Jerome and Ana work a couple blocks from one another in Oakland, California. When Jerome called out to her in the street, she pulled out her microphone and asked if he could repeat what he said to her. This is the conversation that followed.
Artist – Title – Album
Touane – Arcadia Prisoners (They Dream Loops) – Awake
Mountains – Liana – Centralia
Ana & Jerome
Jerome: I would love the opportunity to take you out and treat you like the queen you are for real. I think you are a beautiful young lady, you know what I’m saying?
Ana: Okay, I’ve got some questions for you first, though.
Jerome: Okay, you can ask me anything because I’m a professional at answering questions.
Jerome: Now, you know, they might be a little bit uncomfortable to you, and once I hear them they might be uncomfortable to me, but I promise you I’ll answer them.
Laquoya: As you were walking past, we were having the conversation and I’m actually his son’s mother.
Ana: Did he approach you the same way?
Laquoya: No, it was a little different, 17 years ago.
Ana: How did he approach you?
Laquoya: We met in a McDonald’s, and hey he was looking, and I just was like “What are you looking at?” and he was like, “I’m looking at you,” and I was like, “Why?” and he was like, “Because maybe we should go out.” And we went out. [laughter]
Ana: And how long did you guys go out?
Laquoya: We went out for a good two years or so, a little less.
Ana: Okay, and then how old is your son now?
Ana: He’s sixteen?
Ana: And does he see you both?
Ana: But you guys don’t stay together…
Ana: Why not?
Jerome: I’m a professional.
Laquoya: And I’m gay.
Ana: You’re gay, and you’re professional?
Ana: Professional what?
Jerome: Uh, Exactly. Now, we are a professional family, but I’m a professional loner. See, my problem is that it’s hard for me to be faithful to one girl, because once I get to know somebody, and I see their flaws, I’m not into changing nobody, or changing myself to deal with nobody, and it just so happens I’m 50 and I just ain’t met that right girl yet to say, “Okay, it’s gonna be me and you.”
Ana: And you guys, you weren’t compatible, I imagine there’s a pretty big…
Jerome: Oh, we was cool out the gate…
Laquoya: We was more of a friend… We was more… I was just trying to figure out if I like guys, or not like guys, but other than that, he’s such a nice person…
Jerome: And then I came through and I put that charm on it and next thing you know I was waxing that. [laughter] I was waxing that… I couldn’t even get rid of her.
Laquoya: But he’s a nice guy, so…
Jerome: I couldn’t get rid of her. I didn’t even try. I wanted her around. And then look, she told me that she was gay in one of our conversations, but to me – I didn’t care. Because, you know, she was girly, you know what I’m saying she was tight jeaning and all of that blouses and stuff, and looking pretty all the time, and then to me it was like, “Oh yeah, there’s a great chance that I might get to have my cake and eat it, too.” And you know, when it all worked out, she like turned me out, and now I can’t have… I promise you, if a girl be my girlfriend, she have to like girls or it wouldn’t work out.
Ana: But, but… Now… Whoa… I’m sorry, tell me your name?
Laquoya: It’s Laquoya.
Ana: So, when he’s calling out to other women walking down the street – how does that make you feel?
Laquoya: I’m not worried… Hopefully, she will be like, “Oh, I like girls.” I’d be like, “Oh, okay…” [laughter]
Jerome: I can tell you this, I promise you, since I met her, I probably had at least about maybe like 30 girlfriends, and she probably done enjoyed at least 25 of them. Only about 5 of them escaped her.
Ana: So are you guys working as a team?
Jerome: No, no. A lot of them wasn’t gay, they just was curious, and had probably done it before, and lied that they haven’t, because they would do it again, and again. So it’s like to me, it’s the American dream.
Laquoya: That’s not the American dream…
Jerome: That you can have a girl that enjoy your girl with other girls, and everything too. What man don’t want that? And then your girl ain’t trippin’.
Laquoya: I guess… If we just chillin’…
Jerome: But I really long for that one girl, that one girl…
Laquoya: Yeah, he need a girlfriend, or wife, or somebody now…
Jerome: Excuse me, how old are you?
Ana: I’m 26.
Jerome: Oh, you perfect.
Laquoya: She could even be my girlfriend.
Jerome: I can retire. I could retire with you. You take my number, and you call me, and when there’s me and you, I have to give you some stories for your listeners.
Ana: Do you want me to put your number on the internet, so anyone can…
Jerome: Put my number on there and you tell them that I don’t want nothing but young ladies that’s open to fun and enjoying life, you know what I’m saying? I want a commitment with somebody, but I’ve got to find that right one. I’ve got to find somebody that’s loyal, that ain’t gonna be playing no games and stuff like that, because that’s what got me the way that I am. I kind of like feel there’s not a good woman out here that really appreciates good men nowadays, because I know I’m a good man, and so what I does is what I think is normal. I just enjoy life, even with my relationships, and I don’t even sweat them. And so all you ladies out there who listenin’, I would love to hold some auditions. My number is 641-715-3900, extension 55403. And if you call me, make sure that you say, “Oh, I’m calling you because I got your number off the radio station,” and it’s on. And hopefully I can meet the woman of my dreams.
Laquoya: If my wife hears this, we’re just talking. I ain’t lookin’ for nothin’. [laughs]
Laquoya: For all you ladies out there, this is Jerome’s son’s mother, and he’s a very nice guy. So if you’re looking for a nice guy and a good time, and no problems, give him a call.
Jerome: Alright then, I’ll be waiting. [laughter] Thank you for interviewing me. I’mma actually take you to lunch for real, and I won’t even try nothing. I’ll just enjoy the company of a pretty lady.
Laquoya: Fall into the trap! You’re gonna be our friend forever if he takes you out.
Jerome: See, I already told you the story, so I already know you’re not gonna fall into the trap, so I would just love to grace your presence for lunch one day.
Ana: Okay, how about this – I’m gonna give her my number, because I don’t give my number to guys who call on me on the street.
Ana: We can do the arrangement. Ready?
Jerome: Can I watch?
Ana: You can watch while I give her my number, yes.
Jerome: Today is a good day, after I got offa work.
Ana: Okay, and my name’s Ana.
Jerome: Ana, can I ask you one question?
Jerome: Do you like girls?
Ana: I like girls.
Jerome: Have you been in a relationship with a girl?
Ana: I have never been in a relationship with a girl, no.
Jerome: Have you ever played around with a girl, just playing around, kissing, stuff like that?
Ana: I have.
Jerome: Did you like it?
Ana: It was very nice, yes.
Jerome: Do you have a boyfriend?
Ana: I do.
Jerome: Do he know you did that?
Ana: He does.
Jerome: Was he there?
Ana: He was not.
Laquoya: Oh, well you gotta have him there one day, it would be much better. [laughs]
Jerome: Have you ever — how many times would you say you played around with a girl, just kidding around?
Jerome: Oh, then okay. You’re safe. You were just curious, you tried it and you were like, “I ain’t doing that no more.” And you didn’t plan it.
Laquoya: She did a Katy Perry, she kissed a girl and she liked it. [laughter]
Jerome: No, she didn’t like it. That’s why she didn’t do it no more.
Laquoya: Well, maybe she will.
Jerome: No, she just cured her curiosity, and that’s all she wanted to do. And it wasn’t all it was cracked out to be, or she would be a lesbian by now.
Ana: Let’s see, how do I stop this thing?
* * *
Jerome: Every time I see you it’s like, man it sends chills through me, it makes my heart sing.
Ana: It makes your heart sing? Why?
Jerome: Just because you’re a beautiful young lady and you’re so free-spirited, you know what I’m saying? And that’s rare. That’s very rare. In Oakland, anyway.
Ana: Free spirits are rare?
Jerome: Well, I guess you could say free spirit. Your heart seems to be intact and working well, like the devil ain’t got no paws of it. Like, every time he call you, you put him on hold. [laughter] No, for real. You just seem like a nice young lady and it seems like it’s your nature and you’re not acting. Because, you know, people do that all the time, even me. But by nature, I’m a good guy for real, I promise you, I’m one of the best guys you’re gonna meet. But when I meet a girl, I try to present myself that I’m better than I am, knowing that it will never come back to haunt me, because I don’t lie, I don’t beat around the bush, and I don’t play no games.
Ana: How often to you think it works, that people actually move from calling out a lady on the street to getting into bed, or out to dinner?
Jerome: Well, it all depends on how many of them bite. Some of them ain’t gonna bite. Just say for me, for instance, if I holla at ten ladies, nine of them maybe gonna speak back, but gonna keep moving, and maybe five of them, they speak, then I say something to try to get them to stop in their track to hear me more, and then out of that five, if I get their number or give them my number, if they call me, nine out of ten out of that five I can sleep with them. I mean, four out of that…
Ana: I don’t believe you.
Jerome: Believe this: if I can get five of them womens out of that ten number, nine out of ten I’mma sleep with at least three out of that five.
Ana: How many women have you slept with that you’ve catcalled off the street?
Jerome: How far back do you want me to go? I can say for the last five years, I done slept with at least – no joke – 15 to 20 womens.
Ana: …that you’ve called out on the street?
Jerome: Yes, because believe it or not, women want to sleep with guys just as bad as guys wanna sleep with women. It’s all about if you’re attracted to them or not. No, for real. You know one thing people don’t understand? That women and men are identical. The only difference is our sex.
Ana: Have you seen all the press… Did you see that video that went around, about the woman who walked around New York and got catcalled like a million times?
Jerome: Yeah, I seen that.
Ana: What do you think of that?
Jerome: If you walk down the street looking like that, any man in his right mind is gonna stop and is gonna look, and say “Hey, how you doin’?” It’s because of the way she looked. She looked nice, she was thick, she was pretty, and she looked like she was easy because of the outfit she had on.
Ana: What was her outfit?
Jerome: She had on them tight pants, remember? Uh, what did she have on?
Ana: She had jeans and a crew neck.
Jerome: And they was grippin’, and you could see all them curves and everything. I know she was looking attractive, and I said…
Ana: Wait, blue jeans? I mean, you’re wearing blue jeans right now.
Jerome: Yeah, but it’s different. I’m a man. If you see a lady in jeans, and they grippin’ all the curves and everything, I promise you as a man, you gonna try to holla at her. This is how mans are. If you’re a pretty lady, and whether you’ve got jeans, skirt or anything on – jeans is even more exceptional, or them pants y’all wear now that’s thin that grips all the curves down there on the leg and the thigh, any man that see that, first thing that comes to his mind, “I’mma need that.” It ain’t nothing personal.
Ana: Do you catcall women of all races, of all ages, of all body types? What’s your type?
Jerome: Well, my type is not all ages. I prefer like 21 or better, because I feel that if you’re 21, no matter how many miles you had on you, you don’t have as many miles as a 31 or 40 year old…
Ana: Are you talking about a woman like a car right now, Jerome? I’m gonna have to stop you, I’m sorry.
Jerome: No, I’m not talking about a car, I’m talking about…
Jerome: Yes, miles means how many men she dealt with.
Ana: Why does that matter?
Jerome: It matters to some people for the simple fact that…
Ana: No, no, no, not some people. You. Why does it matter how many men you’ve had sex with?
Jerome: Oh, it matters to me.
Ana: You want a woman to have had sex with more men, or less men?
Jerome: Less. That’s why I prefer ‘em 21. Because no matter how bad you started off at 21, by the time you’re 35 it’s so so more many. And so…
Ana: Oh, Jerome, I gotta say…
Jerome: … than a 35-year-old, because the 35 has been doing it 20 years, and the 21-year has been doing it maybe 4 years. So that means the 35-year-old has been doing it with mens for at least 20 years.
Ana: You’re being a total hypocrite.
Jerome: I know I am, but look, I promise you, that’s just the way I am. I don’t want no woman that been all wore out and everything, even though she might consider me wore out because I’m 51. That’s my preference. I prefer somebody with less miles.
Ana: Jerome, this is gross…
Jerome: I know. I know it is…
Ana: Jerome, hold on, hold on…
Jerome: That’s not gross, just think about it. That’s my opinion. You, for instance, you wouldn’t… How old are you?
Ana: I’m 26.
Jerome: You wouldn’t want no man that’s probably 51.
Ana: No, but that’s not about miles.
Jerome: But that’s because of his age. Not because of miles, but maybe because of his age, or something, and that’s your preference. You probably want a man your age because you probably get along better, because you do the same things, you like the same…
Ana: And I’m not attracted to a man who’s 51.
Jerome: I know, I remember that. You’ve got a boyfriend.
Ana: You have a son…
Ana: You have a daughter…
Jerome: Yeah, I have a daughter.
Ana: How old is your daughter?
Jerome: My daughter is 26.
Ana: How would you feel to know that your daughter is being catcalled by men your age?
Jerome: If my daughter was to call me right now and tell me that she’s got a man that’s 50 years old, the only thing I will ask her is “Is he treating you right?” Why wouldn’t I accept that from my daughter, and that’s how I am?
Ana: There’s a difference between your daughter coming to you and saying, “Dad, I’m in love. There’s a man, he happens to be 50. I know it’s weird, but our love doesn’t look at age,” to a man who’s 51, hollering at your daughter on the street. Wouldn’t you say? I mean, like what would you do if you were on the other side of the park and you saw an old guy yelling at your daughter?
Jerome: I’d sit back and watch, and see how my daughter operates. I love my daughter. My daughter is probably one of the top numbers in my phone right now. My daughter calls me all the time, and it’s not just for money all the time. Anyway, it’s half the time. But I tell her, if an old guy come at you, some of these old guys are crafty. They know exactly what to say to you to take they number, and I promise you, you will call. And once you call, they’ll know how to reel you in.
Ana: What’s your craft?
Jerome: Money and promises. I don’t ever come at them like I’m gonna give them money, but I always come at them and let them know, “Look, I understand you’re young, I’m OG. I don’t mind taking care of you and treating you like the queen you are,” and that reels them in. I promise you. 90% of the girls that I done kicked it with, I’m always kicking it with girls younger than me. My girlfriend right now is 27, and my other girlfriend, she’s 26. And they know each other.
Ana: Got any other girlfriends, or just those two?
Jerome: Well, I’ve got friends that, you know what I’m saying, I don’t consider them my girlfriend.
Ana: Are you giving those women money straight up, or are you taking them out to dinner, or how is that working?
Jerome: Well, I promise you, most of the average young girls don’t really want too much, that’s why I deal with them. It’s the older womens that… reason I don’t holler at them, they be wanting half of the rent, they be wanting money on the car insurance… The young girls don’t have all of that. The ones who I get rid of the fastest is the ones who start asking for too much too fast, and they’re the ones that I ease out of, but I never ever let them know it’s them asking me for something too fast. The reason that I get out of it – I’m good at telling stories on why I’m getting out.
Ana: OK so you’ve told me that you like younger women…
Ana: So we’ve got age covered. How about like appearance, any like…?
Jerome: Very important. You don’t have to be a ten. You can be a five. If your karma, if I get a good karma from you… if your face ain’t that pretty. Your body has to at least be petite and nice. I do not like fat women; I’m not against them, I have fat friends but I promise you I would never sleep with them, I’ll never kiss them. They can’t do nothing for me, but be my friends. I treat them nice and everything; even when they come on to me, I act like I don’t see it.
Ana: How much do you weigh?
Jerome: I weigh 250, so that’s even a bigger reason why. What would I want a fat woman for and I’m big? Big is not attractive to me.
Ana: Because maybe if you’re in a small row boat you two might sink?
Jerome: Nope, I don’t even care about the weight part. It’s just like big is not attractive to me, because I know me. I like petite womens and pretty women. You can be built nice, but if you fat, your vision is gonna throw a curve in my mind, like “Don’t do it.”
Ana: How about race?
Jerome: It doesn’t matter.
Ana: Who says yes? Who’s the one out of ten who says yes?
Jerome: Mostly the black girls. But race never really been a factor to me. But I think the reason that I holler at mostly sisters is because I grew up in Chicago. I was born and raised in Chicago, I grew up in the projects Robert Taylor, and moved to Ida B. Wells and everything. It wasn’t until I was 13 that we moved into a house that actually had grass and a backyard and a garage. It was always segregated. Everywhere that we lived was all black. Nowhere could you find a white person living. The only place you seen a white person or Arab was in a store. But as far as living, you couldn’t find one white person – Chinese, Mexican – nobody living in the neighborhood. You couldn’t even see gay people in the inner city in Chicago before I moved in ’94. They hung out up North. If you were to see them, people would make fun of them, or throw stones at them, old school stuff. And when I came here, I was amazed at how they was everywhere. I really never knew what to say to a white girl, or anybody outside of black until I came here and I started being around them, and then I started working with them and stuff like that, because when I was in Chicago I never worked. I never worked a day in my life in Chicago; I didn’t start working until I came here, because I always hustled in the street. At one point I was actually hood rich.
Ana: What was your hustle?
Jerome: Weed and rocks. It started off weed. I almost got rich off of weed, and then one of my friends introduced me to that. He said, “You think you’re rollin’ now… Try this.” And he was already rich from it. I got an apartment just to put it in, because I didn’t want no part of a controlled substance. So I got an apartment just to put it in, and I had people passing it out, talking about “This is what’s going on over here,” and blew up like the World Trade. That’s when I started seeing the crime in the streets, and seeing a lot of people getting turnt out, so I threw the towel in on that. It was getting harder to hustle on the streets, people was telling everything, and I said, “Let me get out while I survived it,” and never went back.
Ana: I asked a few friends what they would want to ask you, and one of my friends – she’s scared to go outside because of guys yelling at her on the street. How do you feel when you hear that a friend of mine is afraid to leave the house because of all the attention she gets from men?
Jerome: You know what I would tell her? I would tell her “Look, don’t even trip. Keep moving. Don’t give them no signs that you’re trying to talk to them.” And then if they’re trying to say something after you speak back, then you say “Sorry, still in your stride, but I’m married,” and I’ll promise you, they will leave her alone. They might make a few more statements, like “Okay, well you take it easy. You sure look good.” She will start seeing people differently if she just says something and keeps going.
Ana: But there are men who will grab you on the street, there are men who will follow you…
Jerome: You probably need to flag the police down on them, because I never seen them. Them guys are sick. And them deranged. I’ve seen a lot, but I’ve never seen that what you’ve just said. But I’ve seen a lot of guys say negative things at a woman just for her not speaking.
Ana: But there are so many women who have survived sexual assault, sexual abuse. I mean, should they have to be afraid to go out on the street because they’re going to be picked on by men?
Jerome: You know what? They shouldn’t, but I can understand why, because they done been through that trauma. And once a person goes through that trauma, it affects them for years and years. It depends on how strong that woman is. Some woman might say, “You know what? I’ve had men walking all my life, and then that one clown right there did that to me, yanked me up, he was out on a prowl. I’m not finna lay there and live in no shell, and be scared to walk the street because of something one man did.” Some people wallow in things longer. You can’t let something like that scare you. What you gotta do is you have to be on your toes, start carrying mace and knives and all of that stuff, but don’t be afraid of the street.
Ana: Carrying mace and knives, that’s being afraid of the streets.
Jerome: Exactly, but you won’t be as afraid with that as you would be if you weren’t, because…
Ana: But if men would just chill out and treat women with respect…
Jerome: I would love to find somebody to convince all the mens to get their act together and treat women to respect.
Ana: What would it take to convince you?
Jerome: It wouldn’t take nothing to convince me, because I already respect womens to the utmost.
Ana: But some people take yelling at people on the street as disrespect.
Jerome: It is disrespectful, but like I said, hey, we need a savior; we probably need a million saviors to speak on this all over the world at the same time.
Ana: Could I convince you to stop calling out people on the street?
Jerome: Probably not.
* * *
Ana: I just want to know how did you learn your technique. How did you learn how to get one out of ten women? Where have you got that idea?
Jerome: Oh man, I definitely learned that coming up, and that’s all you do when I was coming up back home. You see a pretty girl, you try to knock them off, and that’s the greatest when you can knock them off.
Ana: Knock them off…?
Jerome: Yeah, that means if you can get them, if you can say, “I hit that.” This is how men feel. If you don’t say nothing, you gets nothing. Who wanna be alone?
* * *
Ana: Did you grow up with your dad?
Jerome: No, I grew up with my mom. My dad was there… He would come visit, spend a week or two with my mom. My dad just passed last May.
Ana: I remember he was sick.
Ana: I’m so sorry.
Ana: Have you ever had your heart broken?
Jerome: Yes, I did. I was freshman and she was a junior in a different school. We ended up going together, I met her at a party, and we ended up going together, and we was together a long time. Her dad didn’t like me because he thought I was a thug. He knew I was a good man, but he knew what I was doing, and it was wrong, and he didn’t like his precious daughter dealing with nobody like that. She was older, she was the prettiest girl in the neighborhood, and I was wondering “Why is she messing with me, knowing how I get down?” She had a best friend, her best friend had a sister. I end up sleeping with her best friend’s sister and got her pregnant. That’s my first child, Steven Duran right now, is by my girlfriend’s best friend’s sister. And we kept it a secret, but then when the girl realized I wasn’t gonna leave Phoebe for her, just because she had a baby, she told everybody and when Phoebe found out, it killed her. It killed me too, because I didn’t think it would hurt that bad, because I was still like, wasn’t trippin’ on messin’ around, you know? And it hurt in my heart that she quitted me. We ended up getting back together years, once she found it in her heart to forgive me after the girl had the baby and she seen that I was there for the baby and everything. But it was too late, it was never the same. I didn’t have the same love. I had moved on with so many girls and stuff, but I’ll never forget that relationship. Killed me to have hurt that girl like that.
Ana: If you could go back and do it again…
Jerome: I wouldn’t cheat on her. I would stop even messing with the other girls and I’d marry her.
Ana: Did your mom or your dad ever talk to you about sex?
Jerome: Never, never.
Ana: Do you talk to your kids about sex?
Jerome: All the time. All the time. I tell my son, “Be safe, don’t be just sleeping around with girls.” I tell him how I’ve been through. I say, “You know what, you wait for the right one.” I tell my son all that, use condoms and everything. My daughter don’t have no kids, and ain’t thinking about no kids until she get her career off and got everything she needs. She say she need a house, cars, big bank account and everything before she even consider having a baby, and then the man she have it with got to be financially stable and got to have a good head on his shoulders, too. And I love my daughter for that.
Ana: Do you ever want to settle down with anyone?
Jerome: I promise you I wanna settle down. I tell my partners all the time, I can’t wait until I find the right girl, and then I say, “I know in order for me to find the right girl, I gotta go outside my box.” I got to find me somebody like about 40 or 45 years old. I can’t marry nobody about 21 or 25 years old, half my age, because at some point they gonna be like, “Man, I’m missing something.” I know one thing, I haven’t met her yet. None of the girls that I’ve dealt with I’d say “I’d marry her.” I don’t care if I met her on the street, in a grocery store, at a dog fight – I don’t care. I just want to meet her, and my heart say, “That’s the one,” and then we date. And then we kick it, and we get to know each other, and then she’ll say “Hey, do you want to get married?” Set the date. I always try to do the right thing. I always try to do the right thing. Always.
* * *
Ana: Do you wanna know a secret?
Ana: I think the woman’s mostly the boss.
Jerome: I think they are too, because the woman’s always the shot caller. I always tell my girls, “Just tell me what to do.”
Ana: Do you really not have my number now?
Jerome: No, I don’t. But you can text it to my phone, though.
Nick van der Kolk, Host & Director
Ana Adlerstein, Producer