Love & Sex

Talking to Strangers: New York, NY

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Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.


Sara, 23

Where are you from, Sara?
Berlin, Germany. Far, far away. I'm just visiting here.

How are guys here different from guys in Berlin?
I have no idea. Americans don't hit on me. Not yet. Maybe they're just, how do you say… "intimidated by me?"

If you're in Germany, how do men show interest?
They dance with you. If you're on the dance floor, they just come and grab you, and you're stuck with them. Either you want it or you're just like, "It's too hot. I'm going to go. My friends are over there. I need to pee." I guess that's the same thing I'd do here but… if Americans hit on me, it's always the older ones. Thirty to forty. Nasties.

What kind of guy do you like?
I can't tell. Every boyfriend I've had was different. One was a typical German, the other turned out to be Asian.

Well, what do you look for in a guy?
That I can look up to him. And that I can travel with him. It's difficult.

It's like the most stressful thing you can do. If you can travel with someone, you can marry them.
I'll remember that.

What's the craziest place you've had sex?
The couch in someone's apartment. I didn't know whose apartment it was, and it turned out to belong to a colleague. The drinks were so strong, all I remember is sex on a couch. And I figured it out two weeks later.

Did your colleague ever find out?
Yes, because there was a line of clothes from the bathroom to the couch.

Are there any stereotypes about German girls that you would say are true?
I always hear — not especially for Germans, but Europeans — that we're crazier when it comes to sex, that we're open-minded. I hear everybody say, "Oh, I want to fuck a European." What I hear from American guys is that American girls never let them do anything. They think Europeans are more open, and that all we do is have sex. That's all we do. Twenty-four/seven.



Are you and Sara visiting together?
No… I met her in primary school, and then I left Berlin. We haven't seen each other for like ten years. And then, via Facebook, she said she was in New York, and I said, "Oh, me too!"

So, what are you doing here?
I'm visiting my ex-boyfriend.

Really? How's that going?
I don't want to talk about it. [laughs] It's okay.

Is your ex-boyfriend American?
Yeah, he is.

How are American guys different from German guys?
Well, he's Latino, he's from Puerto Rico, so that's a bit different. I think there's more like a difference between Latino and German boys. I went to Argentina and started dating there. It was crazy. At the beginning, I learned there's some rules. You aren't allowed to say yes when a guy asks you out, even if you like the guy. You have to say no three times. And on the fourth — if he asks again — you can say yes. But if you do it before, they think you're a slut. I said yes the first time, and the guy was like, "I'll take you out for beer, and then we'll go to my apartment." And I'm like, "What?"

Did someone tell you?
Yeah: "Well, you said yes after the first time."

What do you look for in a guy?
Honesty, of course. He has to be funny. And Germans, the stereotype is we're very organized, on time, and I like that Latinos can be half an hour late, and that's on time. I hate when somebody does it to you, but if you're always late, it's good.

Has a guy ever offended you in the bedroom?
Yeah. Anal sex. It was really a problem. "No, I don't want to." "Oh, come on." "No, I don't want to."

Did he try to stick it in?
Yeah, it was like, "Wrong!"

I love how they think you're not going to notice. Was that the first time you had sex with him?
Yeah. It was more of a hook-up. I didn't know how far it would go.


Rob, 25

What do you do for a living?
I'm a graduate student studying to be a social-studies teacher. I'm also a carpenter, and currently I'm looking for work as a political activist. Environmental and educational reform.

Does that ever get you ladies? Any of that?
Um, no, it actually scares them.

Well, it does sound a little intense. As a lady. Of all the things you do, what gets the best response out of women?
Probably the whole carpentry thing. But it depends on the girl, you know.

Guys who build things are just hot. It's a magical thing. Do you have any favorite hook-up stories?
Yeah. I was the mascot for Wagner College, I was a sea-hawk, and I fucked one of the dance girls on the fifty-yard line.

Really? In the costume?
Well, I had the head. But I took it off after a minute because I couldn't breathe. It was the middle of the night, I was a freshman, and it kind of just happened that way. She was like, let's go to the football field. And I'm like, I'm the mascot. And she was like, this is weird.

She must've been really impressed by that.
Needless to say, I don't really talk to that girl.

Do you have any crazy ex-girlfriends?
I do have one crazy ex-girlfriend from high school, who's really insane.

How so?
She's just… she was a furry. She wanted me to be a furry.

What kind of animal was she?
She was a cat, I was a squirrel.

You were a squirrel?
Yeah. I was eighteen, I'd just lost my virginity, and I was like, no! I'm not doing this. Like, now I'd probably think about it, but back then, no way. And now I see her every once in a while and all I can think about is "cat and squirrel." It's kind of weird.


Vicky, 22

What do you do for a living?
Um… I live in New York. For a living.

Do you hook up a lot?
Not as much as I used to, because I fell in love with a Mexican. We just broke up and we share custody of my dog. It's amazing. We still fuck. We were together for two-and-a-half years, and we've had our dog for about six months now.

So you shift the dog back and forth?
Well, it was his birthday last week, so I figured he could have the dog for a week. I was trying to be nice.

That's very nice of you. What do you look for in a guy?
I don't look for much, as long as I can… control him? I guess that's not the right word. But as long as he's into me I'm into it. As long as I turn him on, that's all I want. I'm not too worried about my own orgasm, I'm more into his.

Do you have any dealbreakers?
Yeah, if he is shorter, and younger than me. I need him older by ten years. I've never gone younger then ten years, and I'm twenty-two.

Has anyone ever offended you in the bedroom?
No, I just slap them back.

Is there a type of guy you always go for?
Yeah, after I broke up with my Mexican, every time I order delivery, I feel like bringing the delivery guy into my bedroom. Seriously, especially when they can't speak English.

Have you ever done that?
I did when I was in high school.

Do you have any favorite hook-up stories?
When I was in St. Barts, I met this guy. He was French, I'm American, and I guess it was lost in translation, but he ended up sucking his own dick on the beach.


John, 22

What do you do for a living?
I'm a student. Economics.

Does that get ladies?
Not really, no. Not at all. Zero ladies.

What kind of lady do you like?
Someone who's educated, knows where she's heading in life, has a goal, a directive, something she wants to do with her life.

What's the craziest place you've had sex?
Oh, church. That's so bad. My high school was a boarding school, so we had a chapel on campus, and my girlfriend at the time was like "Let's go in the chapel," and one thing led to another.

Do you have any other favorite hook-up stories?
When I was nineteen years old, a couple friends and I went to Bermuda. You know, we were still in high school, getting into college — young. Everyone there was older than us, so we were like, "We're going to make fake names, we're going to pretend to be completely different people." So I was a twenty-six-year-old brain surgeon. I ended up hooking up with a thirty-year-old from England.

How far would you go for love? If you had a girlfriend who wanted you to wear a furry suit, would you do it?
I mean… if she had it, I guess I'd wear it… maybe.


Woody, 23

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

Do you get a lot of ladies?
No, you know… I don't think the stereotype is true.

What do you like in a girl?
I need to be way attracted to her, and usually the girls I find myself with, I go to a lot of the same concerts and a lot of the same bars. Not really the sorority type.

If you like a girl, how do you let her know that you like her?
Very awkwardly. I'm really bad with starting conversations, so the way they usually find out is I embarrass myself by trying to talk to them.

Do you have any favorite hook-up stories?
I just had sex on a plane last week. And the same week I had it in the back of a pickup truck going ninety miles per hour, in the Bahamas. It was all the same girl, a good friend of mine. Not my girlfriend anymore, just good friends. We were on vacation together, so we decided we would just do whatever.

So how did you manage sex on a plane?
She'd told me she'd had sex on a plane before. We had to take eight flights within a week, because we were going to the Bahamas via Miami. So all eight flights, without saying anything, I was trying to find the most opportune time. It wasn't until we were flying back to Chicago from Miami on a completely full jumbo jet with two-hundred people and I just said, "Hey, can we do this?"

That's what you said?
Yeah, we had already done it in a car and on a beach with people around. You know, we were doing all sorts of stupid shit. So we just blatantly walked into the bathroom in a line of people. We didn't think we would get arrested or anything like that. We just said one of us got sick and we were just comforting one another. By the eighth plane ride, I was getting a little pissed off. Cause after she told me about the mile-high club, it just felt like a feather I really wanted in my cap.

And before that you fucked in a truck. Who was driving?
My friend who we were really pissed at.

Is that why you did it?
Yeah, that's exactly why we did it.

Have you ever been offended in the bedroom?
You know how sometimes you drink too much whisky? The only time I was offended, a friend brought me home, and I was shit-faced, and I'd been in love with her for like six years. She's an old friend that I've always been crazy about but never even thought to try anything. And she just basically laughed in my face — rightfully so, I mean, it is kinda funny — and ended up telling mutual friends about it, and then I found out. This was also in the past month.

You've had quite a month.
I know, man. I've had my ups and downs.

Interviews by Meghan Pleticha. Photography by Sean McGurn.