Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.
What do you do?
I'm a stand-up comedian.
And does that get you a lot of dates?
Yes. Women like funny guys, so after the show a lot of them hang out and are very friendly. And actually performing is like an icebreaker because I don't have the awkward moment of how to approach them, because they know who I am already. They get a hint of my personality because they see me perform.
Are you under any pressure to constantly be funny because of your role as a comedian?
No, not really. If I'm not on stage, I'm usually serious most of the time. I can be fun when I go out and party, but I'm normally serious. When I go out on dates, sometimes people ask, "Oh, you're a comedian? Tell me a joke," or whatever. And I hate that. It'll never come across as funny as it would on stage — it's a whole other energy.
Is there a type that you go for?
No. I don't have a specific type. I just feel it. If I'm around somebody and I can feel their energy, if they make me feel happy, it sounds really weird, but I feel, like, an inner smile. Did my accent just come out? That's a Midwestern accent! But, as far as aesthetics, I don't have a certain type. I will say this — just not obese.
Is there a certain type that tends to go for you?
Yeah. Female. [laughs] No, my dating track record varies a lot. It's very — it's very varied. Is that grammatically correct?
Have you ever dated a woman older than you?
Yes. When I first moved to New York, I was twenty-two or twenty-three, and I dated a woman who was forty-two at the time. It was one of my better relationships, and one thing that she said really stuck with me. She said she had to relate to me on my level. She'd been twenty-four before, and I'd never been forty-two. And then when I was thirty, I started dating a woman who was twenty-four, and I understand what the forty-two-year-old meant. Fucking dating a twenty-four-year-old is just a headache! It's a serious headache. I had to call the forty-two-year-old and apologize — "Was I really this stupid when I was in my twenties?"
What's the most sexually adventurous thing you've done?
I've partaken in ménages-à-trois on several occasions. I definitely enjoyed it. The first one, though, I felt a little neglected, because the girls forgot that I was in the room. [laughs] They were a little more into each other than they were into me. As I grew, I learned how to take charge of these situations.
Did those just happen or were you seeking them out?
They just happened. And, you know what? Every sexual encounter like that that ever happened has always happened by accident. Nothing that I ever set up. Like, if I focused on it and I wanted some of that stuff to happen, it would never fucking happen in a million years. But then, when it happened on accident, I was dating this girl, and I didn't know she'd dated girls before. I went over to her house and she had four of her friends there. It was a fun time.
So you were with all of those girls?
Yeah. I kind of ran out of spark because I'd been drinking that night. Got a little whiskey-dick. But I made it to the finish line.
I finished strong.
Where are you from?
I'm actually American, but I've lived in so many places that I have an accent. [laughs]
What do you do?
I'm a designer. Product design. Home décor.
What's your relationship status?
I'm married. I met my husband at a dinner here in New York. He's from England, and he was visiting, and he was about to go back the next day. He was here visiting a friend, and that friend happened to be a friend of my friend. And then… I don't know how we got married, actually, honestly.
Did you have a long-distance relationship?
Yeah, for one year. That was hard.
Did you have an open relationship during that time?
I guess. We never really talked about it — it was more like, "Let's see what happens." And then I moved to England and then we moved here.
Before you met your husband, what was your dating life like?
Sporadic. I like shy guys, quiet kinds of guys. In the city, it's really difficult to find somebody. So, before my husband, I would just meet people and hang out for a bit, or for that party, and then that's it.
Do you have any fun hook-up stories?
I thought my husband was going to be my first one-night-stand, actually, because he was here from England, and I was like, "Oh, how cute!" And I thought that he was going back tomorrow, so there was no future whatsoever.
Did you sleep with him on that first date?
Yeah, we just sort of, like… he came back to my place, and we were talking forever, and at the end we slept together. We actually didn't sleep all night, and he had to leave really early in the morning to catch his plane. I remember he was so nice. He was like, "Oh, you know, I can come back in two weeks," and so on. I was like, "Yeah, don't worry. You know, I'm a grown-up. That's okay." I thought he was telling me that because he didn't want to be an asshole just leaving me or something. I totally thought he was going to be my first one-night stand.
And then when did you know that he was serious?
I don't know, it just happened! Seriously! When he said he was coming back, I was like, "Okay, if you want." But then I was like, "Maybe I won't remember what this guy looks like." I was really worried. So I said, "Can you send me a photo?" And he did, and then I was like, "Oh, I don't really know if I like this guy anymore." The photo was just really weird. But he came finally to my door, and I was like, "I like him, I like him. He looks different in the photo."
What did you find attractive about him when you first met him?
It was a connection that's really difficult to explain. I felt like I'd known him forever. Even though I didn't know him, I didn't feel like I had to pretend anything. I was so relaxed about it, because I knew I was never going to bump into him again — he was from England! But in the end, I was happy to marry him.
What do you do?
I'm a pathologist. We do autopsies, dissect surgical specimens, run lab tests. It's a lot of fun.
What does that mean?
I'm a doctor, I don't see patients, and it's not like CSI.
How do you deal with that when you're explaining it to a girl?
It's really not that difficult. I just say, "This is what I do," and I explain it, a little bit more long-windedly than I just did, and I'll answer any specific questions that come up. Usually people are more interested than grossed out.
So do you think it's landed you any dates?
For sure. No question. I've noticed that there are two types of women that go for that. The first type of woman is generally kind of into horror films, and metal, and sometimes electronic music. I think for them it's this more of this fantasy thing that they can brag to their friends about. The other half are really professional people — a lot of people who are in social media and advertising for some reason. I think they're just really intrigued by it. It's unique, and it's something that's cool that they can put on their Twitter. I don't know.
So what's your relationship status now?
My relationship status is extremely complicated. I'm involved with three or four people right now.
So how is any of that going?
Really well to moderately well. Really well is a long-distance thing. We're both doing our own thing right now, and we see each other when we see each other. I have someone else I'm kind of seeing two or three times a week, and that's pretty casual. I have someone else I see once or twice a month, and that's really casual. Other two things are about once or twice a month.
Do they all know about each other?
Some do, some don't.
The girls that do, are they actually cool with it or are they pretending to be cool with it?
They're actually cool with it. That was definitely one of the stipulations and it's not a problem.
What are they like?
Smart, funny people. I don't really have any kind of tolerance for idiocy and boringness, so they're all cool, you know?
Is there a reason you don't want to pick one of them?
I think, when I can be together with a person in a long-term relationship, I think that will become the only thing that's going on in my life. But that's just not feasible at the moment. For the time being, that's the way it is.
What was your last committed relationship like?
My last committed relationship became long-distance. It was fine. It was great. And we were essentially living together at the end. Now we're apart, but it was fine. It wasn't really a breakup. She got a job in another country. I think I would have respected her a lot less if she hadn't gone and taken it.
That makes sense. Do you have any crazy exes?
One. It's pretty benign right now. I haven't spoken to that person in a few months, but the breakup was pretty dramatic and prolonged. There were a lot of kitchen utensils thrown at me.
Do you have any good hook-up stories?
A lot. I hooked up in the ice-vending machine of a hotel one time. It was hard on the knees, I can assure you. Also, in caves and random hiking trails. One was in a cave with a river running through it in New Zealand. National parks. All sorts of places in New York.
What was your favorite?
I like my memory-foam mattress. That's probably a favorite place.
Hanni, 21 and Romana, 23
What are you doing in New York?
H: We are here for vacation from Austria. We are just visiting friends. It has been one week and we have just one week left.
What do you think of it?
R: It's very different, but you always hear and see about New York in all the movies and everything, and then you get there and you can't get it all in. It's just so much, but it's fun.
What do you think of the boys here?
R: Well, I think there are a lot of homosexual people, which is not a problem, but you just sort of see it. We haven't talked to many, but there are some really cute ones.
H: And a lot of French and German people here. It's nice, but it's so different to go to a party when there are so many Germans. But some of them are so handsome.
Have any guys come up to talk to you so far?
H: Yes, but they weren't at parties. When we were just sightseeing, they were talking to us. "What is your name?" "What are you doing here?" Normal stuff, like small talk. They were all Americans.
R: People are just more communicative over here. In Austria, someone new wouldn't come up to you and say, "Hi, how are you?" It's really hard to just get to know somebody new.
How would you meet a guy in Austria? What's a good way to meet a guy there?
H: Just going out. Talk to somebody. Drink a lot! And give them your number and next day perhaps he'll write you a message, and then you can go out and meet.
R: Just mostly over the friend connections. Some friends know him.
H: Also Facebook. Facebook is very common in Austria, so you can communicate.
Are either of you with boyfriends at the moment?
And what's your boyfriend like?
H: My boyfriend's like… oh my God, he's a bit of a player. But nice. I hope it's going to work! I don't know.
Are you worried because you're here and he's there?
H: No, we are just Skyping every day, so I hope I can trust him. I don't know. We will see. [laughs]
What do you do?
I'm a scientist. A grad student in neuroscience.
Does that get you any girls, perchance?
Uh, yeah. In a way. People think you're smart… it works both ways, though, because thinking you're smart can make it like, "Oh, that's complicated."
Do you tend to go for women who are also cerebral?
Do you have a physical type as well?
Well, yeah, but like — no, not really.
Is there a certain type of girl who gravitates towards you?
Daddy issues. Maybe it's my beard that does it. I can't really generalize that way. Let me think if there's a type that's attracted to me… I would say somewhat, like, cerebral people who enjoy talking and that sort of thing.
Do you have any fun hook-up stories?
No, they all end tragically. Here I am. I deserve to be married by now, obviously. But I'm single.
What's your timeline on marriage, then?
I don't know. A week. Two. I give myself a month, maybe.
How many serious relationships have you had?
Maybe I would say five. They were good. Some of them were obviously not going to work, some of them were working and then not. I don't regret any of them.
What was the one that you enjoyed the most?
That's really hard to say. They were all different. I like people that I learn from, I guess, so that makes it worthwhile in the end because I did learn a shitload.
Any bad breakup stories?
Yeah. Threats of castration — that was a good one. She wasn't happy about it. That was the worst one. It was a girl I was dating for two years, and then we broke up because we needed to, and she didn't take to it.
Paulo, 22 and Marc, 22
Where are you guys from?
M: I'm from France. I work here in New York as a wine importer.
Oh, cool. Do you meet a lot of girls that way?
M: Not so much, not at my job. But I think girls like the idea of the job.
What's the difference between French girls and American girls?
P: The style. The clothes. American girls are more free about the clothes. The French girls are more — comment tu dirait ça?
M: Straight. The way of dating is different. With American girls, there's a process. First step, you meet her, and then you go to the restaurant, then the cinema, and then you can hang out with her. I think I prefer the French style. More casual. More improvisation.
P: I think I prefer an American girl, but I like dating in France, you know? It's a different way of life.
Who's better in bed — French girls or American girls?
P: French girls. French girls are more open about sex. American girls love to seduce men, but they stop just before you get to take them home, you know? [laughs]
Have you experienced that in the U.S.?
P: With a girl? Yeah, last year. It wasn't a very long relationship — it was just for one night or something like that.
Are you in a relationship?
P: Oh, no. I'm single.
And how about you?
M: Single. Dating a little bit.
Okay. And what are they like, the people that you date?
M: Tonight I'm dating a black girl from New York and we're having a barbecue on my rooftop. I asked her out — I let her know that I was doing something with my roommate.
Any crazy sex stories in New York yet?
P: Not crazy, not crazy. No more than in France.
Do you have any crazy ex-girlfriends?
P: Yeah [laughs]. She liked everything about the sex. She was very good about that.
Transcription by Anthony Bello. Want to talk to strangers in your town? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.