Here’s the thing: It ain’t easy being a broke college intern in New York City. So when my girlfriend Jenny’s sublet flaked out on her via email mere hours before she arrived in Manhattan for a summer internship, she threw herself back into Craigslist with a vengeance, scouring the site for affordable housing.
Naturally, when a $650 East Village sublet came up, two pairs of misshapen eyebrows raised in suspicion. (That would be hers and mine.) After all, I’m paying $900 for a room just a couple blocks away that’s smaller than my mother’s closet back in California — and already I considered that a steal.
The listing warned that there was a situation a potential subletter would have to be open-minded about. And open-minded we are; everyone knows that there’s always a catch when it comes to apartments in New York. You know, like, “I don’t have windows or a microwave,” or “there is no A/C and it’s hot as balls here in the summer.”
Turns out this was the catch: “We would like to maintain access to the bedroom in question. We lead an ‘alternative’ lifestyle and use the room to host gatherings and have photo/video shoots.”
Umm. That should have been warning enough, but a desperation for cheap housing is, when it comes down to it, a desperation for cheap housing. Off we went to check it out.
When we arrive to the building, Jenny calls Ryan, Man Behind the Craigslist Ad, who ignores several calls before finally picking up.
“Hi, it’s Jenny here to look at your apartment?”
“Uh. Give me five minutes to clean up.”
We loiter outside on the curb, inspecting the menu to a Korean restaurant six minutes past awkward.
Finally, Ryan buzzes us up without much instruction.
After walking up several flights, we enter the apartment, which is outfitted in Asian décor – scroll paintings, Japanese room dividers and the works. It’s the stuff great (and by great I mean terrible) porno scenes are made of, down to the scented candles, ceiling mirrors, and deep red satin sheets.
I look down at the coffee table and experience a natural knee-jerk reaction to the collection of playthings neatly lined up on the coffee table. These are not your little brother’s toys: gags, nipple clamps, and some dangerous-looking contraptions I’d no way in hell put near my naked body. Thought the man was cleaning up?!
Ryan hastily grabs a huge black dildo and shoves it into the closest drawer, as if of all things, its presence might offend us.
“We’re just having a business meeting in here,” he gestures, as we open the door to two Japanese girls sitting in a midst of bongs and vodka bottles. Next he tries to show us his web site, offering up graphically matching business cards to boot.
Despite attempting to casually avert our eyes, we learn that “penetration, whether vaginal, anal, or oral, is illegal and strictly forbidden.” However, “orgasmic release may be brought about in session.” Well, that makes everything better.
After that unnecessarily detailed exposé into his personal and professional life, we leave the place hastily, brutally scarred and determined to do serious background checks on any and all Craigslist aficionados, while chalking it all up to just another “only in New York” story.
One thing’s for sure: Jenny will not be living in a bedroom that doubles as an “intimate dungeon space” in which someone else’s “most innermost desires” are satisfied this summer. If that in itself weren’t traumatic enough, the fact that there’d be videographic evidence of strangers exploring their sexual fantasies in the comfort of her potential silky sheets floating around cyberspace pretty much sealed the deal.
It goes without saying that Ryan received a cursory email rejecting his er, generous, housing offer. Not to be deterred, he countered with: “Coffee?”
Let’s hear them, people. What’s your craziest Craigslist experience?