Love & Sex

Talking to Strangers: Rockaway Beach Edition

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Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.

Betty, 29

Where are you from? 
Hungary. But I am working in D.C., so this is a one-week holiday in New York.

How is dating different in Hungary? 
People seem to be more open here. Hungary is more poor and people are turning inwards more and more, not outwards. There are fewer rich kids, so there is less money for going out. There's still a culture of partying, but it's less common than in the U.S.

Do you have any crazy exes? 
I've had lots of short-term relationships — sort of one-day stands. All the guys before my current partner were weird guys. I had drug addicts, alcoholics, and, well, there were two guys who turned out to be bisexual, and then gay. And that was weird.

Did you find out while you were dating? 
Yeah. The first one was really trying to be in the closet. He was clearly in denial. I think he was dating me to convince himself he wasn't gay, which just doesn't work. So, it only lasted a week.

What happened with the second guy? 
I met him before I broke up with the first gay guy. And he was friends with him — he had introduced me. I'm like, "Okay, here we go, this is the next one." And it was. There's a lot more of a gay culture here. In Hungary, it's very private and something you still keep under the rug. 

Any crazy sex stories? 
Just being in the U.S. is crazy! Sex in public is a plan. I'm pregnant though, so it kind of changes things.

I am very lucky because I don't have morning sickness, so that at least makes feeling sexy easier. We had a conversation and decided that we were not going to stop having sex, through the pregnancy. Sex is like a glue — it's very important to partners. So we're going to keep having it, no matter how big my belly is. I think it's all about new positions.


Dana, 33

What do you do for a living? 
I'm an agent.

Does that ever get you dates? 
No, I'm a married man.

What gets you laid, then? 
I do little things for my wife. Cooking definitely gets me laid. Cleaning, stuff like that. I cooked her dinner and did the dishes. I made homemade pesto with fresh green beans served over pasta. And I did the dishes.

Did it work? 
It didn't work. I was in the doghouse apparently. But that's personal.

Where are you from? 
Maine, originally. I've been here thirteen years, and I'm a pretty monogamous person, so I haven't really dated a lot. But women seem to be more adventurous in New York. Upstate, women are more conservative — they're more standoffish and protective. New York women are pretty free.

Any examples of that? 
I'll tell you a story right now. My brother-in-law, who's twenty years old, is visiting New York right now. One of our girlfriends, who's thirty-plus, had met him once at our wedding. This was three years ago, when he was seventeen, and she's apparently had "intense dreams" about him ever since then. She found out he was coming into town, so she decided to fulfill her fantasy. She's a very attractive woman. She Facebooked him, became friends with him, and then messaged him saying she has "a big bed, an AC, and some Led Zeppelin and marijuana."

That's a very twenty-year-old pickup line. 
[laughs] This is a very good friend of ours and it's extremely out of character for her. As a friend, I would have never expected that from her.

What happened? 
What's funny is, he being a twenty-year old, the whole thing just completely backfired on her. He totally got creeped out and just ignored her. She was way too forward. For a twenty-year-old man, it's just too much. It's bizarre. But I kind of can't believe a twenty-year old turned away this attractive woman in her thirties who was pursuing him. Pretty funny.

Do you have any crazy hookup stories? 
One crazy hookup happened this time I was at a fashion show and I went to get in line for the bathroom. The place had unisex bathrooms. A gentleman and this woman were waiting. She was Asian and clearly wearing colored contacts, because most Asian people don't have blue eyes. So this guy commented on how beautiful her eyes were, and I felt the need to look at him and just say, "You are an idiot." Because, he was being an idiot! And for some reason that turned her on, so she came home with me. I got laid because I was being such a dick.

Any daring or unusual places you've had sex? 
The train station.

How does one do that? 
Standing up. I am shorter than my wife — she's several inches taller than me, so for me there is no bending or anything. Just make sure she doesn't wear underwear. And just mask it with making out or standing really close behind her.

Should it be at nighttime, when the train station is empty? 
No. Middle of the day is fun!


Jessica, 21

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

Does that get you laid? 
Yes [laughs]. It gets me a lot of unwanted attention as well. It's almost a go-ahead for any guy to hit on you without shame.

What happens when a guy who's hitting on you asks what you do, and you tell him you are a model? 
Just every single assumption about models that you could imagine — that we're easy, anorexic, dumb. But also, they want a part of whatever that is. They want to get into shows, see shoots, know people that you know. They aren't very nice about it, which is strange. They assume you get complimented all the time, so they think, "I'm not going to compliment her."

I'm reading The Game right now… 
Yeah, exactly! Negging. I read it too.

So you know when you're being "negged?" 
Yeah. So many guys do it. In my head, I'm like, this is not going to work. If you neg me, you're going to make me feel like shit, and then I just won't want to talk to you anymore. 

Where are you from? 
California, but I live in Williamsburg now.

How is the dating scene different on the West Coast? 
It's so much easier to meet people in New York. And it's so much easier to be anonymous. In L.A., there's the one cool bar where all the cool people go every single weekend. So if you start dating someone, everyone knows about it. It's all around town. In New York, it's easy to be on the DL. You could be super-slutty here. And also, from my point of view as a model, there are so many models here, so it's not such a rare thing. In L.A., everyone's trying to be an actress. 

How are NYC guys different than L.A. guys? 
They try to be a bit more smooth and aloof here. They're actually trying to impress you, but they're pretending that they aren't, which is cheesy. The guys here are also aggressive — but actually, so are the women. I was out a bar with friends, and I looked over, and a woman was trying to unbutton my boyfriend's shirt! Another thing that's happened is he'll have his arm around me, and someone will come up and pinch my butt right in front of him. People really don't care here! It's, "I want some of that, I go for it."

What's the craziest thing someone's done to try to get with you? 
I was in Italy and I had just come out of a runway show. This guy pulled over in his car, right in front of me. He was all sweaty and came running up to me and said, "I need to take you to dinner." I was like "No no no, I'm not going anywhere!" And so he turned to the person next to me and was like, "Do you know her? I need to take her to dinner! I will pay!" Like this person would persuade me to go with him. It was terrifying.

Has anyone ever offended you in bed? 
Someone I was dating asked me for a blowjob, and I told him the truth: that he was really stinky, but if he would take a shower then that would be fine. But he just refused to shower. It was like a manly thing for him. He was like, "I don't have to shower for you! I don't care that it smells, just do it anyway." So I just left. We broke up. He had to be right all the time.

Any good hookup stories? 
We were having sex in the shower in a beach house we were staying in with our friends. We thought they couldn't hear us, but we were banging around being totally loud and they were all in the living room, hearing everything. Later, at another shared beach house, friends found our condom wrapper. Beware of beach houses.



Josh, 23

Where are you from? 
New Zealand. We're traveling — started off in L.A., went to San Diego, and now we're here.

How is New Zealand different from the U.S.? 
It's weird tipping people when you go out. We don't do that. People are quite confident here in what they wear. Like… little amounts. In New York, but in L.A. especially. We thought L.A. was really scummy — we got out of there really quick. We like New York. We're staying in Brooklyn where it seems people ride a lot of bikes.

Have you ever had any sex mishaps? 
We were both quite drunk, and I sort of snapped the banjo string — the little part on the end of your penis, the little bit of skin that connects the end… what's the name for it? We've just been calling it the banjo string.

It didn't really hurt because we were so drunk, but I have this thing where my blood doesn't clot, so there was a lot of blood. I had to let it heal for a few weeks.

Yikes. Have you ever had any girls try to do crazy things to get with you? 
This one girl told me she was pregnant when she wasn't. We were both eighteen. She dragged that out for about two months until I finally figured it out. I didn't even like her at all — it was like a one-time-hookup thing. 

How did you find out that she was lying? 
I had to sort of manipulate her into admitting that she wasn't pregnant. I told her I really wanted to be with her, and so it was too bad about the baby, because it was making things so terrible. And she was just suddenly like, "Oh! Guess what! I'm not actually pregnant! I forgot to tell you I did another test!" So that backfired on her. That was my signal to be like "Sweet! I'm out of here!"

Were you angry? 
I think I was just so angry the whole time when I knew she was lying to me, but couldn't prove it. It was the worst time of my life. I was so depressed, until I finally got away.



Gemma, 24

What do you do for a living? 
I've just quit my job as a flight attendant to travel. I also love making things, crafting and stuff.

Did your job as a flight attendant get you dates? 
It got me stalkers. People start to think really strange things about you as a flight attendant. It's like they think you're theirs, or something. People have no shame. It's a profession that's seen as really sexy, but it's not. We were always so dirty and gross and tired. You smell like food, and it's long hours. I used to be a really people-friendly person, but that job made me really dislike the general public. 

So how has the traveling been since you quit your job? 
We've been traveling on buses. We saw a homeless couple arguing on the bus yesterday. She was stealing his Walkman and he was upset. They seemed to love each other and hate each other at the same time.

Any crazy exes? 
When I was young I went out and found the stereotypical bad boy and thought, "Oh, this will be fun! This will be an adventure!" And then I got stuck in a relationship with him. He was awful, needy.

Do you have any other major dealbreakers? 
I hate jealousy. I find it interesting, hearing about who my boyfriend's been with. I'm curious as to what other girls are like, what it's like being with girls. Although he doesn't want to hear anything about me.

Has anyone ever offended you in bed? 
I hate it when they try to slip into the wrong hole! That is the worst thing ever! They know what they are doing. "Oh, so sorry."

Do you believe in love at first sight? 
Oh, yeah. But I mean, surface love, like "Oh, I love that person!" It's not meaningful love, but it's still very powerful. I had that with my boyfriend now. I saw him and thought, I just have to get this person. I didn't care how — I was going to get him.

If love naturally fades over time, do you think divorce should be less of a taboo? Should we consider it a natural part of any relationship? 
I know a lot of girls who say, "I've got to be married or engaged if I'm with him X number of years," but if you don't want to be with someone because he's not going to marry you in a set number of years, you don't really want to be with him.



Frank, 22

What do you do for a living? 
I'm a freelance construction worker and an artist.

What do you do to impress potential lovers? 
Honestly, it's all about being yourself.

Yeah, sure, but there's this whole school of thought from pickup artists that women are bored of men being themselves and that you've got to put on a show. 
Yeah… no. I would like to have a drink with those guys, and just hang out and maybe tell them to relax. I think the key to meeting anyone is just to relax.

So where are you from? 
I was born and raised in the Midwest. 

How is New York different? 
There's a lot more cultural diversity in New York. It's more dense — it's a faster pace of living. And I think that there's more of a desire for immediate gratification in New York as opposed to, well, anywhere in the Midwest. I think that environment does cause people to be more high-strung. And I do think that extends to sex and dating in some ways. 

Do you have any dating dealbreakers? 
Yeah, I dated someone who was really just self-absorbed. She demanded that my time be completely focused on her. In that type of relationship, there is no self. How can you be yourself when you have to be focused completely on another person? They expect you to give all of your time and energy to them, but they don't reciprocate. It's a one-way street. There's no room for you as a couple to grow emotionally and intellectually, together. So it kills whatever relationship there is.

Talking about dating narcissists, people really paint your generation as being more narcissistic than any previous generation. Do you think there is truth in that? 
Yeah, with the technology that we have now letting you upload all these details of your life. Twitter and Facebook and all these sites I don't even know about just encourage you to talk about yourself and emphasize really mundane details about your life. I do notice that people my age, friends from college or high school, seem to have a lot of narcissistic tendencies. I think it's hindering our personal growth.

Interviews and photography by Rachel Rabbit WhiteWant to talk to strangers in your town? Email