Love & Sex

Talking to Strangers: New York, NY

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Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.


Maribeth, 21

What do you do for a living?
I'm a student and a retail worker. I'm studying early-childhood education. I understand kids, I think, more than I understand adults sometimes.

Very cool. What have you learned about dating from working with little children?
Yo, honestly, a lot of the same stuff I learned in a sexuality class correlated with children and how they learn. The first few years are very important for how they turn out to be, sexually — like what their preferences will be. It's very interesting.

Wow. Can you give me an example?
Well, for one, what kids play with and what they see can have a big effect on what they'll like as they mature. Especially what they see, like, their moms — if they're affectionate with their fathers — if the parents are affectionate, that plays a part in what the children will consider to be a turn-on later in life.

So if you see your parents, like, being cute and cuddly together —
They would want that in their lives. Or, it could be the opposite, like they don't see someone give affection, but that's what they consider to be affection. So they can interpret not giving affection as a sign of affection.

So when I get married, I'm gonna make out with my husband all the time.
Yeah, it's very important. Kids notice these things and I don't think adults realize how much they take in.

So what's dating like in your major?
I don't date anybody in my school. They're all big boys. I can't play with boys.

What kind of guy do you like?
Tall and funny. As long as you're funny, you have my heart. I'm very open-minded, so you definitely have to be open-minded, somewhat smart. You know, hold a conversation and I'll be fine with that. So as long as you're funny and you have a good head on your shoulders and you're focused. And you're tall. I really have a thing for tall. I know this sounds really shallow but I'm five-eight. So as long as you're taller than five-eight, I'm good.

Do you have any favorite hook-up stories?
I actually hooked up with a friend of mine in an ice-cream parlor. In the bathroom. He worked there and I would come over after closing, bring a few of my friends, and we'd just chill or eat ice cream and drink. As long as we cleaned up, the manager was pretty much okay with it.

Michael, 22

What do you do for a living?
Right now I go to school. I'm studying the entertainment business.

Cool. Does that get you dates?
Not yet.

Do you have any crazy ex-girlfriends?
Of course. The crazy where they stalk you for awhile. Keep calling, calling, calling you. Want to have your babies.

Did a girl actually say that to you?
Yeah, numerous times. Like, "I want to have your kids." But we happened to not live in the same state, so it worked out. She was in Jersey and I was here, so I just stayed away.

Jersey isn't that far from Manhattan. She could get over here.
She could definitely get over here, but I would just hide and look around corners, make sure she wasn't around.

Do you have any favorite hook-up stories?
There's just always some crazy story in some crazy bathroom. It's always in the bathroom, like, "Yo, I can't believe that shit just happened in the bathroom." But I remember this one time, we were all going to this party at this college upstate. We came in two different cars and it was raining really, really hard. Everyone got out of the cars but they decided to stay outside for some reason. It was raining so hard you couldn't see inside the car. I was still in the car with this girl and she was like, "We should have sex, right now." I was like, "First of all, this isn't our car. Second of all, they just got this car last week. It's new." And she was like, "So what? You're being such a little bitch, you're always complaining." So we just had crazy, crazy sex while everyone, including the person who owned the car, was right outside. And they couldn't tell, cause they couldn't see.

How close outside were they?
They were leaning on the next car. There was an awning kind of thing, so everyone was like right there. They were all facing us.

They totally saw you.
Nah, they definitely didn't see me. No one saw cause no one ever talked about it.


Erica, 23

So does bartending get you dates?
Yes and no. I try not to date customers or co-workers. Dudes come in and they all hit on the bartender, you know, they all want to get the bartender's number. So I guess technically, if I wanted to pursue it, I could. But I haven't. Well, that's a lie. I'm actually dating my manager from four years ago. But we don't work together anymore.

Do you have any favorite hook-up stories?
I do have one. It was a friend of mine, we'd been friends since high school when he used to date my best friend. Years went by, long story short, we got really drunk and ended up fooling around in the bathroom, to the point where we broke the toilet. We smashed the toilet into about 50,000 pieces.

Wait a minute: how?
We were on top of the toilet, doing our thing, and the fucking toilet literally exploded. I have the pictures on my Facebook. Nobody knows why. Literally, the fucking thing just crashed. It leaked blue shit all down the stairs to my roommate's room. The next day I had to go to Home Depot and buy a toilet. Thank God my other friend is a plumber. It was hysterical. He and I are still friends. It was a stupid, drunken thing.

I feel like it would be hard to break a toilet if you were sober.
Exactly. But it was completely normal at the time. The funny part is, because we were all shit-bombed, we woke up the next morning and I go down stairs to use the bathroom and I was like, "Oh my God!" We all just started dying. Everybody woke up and we went into the bathroom and there was fucking water all over the place. It had leaked downstairs into the basement. It was terrible.

Do you have a weakness with guys?
Bad boys, man. Assholes. The assholes that are mean to me, I can't get enough of it.

Yeah, that's normal. Who's the biggest jerk you dated?
I dated this guy on and off for two years. He was supposed to come out for my birthday, but he said he had promised to go to a car show with a friend of ours. A week later a friend of mine called and said, "Just so you know, he's been dating this other girl." So she called me and was like, "You've been dating him for how long? I've been with him for the past three months." I told him we'd been on and off for two years, and she was like, "Come pick me up right now." We ended up driving to his house and she beat the shit out of him. She went fucking crazy on this kid, ripping his hair and clawing his face. I was so mad I couldn't say anything. I was just standing there watching the whole thing like, "Motherfucker, on my birthday." Then I just went like this, BAM, and knocked him out cold and left. So that was probably the biggest asshole-thing that has ever happened.

Oh my god, I can't believe when guys think they are going to get away with that. Girls fucking talk about everything.
And I'm the kind of girl who's like, you never blame the girl. You always blame the guy.

Mike, 21

What do you do for a living?
Music, alternative and hip-hop. I'm a songwriter and an artist.

Very cool. Does that get you ladies?
It makes them scared of me. They don't feel like anything will last, cause they feel like my future's gonna be something that entails a lot of women or something like that.

Have they told you that, straight up?
Yeah. Like, straight up, and I'll be like "Why?" I explain to them that I'm not really world-wide yet or anything. I'm not something that crazy. I'm affiliated with people, but I haven't got to the place where I want it to go, you know? And I tell them, "Isn't it better that you be with me now, rather than not be with me at all? Or isn't it better to be with me now rather try to get with me when that happens, because then you'll seem like a gold-digger or something?"

If you wanted to impress a woman, how would you impress her?
It would probably be with something creative. It would probably be a song. Actually, I just finished recording a song. It's just this girl I have a crush on. She claims to be a lesbian, but she's not.

How do you know she's not a lesbian?
Because we went on dates. And then she called me one day and was like, "I want to have my cake and eat it, too." And I was like, "What are you talking about? You like me, don't you?" And she was like, "Yeah." And I was like, "You're not a lesbian then, stop saying that." I hate when girls say that. Bisexual, maybe, okay then. Fine. I think a lot of young girls in their early twenties claim they're lesbians because they got their heart broken by a guy and don't want to mess with men anymore until they get over it.

You've heard of the term "a lesbian until graduation" — like lesbians in college, until they graduate and suddenly they're straight?
Yeah, I got that vibe from her. She's this Guatemalan girl. She's really nice. And she has full lips so I wrote a song called "Perfect-Lip Ashley."

Where's the craziest place you've had sex?
In a Chinese restaurant's bathroom. I was out with my friend Mike and these two chicks. We were outside, about to leave, and my girl says, "Yo, I really have to go to the bathroom." I'm still outside, and Mike was like, "Go inside." I'm like, "Nah, she's coming right back out." But I think he wanted to talk to the girl he was with, so I go inside. The girl I'm with comes out and she's like, "Oh, I didn't know you were there." And I was like, "Yeah." And she goes, "Oh, well come in." She starts making out with me and she's like, "This has to be fast, you understand that?" Isn't that just the best thing a guy wants to hear? Cause then you don't have to worry about holding yourself back. Just go whenever you want. It's the best thing a guy wants to hear: I don't have to pause to make this last long, this can be as short as I want it to be. And premature ejaculation is amazing right now, so it's fine. We had sex for five minutes and she just pulled up her tights.


Ashley, 26

What do you do for a living?
I'm a design assistant in the fashion industry.

Very cool. Does that ever get you dates?
Definitely not. Everyone's gay. I get gay dates. I'm someone's gay-straight lover at work.

How can a guy impress you?
By being funny. And smelling good. There was this guy in high school who I was totally in love with, but he didn't smell good, so I couldn't be with him. And he was in love with me. But I was like, "You should bathe more. And not work at a steakhouse."

Do you have any favorite hook-up stories?
I have one bad one. I was in Italy, and my roommate was this total slut — but I liked her, she was great. She brought home these two Australian guys. She was hooking up with the super-hot one, so I was left to the medium-hot one, but he was still really hot, so I was A-okay with that. We were hanging out in the living room, cause they were getting it on in the bedroom, and he was like, "So, we should probably make out." So we started making out, then we go to my bedroom and then we start hooking up. First off he starts fingering me and doing stuff. It was not great. Then he says, "I've never let a girl leave before she's come. Every girl finishes with me." And I was like, okay, and I faked it within two minutes. That's the only time I've ever faked it.

That's the only time I've ever faked orgasm — when the guy was like, "We're not leaving till you come." And I'm like, "I just came!"
Yeah. So then after that we were lying there and he was like, "So would you give him a kiss?" And I started laughing hysterically. And he's like, "I never had a girl laugh at that before." Then I felt bad, so I kissed it.

This is my favorite story tonight, just so you know.
Just wait. So then I sensed that he was getting really close and I hate semen in my mouth — it makes me throw up, it's really gross.

Do you ever think about the sperm swimming around in there?
No, I don't let it happen in the first place. So he started to come and I just started using my hands, and then he came in my eye. It was so painful. It was so painful. I had to go to the bathroom and flush my eye with water for fifteen minutes. Eye drops, saline solution, everything. And the next day my eye was swollen and all my friends were like, "What the fuck happened to your eye?" And I said, "You don't want to know."


Jason, 38

Do you have any crazy hook-up stories?
A couple weeks ago, I met a girl whom I had no interest in whatsoever. She pursued me really vigorously. She was like, "We can't go back to my place because I live in Bensonhurst, so why don't we go to yours?" And before you know it, we're at my place.

I don't know if "congratulations" is really the word for it. Have you ever been to a rodeo?

Okay, they have this thing in the rodeo when you set the calves free and someone lassos one and ties it up and grabs it. That's how I felt.

Do you have any crazy ex-girlfriends?
Yeah. I'm not going to name names, but I absolutely do. I'd been living in Los Angeles and I had moved back to New York. Not only did she move back to New York but she moved in with my mom. It was this whole thing. My mom had met her before and they were friendly. My mom actually went to her wedding to somebody else, and my sister was a flower girl at her wedding.

Wow. That's impressive.
For her, yes. For me, not so much so. "Jason, why don't you come to the wedding?" "Well, how do you know the bride?" "Well, I used to fuck her."

Where's the craziest place you had sex?
The Natural History Museum when I was in high school.

What! Like, in the bathroom?
No, in the rock exhibit. It was a long time ago, but in the rock exhibit they used to have all these nooks and crannies you could sneak into. It was like 1988. Security was much more relaxed back then. New York was a different place in the eighties. My high-school girlfriend and I cut school one day to go to the Natural History Museum.

I love how that sounds almost educational: cutting school to go the Museum.
You know, it was winter in New York and it was warm there. If both your parents are at home — my mom had a baby so she was home all the time, and her mom was a stay-at-home mom — you have to find places. So the Natural History Museum was one of them and it actually was awesome.

How are women in New York different than women in L.A.?
Women in L.A. are awful. I will say this on record: L.A. is the worst place in the entire country. L.A. is all about, "Can I give you a script for something?" Even your doorman wants to be an actor.

I used to work in a coffee shop in L.A., and a guy buying coffee pitched me a movie.
Right, exactly. If you're in L.A. and you meet a girl who is moderately attractive, she has some kind of agenda. Here you can meet beautiful girls who are lawyers and doctors and God-knows-what. It's fantastic.

Interviews by Meghan Pleticha. Photography by Sean McGurn.