Love & Sex

Talking to Strangers: New York, NY

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Talking to Strangers: New York, NY

Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.

BY Daniela Cervetti

Kirby, 26

You mentioned a husband. How long have you been married?
I'm married, but separated. We were together for seven years.

How did you two meet?
I work in the music business, and he was in a band that was playing on the same night as a band that I was working with.

Do you mostly meet men through work?
I'd say work is it, yeah. Pretty much. Which doesn't work well for me, because I don't want to date musicians anymore. I started seeing someone recently who works in the business world, and it's really nice not dating musicians, after years of dating musicians [laughs].

Tell me about the businessman.
Well, it was very different. I had this really bizarre moment one morning, where — we were on a trip — and one morning when we woke up, he started talking business. And it was the best pillow talk I've ever had. It was like the light shining through the clouds for me. He was speaking my language.

How long did you know each other before going on that trip?
About six to eight months. We've been seeing each other on and off, but it's nothing serious.

You look like a musician, yourself.
I can't do any art or music, whatsoever [laughs]. But I travel often with my bands, and I've had multiple people come up to me and bluntly ask, "Who are you sleeping with?" I just had a trip a couple weeks ago, and I was complaining about it in the van. Or people assume that I'm a merchandise girl. I was managing a pretty famous big hair band from the '80s on their comeback tour. I got into it with a club manager — he was trying to close the club down, and there were some fans who flew all the way from Australia to meet the band, and I asked him, "Can you give them a couple of minutes, to just finish their conversation?" And he looks at me and says, "Listen to me, kid. I'm not taking any shit from the merchandise girl." I get it all the time.

What do people get wrong about musicians, most often?
I mean, you get your big bands that are crazy partiers, but a lot of times that's not what's happening behind the scenes. An artist is an artist, and they are very sensitive, and a lot of artists need to be taken care of. I see all of these groupies who like, throw themselves — and I recently had to kick two girls out of my van, so that the guys could go back to the hotel room and play Xbox [laughs]. It's funny to see these women who throw themselves at musicians, when a lot of times —

They don't want it.
It's not that they don't want it, it's… a lot of these musicians are looking more for the care. They're not looking for the party girl. It's the strong, collected women who end up with these musicians, not the crazy extroverts. The smart ones try to befriend me, to get closer to the band. There's a pop star who I was working with for a while, with a big thirteen-year-old-girl following, and I was surprised to see that these girls play the game really, really well. Each genre has its own particular kind of groupie.

How does that break down?
For the indie bands, you usually get a lot of girls who are aspiring artists or aspiring musicians. But the most nuts groupies I've experienced so far were for a bluegrass hip-hop band. They're called Gangstagrass, and it's traditional bluegrass players — who I never thought would have an issue with groupies — and rappers, and the women just go insane for them. It's like nothing I've ever seen before.

What's their secret?
I have no idea, because they're confused too [laughs].

NEXT: "He's in the military, but he came back to visit, and that was it…"

Britney, 24

Where are you from?
I'm from Sacramento, California.

Is this your first time in New York?
This is probably my second time, but last time I was about ten years old, so this is all brand new to me as an adult. I have a lot of family out here — aunts and uncles — so I remember vaguely being in Brooklyn and riding subways, and stuff like that.

Are you in a relationship right now?
I'm in a relationship, but it's kind of on a break. We have feelings for each other.

How did you meet this guy?
His family goes to my church. He's in the military, but he came back to visit, and that was it [laughs]. We hit it off really well, until he had to leave.

Have you been on any dates lately?
In California, one of my coworkers forced me to go on a blind date, but I just still miss the guy I'm in the relationship with, so it's just kind of weird. I was thinking the whole time, "Man, I wish this was our date, instead of someone I don't know."

When is he coming back?
I'm pretty sure he'll be away for one more year, and then he can transfer. His family is out there, and he would love to be closer to them. So at the first jump of being able to move back to California — he's in Alabama — he would jump on that train.

If you had to describe him in as few words as possible, what would you say?
What makes him amazing for me is his persistence. But he wasn't aggressive. It was just like, for the first time, I met a guy who knew what he wanted. From jump, he told me, "You are beautiful to me. I want to get to know you, and I want to be that guy for you." Other guys were never really sure. It was always up in the air with commitment. I couldn't stand it. He's really funny and goofy too, and he always can put a smile on my face, which is awesome. And I guess the last thing would just be that he's always concerned about me. He always needs to know that I'm okay, always wants to make sure that at the end of the day, I'm happy.

You're beaming.
Yeah. I miss him so much.

What would you change about men in general?
I've got a perfect one for you: talk it out. I've been having such a hard time with — it's just like, when something comes up, it seems like they internalize everything. They don't know how to express themselves, so they either get angry, or they get quiet, or they're just, like… distant. You know how women are with each other — we're just like, "Okay, look. You did this to me the other day. I really didn't appreciate it, and this is why." And then the other woman is just like, "Oh, okay. Well, I really didn't mean to do that, or I didn't want you to take it that way. You actually read me completely wrong." But men don't communicate like that.

NEXT: "It seems like men in comedy are more promiscuous…"

Donna, 33

Explain the tattoo on your arm.
This one right here? It's a quote from On The Road. It's a long, long quote, but "burn, burn, burn" is part of that quote. He talks about how the only people in this world for him are the mad ones, but I like the "burn, burn, burn" part of it: "burn, burn, burn, like fabulous roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars."

Are you a writer?
I do comedy, actually. Improv. That's actually where I'm headed right now.

Is that your main gig?
I'm unemployed. I just spend all my time doing this right now. I perform at the People's Improv Theatre over on Lexington and 24th, and I do my own sketch puppet show there, too.

How long have you been performing?
I've been doing theatre since I was small, but I've been performing in New York since January.

Do you prefer extroverted, outrageous guys?
I do. But it never ends well. I think all the guys I've been with this year have been improvisers… and I'm single [laughs]. People who do comedy, especially men, are very neurotic and have their phobias. But then it's hard to date someone outside of that, because I feel like every time I do, they don't know what I'm talking about and they're not really into me. The dates are fun with the comedy guys, but it doesn't seem to last very long or turn into a long-standing relationship. I guess they get attention from women because of what they do, and… I don't know, it just seems like the men in comedy are more promiscuous.

Are comedians as eccentric in bed as they are in public?
I've actually had the most amazing sex and the most horrible sex with comedians. It's one extreme or the other. Some have been so sexually shut off that you're like, "What's wrong with this guy?" and some are really wild and crazy and they'll surprise you in that way and it's really awesome. I slept with someone and the first time I was with him he was really aggressive, and spanking me, and all that kind of stuff. It got a little intense. We were standing up for parts of it, and there were lots of changes and there was lots of aggression, and it was hot. But the guy who I was with before him didn't seem to know how to even do foreplay and was just kind of lying on me like a whale.

Did you try to spice things up?
No, I didn't, because there were things that I would do — he didn't even want oral sex, because he said it gave him the creeps. I think he might have had something go wrong in the past.

Have you been on any awkward first dates?
There was this one guy I knew in Chicago, and I guess we were just hanging out one night, it wasn't really a date, but he was just so disconnected. He was a great comedian and great performer, but he kind of talked like a robot and he wouldn't be himself. I didn't know what he was doing, but it was creepy, and I kept saying, "Look, dude, you're much more attractive when you're yourself." But he just kept trying to put on a show, and I felt like I was never talking to the person, I was talking to someone who was playing a character.

How long ago was this?
This was like, a year ago. Like I said, my first dates aren't usually bad, but they just start to turn into something that's more like a relationship, it gets comfortable, and then they freak out. I don't really have any stories of bad dates, per se. Just things ending badly [laughs].

Tell me about one of those bad endings.
I was dating this really crazy guy, and I tried to break up with him one night. We just had a blowout in the middle of the street and I decided that I didn't want to be part of it anymore. But he refused to let me go home or end it — it was like, three in the morning and he wouldn't let me get in a cab — and I ended up having to sleep at his house. So I slept at his house and then I went home, and two hours later he called me and broke up with me [laughs]. It was pretty shitty.

You were living in Chicago until recently. How would you compare the men in Chicago to the men in New York?
Oh, that's easy. Chicago guys are very scared, it seems. They're very shy, they're very scared to ask women out, and they're very awkward. Here, they're a lot more aggressive. I've had more dates here by far, than I have in Chicago. All of my girlfriends who live in Chicago have the same problem with men. They're nicer, but there's just an insecurity about the men out there. They don't know really make moves.

If you're pursuing a guy and he's not all that responsive, when do you call it quits?
I do that really fast. I'm not the type of girl who keeps trying, and I sometimes call it too fast. I even do that sometimes with people I start to see. I find a reason to like, find something wrong with it and then I'll call it. Or I'll ignore them. I have a big problem with ignoring men I start to like. It's a strange thing. I'll start to like them and I'll get freaked out, and then I'll ignore them [laughs]. It's like I'm five.

Have you ever compromised or changed yourself to please a man?
I'm kind of like a guy in a lot of ways, but when you're first meeting a guy you try to be girly, and I've noticed that about myself. I'll start dressing up and trying to look good to be even more attractive to them, and it doesn't work. I've got to learn to just be myself the whole time. I know that I'm more appealing when I'm being myself, so I don't know why I go through that weirdness of "Now I have to really look good!" I think I hold back a lot of who I am.