Love & Sex

Talking to Strangers: New York, NY

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Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.


Ryder, 24

What do you do here in New York?
I'm a hair stylist and a makeup artist. I moved here five years ago from Chicago.

What's the difference between dating people in Chicago and dating people in New York?
New York is much harder because everyone is on the go and so busy and there are just so many people. In Chicago, I felt like there was always someone introducing me to someone. Dating in New York sucks.

Have you had any bad experiences?
I've had some bad experiences because I'm kind of a nerd. One time I was in a bar and this guy was totally into me, buying me drinks, and he asked, "What's your favorite TV show?" and I said, "Battlestar Galactica," and he goes, "What's that?" and I'm like, "It's a show that used to be on the Sci-Fi Channel," and he immediately got up and walked away. Apparently anybody who watches something that was on the Sci-Fi Channel should never be spoken to.

Are you in a relationship right now?
No, I'm not. I was dating one guy and we were both freelancers at that time and our schedules just never met up. We never had time for each other.

How long was your longest relationship?
Probably like six or eight months. It was in Chicago though. Here in New York I've dated at most for two or three months.

What kind of guy would interest you?
He has to like Star Wars. It would be nice if he reads comic books. I really like tattoos and tall guys with dark hair.

What is the worst haircut a guy could have?
Combover — when they're bald but grow the side out and push it over the bald part.

Imagine seeing a very handsome and smart guy who has a combover. Would you date him?
I would be like, "Listen, I'm a hairstylist, I think I can figure out something better for your look."

Have you ever hooked up with someone at work?
No, I'm still kind of new on the job I have now. Also, as a hairstylist I mainly work with gay men. And I worked at a theater before, so I hardly ever meet straight men.

So where do you go to meet them?
To bars. I meet a lot of typical douchebags there, though. You know who I'm talking about — the bros. And I'm like, "No, I can't have an intellectual conversation with you…"

How do you recognize "the bros?"
They say "dude" a lot, and they're just kind of meatheads. They would be like, "What's this tattoo?" pointing to my hand, and I would say, "Shakespeare," and they'll say, "I've never read Shakespeare, but dude, I saw Jersey Shore last week…" and I would answer, "No. Bye. See ya. Keep doing your Jager shots, I'm going to go over here." I need someone who I can have an actual conversation with.

Have you ever dated someone who was totally intellectually sexy, but wasn't your type?
Yeah, I'm not going to lie. There's this guy who has a great personality, but I'm just not attracted to him at all. And I know that it's all about being beautiful on the inside, but you have to have some sort of attraction. You have to have some sort of sexual chemistry.

Has he tried to hit on you?
Yeah, but I was just like, you're my friend… no.

Have you ever had a one-night stand?
Yes. I don't really like them. I'm not against them, but in my experience, I just feel like such a ho the next day, and I don't really feel good about myself.

Have you ever had a threesome?
No. I almost did, with a girl and a guy. They were a couple in an open relationship, and I was doing the guy, and we were making plans to have a threesome, but it just never happened. It probably will eventually.

What are the men in Chicago like?
They have no direction, they have nowhere they're going. They're just stuck, like they're still in college. They haven't grown up, still hang out with the same people and they never progress. Whereas I think that people in New York always have somewhere they want to go. There's always another job, another goal, another dream. They don't want to eat in the deli, they want to eat in a restaurant with white tablecloths, while people in Chicago just don't give a shit.

Pierre, 28

Are you from France, Pierre?
Yes, I'm from there, but I live in Boston now. I moved a year ago to study voice. I'm a soul and jazz singer.

Do you think that Americans like French guys?
Yeah, Americans, girls or boys, the first time you meet them they're like, "Oh, you're French, that's amazing!" but then they just leave you. I feel like once European people begin to flirt with you, you're going to finish in their bed, but Americans are not like that.

I kind of agree with you. What kind of guys do you like?
I'm very attracted to guys with big muscles right now. Not horrible, crazy muscular though. I love black guys. There is a part of me that I can't control, when I see these beautiful guys, even if they're stupid and what they say is so bad, I don't care. I just want to get them.

To get them for sex, or for a relationship?
For sex. But the problem is I'm fucking romantic and I can fall in love with a very dumb person. 

Do you find French or American guys hotter?
American guys are hotter, because they all work out, but they just don't know what style is. Except New York guys. They're awesome. But the style of the Boston guys sucks. It's pretty much just sweatshirts, pants, and sneakers.

Do you have any crazy stories that happened to you?
In France I met this guy. I was masturbating his dick and he started bleeding… it was just horrible. I tried to fix it with some bandages. Then I met one very hot guy and he said that I was hot too, but then he started sending me these weird e-mails, asking me when the last time I showered was, if I was brushing my teeth and if I was washing my tongue. I was like, yeah, I'm clean, don't worry. He never came over though. I saw him once playing basketball in my area, but he didn't recognize me.

Have you ever had a sex with a woman?
Yeah, when I had sex for first time it was with a woman. I was eighteen. I actually liked it.

So are you gay or bi?
I'm gay.

When did you realize that you're gay?
I've known that since middle school. I just felt attraction to guys — not only sexually but also personally. I lied to myself for so long and tried so hard not to be gay, because of social pressure, family, etc., and I finally fell in love with a girl. It was more of an intellectual love, but back then I struggled a lot with my personal idea of a gay man. I came out to my parents one year ago and with my friends two years ago. It took me a while.

How did you parents react when you told them?
I've never had any sexual discussions with my parents. Even when I was young, they never told me about masturbation or ejaculation. Sex is very taboo in my family. For a few years I was more and more into my gayness and it seemed like my mother was feeling that. One day there was an article in the newspaper about prostitutes, and we had a discussion, and my mother started speaking about homosexuality, crime, and horrible stuff. When she was saying all that stuff about society, it was actually about me, but undercover. I was feeling very bad, and the next day I told them, "I'm gay, so every time you say all these very conservative and horrible things about other sexualities, it hurts me." Then they said, "We're sorry. We support you. Maybe we don't know what we're talking about, bcause we're from a different generation. Just be yourself and that's okay with us."

When did you first have sex with a guy?
I was nineteen. I think it was in a club in Paris. I was by myself discovering this new world. He was an Arabic model, older and more confident and he just grabbed me on the dance floor. Then we had sex.

Did you like it?
No. I felt so bad and guilty and dirty. I never saw him again. However, I have a different mindset now and I think that human sexuality, in every form, is great.