interviews by Sean McGurn and Laurel Stye. Photography by Sean McGurn