OTM producer Doug Anderson fires up Grindr and meets up with another guy for a casual, anonymous...interview.
Fred Astaire - I'm Putting All My Eggs In One Basket
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Doug Anderson produced this segment, and after all this talk about the app we asked him to give it a test run for the radio.
DOUG ANDERSON: Alright, so here I am in the WNYC Studio in SoHo. I’m actually sitting in the chair where Brooke usually does her interviews. And I’ve got my phone here. I’m just gonna open the Grindr app. I want someone who's online right now, who has a face picture and who’s pretty close by. This guy is called Stud Muffin. So it’s, it’s a face pic. He’s a little – too cool for school. He says, “Hot now.” He says, “Hey, wassup?” That’s all he says. And he’s 593 feet away. He’s 29 years old, and he’s currently committed. Interesting. He’s looking for chats, friends. All right, I’m gonna message him. “Hey man, up for a casual anonymous interview?” Sent. All right, so it’s sent. So now, I guess it’s just the waiting game. [INCOMING TONE] Oh, there was just the little noise from a guy called Luv Feet! - as in L U V space feet! Exclamation point. Let me see what that’s about. All this is is a, a picture of a guy’s foot. He’s 44 feet away, he's into feet, and he’s 52. He says, “Handsome, foot rub?” I mean, sounds like a nice guy, I’m sure. A foot rub would be really nice, but I don’t think I’m gonna go for that right now. So, let’s see. [INCOMING MESSAGE SOUND] It looks like I got a message. Ah, it’s from – okay, from Stud Muffin. So I had said, “Hey man, up for a anonymous casual interview?” And he says, “Interview?” Question mark. I’m saying, “Yeah, could meet in a park or something. Totally anonymous.” Just in case he’s freaked out. [TYPING SOUNDS, INCOMING MESSAGE TONES] He’s written back. “Oh sweet, all right.” He says, “Sure, text me” and he gives me his number, and he signs it “Jeff.” Now I’m gonna go to my normal SMS thing on my phone. I’m gonna say, “Hey Jeff, it’s Doug, the NPR guy.” [SENT TONE] And that’s sent. And now I’m gonna say, “Where, when is good for you?” Question mark. And I’m gonna say, “Public place probably best.” [TONES] Oh, he says, “I’m free now.” I’m gonna say, “Now’s good. I’m on Varick Street, where are you?” [TONES]
All right, so he’s on Prince Street. That’s just around the corner. He’s suggesting the park at 6th and Vandam. That’s Father Fagan Park. Yeah, that’ll be good. [TONE] I’ll be there in five. You’ll see my microphone. Smiley face. [TONES] He says, “Will be there soon.” Great, I’m gonna head down to meet this guy. [ELEVATOR TONES/TRAFFIC NOISE] All right, so I’m just heading down the elevator, and walking down Varick Street right now.
Ah, I’m a little nervous! I've never interviewed someone like this before so, so impulsively. This is new. [WHISTLING] So we’re comin’ up on this little sliver of a park along 6th Avenue. Let’s see where you are, Stud Muffin. Oh, all right. I see somebody.
JEFF: How’re you doin’?
DOUG ANDERSON: Hey, how’s it goin’?
JEFF: Good to see you.
DOUG ANDERSON: Nice to meet you. Thanks for much for meeting on such short notice.
JEFF: Yeah, anytime! [LAUGHS]
DOUG ANDERSON: So I’ve been charged with getting an anonymous casual interview –
JEFF: OH, very nice –
DOUG ANDERSON: - with somebody through Grindr.
JEFF: [LAUGHS] Very nice.
DOUG ANDERSON: You already volunteered your name. I don’t know if you want that on the radio.
JEFF: Jeff is fine.
DOUG ANDERSON: So can you just tell me how old are you, where are you from, what do you do?
JEFF: I’m 30 years old. I work in real estate, and I am from North Carolina.
DOUG ANDERSON: And where you grew up, was it like a small town or a bigger city?
JEFF: Yeah, where I grew up was a small town, where everybody knew everybody. Have you ever gone home and turned on Grindr there?
DOUG ANDERSON: [LAUGHS] You know what? I actually just got home from a holiday vacation, and I did not turn it on, so I have no idea who’s back home grinding or not.
DOUG ANDERSON: How long have you been using Grindr and –
- and how has it changed your life? Has it changed the gay community in any way?
JEFF: I’ve been using it for maybe a year and a half or so. I downloaded it more for fun, to see where it would go. But now I’m in a committed relationship, so I actually deleted it for a while and then sort of re-downloaded the app as sort of a joke and just a way to pass time and to talk to friends. I think it is really interesting how the app has sort of changed the community and how technology changes the community, some points for the better and perhaps some for the worse. I mean, the most concerning thing is - is the casual sexual aspect of the application. On the flipside, you don’t have to meet somebody in a dark bar where alcohol is involved. So for the careful user, it could be an advantage.
DOUG ANDERSON: Is the person you're in a committed relationship with aware that you’re still on Grindr, and is that person okay with it?
JEFF: Yeah, we – we actually joked about it tonight. He said that he was gonna download Grindr. And I said, oh, no, no, don’t, I’ll – I’ll delete mind, I’ll delete mine. [LAUGHS]
DOUG ANDERSON: So do you think you would be jealous if he had it on him?
JEFF: Maybe a little bit. [LAUGHS]
DOUG ANDERSON: Do you think that Grindr has killed the gay bar?
JEFF: Oh, that’s – that’s a great question. I mean, I’m sort of new to the gay scene and sort of new to the, the bar scene, but I would say that it definitely adds a new element to it. You see a lot of people at gay bars on Grindr. But as far as going to a bar to meet people for a casual encounter or something like that, I’m sure that, that Grindr has taken a significant amount of traffic away from that, for sure.
DOUG ANDERSON: Just a couple of blocks north of here, in the seventies, was a sexual free-for-all on Christopher Street. Are you more happy to live now?
Or would you have liked to have lived then?
JEFF: I'm much happier living now in these times.
DOUG ANDERSON: Is there anything else you want to talk about?
JEFF: I can’t think of anything else. Very intriguing interview, so I’m glad I came out. [LAUGHS]
DOUG ANDERSON: Was the interview good for you?
JEFF: It was great.
DOUG ANDERSON: Casual enough, anonymous enough?
JEFF: Exactly what I was looking for, thank you so much. [LAUGHING]
[CLIP/FRED ASTAIRE: I'M PUTTING ALL MY EGGS IN ONE BASKET]:
I've been a roaming Romeo
My Juliets have been many
But now my roaming days have gone.
[SINGING UP & UNDER]
BOB GARFIELD: That's it for this week's show. On the Media was produced by Jamie York, Alex Goldman, PJ Vogt, Sarah Abdurrahman and Chris Neary. We had more help from Khrista Rypl, Ravenna Koenig and Alexandra Hall. And our show was edited – by Brooke. Our technical director is Jennifer Munson, and our engineer this week was Ian Turner.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Katya Rogers is our senior producer. Jim Schachter is WNYC’s Vice President for News, and our boss. Bassist composer Ben Allison wrote our theme. On the Media is produced by WNYC and distributed by NPR. I’m Brooke Gladstone.