Talking To Strangers: New York, NY
Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we've just met.
What is your name and what do you do?
My name is Cinnamon and I'm a massage therapist.
Yeah, I've thought about changing it.
So you're a cute redhead named Cinnamon. Guys must go totally ape-shit for that.
Yeah, they do. But I handle it well.
What's the worst pick-up line you've gotten?
Probably, "Do you taste like Cinnamon?" That's pretty sleazy.
And you're a massage therapist. That probably also attracts the men.
I screen my calls, I screen who I see, so I've saved myself from a lot of awkward situations.
Have you ever given a massage and had a guy get a boner?
Yeah, they happen. It's a natural response. If you stimulate the inside of the thigh and the butt for men. Abdominal massages are also really stimulating, so I avoid that with my male customers unless they're really cool and I'm not worried about them catching a boner.
Have you ever had to deal with any creepiness?
Oh yes, definitely. I've had some very scary situations where I've had to make them leave. A man came into the office I worked at — this was in the earlier stages of my career — and he had said that he was traveling through town, which should have put the red flag up right there, but he claimed he was also a massage therapist. He arrived reeking of alcohol and then wanted to demonstrate some moves on me. I was like, my name might be Cinnamon, but I'm not that type of person.
Are you in a relationship right now?
I am. I've been with my man for eight years and engaged for five.
So what's holding up the marriage?
Um, certainty? On both of our parts. We just aren't sure. So we're going to see how it goes before we make that commitment. Maybe that commitment isn't necessary for everyone, to have that marriage under their belt, but me and him, we're just taking our time. If we marry, we marry; if we stay together forever and don't get married, that's cool too.
Can you pinpoint what's making you both hesitant?
Well, his parents were in a long relationship, for over thirty years, and got divorced after that. So he doesn't have a great model for relationships, but my parents have been together since they were fifteen. So I'm the one who probably keeps us together. I'm probably more for marriage, but I certainly don't want to marry him if he isn't sure.
What kind of positive things do you have to say about marriage?
I do feel that it gives you that security, that your man isn't going to go out and look for another girl. Getting married is like moving to the next level of trust.
Do you want kids?
I do, I do. Not right now, not this second. But he doesn't!
Wait, you guys have been together for eight years and…
Well, he used to want children. He says he doesn't want them now, but he still has that look to him and he still does think about it. He doesn't completely say no, so maybe that's why I'm staying with him.
What do you do?
I work at an appliance store selling stuff on Amazon and Ebay.
Has that ever gotten you laid?
Not particularly, no.
Are you single right now?
Yeah, I'm single right now.
When was the last time you got laid?
Four days ago. It was a girl that I was kind of dating. It wasn't exclusive, but then it got really complicated and I was getting a lot of anxiety from it because she was giving me shit when I wasn't around. She would text me all the time if I wasn't with her, and to her, me not being around was a problem, so she would antagonize me a little bit to make sure I was still thinking about her. We were very different. While we're having sex, I guess we just have a lot of the same preferences. But so different in every other way — she doesn't even understand my humor that well.
So what are these preferences?
She likes to please, I like to be very demanding. I like to tell her what to do. In particular, I like doggie style a lot, and I like when during that, she reaches under and plays with my balls. I also like blowjobs.
Do you like doggie style because it kind of approaches anal sex?
No! It's because I love women's asses! I love to see them move, especially if a girl has a sizable ass.
A lot of guys who are into visual stimulation like girls on top. Does that do it for you too? Or are you strictly a butt guy?
It depends on the girl. This girl had a nicer ass. But yeah, if a girl has nice breasts, my preferences sort of reverse.
Are you into any particular kinky stuff?
Certainly, but both people have to agree to that. I think you can slap a girl's ass without asking and then gauge what's going to happen next from her reaction to that.
If she's into that, what happens next?
Oh, like choking, slapping. The dominance and control is hot; it's kinky and that turns me on. It turns me on too especially thinking that the girl is naughty and into that stuff too. There are probably some issues there, but they seem like pretty standard ones.
Has anyone ever flipped it on you? Have you ever been choked?
Girls have done it to me before, but I don't really have a preference there. I don't mind it at all, but it's not a part of what turns me on.
How do you feel about dirty talk?
I like it a lot. Sometimes I'm feeling kind of blank and don't know what to say, but other times when you get into it, it's good.
Do you have a line you use?
"Do you like to get fucked like an animal?"
Wait, are you asking that while you're doing her doggie style? Because I think that I would laugh.
Yeah, sometimes I've just been so in the moment and said some crazy shit, and girls have definitely laughed at me.
What do you do?
I work in social services.
Oh. I was going to ask if that's ever gotten you laid, but…
So are you in a relationship now?
Yes, I've been married for almost eight years. I got married at twenty-two. We've been together for thirteen years. We met when I was seventeen.
If you've been with your husband since you were seventeen, how many people have you slept with?
How do you keep married life interesting?
Well, we waited for about ten years to have kids. Having kids puts a little damper on sexual activity, but now, you know, the kids go to sleep… how detailed do you want me to get?
As much as you want. I have married friends who have sex in a closet, because that's the only place they won't get caught.
We have sex in the living room. We have two kids, a one-year-old and a three-year-old. Our sex life is actually really great; we have sex three to four times a week. The thing that makes it interesting is that now we have sex in the living room after the children go to sleep, and the lights are always on. It's more fun.
How is that stealthier than just having sex in your bedroom with the door locked?
Well, it's just more fun. Having sex in your bedroom with the lights off is fine and all, but now that I'm older and more comfortable, it definitely gets more porno than it did before.
What's your favorite porno move?
Oh man, we try a variety of positions! But everything is better with the lights on, I'll tell you that.
Do you guys have anal sex?
No, we don't. My stance on that has always been "hell no," but now — I don't know if you have kids — but now I'm kind of like, maybe. When you have children, there's things that get looser downstairs. So it'd probably be more for his sake than mine. Maybe a little for me too.
Have you tried doing kegels?
Yeah, I do. But it's never quite the same. Which I didn't realize until I read an article about it and then I asked my husband and he was like, "Yeah, it's different," and I was like, ugh, that sucks. It's more different for him than me. I can feel the change a little, but I think he's quite aware of it.
What's pregnant sex like?
I didn't enjoy it all. It wasn't like "there's a baby in me, this is dirty" — it was really physically uncomfortable for me. I'm pretty thin, so I could feel all the organs and the baby jamming into me. A lot of women really like pregnant sex, but not this one. But afterwards, you're supposed to wait six weeks to have sex and at week three, I was like, let's go! Six weeks is a really long time!
Was your husband into pregnant sex? Some guys are really turned on by pregnant women.
I don't think so. Oh, that's my brother over there, so…
And we're done!
What do you do?
I own a bar and I have a couple of other businesses.
Has owning a bar ever gotten you laid?
Hell yeah! I met my wife here. I've had this place for eleven years, so I guess I met her, seven, eight years ago. And that's the only good thing that's ever come out of this place.
Did you hit on her?
Yeah, of course I hit on her! She was sitting at the end of the bar. It was winter and she was wearing these neon pink boots. I was into them, I don't know why. They just made me want to talk to her.
So what made you want to hold onto her? Was the sex that good?
Yeah, that's definitely part of it. But there are obviously other things too. We're still together, so it couldn't just be the sex. We have a family together now. I have twin boys.
How often are you having sex?
Once, twice a week? We've got two bedrooms, so the kids don't affect my sex life. They go to bed at 7:30 and get up at 7. We don't even need to lock our bedroom door.
How soon into your relationship did you guys start sleeping together?
The first night. I would never date anyone who wouldn't sleep with me on the first night, let alone marry them. Come on, if you don't like me the first time you meet me… gimme a break.
So we've been asking about kinks tonight. Are you into anything particular? Choking, slapping?
Ah, come on, you can't get me on tape about that. Yeah, that stuff is fun. It kind of came naturally to us.
Slapping your wife came naturally to you?
Yeah, but only in a fun way! I love her!
What do you do?
I work at a café. It's a French pastry shop, and I'm a barista.
Has that ever gotten you laid before?
Actually, it has, oddly enough. It was a coworker; we were bored all day, making coffee, and started making conversation. Then we went out after work and got some drinks, and you know, things kind of happened from there.
Are you for or against sleeping with coworkers?
I'm actually for. I think it makes the work environment way more interesting. It was actually a good experience — we're still friends now.
Have you ever slept with a coworker and had it turn out poorly?
No, actually, not through work. I've had bad experiences, but it wasn't because they were coworkers.
To what are we alluding?
It was a one-night stand. It was literally the worst ten seconds of my life. And I do mean ten seconds; I might actually be giving him too much credit there. That's obviously why it was a one-night stand.
So he just didn't care that you hadn't come?
He was really embarrassed and it got really awkward, so we just pretended it didn't happen and went to sleep. In the morning we actually made breakfast and then I left.
Wow, you stuck around for breakfast. That's nice.
I felt bad. I had to do something. I was like, okay, I'll let you make me breakfast if that makes you feel better.
Did he try to get in touch with you again?
Oh my God, yes. It was like six months of phone calls. I just refused to answer him. It wasn't too bad; he called once in a while.
Are you in a relationship right now?
Nope! I've been single for about five months now and I've actually been pretty good about it. Usually, when I'm single, I'm hopping in this one's bed and that one's bed, but not this time around. I don't really know why.
How many partners is too many partners?
I don't think there's such a thing as too many. It's more about how you go about it. If you've slept with fifteen people in your whole life, that's not a lot, but if you've slept with fifteen people in the last week; that's definitely a lot.
Do you want to estimate your number for us?
It's definitely in the double digits. Last time I tried counting, I gave up. It's hard to try and remember all the names! But probably around twenty to twenty-five.
Tell us about your last relationship.
It was about two-and-a-half years long. It was pretty good for the first year, but towards the end, everything just started to implode. We were very different people and wanted different things out of life. We just had a conversation and decided to end it, but we're still good friends now.
Do you still have ex-sex?
Oh yeah, of course. We'll go out for a drink to catch up for old time's sake and the next thing you know, we're in a cab, going back to his place.
Yeah, that happens.
At least it's not just me!
What do you do for a living?
Has construction ever gotten you laid?
Have your arms ever gotten you laid? They're pretty big.
No. Park Slope is just a totally different world.
Are you single?
When's the last time you got laid?
Who did you have sex with?
I have no idea.
You just met her at a bar?
Yeah, I met her at a bar. You don't need to know her name.
It was a one-night stand?
I guess that's what you call it.
How was the sex?
It was cool as much as the drunkenness let me go.
What kind of problems did you run into being drunk?
There is no problem being drunk! You just go and you do and then you go home.
You don't have performance problems when you're drunk?
If I do or if I don't, it doesn't matter as long as I get my rocks off.
What about her rocks?
What about her rocks?
Well, what about her rocks?
Exactly. What about them?
Do you have a go-to move to get the rocks off?
What's the move? There is no move. It's different strokes for different folks. Every girl is different. You need to know what you're doing. If you can find it, great, if you can't, you do what you can, and if you don't, keep going until you do.
Are looking to have some birthday sex?
I'm not looking to, I'm going to!
Who are you going to have birthday sex with?
A girl from back in the day that I keep in the hooks.
What's the best birthday sex you've ever had?
It just happens. You don't expect it. It just pops up. You don't plan for it.
The best sex is unplanned for?
Are you going to puke on my shoes?
Interviews and photography by Lina Canney and Libby Rumelt. Want to talk to strangers in your town? Email email@example.com.