Love & Sex

Talking to Strangers: Philadelphia, PA

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Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.

Petra, 23

What do you do?
I'm unemployed. But I was a cocktail waitress.

That must've gotten you laid often.
No. Well… yeah.

So what type of guy are you into?
I really don't have a type. Well, badasses. I guess I'm the typical kind of girl who likes a bad boy. It is lame, but it's true.

How's your sex life right now?
I'm single right now, post-long-relationship.

Lots of one-night stands?
It's inevitable. I go to a bar, I get drunk or something. And if I'm horny, then it happens.

Then the magic happens.
And then I disappear.

Tell me about the craziest sex you've ever had.
I have a few. One time I had sex with my boyfriend in a graveyard, on a grave.

Did you know the deceased?
No — that would be awful!

What else?
I had sex in a handicapped bathroom stall at the Fox and the Hound. Twice.

Now that's a good idea, because they're roomy. How about the best sex?
This is going to sound cheesy, but the best sex I've ever had was with my ex, during a thunderstorm, after we had gotten in a fight. I was punching him while I was fucking him, and it was thunderstorming outside, and I'm screaming, "You fucker!" and there's all this lightning. That was the best sex I've ever had.

And the most epic.
It was really good.


Mark, 30

What's your job?
I work for Bank of America. Card issuance — everything that has to do with getting plastic in the mail.

So tell me about your dating life — are you seeing somebody right now?
I'm single. It's great. I love it. I can do whatever I want. I don't have to answer to anybody.

Let's say you're at a bar, and you see a good-looking girl. How do you approach her?
I was just talking to her — you scared her away.

I'm sorry! But now you can be like, "Oh man, that guy was an asshole," and talk about that. I'm a conversation starter, that's what I am. But how do you pick up a girl?
Just be natural, casual. Walk over, say hello. None of that cheesy-pickup-line stuff.

What kind of girls are you into?
Brunettes, but don't tell that blonde I was just talking to. She was cute, but blonde.

So if you could compare relationship sex versus one-night-stand sex, how do they stack up?
Well, it's two totally different things. In a relationship it's harder to be yourself because you're putting on a face for someone else, and with a one-night stand you don't care because you're never going to see the person again. But with a one-night stand you were probably drunk, so you don't really remember it.

How do you feel about the walk of shame?
I mean, that doesn't really exist for guys. For girls, it's like, "Oh, God, I'm so embarrassed." For guys, it's like a strut.


Hannah-Claire, 24

Did I hear you say you're from Chicago?

So why did you choose Philly?
I've always wanted to live here. Chicago is a great city, but it's weird that nothing is old there. There's no history. That's what really attracted me to Philadelphia, all the history. And I'm really into art — I went to art school.

So do you have crazy artist sex?
I don't know if it's crazy, but when I was in school I couldn't have a stable relationship because everyone I was with, I thought of as competition. "I like you, but are you a good artist?" Dating was so weird in Chicago, which is part of why I left.

What do you mean?
Well, school was like seventy percent women, thirty percent men, and half the guys were gay. So guys had it so much easier. The guys went from being the nerdy art kid in high school to being king of the pond.

That's what happened to me — I was a total loser in high school, and then I went to art school and didn't know how to handle not being a loser. Did you ever have a relationship in college?
I did, but it wasn't that great. I dated the guy for about a year. But I've been dating and single for about four years now.

So, you have lots of sex?
Maybe, I don't know. I think I do.

Well, how often are we talking?
It's been since July right now. Which is pretty normal.

So are you just not a very sexual person?
No, I think I'm really sexual. When I'm with somebody, I'm super-physical, but I'm also really picky. I'm a perfectionist at heart, so sometimes if I have a one-night stand I feel really bad about it for some reason. Maybe I shouldn't have done that. Maybe that wasn't classy. That morning-after regret. The walk of shame.

What's the lamest date you've ever been on?
It was this super-awkward date because neither one of us was going to end it, so it ended up lasting all day. We went to the art museum and it was awkward. The guy was really shy. And he was a DJ, and he told me he was DJ-ing at a block party, and asked me if I wanted to come. I said yes, so I'm just standing there like, "Okay…" And then we went to dinner, and then he insisted on walking me back home, which is insane because I live in South Philly and we were in Chinatown. So I agreed. And when we got back, I said I was going to walk my dog, and he was like, "Oh, I'll walk your dog with you!" and I was totally uncomfortable but I said okay.

I would have just told him to get out of there.
I feel bad that I didn't. But I'm not the kind of person that can be mean to somebody.

Danny, 30

How's your sex life been lately?
Well, the gay men in Philly, they're all about sex.

But you're above that.
I am totally above that. I'm the kind of guy who wants to walk down the street and hold hands, not the kind of guy who wants to go home and get my brains fucked out. But fucking your brains out is good too. I just want all the romantic stuff first. Is that so bad?

No, of course not. Have your past relationships been like that?
I've only had four boyfriends, and they've all been very long term. They were all over two years, and my last one was almost five. We lived together, had a car together, had pets together. We were as married as you could get. But then he cheated on me.

I'm so sorry.
Don't worry — I'm so over it.

You deserve better than that.
You bet I do.

Why'd he cheat on you? It sounds like you had such a good relationship.
We did, but he couldn't tell me that he wasn't feeling the same way anymore. So he went out on his own and decided in his own head, "Oh, the relationship's over," but he didn't tell me.

That sounds cowardly.
Yeah, it is.

So you've been single since then?
Yup. And loving it.

Tell me what kind of guy you're in to.
I have range. Sometimes I like really "tough" guys, but I also like guys who are artistic and okay with themselves. I hate guys who whisper "I'm gay" to people. I hate that. I'm like, "I'm gay!" I don't care, because I've been out since I was thirteen.

So it's about confidence?
Well, it's not just the way you dress and what you listen to and how you present yourself. It's about… essence. You have to give off a really good essence for me to be attracted to you.

What's essence?
Like, everybody has fun when they're around you. I don't want you to be a downer.

So a positive person?
Yeah, like someone who knows who they are, knows what they've got, and knows how to use it.


Allison, 26

Tell me about your relationship life — single or dating?
Casually dating. I'm usually good on one or two dates, and then it falls off after that.

What was your last relationship like?
I was with someone for four-and-a-half years.

That's a long time.
Yeah. And he was my first boyfriend.

So how'd you meet?
I met him in high school. I was seventeen, and we were together all through college. I went to college, and he joined Special Forces, so he was in Afghanistan.

That must have been very hard on you.
Yeah, he got blown up a couple times. It was pretty bizarre.

But he was okay?
He ended up being okay. Of course you're scared, but you try not to think about it. Though to this day, I cannot watch war movies because it's just a little too real.

What was the hardest part?
We were going for nine months without seeing each other, and that takes a lot of getting used to. It takes a certain type of personality, but I got really good at it. I'm at college, and he's in the desert. I'm playing beer pong, and he's getting bombed by Al-Qaeda.

And that was your last boyfriend?
There's been a couple other guys, but nothing that's lasted longer than six months.

So you've been getting some.
I've been getting plenty some. You didn't ask that question.

How often?
I don't generally have a problem. I don't usually go more than two weeks.

How does it work? One-night stands?
No, I don't do one-night stands. There's been a couple of people who I've been dating for a couple of years, and we kind of cycle through each other.

So kind of like fuck-buddies.
Kind of like fuck-buddies. But then I'm also a hopeless romantic. So I'll go on these two dates with these guys and I'm like, "I really like him. I want him to be my boyfriend." Then I'll sleep with him and everything goes to shit, and I'm like "Fuck!" You think I would have learned not to do that by now. But I get really attached. So I'm a sucker.

That's sad.
Don't feel too bad. I get some good sex.

What attracts you to a guy?
It's an indescribable combination of style and confidence and personality. I run the gamut. I'll give anyone a chance who will give me a chance, considering I'm covered in tattoos.

What about physically?
Hands. Guys with good hands — it's a definite indication. Big and strong-looking and capable — the kind that look like they're going to throw you around and do good things. Hands are definitely better than feet. I know a lot of girls who are like, "Oh, he has really small feet," and I'm thinking, "Fuck feet!"


Terry, 27

What's your occupation?

Does that get you laid?
Nah, I got a girl, so I stay true.

Admirable. Did you meet her bartending?
Yeah, we bartended together.

That's cute as hell. So did one of you guys have to leave when you started dating?
Well, I beat up a guy she was flirting with, and then we both got fired.

Shit. That's dramatic.
Yeah, he was flirting with her, so I kicked his ass. Primal me.

Describe your girlfriend to me.
About five-foot-five, brown hair, natural beauty.

That's what you like in girls?
Yeah, she's not overdone. But she's sultry.

What was it that turned you on about her at first?
She was just laid-back, and I'm laid-back myself. Chemistry-wise, it worked, definitely. We started out as friends, and it just went from there, step by step.

How's the sex?
It's pretty good, man. We're, what, two years in? It's good.

I think that's when you start to find your groove with a girl. Pardon the pun.
I mean, there are peaks and valleys, and the valleys are understood and the peaks are more than enjoyed.

So you know how some guys will say, "I'm a leg man," or "I'm a tit man?" What kind of man are you?
I'm a freak man.

Interviews and photography by Alex Rudinksi. Want to talk to strangers in your neighborhood? Email