Love & Sex

Talking to Strangers: New York, NY

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Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.

David, 24

What are you doing in New York?
I'm in grad school and I bartend and I drink and I party. I study international affairs at the New School.

Where are you from?
I grew up in California, a little bit outside of Los Angeles, north of Sacramento. A really small, conservative, rural, piece of shit town.

Tell us a bit about dating in a small conservative town.
You know, I'm gay, so I didn't date at all in my hometown. It was kind of dangerous being gay there, so I didn't come out, because people were shitbags mostly and would harass you and beat you up. So I stayed under the radar when I was in high school. I came out when I was in college in Seattle.

How did that happen?
Well, I grew up in a really conservative Christian family, so when I moved to Seattle I saw how the rest of the world treats gay people, at least in big cities. They're valued like functioning members of society, they can have families, they can date, they can have jobs. I thought, "That isn't so bad," so I just came out.

When you were younger, was there a clash between what you had been taught and what you were finding out about yourself?
There was a big clash. I was very Christian, too. It wasn't until I went to college that I was like, "You know, I don't think I believe in this anymore," and that's when I kind of figured it out for myself.

Do you meet a lot of people through your bartending job? Have you ever dated a customer?
Yeah… well, no. I've slept with a couple. I haven't dated any of them.

Tell us about the the first customer you slept with.
That was this Sunday — Pride Sunday, no less. Well, that was the first regular customer I've had while bartending who I thought was really cute. I let him stay after closing, and I kept pouring strong drinks and that's about all it takes, I guess. I sound like a predator [laughs].

So you just get them drunk.
Yeah, that's pretty much my strategy. Well, I mean, he just so happened to be drunk but also, hopefully, he thought I was very cute. I mean, he called me the next day, so I think he did.

How do you decide which customers to hit on?
Oh, that's a good question. You don't always understand if he is gay. Sometimes you can tell by mannerisms. Sometimes you can tell by the way he walks. There's a very light swish sometimes. Sometimes you can just tell by the way they look at you or by the way that they smile at you. Then you ask little subtle questions, and usually they'll mention something about their sexuality. It's all about tact and subtlety when you're gay. We don't have the luxury of being openly aggressive when hitting on someone.

Which happens more often: you getting hit on, or you hitting on other guys?
Probably more guys hit on me. A lot of drunk straight guys hit on me, actually. The "three beers queer," we call them. I don't ever sleep with them if they're straight, because I don't know how they're going to react in the morning. I don't want them to freak out at me. I let them flirt, or maybe I'll make out with them a little bit. That's about as far as it goes.

Any particular stories?
There's a guy who comes into my bar pretty frequently, and he's actually usually drunk by the time he gets there, but he'll just hang out all night. I watch him hit on girls throughout the night and fail miserably every time. By the end of the night he'll just lean on the bar and grab my face and start kissing me and trying to stay after closing time. I once actually had to pick him up and piggyback him out of the bar when I was closing, because he just wouldn't leave.

Can you describe him for us?
He is six-foot-two, pretty handsome, but he's too much of a drinker for me, and that's really saying something. He dresses like a businessman from D.C., which is kind of weird — you know, button-down white shirts, black slacks, and square-toed shoes. They love square-toed shoes. I hate them. They are the worst. Never wear them.

Do you find mustaches attractive?
Oh, girl, I love a mustache. Definitely.

Do you go for the paintbrush or the handlebar?
Not so much the handlebar. I like the bushy straight across. I actually really like the Hitler mustache. It's just a shame he ruined it. No one can wear that one now.

What was your longest relationship?
I think my longest relationship was with a girl in high school. It was like a year and a half. She was my beard. She was a cheerleader. She irritated me, but she kept me from getting beat up, so I dealt with her. She didn't know I was gay. She was nice, because she was very Christian and so, you know, they don't have sex, so I didn't have even to touch her or anything.

Have you ever had sex with a girl?
No. Should I? I probably should. Some day. Just to know what I'm missing out on.

Laura, 27

Where are you from?
Germany, but I've lived in New York on and off since 2006. I'm currently residing in Williamsburg.

What do you do here?
I work in the sample room for a big designer brand.

Have you ever hooked up with someone at a fashion show?
At the last show Jared Leto squeezed my butt! He was a guest at the fashion show and I went to him and told him to love me and then he squeezed it.

And how did that feel?
Creepy, but in a good way.

Would you sleep with Jared Leto?
I don't know. Probably not. I would just tease him.

So if he came to you and said, "I want to love you too," you'll say, "No, Jared, I'm sorry?"
Oh, no, I would say, "Yes, of course, I'll love you," and then I'd run away.

Are you in a relationship right now?
No, I'm single and in love.

In love with who?
This boy… he's awesome. I saw him for the first time at a party and I fell in love right away. We took each other's numbers.

Have you two had sex?
Yeah, but I don't have sex with everybody.

How long did it take for you to sleep together?
I had sex with him on the night I met him. That was three years ago. We're in love with each other.

Why don't you date?
Because we're free spirits. But we love each other. He's older, in his mid-thirties.

What is biggest age difference you've had with a guy?
Nine years. That was when I was nineteen in Germany.

Have you had better sexual experiences in Germany or here?
Well, the sex keeps getting better when you get older.

Have you had any crazy experiences here in New York?
On Friday I made out with these two Swedish boys. They were sitting next to each other at a bar, so I made out with one of them and then turned around and made out with the other one. They both wanted to go home with me, but I hooked up with my love.

Do you only sleep with your love or also with other people?
I sleep with two guys.

Have you ever thought of having a threesome with both of them?
No, I wouldn't know what to do with that much dick. Everyone I know has had a threesome, but I've never had one yet. However, my phrase around New Year's was, "2012: year of the threesome."

Do you only like guys or are you also into girls?
I have girl crushes, but I've never done anything. I don't know what to do. I kissed a girl, but it was so soft that both of us ended up asking, "Where the fuck is the dude?" It's not for me.

Greg, 33

Where are you from?
San Diego, California, but I've been living in New York for six years.

Do you like California or New York more?
New York by far. Obviously I'm a beach guy — I love to surf — but New York just has this vibe that you can't compare with anywhere else.

Have you ever gotten to hook up with a girl just because you're a surfer?
I've def made out with girls on surfboards in the water. Just waiting for waves you meet girls, you know?

What do you do in New York?
I work in an investment bank. But I don't wear a suit. I'm not your typical finance guy.

Are you in a relationship?
No, I am completely single.

Do you like being single or being in a relationship?
It's tough. I like both. It's nice to be single with the freedom to do whatever, but having a serious relationship is nice too, having someone to come home to for dinner and drinks. You don't really have to make plans as much. It's more like, "Hey, I'm hanging out with my girlfriend tonight," and that's pretty much it.

How long was your longest relationship?
Three months. I'm not a long-term relationship guy. I mean, I'm down for a relationship, but I just need to find the right person who I really want to be with.

Have you ever fallen in love?
Yes. She was amazing, but unfortunately things didn't work out. I ended up moving to New York. She was in San Diego and moved to San Francisco. We tried to keep it going, but the distance was just too hard. She's the only girl I've ever fallen in love with. That was four or five years ago.

Have you tried to be in a relationship here in New York?
I'm always trying. New York is a wonderful city. The majority of people are single so you can have a lot of fun. Look at the crowd right now at this party. Everybody is a beautiful person. It's a candy store. But finding a person you actually want to have a relationship with is tough. 

What's the most important quality in a girl?
Style. I see a girl with good style and I want to know more about her.

Do you believe in love at first sight?
Oh yeah. I've only been in love once, but it was at first sight. It took me a little while to realize it, but I knew it right away.

How did you met her?
I met her at a Vegas pool. We met, we talked a little bit, but I was like, you know, it's Vegas. I knew she was from San Diego; I knew we were hanging out in the same places. She was definitely in my mind when I got back. And then I saw her randomly — I was walking in a bar, and she saw me and she said, "Vegas." I was like, "Oh shit! What did I do? What did I do?"

Do you miss her?
I do miss her. I haven't talked to her in two years.

What was hardest for you after leaving her?
Comparing everyone I met to her. I was like, "She's great, but she's not this girl." Or seeing girls and saying, "Oh, does she look like that girl?" You go out and you see this girl in everybody. I kind of still hope that maybe one day I'll run into this girl randomly again and see her.