Love & Sex

Talking to Strangers: New York, NY

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Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.


Emily, 26

Is there a certain type of guy you can't help but fall for?
Eastern Europeans; I love the Russian and Romanian guys. It just ends up being what I always go for. Of course, I also like the curly-blonde-haired guys.

Fair enough. I like balding men. I don't know why.
Bald men are getting more attractive to me every day.

Have you ever been offended in the bedroom?
Yes. When they just go straight for it, like two seconds later your pants are off and you're like, "What just happened?" That doesn't work for me.

I feel like foreplay is to remind woman why sex is a good idea.
It's true! It's true! Exactly.

Do you have any crazy ex boyfriends?
I dated a guy for five-and-a-half years, from when I was fifteen to twenty-one. We actually went to high school and college together. He basically turned out to be manipulative liar, a cheater, all of that kind of stuff. I broke up with him after finding out about this, and then he started talking about marrying me. He still called me after he started dating the girl he is now married to, telling me, "I still want to marry you."

What? Does she know about all this shit?
She knows we dated for a long time. I don't know the extent of what she knows.

And he was cheating on you the entire time?
At least for the last two years, and I had no idea. He even told all his friends that we had an open relationship! When he studied abroad in Australia, I ended up hooking up with one of his friends. I was like, "This is really weird because you're friends with him." And he was like, "But you guys have an open relationship." And I was like, "Um, no."

That's how you found out? Damn.
Yeah, it was pretty awful. The break-up was the messiest, because not only did we grow up together, but he grew up in my house; I knew his parents really well. His mom called me and apologized for raising her son poorly. It was ridiculous.


Andre, 53

What do you do for a living?
I'm a compliance officer.

Does that ever get you laid?
Every chance I get. Number one, people are amazed that I'm this age. I don't look this age. Number two, I'm in brokerage and sex there is just plentiful.

How do you pick someone up? How do you make your move?
First of all, I introduce myself to the person and probably buy them a drink. Just be cordial. It's very simple: no fancy lines, no questions about your mama or your daddy or where you come from or if you wanna get together. You like me, I like you, it's going to happen: the chemistry is there. Too often you mess it up when you add too much to it.

Do you have any favorite dates?
Well, the least favorite date is the one you have to work too hard for. The favorite dates are the unexpected ones, like you run out to the store for a container of milk or you're doing laundry at three o'clock in the morning and shit just happens. The ultimate surprise is always better then the preconceived notion.

Has anyone ever offended you in the bed?
Yes. They bit me.

They bit you? Hard?
They bit me on my thigh, in the process of what they called foreplay. That's not supposed to hurt.

Have you ever offended anyone in the bed room?
I've probably mortified people, yes.

How so?
By getting up and walking out the door. When it ain't right, you gotta go.


Kate, 26

Has a guy ever tried to pick you up in a weird way?
I think the worst is probably getting your ass grabbed, when there's no real line involved. FYI to men all over the world: it does not work.

Where's the craziest place you've had sex?
A fire escape. I was at a Halloween party at my friend's house. My phone actually dropped down into a trash can in the alley below.

Did you get it back?
Yeah, he walked me down there from the fourth floor.

That's really sweet.
It was a huge disaster. We had to go through the trash can to find my phone. It was not pretty.

Did you find it? Did it still work?
We did, though I had to take it back a couple of weeks later because it had all these weird things going on with it.

Have you ever had any really weird dates?
I don't know if this counts as a date, but somebody I'd been out with the night before.


Tallie, 22

If a guy is interested in you, how can he impress you?
Just show me that they are nice and good and genuine, and that they care about something. Also, I like it when a guy can dance.

That's hot. If they're a good dancer —
They don't actually need to be good! It doesn't matter if they're good, as long as they can dance and not give a shit and have a good time with themselves and other people.

Has anyone ever offended you in the bedroom?
I don't know if I was necessarily offended, but I'm really not a fan of dirty talk. It really throws me off and turns me off, a lot.

So a guy busted it out?
Oh, he busted it out. Which it shouldn't have been offensive, because it was only compliments, they were just compliments.

They were dirty compliments?
I don't know, like "Tiny Dancer."

What? Tiny Dancer?
He called me names, as if I was some hot princess or something, like, "Tiny Dancer." I was like, "No."

That is utterly bizarre. Do you think you've ever offended anyone?
I probably have. Sometimes I feel like I'm not only too honest, I'm being kind of rude. This guy that was going down whatever and I wasn't feeling it. And I pretty much bluntly told him that he was terrible at what he was doing. I didn't mean for it to be so blunt, and he was really shy and embarrassed afterwards.

What did you say?
At first I tried to make it easy and simple, by being like, "I don't really like to do this type of foreplay." And then he was like, "Really? That's it? What do you mean, blah blah blah." And I was like, "I mean this isn't right, this isn't working." Then I he think he got it. He was like, "Basically, you're telling me that I'm bad." And I was like, "Well… ."

I thought you said something like, "Actually, you're just really bad at it."
No, I tried not to! I was a little self-conscious.



David, 39

How did you meet your wife?
I was working at a software company and she came in as the temp receptionist. There weren't a lot of very attractive women around, but there were a lot of engineers. All the guys lined up to flirt with her. They were all really kind of gross. So rather than being sort of lost in the shuffle with all the guys she was going to have to say "no" to over and over, I waited three months before all the other jerks who I knew weren't that big of a catch cleared out. Then I got in trouble with her for taking The New York Times from the work lobby into the men's room for extended periods of time.

You were reading the paper on the toilet?
Yes. People noticed it would disappear for long stretches at a time and then come back and they put two and two together. So she had to send an email to the whole company asking that we please not take the newspaper into the men's or women's rooms. I responded to her email in some way that she thought was cute, and a week or two later we had our first date. We flirted by emailing back and forth, but because she was the temporary receptionist, her email address had been passed from receptionist to receptionist to receptionist. So her name at the time was Christopher Boswell.

Did you know her real name?
Yes, I knew her real name. But my torrid affair with Christopher Boswell went on. And three years later when we got engaged, I actually tracked down the real Christopher Boswell and had him present the engagement ring to her.

That's amazing. How did you find him?
There are actually very few African-American, former temps named Christopher Boswell in Manhattan. He's actually a very successful art dealer now, back and forth to Paris all the time, and he was very easy to find. I was very happy about that.

Very cool. Where's the craziest place you've had sex?
The steps of the library in college. I had dated a girl in college for quite a while. We'd broken up, she didn't date anyone in college, we were both about to graduate, and for a couple months it was like, let's just get all of these things off of our crazy, stupid checklist.

Have you ever offended anyone in the bedroom? Or been offended?
I'm hard to offend. But one time I was with a woman on a road trip. I didn't know her very well we'd only been dating for about two weeks so I didn't know anything was wrong at the end of the night. We were at a hotel in a strange city and I went to snuggle with her and she just turned around, like, "Oh God! Please, not now!" Things went downhill pretty fast from there.

So you'd offended her somehow and had no clue?
Right. Apparently I had done something to really piss her off. And I'm sure I did. I was twenty-six at the time and probably did something really stupid. That's what twenty-six-year olds do. That's the fun of being in your twenties: you get to do a lot of stupid stuff.


Marisa, 36

What do you do for a living?
I'm a lawyer but I also write about tattoos and graffiti.

Which job gets you more action?
I definitely got more action writing about tattoos. It's how I met my boyfriend. Lawyering pays the bills; tattoos get the hot, young rock stars.

Why are tattoos so sexy?
When people change their bodies, they are really celebrating their bodies. They're saying my body is a temple; I want to decorate it; I want to feel beautiful. Just like boob jobs make some woman feel really good about themselves, heavily tattooed women have this confidence that they actually own their tattoos. That's what makes it very sexy and beautiful. As I get older, my boobs are lower, my butt's lower, but I get more tattoos and feel more beautiful then I was in my early twenties. I'm designing my body the way I want. No one sexualizes an eighty-year-old woman, but I've seen heavily tattooed eighty-year-old women and they are fantastic. They have a joie de vivre that's amazing and exciting.

Here's to sexy octogenarians. How did you meet your boyfriend while writing about tattoos?
We were both bloggers, so just through commenting online, giving each other links, nerdiness, really. I was living in Belgium at the time, and decided I really missed New York, so much so I moved back. Now we kinda live together.

How does dating in Brussels compare to dating in New York?
Men and women in Belgium have a great sense of humor. They are great but dating in New York people say it's hard, but I think it's easier because there's not a lot of the machismo. In Europe I feel like people try to fit into their gender roles, whereas in the United States they don't have such strict roles. There can be crossover.

What did you think of European guys?
They are lovely but, again, I'm a New York woman. I'm born to be girly, but at the same time, I have an education and I can be very self-sufficient. I don't think New York men are intimated by independent women.

Did anything ever get lost in translation?
There is so much lost in translation. In Europe, you can have a date and there can be a comfortable silence, whereas in New York there is no such thing as a comfortable silence. If there is a silence, we all feel bad and we have to talk over it. Another thing: pop-culture references. I'd talk about The Jeffersons and no one knew what I was talking about. I'm very funny in New York; I was not funny in Europe at all. American men will say, "Oh, that's a funny chick!" European men will be like, "I don't know what she's saying, but she has large breasts."

Have you ever offended anyone in the bedroom? Or been offended?
I don't choose men who are easily offended, and I would never sleep with anyone who would offend me.

Do you have any favorite hook-up stories?
Everyone assumes if you hook up from being online, you're a nerd or a fat chick. Meanwhile, we're both heavy-drinking, tattooed heavy-metal listeners. That defies stereotypes though we can talk like HTML like nobody's business.

Interviews by Meghan Pleticha. Photography by Sean McGurn.