Love & Sex

Talking to Strangers: New York, NY

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Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.


Anika, 18

What do you do for a living?
I'm an NYU freshman. My intended major is social and cultural analysis. It might switch to Africana Studies.

What's the dating pool like at NYU?
There are a lot of gay guys. If you see a cute guy, you don't ask if he's cute first, you ask, "Is he straight?" That's the first thing that matters.

If a guy wanted to get to know you on New Year's Eve, what should he do?
I hate the whole, "Yo miss," "Yo girl" approach. Just come up and talk. Don't be super-abrasive, like "Yo miss" or "Yo, shorty with the cool hair." None of that stuff.

What are your dealbreakers with guys?
I have some pet peeves — I like guys with dreads, but braids, not so much. So if you have short hair and you start growing braids, I'm like, "No, you have to just cut it off." I don't know how you're going to get it from short to like, your elbow, but it needs to get there like this [snaps] because I can't take the process. Another thing: guys who aren't responsible. I don't like baggy clothes. I don't like a lot of arrogance. And don't try to lie, oh my God, that's so insulting.

Sounds like there's a story there. What guy lied to you?
This guy wanted to have sex with me. We weren't dating, we weren't in a relationship — we were just feeling each other out — and he was like, "It will bring us closer together." I was like, "Are you fucking kidding me?" I have had many before you, and I'm sure that this is not the end-all, be-all right here. I hung up on him and called my friend. Later on he was like, "You know me and your friend were together when you called us, right?" The whole time he was lying about the situation. He was like, "I was with your friend when you called both of us, you tried to catch us." And I was like, "I caught you because you just told me."

Do you have any crazy ex-boyfriends?
Yeah, that guy! I broke up with him and went on vacation to Barbados. He went insane. He broke into my email and was emailing this new guy who I was talking to — he was saying all this stuff and the guy was replying back. And while my ex-boyfriend was sending him all these crazy messages, I was applying for an internship, and he was also emailing the lady, like "F you," and "SMD." She was like, "Excuse me?" I was like, "Oh my God, I'm sorry." I had to change my email.

What's the craziest place you've had sex?
It's not really crazy, but in my driveway — no car, just my driveway. It was a quickie kind of thing with my ex-boyfriend. It was 2 a.m., misty, and it just happened. It was really cool.

Miles, 23

What do you do for a living?
As means to an end? I'm a server and a bartender. But my passion is dancing. I'm a professional dancer.

Do you get a lot of dates in the dancing world?
You can, but the problem is, if you dance with them on a regular basis and then it works out badly, it's not the most pleasant experience. I've excommunicated myself from dating in the dancing world.

How about bartending?
Confidence is the sexiest thing to me. I had a guy come in, first thing he did, he darted straight from the door right to me and said, "You are the hottest thing I've seen in a long time." I asked him what he was drinking, then he asked me what time I got off work. Probably one of the best one-night stands I've ever had.

Do you have any good holiday hook-up stories?
Now you're getting personal! I think I was nineteen years old and it was Christmas Eve. I drove down to San Diego to meet a hook-up. After my hook-up, driving home at three o'clock in the morning on Christmas day, my car broke down in the middle of the freeway. After spending fifteen-hundred dollars on Christmas presents, I was stuck with a fifteen-hundred-dollar car bill. So, Merry Christmas — but at least I got fucked.

If someone wanted to get laid on New Year's Eve, what is your advice to them?
Rock out with your cock out. Just put it out there.

Literally, put it out there?

Just unzip that shit?
Literally. Someone is bound to say, "Hey, can I play with that?"

Do you have any crazy ex-boyfriends?
I can't say I've ever dated a guy long enough to classify him as a boyfriend, but I have some crazy fuck-buddies. Ex-fuck-buddies. Checking my phone, my emails, showing up at my work — when I didn't tell him where I worked.

What do you think the hottest thing someone's done for you?
I've gotta say, just being woken up in bed by a kiss and a cup of hot tea, and a banana and a bagel and a bong-load. It's just like, "Wow, this is a perfect morning." Just got laid, now I'm getting high, and I'm eating a wonderful breakfast that was brought to me. That's sexy.


Ashley, 25

What do you do for a living?
I'm a journalist.

Does that ever get you dudes?
It does, actually. Everyone finds it fascinating because it's so different. That helps out, but I just moved to this city and I had some guy ask to bite me. My first weekend out in the city and we were at a bar. He was wasted and he asked me, "So what do you do, blah blah blah?" I told him and he was like, "Can I bite you?" I said, "No, that's weird." He proceeded to bite my bicep.

So if a guy wanted to pick you up on New Year's Eve, definitely no biting! What should he do?
He needs to have a sense of humor, which actually in the city is kind of hard to find. There are a lot of macho guys out here, so just someone with a good sense of humor who can laugh and have a good time without bringing money into the conversation. Biggest thing though: never pull out your cell phone and text someone while on a date with me. I've had that every single date I've been on here.

Every date? What do you say?
The first date I went on was at a bar and he was on his phone or watching TV the whole time. I was like, you asked me out, I didn't ask you out. Second kid I went out with — same thing. No texting, don't talk about money, don't talk about ex-girlfriends because that just shows you're a little psycho-obsessed.

Do these guys call you afterwards? Do they think these were good dates?
Yeah, actually, I've gotten some call-backs. Do I return the phone call? No.

Do you have any crazy ex-boyfriends?
I do, actually. He's from high school and he's nuts. He's married with a baby and he still calls me about once a year — and we've been broken up for six years. He called me the night of his bachelor party, drunk-dialed me and said, "Meet me out." I was like, "Aren't you getting married?" He's getting ready to have a baby and he called me over the summer. I was like, "How is your pregnant wife?"

Where's the craziest place you've had sex?
It's not really crazy, but a hot tub. It's actually one of my favorite places to do it. I hear it's not sanitary, but the danger of getting caught makes it more exciting.

Have you ever gotten caught?
While having sex in a hot tub? Yes. We were at my boyfriend's apartment and some guy came up the stairs. So I quickly had to get off my boyfriend, and then we told the other guy, "You have to get out. The hot tub is closed."

Karen, 29

What do you do for a living?
I'm an actor and I do production work.

Do you have any crazy hook-up stories from behind-the-scenes?
Of course. They're usually either really cool and romantic and we end up being friends, or they're really bad — like I find out later he was married.

Did that happen? How did you find out he was married?
Oh yeah. I found out through a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend. I didn't date him, I just hooked up with him. I was just actually in Doha, in the Middle East, working at a film festival. There were parties every night and I took one of the dancers from London back to my hotel room. When I told him that I didn't want to have sex with him — because I didn't know where he'd been, you know? He's a dancer from London, yikes — he was like, "Oh my goodness, what am I doing here?" and literally left immediately. The next day I sat next to the production manager in the office and we looked at his passport — he was twenty-one. He's a baby! He didn't know any better, poor guy.

What advice would you give for someone looking to hook up on New Year's Eve?
Have fun and don't expect to see the person again. Don't expect to follow up. Nothing's going to happen, girls. You're not going to be friends, he's not going to call you next week for a date. It's not going to happen. Just have a good time!

Have you had any holiday romances?
Man, it usually all goes to pot around the holidays. I like get back in touch with my ex-boyfriend over the holidays, and that never ends well. But this holiday, nothing. I'm in the desert. It's dry, nothing's happening. And that's really good, I'm excited. My last holiday I was asking my ex-boyfriend about who he was dating, and that was sad. And two years ago was when I was breaking up with my ex-boyfriend, after five years. So, no good holiday stories. The holidays are when bad things happen. The holidays are tragic, as far I'm concerned.

Has anyone ever offended you in the bedroom?
Nothing really shocks me anymore. I'm not surprised by anything, unless you're going to slap me and call me a whore. That's not my style.

At least not on the first date.
Some people are into that! But even then, I would just laugh, and be like, "Oh, no. Not cool."

Do you have any crazy exes?
No. I've actually probably been the crazy ex more than the guy has. I broke up with my boyfriend — and then missed him, he wasn't returning my calls — and I found out through snooping that he was rebounding with this girl from his office. I'd met her and she was cheating on her boyfriend. And I told her boyfriend. That's psycho. So I've been the crazy one. It's psycho, but I mean, it's funny — is it funny? Me and my boyfriend are good friends now, and that girl is marrying that guy, so, I mean, no damage was done.

Matt, 23

What do you do for a living?
I'm a researcher for a think tank.

And… what does that mean, exactly?
It means I'm assigned topics at various universities, I go out and collect a lot of research, and then I write long papers about each topic.

Let's say a girl wants to hook up on New Year's Eve — how does she get with you?
I think girls are best when they play coy a little bit. I think every guy likes a girl who approaches him, just as a girl probably likes a guy who approaches her. But if you're too aggressive, that's kind of a put-off. Sometimes the appearance of being alone is a good thing, because it makes a girl seem more approachable, like she's not really there with anybody.

Tell me about one of your best dates.
Most of my dates with my girlfriend involve us going out and unintentionally getting very drunk at wine bars. Once we spent the entire day walking around Central Park in the rain. We were kissing under the umbrella, which is super-romantic then the rain went from a drizzle to a thunderstorm, so we ran down Columbus Avenue and found this Italian restaurant that was dimly lit and had these cool, dark red colors and this giant mural of Florence or some Italian city. We had a really good dinner and it was romantic just being there, with the cafe doors were open and the rain pouring down.

What do you look for in a woman? What turns you on?
I like smart girls. I like girls with a really good sense of humor. Girls who are at least a little bit shorter than me.

Do you have any dealbreakers?
Very, very, very bad teeth. I spent a summer in England and I met a lot of girls who had really terrible teeth, and I just got sick of that after awhile. It doesn't have to be, like, a perfect bite or anything. They just have to be, you know, white.

Ed, 36

What do you do for a living?
I work in construction.

Do you have any good holiday hook-up stories?
Most of the time I've had a girlfriend during the holidays. One night at a club in the Village, I actually did real well. I wound up hooking up with some girl from Canada who was here on vacation these two girls were actually together. We were on these couches and they were on either side of me, kissing.

Kissing each other?
Each other and me.

So that worked out, but I lost their number. That always happens. Then I ended up hanging out with the Canadian girl at the end of the night, but we got to her hotel and her friends kicked me out. I didn't want to seem like some sort of rapist or something, you know what I'm saying?

So, uh, do you have any successful hook-up stories?
Yes. Out on Long Island where I grew up, most of the bartenders are attractive. I was sitting out in my truck with some of my friends, and she happened to be sitting in her car, and we noticed each other and started talking. We hung out all night. I was a fireman I actually missed my first fire because I was hanging out with her. I had my Plextron turned off it's a little thing that tells you if there's a fire or car accident or whatever. The first time I actually had a working fire, I missed it because we were at a dinner until six in the morning.

Did you get in trouble?
No, no, no. As long as you make thirty-three percent of your calls, then everything's okay. It's all volunteer. Someone else will respond, especially to a fire people come out of the woodwork. People you've never seen before in the fire department, they're suddenly there.

Have you ever had a date where you were like nailing it, like you rocked that date?
Yeah. I used to have dreadlocks down to my shoulders. Out in Long Island that doesn't go over very well. A bunch of guys came up to the girl I was with she was very attractive and the guy asked her, "What the freak are you doing with this guy?"

You can curse. You can say fuck.
He said freak. "What the freak are you doing with this guy here?" he said. Just like that, 'cause I had a hoop nose ring and dreadlocks. I turn around and say, "Get the freak out of here with your ignorant questions." He's like, "You callin' me ignorant now?" Then he wanted to fight. The bouncers saw it and broke that up, and he came by again and wanted to fight in the bathroom. It was a big mess.

Then later on that night, my friends leave and he's with his friends. The girl I was with went to the restroom. When she's coming out of the restroom, he says something nasty or dirty, and she stuck her finger up at them. Then one of them pulled her by the hair. When he did that I was intoxicated obviously, not even thinking about his five or six friends I grab a stool and we got into a big fight. Eventually I got beat down to the ground with bottles over my head and stompin' on the ground. I was bleeding and they threw me out the front door like an old saloon movie. And she's in there yellin', I run in to get her and I yell at them that I'm going to own this place. Unfortunately, the police had to be called because somebody basically assaulted me. But at the end of the night, it went very well, because she was like, "I can't believe you did all that for me. You fought six guys for me."

That's hot. She must have been very thankful.
Oh yes. She was.

Interviews by Meghan Pleticha. Photography by Sean McGurn.