About a month ago, my friend Jim invited me to a PUA (pick-up artist) seminar. “I’m going to this thing in two weeks, I think you should come.” he stated, pulling up an ad reading “Casanova Convention” on his laptop. “Seats are filling up fast,” he warned, letting the cursor blink in the quantity section. I’d like to say I refused, but I had no excuse. Having read “The Game,” I was curious. I told him to make it two.
“Can I have you to do one thing for me?” Jim asked during the ride there.
I’d been going on about how excited I was for the past week. Excited to see what kind of freaks would attend, and what kind of douches would teach. I rolled my eyes and peered out the window like a defiant child. “I know, I know. You want me to come in with an open mind and not be all judgey.”
He turned onto the freeway heading towards Echo Park. “Yes but . . . can I tell you this in my own words?” He then restated what I’d said.
I was immediately disappointed when we arrived. We walked up to a group of guys standing in front of what looked to be an abandoned El Patio with a graffiti’d plywood door. These weren’t the pasty skinned, World of Warcraft players I expected. Where was the geezer from Old School? Where was George McFly? Where were the Trekkies?
We introduced ourselves to a small circle. An Indian guy with a buttoned down shirt and Liberace hair shook my hand firmly and smiled. He reminded me of Bruno Mars. A slightly over-weight Asian guy with spiked hair and skinny jeans told me his name was Sam. He wore a red leather watch with chrome spikes, which he probably got from Hot Topic. A shorter guy with a buzzed haircut and high cheekbones introduced himself next. He had a tight white polo shirt showcasing his muscular physique. Take a picture of him tossing around a football and you have an Abercombie ad. The spectrum of style went from rockstar with torn leather pants and jet black hair, to guys in sweater vests and ties straight out of a GQ magazine. And right in the middle of this was Jim and I in our blue jeans and t-shirts.
The first speaker was a PUA named Bravo. They like to give themselves aliases or alter ego’s like Mystery or Style or Matador. Open mind, open mind, open mind. He started with a brief bio : At 23 his wife had a miscarriage, then divorced him. He was depressed and overweight – until he discovered “the community” where he rapidly climbed the ranks from junior coach to senior coach to executive (and lost weight). You may be wondering how this reputation is formed. I did. Well, say you go out with your students, feed them a bunch of BS, then get shut down in the field. You’ll probably get a negative review in the forums, or a critical report on some dorks blog ;) Get enough bad reviews and the word gets out – you’re a hack.
Bravo flipped on a projector displaying the title page to his powerpoint presentation. “Everything you need to start getting laid like a rockstar on POF”. The audience shifted in their seats. He began with an example of a bad profile, poking fun at the guys awkward picture and predictable headline. He created a bar graph displaying the volume of messages he’s received for experimental headlines.
“Nice guy looking for nice girl” – nothing
“I taught cupid everything he knows” – a few
“I’m the guy your mom warned you about” – a lot
Then there was one last bar towering over the rest “Bravo’s top secret headline.”
“I changed it to this and the email’s started flooding in.” He explained, waiting a few seconds for dramatic effect before clicking to the next slide.
“I’m kind of an A**hole” – crazy shitload
POF doesn’t let you use profanity so he dodged this with the **. One girl messaged him saying he’s a nice guy. Her logic – Real assholes don’t say they’re assholes, they say they’re nice guys. Only a nice guy would declare they’re an asshole. Inconceivable.
Bravo went over his profile – brief, semi-humurous with a touch of cockiness. At the end he wrote “Do not message me if you are a stripper, bar tender, or have implants.” And of course, every stripper, bar tender, or girl with implants messaged him WTF? His response – “Well most strippers I’ve encountered are crazy, but you seem pretty cool.”
When he listed off some of his tried and tested openers like “Are you one of those girls who takes HOURS to get ready?” I started fervently scribbling in my notebook. On top of being funny and entertaining, his presentation was a fascinating sociological experiment full of empirical data. He was a perverted Malcolm Gladwell.
The MC got on the mic and introduced the next speaker as if he were defending a heavyweight title ” A man who needs no introduction, a man who’s proven himself time and time again in the field, a man who’s invented modern game as we know it, please give it up for . . . ARASH!”
A bald headed Persian man with Mike Tyson tattoo’s took the stage. He pushed the mic out of the way.
“ALRIGHT EVERYONE, I DON’T NEED A MIC BECAUSE MY VOICE IS LOUD. I’M LOUD. AND I DON’T APOLOGIZE FOR THAT. SOME HATE ME, SOME DON’T. I’M HERE TO TEACH YOU ABOUT THE ART OF BECOMING A TRUE ALPHA MALE. THIS IS ADVICE FOR ANYONE – MAN, WOMAN, PITBULL OR BIRD.”
I wasn’t sure if the pitbull and bird were metaphors, or if this guy’s advice transcended the human species and applied to all creatures of the animal kingdom.
“WHO OWNS YOUR BALLS? YOU OWN YOUR BALLS. BE OKAY WITH WHO YOU ARE. THE DEFINITION OF SHYNESS IS BEING ON STAGE AND APOLOGIZING FOR BEING THERE.
Shyness – a feeling of fear or embarrassment.
“YOU DON’T NEED TO SEEK APPROVAL FROM ANYONE. YOU OWN YOUR BALLS!”
He glanced at another PUA standing on the side to make sure he agreed.
“LEARNING THE GAME TOOK PATIENCE. IT’S NOT SOME MYSTERY FORCE THAT SHINES DOWN ON ME . . .OKAY, SOMETIMES I THINK IT IS.”
“I’M LIKE APPLE COMPUTERS – NOT EVERYONE’S GONNA LIKE’EM, BUT THEY’RE A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH.”
“BEFORE I GO OUT, I FEEL LIKE IRON MAN PUTTING ON HIS SUIT – ARMED WITH MY PERSONALITY AND CHARACTER.”
I couldn’t write fast enough. This speech was Point Break awesome and I didn’t want to miss a single quote.
Then suddenly things changed. Amidst the shouting and the barrage of martial arts metaphors came a moment of clarity. His charm began winning me over. I was ready to throw out my crappy PC for a MAC.
“YOU CAN USE THIS ADVICE HOWEVER YOU WANT. YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE A PLAYER. IF YOU SAY YOU WANT A GIRLFRIEND, THAT’S COOL. JUST MAKE SURE THAT’S YOU TALKING, AND NOT YOUR MINISTER, OR YOUR PARENTS, OR SOCIETY. BEING AN ALPHA MALE DOESN’T MEAN BEING THE LOUDEST, LIKE ME. IT’S ABOUT SHOWING CONFIDENCE AND DEMONSTRATING YOUR VALUE. YOU SHOULDN’T FEEL GUILTY OR SHALLOW FOR WANTING BEAUTIFUL WOMEN. IF THAT’S WHAT YOU WANT, GO OUT AND MAKE IT HAPPEN. MAKE TONS OF MONEY, READ BOOKS, WORK OUT. IMPROVE EVERY ASPECT OF YOUR LIFE. MAKE HER WANT TO BE A PART OF YOUR AMAZING WORLD.”
After a quick pee break, there was a girl named Marni speaking.
“The Game was first recommended to me by another woman. She bought copies for all her friends, urging them to read it and protect themselves against men trying to trick them into bed,” she started.
I imagined a fancy livingroom full of middle-aged women discussing Peacock Theory over tea and biscuits. The host of the book club stuffed in a long-sleeve dress, warning her congregation about the evil sex-thirsty men out there, as if she were leading the new temperance movement.
“I was always shy, and a prude. I’d hear my guy friends talking about the women they slept with, and I never wanted that to be me. . .”
She went on to share the story of her first one-night-stand. Everything changed after that – sex wasn’t something to be ashamed of, and meeting new people was an adventure.
“I decided to face my fear of rejection. I didn’t want to be the antisocial, neurotic person watching everyone else have fun. I walked up and down a busy street and started talking to strangers. Every weekend I’d practice this. As my confidence grew, I got bolder, eventually reaching a point where I could go up to a person, ask for a high-five, then run a circle around them. It would still take weeks before I could approach someone I was actually interested in, but I was on my way.”
After finishing her tale of transformation she took questions. An Asian guy behind me raised his hand.
“Umm yes, umm. What do you do after your opening line? Because like, when a girl actually says hi back to me, I never know what to say next.”
This seminar had a strange way of making me simultaneously feel like the world’s biggest loser and a complete stud.
She told him to come up. They were going to practice.
“Okay, we are in a museum. Show me your approach.” (she was hot by the way)
She gazed past the audience, pretending there was an invisible painting hanging in front of her. She tossed back her dark brown hair and mimed a deep reaction to the nonexistent artwork. Asian guy shuffled in with Mr. Burns posture. He shoved his hands in his pockets and mumbled, “You’re the cutest girl in here, I’m the cutest guy. Let’s get together.”
“Um, well my boyfriend is right over there.”
“Oh uhh . . . fuck that guy.” He reacted, turning beet red. A few people chuckled.
“Alright, let’s try something else. I want you to pick out something in the room and talk about it.” She gave an example by pointing to a spotlight that reminded her of an 8th grade play she was in, or some shit like that. The idea was to elaborate on whatever item you picked in order to spark further conversation and interest. She emphasized using the key word “because”, as in “I like that lamp because . . .” Explain WHY. It gives an insight as to who you are.
He looked around a room full of bongo drums, belly-dancer chains, feathered scarfs, Egyptian plates, scented candles, and a big fucking hookah pipe in the back (I think the place was some sort of gypsy dance studio on weekdays).
“I like that mirror.” he blurted out tourettes style. Long pause.
“Because . . . ” she prompted.
“Because it’s really fuckin’ big!” More laughs.
He shot her an apologetic look.
“Okay, that’s good. There’s nothing wrong with that. Thank you, thank you for participating.” He gleefully returned to the safety of his seat and she closed out her lecture with a few more tips.
The MC got back on to announce a lunch break. Jim and I practiced our new material on the 50 year-old woman making sandwiches at Subway. I told her I like wheat bread because it’s good for you and it’s tasty.
The first speaker after the break was a well-groomed handsome man in his late twenties. His sweater vest, khaki pants, slicked-back hair and campy mustache made him look like a young Walt Disney, or a reporter from the 50s snapping off photos while saying things like “What a scoop!”
“Wink creates tension, Smiley relieves,” he said, referring to a sexually suggestive message with a winky face on the end. Most of his lecture was on texting.
“You want to build sexual tension with a woman. Paint a scenario that will fill her head with imagery – ex. Let’s fly to Morocco and drink champagne on a sail boat. She will envision doing this with you. Guys are visually stimulated, women are mentally stimulated. Look at how popular romance novels are. If you really want to understand the psyche of a woman, read one of those.”
He explained the importance of being direct. “Women respect a man who knows what he wants. Even Hitler had a girlfriend.”
Then he described something called the “erotic feedback loop” where two people mutually excite each other and things quickly escalate. He read a recent conversation that demonstrated this, starting off fun and playful, eventually transforming into a porno script.
“Do you like it hard?”
“I have a distinct desire to run my teeth up and down your thighs.”
“Ohh baby, I’m touching myself right now.”
A few chairs squeaked. I stayed focused on the projector, fearful of catching eyes with another man.
“Tell me how wet I’m making you.”
“Would you like me to bite your little nipples and run them through my mouth?”
“I want you to bend me over the kitchen table and fuck me.”
The room was dead quiet. No one moved an inch, as if the slightest shift might indicate arousal.
“Heh, a little weird reading this out of context to a room full of guys. But you get the point.”
The trusty MC took the stage after the erotica hour was over.
The next speaker referred to himself as Kino 5000. Kino is a PUA term for casual touching during conversation.
“HOW’S EVERYONE DOIN’ TONIGHT? C’MON YOU GUYS CAN DO BETTER THAN THAT! STAND UP! REPEAT AFTER ME!” he began clapping.
I WILL! i will. I CAN! i can. I MUST! i must. GET ASS! geh ummkay . . .
“WOMEN WANT DICK! MEN HAVE THREE SECOND ORGASMS, WOMEN HAVE TEN SECOND ORGASMS! AM I RIGHT?” he pointed to a cute goth girl sitting on a stool behind him. She shook her head vehemently in agreement. This seemed to be her only job throughout the entire speech – to confirm.
“I’m a very sexual person” he said softly, gyrating his hips. A new romantic, Barry White voice took over. “Women have hormones, and a period, and it’s beautiful. Lock eyes with your lady and talk to her like she’s masturbating. Hey baby, are you touching yourself?”
Goth girl approved this message.
“I’m philosophically sound. Now I know when most people hear the word philosophy they think – well, it was Nietzsche who said this . . .” he trailed off, unable to think of any Nietzsche quotes, or any other quotes from any other philosophers. “I know what I believe in. I know what I stand for.”
“I’m a closer, like Kobe Bryant. Women know if they come home with me they’re in for some sexy bad shit. Fellas, before you go out, make sure you clean your room and wash your sheets. And have some emotionally swaying music of all levels to put on. Fun chill stuff they’ll recognize like . . . Christina Aguilera.”
I made a mental note to dust off the Brandy CD I bought in 1998.
“WOMEN WANT DICK . . . WOMEN WANT DICK!”
“WHAT DO THEY WANT?”
“DICK!” Jim shouted, smiling.
“WHEN DO THEY WANT IT?
“NOW!” Jim screamed.
I lost it.
Kino 5000, out!
The seminar closed with one more surprise guest speaker – a PUA/stand-up comedian known as Sasha Daygame. He specialized in picking up women on the street, in the supermarket, riding the subway, walking through the park, and all those other seemingly inopportune times. He was funny, clever, and summed up my thoughts about all this stuff perfectly.
“Either you’re successful, or you have a funny story.”
The following weekend I put on my Iron Man suit and tested all this knew found knowledge at a local bar. Stifled by too many drinks, I crashed and burned. My focus turned to the dance floor instead of openers, kino, erotic feedback loops, and all that other PUA shit that’s impossible to execute after nine beers. At least my room got cleaned.