Talking to Strangers
Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.
What do you do?
I'm a mechanical engineer in Vancouver, B.C. I also draw a webcomic called Wasted Talent.
Does that impress guys?
Well, guys are usually impressed by any women in comics. We're rare birds. Not so rare anymore, but still pretty rare. I try to keep it on the DL, though, because guys are usually intimidated by a woman in comics, or a woman in engineering. When they find out, they're usually impressed, but I don't put it out there. I don't say, "Hey, I draw comics, you guys!"
How rare is it at this point?
Less and less every day. There are a ton of us coming into the field making names for themselves, and tons of my favorite cartoonists are women. I love Erika Moen, Meredith Gran, Sam Logan, K.C. Green, a bunch of webcartoonists that I've been following for a really long time, and I'm so pleased that I can call many of them personal friends now.
Your comic's autobiographical. Are the people in it also real, your friends, family, neighbors, etc.?
With the exception of my coworkers, for whom I make up fake personas, everyone is real. Things are always based on true events. People ask me if my husband actually exists, because he's so weird in the comic. It's real. He's a real person.
How does your husband feel about being with someone who caricatures him on a regular basis?
It does get weird for him sometimes. He gets final say on everything I write, but he's never vetoed anything. He does feel uncomfortable some days, but I keep it pretty silly, so in general it's all right.
How do you draw him? Do you try to draw him as handsome as possible?
I draw him as handsome as he is in real life!
Tell me about your costume.
I'm an AT-ST driver, and I'm with a Star Wars costuming group. We're here at ComiCon trying raise some money for a charity.
What do you do in real life?
I'm a loan officer for a mortgage company, and I'm a swim coach.
Let's say that you're out trying to impress someone. Do you identify yourself as a swim coach, a loan officer, or a Star Wars cosplayer?
I use being a swim coach first, as a way to let them know that I'm physically in shape, I like to stay in fit condition, and if it comes down to me buying a round I'll let them know that I'm a loan officer. Not too much — I don't want them to think I'm made of money — but it's enough.
How long does it take to bring up the "I have a Star Wars costume" thing.
How does that usually go over?
I had one horrible time. I was with this really hot chick — she was just a ten. We're enjoying some drinks and she says "So, um, you're part of this costuming group, right? If you drop the group, you know what we can do, right?"
I was like, "I'm thinking I'm following you here." She said, "Uh, yeah. Would you drop it?" I said no. I would never drop the group.
You're that devoted?
Yeah. I'm that devoted. Yes.
That is commitment.
I've brought that up to a few guys in the legion, and they've said, "You're nuts. Why would you do that?"
Do you ever get a good response?
Actually, believe it or not, yes. I am single now, but I was seeing a gal, we'd been going out for about four months and when I told her on the third date, she said, "Wow, that's actually pretty cool."
How much in-group incest is there?
There are the occasional times after cons when we go out, get totally wasted and, uh… yeah. We do have quite a few women in the group and our garrison and people will hook up and have some fun. Sometimes more than two at a time.
Really? Have you?
I have not been so lucky. Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of armor. That's kind of a drawback.
Wait, wait… do they incorporate the armor? Is that a thing?
Well, all I can say is that I'm not that high on the totem pole there. I have mostly soft costumes, but the harder the armor you have, the better off in the standings you are.
So, the guy dressed up as Darth Vader, then… is he the leader and therefore the one having the most sex?
Well, he's married… but… he likes to pretend he's God. And as far as we're concerned, yeah, we bow down to him.
What do you do?
I draw a comic strip called Girls With Slingshots. It's online and it's updated five times a week, Monday through Friday. It's about booze and boobs, I tell people. Booze and boobs and a talking cactus.
These are interests of yours.
Yes! Maybe my only interests.
You're a cartoonist. Does that impress potential mates?
I guess. I don't really know. Maybe that's why people like me and hang out with me. Maybe they don't like me, they just like the cartoons.
Do you have any good hookup stories?
I was dating a guy — I'll withhold his name, but he's an ex whom I'm really good friends with — a pretty big guy, freckles all over, really cute. We were dating, and he lived in this apartment where all these other guys I used to date lived, too…
Wait a minute. There was an entire apartment of guys you used to date?
Um… yeah. Pretty much. It was me and this other girl, and we managed to date all the guys in this apartment complex, actually.
Good for you?
It was really good for me! I was really into guys who were similar to Kevin Smith. They all looked like him and had the same… well, we all liked fart jokes, it was the biggest thing we had in common. That, and drinking. You know, they were good guys. I really liked them.
But, yeah. We were having sex, I was on the rag, and he had no problem with that. All of my exes and people I knew were all cool with it, but they were sitting in the living room. We finished, and I looked down at him and I was like, "Oh God, you're covered in blood. Oh shit. I guess we'll get some paper towels." He put one finger up and said, "Give me one moment." He walks out with nothing on but the bloody condom, in the middle of the day, into the living room. He has to go through the living room to get to the kitchen. And then I just heard him saying from the bedroom, "Guys — I killed her!" Everybody screamed and ran out of the living room.
Wow. Do you have any crazy exes?
Uh… yeah. I do. Yes. Why are you asking?
Because I want you to talk about them.
Oh, I thought you were going to be like, "Well, we have them here for you, Danielle!" No good stories, though. He was just crazy. I thought he was the town drunk and it turned out I was right. Now I'm kind of terrified to go to my bar.
So, what's with the "guys who look like Kevin Smith" thing?
I don't know. I really liked Kevin Smith movies. I still do, but I really liked them in college because that's what you do in college — you like Kevin Smith movies. And, you know, I feel more comfortable with guys who can be open and expressive about stupid dick jokes.
What do you do?
I publish and write an anthology.
Is this something you put together yourself?
Yeah. Initially it was an outlet for me to write, and something I could meet artists with, and get them to work with me. I put it all together and do the editing and wrangling of people, but mostly I enjoy the writing part.
Have you ever met any girls that way?
Yeah. I have an online-dating profile and I definitely have that in there.
How's that worked out?
Interestingly. A few actually have been good dates. And, well, nothing horrible, but there have been a few bad dates, too. One time this drunk girl started rambling out of nowhere about how much she likes her dad. Then she brought out some photos from home to show me, kissed me, and passed out on the floor.
Hot. How about a good date?
Well, I was up in Vancouver for a convention a few months back, and I ended up just hooking up with someone, and it was one of the first times that I'd ever really just done that. It was like the end of one of those days where everything works out perfectly.
So, just to be perfectly clear: going to a comic-book convention got you laid.
What's on your sexual to-do list?
I've always wanted to go to one of those things where they turn all the lights off and… okay, I guess I'd want to go to a masquerade orgy. Yeah. And there would definitely have to be one of those creepy bird-nose masks involved. And getting pegged. Getting pegged could be involved in the masquerade orgy.
Please go on about getting pegged.
I am a proponent of the prostate! I think more guys should get involved with it! I think there's a long tradition of masculinity and not dominating. Guys are too focused on aggressive acts and dominating with their sexuality. But you can have female-level orgasms which are a lot better than just wankin'. You know Odin, the badass from Norse mythology?
He was totally into the anal.
What do you do?
Currently nothing, but I'm looking for a job. It's difficult.
Tell me about your costume.
I'm Poison Ivy!
Do nerds have more exciting sex lives?
I think so. They're into unusual stuff already, and it transfers over. Also, I have the major hots for Wolverine. He's fuzzy.
You like hairy guys?
Well, I don't like men who have copious amounts of fur, but there's something about him that I just want to cuddle. And cuddle. And pet.
Have you ever been out with a guy who resembled Wolverine in any form or fashion?
No, but I took a picture with one yesterday. I spazzed over that. He was really hot, and every time I caught a glimpse of him for the rest of the day I just giggled and spazzed and geeked out.
Do you think that this is a good place for solitary, lonely people to try to hook up?
Why do you think so?
Because everyone is so friendly! You can just go up to a person and comment on their costume or something. We saw this guy dressed as on officer on the Death Star, and we just walked up to him, chatted with him. Also, earlier today I came across another girl dressed as Poison Ivy, but she had her skin completely green. I just went up to her and said, "I love what you did to your skin. How did you do that? Did you use a certain makeup?" We had this really nice chat.
How much of her skin was exposed?
A lot of it! She had these leather booty shorts and this leafy corset she was almost falling out of. She was hot. Any skin that was showing was green, and it was really fantastic. Everyone here is just really, really nice.
What do you do?
I am a comic-book retailer.
Is that a good way to meet girls?
Oh, God. I should have had some more caffeine. Traditionally, no, but it's worked out well for me. But, mostly, I'd have to say no.
You said, though, that it's worked out well for you. How so?
Well, I've been dating this dominatrix and we've also been doing these weird sex acts with random people. It's been very odd. A friend of mine is trying to do this movie, a John Waters type of movie, and she wanted to have the the finale be this sex scene. She was having trouble casting people for it, and she knew some of the stuff that's been going on with me. She was like, "Hey, Andy! You're having more weird sex than anyone I know. Would you do this scene?" The scene was two people having sex on camera, wearing domino masks, fucking on a big pile of meat. But, I have to supply the girl. This one girl is a vegan, so she's not going to be into it, and the other one isn't into being filmed. I don't know if I would be. But, it would be a good story. I'm tempted to do it.
What is it like to date a dominatrix?
It's interesting. Not as weird as you would think. Maybe I'm… well, not jaded, but just sort of used to it. It's fun. She's a good person.
When she's off the clock, does she want to take time off from the dominating?
No, she's really full-on. We have normal sex occasionally, but she's one of those people who's really into weird stuff and extreme stuff, and she doesn't care if she's getting paid or not. Some people just do it for the paycheck, but she's definitely got a drive and a passion for it.
Is she always doing the dominating? Do you ever switch it up?
With her? Not really. Once it was kind of on a weird middle ground, but with her I never do any sort of domination. I'm more of a switch, I could go either way, but she's definitely a full on alpha-level sort of personality.
Is there anything on your sexual "to do" list? Stuff you want to do before you die?
Well, a year ago I had a huge list. I had been married for fourteen years. But I don't know if there's anything left after this last year, and I had a pretty big list.
Interviews and photography by Joe Streckert.