I Spy



Age 32

Resides Manhattan

Occupation Actor

Have you ever spied? Yes. My boyfriend and I once shared a Hotmail account. One day his mail popped up on my screen by mistake, and I remember thinking, “Do I open this and cross the line?” I found out that he had been living a double life online. Is having a relationship online cheating? Yes, because I think it’s more intimate than a one-night stand that’s over very quickly. He and I are no longer together.

Have you ever been spied on? Yes. I was stalked for a short time.

What’s the worst thing you ever did for money? I once went out with someone I didn’t like just to get a free dinner.


Age over 21

Resides Manhattan

Occupation Hairstylist

Have you ever spied? Yes, but what’s the difference between curiosity and spying? Curiosity is wanting to know—are people like me, am I like these people? Spying has to do with gaining power over somebody or over your own anxiety.

Have you ever been spied on? No. I do wonder about having houseguests or subletters because I know it’s natural to look at other people’s things.

What’s the worst thing you ever did for money? I was once part of a big corporate project that I objected to as being wasteful and harmful, though it was all perfectly legal. I took my paycheck and went home.


Age 22

Resides Brooklyn

Occupation Graduate student

Have you ever spied? I’ve read someone else’s mail and people’s transcripts at school. It’s simple curiosity.

Have you ever been spied on? Yes. I know that because I’ve had letters and checks just disappear.

What’s the worst thing you ever did for money? In the past, I’ve given blood for money. My current job as a pharmacy technician would qualify as one of the worst things I’ve done, just because anything you do for money that isn’t ultimately what you want to do is bad. It makes you feel like you’re wasting your life. On the other hand, I have union benefits, so I shouldn’t complain.


Age 31

Resides New Jersey

Occupation Mailroom employee

Have you ever spied? Yes. I followed a friend for a couple of blocks because I didn’t believe him when he said he was going home. I suspected he was going to see someone else. In fact he did go home. I felt very relieved, not stupid for worrying.

Have you ever been spied on? Yes. An ex-roommate of mine would read my mail. I’d find open envelopes and he’d say, “I thought it was for me!”

What’s the worst thing you ever did for money? I spent two months distributing flyers on the street for a printing company. The whole time I felt like I was better than that.


Age 25

Resides Brooklyn

Occupation Graphic designer

Have you ever spied? Yes. When I go to parties, I regularly take photographs of the inside of the host’s medicine cabinet.

Have you ever been spied on? A friend who was angry at me once spied on me from an adjacent apartment.

What’s the worst thing you ever did for money? For $6 an hour, I erased pencil marks from the margins of textbooks so that they could be resold.


Age 23

Resides Manhattan

Occupation Sales rep

Have you ever spied? My life’s not that interesting, and I tend to mind my own business. I did follow a star who shall remain nameless—well, it was Jason Priestly—around just to see where he was going.

Have you ever been spied on? Probably. E-mail accounts are so easy to get into, and once you tell someone to read your mail, it’s easy to exploit that access.

What’s the worst thing you ever did for money? I’d have to say accepting money from underaged kids to buy them beer.


Age 18

Resides Brooklyn

Occupation Messenger

Have you ever spied? No. I try to look at people in the eye because I know they give off a lot of different signals.

Have you ever been spied on? Yes. I found my phone book in my girlfriend’s bed. She had called some of the females whose numbers were written in it to ask how they knew me. I actually think girls have good reason to suspect men.

What’s the worst thing you ever did for money? When I was younger, I agreed to clean out somebody’s backyard. It was full of junk and all kinds of creepy things that had been there a long time.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 27, 2001

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