Talking to Strangers: New York, NY
Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.
BY Daniela Cervetti
Give me your best first-date story.
I went on a really awesome date recently. The guy and I hit it off. I think it's just that everything was so relaxed and casual, and he was the kind of person that, when he goes out, it's a "Let's order every appetizer on the menu!" kind of thing. I guess my worst first date was when I thought it was a platonic thing, and after we ate he got up to go to the bathroom and picked up the check, and I was so irritated by that. I was like, "I… didn't know this was a date," and that made it really awkward. I just feel like dating in New York is so difficult, you know? [laughs] Honestly, in my time here, there haven't been that many first dates. Maybe three first dates, literally. In three years, three first dates.
Maybe it's just because I'm an actor and I'm always working, or in classes or at auditions, and I'm constantly surrounded by women and gay men. The guys who you meet in bars come up to you — like, you'll be out with your group of girlfriends, and the most annoying guy will just come up and interrupt and try to attach himself to your whole night. And they have the weirdest pickup lines — I remember I was out with some friends and these guys came over and they're like, "Hey, have you seen our friend? Isn't his mustache gross? You guys wouldn't date him, right?" And I was like, "You're downplaying your friend, to try to pick us up?" And another time, a guy said, "Well, you're the shortest one, and your tall friends are probably going to go home with the other guys. You should probably just go home with me now." What — you're trying to make me feel bad about myself, to go out with you? [laughs] What kind of logic is that?
Have you ever used a pickup line?
I am so old-fashioned. I would never have the nerve to ask a guy out. Like, I do that shy flirting, standing there talking, and then as soon as anything happens I just run off into the other room, like "Oh my God, I can't." I haven't been able to break out. Maybe with acting and waitressing and the promo stuff, I just feel like I face enough rejection with all of that, and I don't want to take it to an even more personal level. [laughs]
So, when was your last relationship?
This last summer, so it ended a couple months ago. I ended it. We were in a show together. It was a "showmance," if you will. I just didn't like him as much as he liked me, but I kept thinking, "He's so cute, he's so nice. What's wrong with me? Maybe if I just keep going out with him, I'll eventually like him." And then it just got to the point where I started to dislike him as a person, because I felt so much pressure on myself. The whole relationship lasted about three months. I broke up with him by text message. I wrote something along the lines of, "I can't do this anymore. Now that I'm in New York again, I'm very busy." I made the horrible, terrible move of breaking up with someone by text message.
What do you look for that he didn't have?
I want somebody who's just really driven. That doesn't even mean that you're successful or wealthy right now, but that you have a huge work ethic and are really working on something. And he was younger than me, and I just felt like I needed somebody a little bit more mature. And confident. He would always be like, "You're not saying enough nice things about me." He would always compliment me, and then want compliments back. We were out in the rural part of the country and he would be like, "Do you even want to go on this date with me? Do you want to be going out with me?" and I'd be like, "I'm in the car with you. We're going! I got all dressed up. Why are you questioning me so much?" Really sweet, really nice, really funny, but just not enough self-confidence. I wear my heart on my sleeve and talk a lot, so I'm pretty sure I've said things that just ended up sounding so silly or so stupid, or just so weirdly intense that the guy lost interest in me. And even on a first date, I just imagine our whole potential future life together. I just see myself with every single person. But then when it comes at me from the other side, I start to think, "What is this? Please stop."
Have you ever held out for someone who you thought would come around?
There was a guy who I went to visit on my birthday. I flew many states away and visited him, and I thought it was so serious, and it just all crashed and fell apart right in my face. I had built this person up in my head so much that when I actually went and spent those three days, I realized — I guess we realized — we weren't who we thought we were, and we were both looking for different things. It ended in tears and a hundred-dollar cab ride [laughs].
What led up to the tears?
I just realized he didn't like me as much as I liked him. I thought it was something different, and he was a lot more indifferent to me. It was funny this summer when the tables were turned on me. After I texted him ending it, he had the sweetest response, and I felt like a terrible person. First he wrote, "Hmm, interesting," and after that he wrote, "Okay. Well… whenever you're ready to talk, you have my number and you know how to get a hold of me." And part of the whole reason I was dumping him was because I felt he was so immature, and then I got that response, and I was like, "Well, look who's immature now. The person who dumped someone in a text message. The person who couldn't see him face to face or even talk to him on the phone." [laughs] So, that would be me.
NEXT: "No, I was on drugs. I was on drugs, definitely."
What do you do for a living?
I'm a porter in a restaurant.
Do you meet a lot of women there?
Tons of women. All over the place. Women love to eat. They love to eat, they love to drink.
Tell me about your last serious relationship.
I've only been in two solid relationships. My previous relationship was for about five years, and it was good the first three years, but then the last two years were all fucked up. There was a lot of conflict. The first three years, it was just a lot of drinking, partying, trying to make money, and a lot of fucking. That was about it. It was like we were trying to make a baby or something. But then the last two years, shit started getting real rocky. One thing was the way I carried myself. She saw it as me thinking I was almighty or some shit. I'm not almighty, I just think highly of myself, you know? I'm sorry if you don't feel the same way. I even tried to lift her up to make her feel that way. I also think she was jealous of all the female attention I was getting. But being the homeboy that I was, once things got rocky I started fucking her friends.
How many of them?
So, you were sleeping with her friends, but still trying to work out the kinks of your relationship.
Yeah, trying. Because I loved her. I loved her to death. Hell yeah.
What about your other relationship?
My other relationship, I don't know. It was for about a year and a half, but it was mostly about the sex. We did everything that you'd do in a relationship, like go out and have dinner, take trips, whatever. what would you call that? Friends with benefits? She probably had a title for me, but I didn't have a title for her. That's what I think.
Have you had sex in any crazy places?
I had sex in the Six Flags bathroom once. I also had sex in the Macy's dressing room, the one in Herald Square.
Those rooms are under surveillance, aren't they?
I know. They ain't coming in when I'm clapping her cheeks.
How long were you in there?
Oh, shit. It was probably like, three or four minutes? It was quick. I wasn't trying to be in there making love to her. I didn't want to get caught. [laughs]
What's your personal record?
If you're still in it, and you take a drink of water — we were still fucking, but I stopped to grab the water — does that count?
Yeah, that counts.
Probably for like, three hours.
You naturally went on for that long?
No, I was on drugs. I was on drugs, definitely. MDMA. I was fucked up. Having sex on E, I don't think there's even a specific word for that feeling. You know how people say it's "spectacular" or "euphoric?" It's beyond that. It's almost heavenly, like you're floating while you're having sex. Have you ever seen Anchorman with Will Ferrell, when he and Christina Applegate are fucking on a rainbow? That's how that shit feels to me.
What does it mean to be good or bad in bed?
The number one thing is that chemistry you have with a person. But then there are certain chicks — and certain dudes, I guess — they do too much, and they go over the top. They don't let everything flow. There are some chicks who will be riding you like they want to break your balls off, and it's like, "Yo, what the fuck's wrong with you? Calm down. Like, take two seconds and let me breathe." And there are some chicks who like to just be rammed-out, rabbit-fucked. There are just certain people who know their craft, you know what I mean? Certain people who just take it slow from the beginning, and they'll communicate it then, basically. It's that communication. Because people have a lot of different preferences when it comes to sex. Some people want to get tied up and dominated and some people want to dress up. There's mad kinky shit out there. I need a cigarette.
Is a woman's personality any indication?
Sometimes you can tell. Like, if she's rubbing your dick under the table.
What's unforgivable in a relationship?
You getting pregnant by another man. It's unforgivable. I don't want to speak to you ever again in your life. Honestly.
Has that happened to you?
Yes, it has. And she had the baby.
Did that change your attitude towards women?
Oh, yeah. It changed drastically. But I don't want to be skeptical no more. I don't really give a fuck about you until you show me something to make me feel that I'm secure and safe.
What does it take to make you feel that way?
I just feel you can see it. You can read a person's body language, and they'll let you know what they want to do, all bullshit aside. Just how she carries herself. Her whole activity, her daily thing. If you can be around a person for a whole day — I think it would take that genuine, "Yeah. I like you, motherfucker. I like you." Let me see your inner self. You want to show me that part, then I know that we can probably get serious. And if you show me your good side, I'll show you my even better side.
Are you ready for that?
Now I am. Yeah, now I'm ready for it. I'm taking all challenges. [laughs]
NEXT: "But then he texted me and told me that he would pay for a cab back…"
Give me your best first-date story.
One time, I met this guy at a party that my friend took me to, and we sort of hit it off and I wanted to hang out with him that night. It seemed like we were going to hook up that night. And then I got in a huge fight with the friend who brought me to the party, and I flipped out and was like, "Fuck you, I'm going home!" So I left, and I was in a cab going across the bridge back to Brooklyn, and I was like, "Fuck! Fuck! I should've just stayed and hung out with that guy!" But then he texted me and told me that he would pay for a cab back, if I got my cab driver to just turn around and go back to Manhattan right away.
Well, that's reassuring.
Yeah. So we hooked up that night, and we hooked up for a couple months, and then I stopped talking to him after that. I think he wanted more out of it than I did, and that's why I stopped seeing him.
How could you tell?
I mean, he introduced me to his mom, and he referred to me as his girlfriend a lot, to other people, when I didn't necessarily want to be called that.
What do you look for in a guy?
I've never dated someone seriously who didn't do something creative. Primarily, musicians are a big deal for me. I'm married to one now [laughs]. Being funny is also important. I like guys who are outspoken, too; I like people who say what they think. I would never take somebody seriously if they were really religious. I would never take someone seriously if they were part of any political or military thing. That would be a complete dealbreaker.
Tell me about your husband. He's in a band?
Yeah, we're in a band together. It's called Royal Baths.
How did you meet?
He was living in an artists' warehouse where a band that I was in at the time was shooting a music video, and he just sort of hung out and watched while we were doing the video. He started talking to me after and we stayed up all night talking to each other, and we were inseparable after that. We've been together for a year and a half, but we've only been married for a couple months.
Has being a musician influenced your approach to men?
It's probably made me realize that there's a lot of stuff you can say without words. I think that that's why art and music, especially, are so important to me in romantic relationships. I've had ex-boyfriends of mine explicitly not want me to go on tour, not want me to pursue that and be gone for long periods of time because of that. But I would never compromise the thing that I'm passionate about for somebody else.
What's the funniest pickup line you've ever heard?
I had one guy in Brooklyn try to follow me home, and he said… he asked me to get in his car, I said "No thanks," and I kept walking, and he said, "I just got Chinese food. I've got enough to share… and my dick's like ten inches!" [laughs]
What has a career in music done for your sex life?
Being in a relationship that involves both of us traveling a lot has definitely put us in a bunch of …pretty weird, crazy sex situations. I had just played a festival in Mexico last spring. We were in different bands at the time, and both of our bands were about to play SXSW, and we met up in New Orleans. A whole group of our friends were sort of wandering around New Orleans checking stuff out, and we took a bunch of acid. And then at maybe one o'clock in the morning, we snuck in to this graveyard where Marie Laveau, the supposed "Queen of Voodoo," is buried. She has this grave where you mark Xs on it and make a wish and leave rings and stuff. So we, tripping on acid, snuck into this voodoo graveyard and had sex there. I think that was one of the coolest. I guess I've just done a lot of weird, outdoor, "we might get caught, let's sneak off for a minute" things. On a beach in California — I was actually going to meet my husband's family before we got married, and he took me with his uncle and his cousin and his sister to this beach that he used to go to when he was growing up. He took me off under this little area of rocks, and we ended up having sex. And then, when we finished having sex, we turned around and realized that his uncle was on this cliff behind us and totally could've seen the entire thing, and I didn't realize he was there. So that was funny.
So you think he saw it?
I think he did. But he was really relaxed about it.