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The Game Penetrating The Secret Society Of Pickup Artists Ebook

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Read "The Game Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists" by Neil Strauss available from Rakuten Kobo. Sign up today and get $5 off your first purchase. Apr/2 #Kindle #eBook Daily #Deal The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists by Neil Strauss #General #Sexual #Health #Fitness #Dieting #Sex . The Game book. Read reviews from the world's largest community for readers. Hidden somewhere, in nearly every major city in the world, is an underg. .

They're just numbers to you, so anything hurtful they say or do is irrelevant. Get used to rejection. One wannabe-PUA spent a weekend trying to chat up exactly women - and "even managed to get a few phone numbers".

If women gave him their numbers, that means that 95 didn't. As soon as you can, puff up your chest and crow about your successes to any other PUA who will listen.

The most disturbing part of the book - hypnosis - is mentioned, but never explored. Strauss mentions a PUA who "approached the girl This is never mentioned again in the book, but is the most sinister aspect, crossing the line from harmless pickup routines into nonconsensual sex.

Excluding that aspect, I do feel the need to defend The Game. It's just a series of behaviours and word patters, and women don't just 'fall for it'. We can be dumb sometimes, but we're not that dumb. As the book says, women want sex just like men do, they "just don't want to be pressured, lied to, or made to feel like a slut". If a woman wants to go home with a guy, she will. If she doesn't want to, she won't. Is there really any harm in a guy trotting out some bullshit lines, just to get a girl to notice him?

These men are sad, lonely, and socially inept. They need all the help they can get. As I'm sure you can guess, in the book I discovered, word-for-word, a routine that was used on me a few months ago. I met a guy in a club, he started reciting all the lines. We talked for a while, and when he asked for my number I reminded him that I had a boyfriend - to which he said that he just wanted my number so we could continue our conversation about Wuthering Heights you at the back, please stop laughing at my gullibility.

He seemed pretty harmless - I certainly wasn't going to sleep with him, but new friends are always good - so I gave him my number. He texted a few times, then started to mention sex, at which point I told him to please go away, then deleted his number. At the time, I figured that he hadn't got anything out of this interaction. I clearly wasn't interested in him, and we never met up again. Yet, in terms of The Game, he won. He left with a girl's number - a girl with a boyfriend, no less.

He could have gone home and bragged online about the pocketful of phone numbers he got, even if they wouldn't have got him any closer to sex or a girlfriend. He could have had approval from other men, and that is the whole point of The Game. View all 5 comments. Nov 16, Chance rated it did not like it.

This book was fucking terrible. I'm ashamed to have read it. Mar 27, Isa K. I'll start with the Cliff Notes for those of you who don't like long reviews: This book would be five stars if it was about pages shorter. And if you're one of those people who takes things way too literal, confuses the opinions and attitudes of the subject for the opinions and attitudes of the author, or needs every report of observed misogyny to be prefaced with twelve paragraphs of either apology or condemnation At the same time this book makes a I'll start with the Cliff Notes for those of you who don't like long reviews: At the same time this book makes a rather revolutionary suggestion that I think more women NEED to open their minds to.

But that's not the way things go with this one They either eagerly attach themselves to the promise of some secret seduction technique, or they become blinded by their offense. It's true, there are a lot of offensive things in this book. But that seems to be par for the course with social commentary nowadays. If no one is pissed off, no one is listening. My first exposure to this book was Arden Leigh's column on being a female pickup artist here after PUA.

I was fascinated by the idea, but like most I didn't really believe her claims. She looked perfectly pretty to me. Doubtful her "technique" played that much of a significant role in her seduction success. Probably more like a combination of actual attractiveness and good old fashioned confidence. Then a female friend described this book as "amazing" and "life-changing" and I thought "waaaaaaaatt? Talk about cognitive dissonance.

Let me clear something up for the rest of you: This is a book that tries to trick you into thinking that it's about having sex with the hottest girls possible, because that is way more marketable than the actual content especially to a male audience. But that is not what this book is about. The amount of actual advice on how to pick up women is tiny This is a memoir -slash- cautionary tale about the dangers of living your life constantly seeking validation from others.

The various PUA artists in this book are all depicted as sad, pathetic, self-loathing, mentally unstable people who truly believe that being desirable to others will make them like themselves more. But from chapter one Strauss makes it clear that doesn't happen. They get everything they think they want and end up more miserable for it. The problem is this book is too fucking long. I half suspect that most of the people both women and men who talk about it in terms of its seduction secrets did not read it to the end.

Add to this the fact that Strauss is trying to stay in character as he narrates his journey from True Believer to Disillusioned Master and the profound brilliance of The Game barely has a chance. There are plenty of hints dropped throughout the book about Strauss's eventual enlightenment, but some people have no mind for subtly I guess.

Attraction is not physical, but psychological. Part of what annoys me about the so-called "feminist" reaction to this book is that there's a multi-billion dollar industry built around convincing women of the exact opposite and humiliating anyone who dares to call bullshit.

An industry that makes the bulk of its money by inventing flaws and imperfections to make women feel horrible about themselves. And yet the best we can come up with to combat it are fairytales about "different standards of beauty"?

These feminists act like liberation from the image-obsessed media is all about accepting your lot in life and just waiting for a partner whose standard of beauty happens to fit your look to come along. They accept the underlying notion that some people are "pretty" and some are not The big problem with this thinking is that people are not static. Looks change over time. If the answer was to rely on the off chance someone somewhere thinks you are beautiful exactly the way you are By contrast Mystery's Method claims attraction has more to do with how people feel around you than how you look.

Mystery teaches his students about group think and instructs his pupils to focus on the friends of the hot girl, rather than the hot girl. People are strongly influenced by the opinion of the group. Anyone who's taken a basic organizational behavior class has read the mounds of research on this. When your target sees everyone around her acting like you are amusing and desirable, she will be more attracted to you. People become much more susceptible to that suggestion when they themselves feel insecure.

So the second thing Mystery teaches his students is the "neg". Probably the most controversial part of the book, the neg is basically just a back handed compliment.

It's teasing, innocent, and delivered in a flirtatious manner. It's this disconnect between the words which sound like a criticism and the way they are delivered which sounds positive that makes people second guess themselves. And the suggestion that maybe the PUA isn't interested in the target makes the target more likely to convince themselves of an attraction.

The group desires something apparently unattainable Of course some readers seem to have interpreted the passages about negs to mean "act like a fucking jerk" That's not at all what Strauss is describing. Most of The Game's secrets resonated with me because I've been there. When I was twenty-two my life fell apart and I moved to the Czech Republic to escape my demons.

My first week there I fell for a stocky, thirty-six year old statistician with a bowl cut and coke bottle thick glasses Revenge of the Nerds all the way. I knew objectively speaking this man was in no way attractive, but I couldn't help myself.

I had the biggest crush. I was also in a strange country where I didn't speak the language. I had no idea where I was going to live, whether I could get a job. Of course I was smitten. At the same time two of my American roommates were fighting over a balding, short, bespeckled geologist who smoked way too much pot and had abandoned his pregnant girlfriend back in the states to run off to Prague So yes, it's not that people have "different standards of beauty", it's that attraction is psychological.

Now take a minute to consider what that means: Right now. Absolutely anyone. The determining factor is not perfecting your physical form, but making them feel a certain way around you.

They won't suddenly think you're beautiful, they will suddenly not care that you aren't. Consider that unlike your physical appearance, your personality and social skills don't change.

Every girl in America should read this book. Strauss moves from discussion of technique to long rambling conquest stories with backgrounds of various PUA mixed in. Although the PUAs become important later, at least half of these could have been cut. Prior to this Strauss has tried to maintain the voice and perspective of someone who believes he has discovered the secrets of the universe. There is the occasional remark that alludes to problems with the PUA lifestyle many of his Until Strauss's mentor begins to self-destruct.

At this point Strauss realizes that most of his students haven't gained anything by being PUAs, they've actually lost a lot. Even though they win the women they want, they only wanted those women in the first place because they were trying to impress others.

Instead of seducing the crowd to win the girl, they are trying to win the girl to seduce the crowd. Instead of surrounding themselves with awesome people who make them happy, they inevitably surround themselves with people who they think will make them look attractive and successful to others but ultimately do not like. This soulless existence only increases their underlying self hate. The tragedy being that as soon as the PUA gets to know the person providing the validation, once they become a human being with their own flaws and insecurities, they're approval is no longer valuable.

And so the cycle continues until everyone is miserable. Nov 29, Leajk rated it it was ok Recommends it for: Recommended to Leajk by: Know thy enemy. One extra star for pure entertainment value, especially the very first scene where 'the hero' of the book, Mystery, lies curled up crying on the floor of the communal pickup mansion dressed in the bathrobe previously belonging to his stripper ex-girlfriend.

Apparently he misses her, like a lot, which is quite sweet I suppose. That is for a man who reinvented himself from a living-in-his-parents-basement type of guy, to the cons-insecure-wannabe-starlets-in-LA type of guy.

And the Know thy enemy. And thereby invented the trend of men wearing ugly hats. And ugly jewlery. And doing 'negging'. And who destroyed magic for me. And briefly dating. Actually strike what I said earlier: I think I just enjoyed to read about him crying. You know how there's always the shy, but kind of nice, guy in every group of men? Me and my friends knew two of those in two separate groups of guy friends during high-school.

The funny thing was that they were so similar to us, despite their groups being very different, that we thought they might've been twins.

Both were tall, thin which they tried to hide with ill fitting clothes and with blonde badly cut hair. Both of them were as I said quite shy, and were both hoping to have future careers within computer sciences of some sort. One of them once arrived at one of our parties to cry on a couch during the rest of the evening. He had just reached the profound realisation that he was never getting laid. One of my girl friends force fed him ice-cream in an effort to make him feel better.

So I understand the frustration of teenage boys not getting laid. Hell, I understand the frustration of teenage girls not getting laid. I've been there. Then on the other hand you have the other of my blonde geeky high school friends, let's call him Mike.

Mike was always one of the most talkative ones in his group of friends.

The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists

He was friendly and easy to get along with, although shy around girls he didn't know. Then suddenly at one party he started to become really snappy. He'd criticize all the female attendants clothing and most of what they said. We asked him what the hell he was doing and it turned out that he had just read this book It turned out to be 'The Game naturally.

We asked him to please stop and go back to being, you know, a normal polite human being. He insisted on keeping up with the book, and although his clothing and hair style went from bad to worse, he did eventually get laid.

Though he never seemed too happy about it. She wasn't hot enough or something. This was my first exposure to The Game. Years later I met this other quite shy but friendly guy who due to certain circumstances, such as the number of people left in that town during summer being low, I ended up spending some time hanging out with. Physically he was the absolute opposite of those earlier male friends, but this guy had constant diet and self-improvement plans going on so it shouldn't have come as a surprise when he drunkenly confessed to having read The Game after I had previously made fun of the book at a book shop.

He even confessed to trying to use the techniques in the book on me. This was when I decided to read this book, in pure self-defense. And I found it a great read. In fact the rest of that summer I wouldn't shut up about it. I felt it was my personal calling to tell all of my girl friends about it so that they wouldn't fall for any of the tricks.

In fact I even managed to detect this awful 'are the two of you best friends? So is my rating of two stars really fair? After all I did found it funny, fascinating and it made for a great conversation piece. However as I said in the shorter version of my review, it also brought so much pain and suffering into this world. Neil Strauss might be the sane straight man in the story, the one who points out all the follies in the system and who eventually gets out and gets a 'happy ending' i.

I say obviously because I keep meeting these men who just didn't get it. Who buy into the negging and peacocking, but engage in no genuine self-improvement I'm not talking about them buying more self-improvement books here, I mean coming to peace with one self. This might not have been Strauss' intent, but his description of how he went from sexless nerd to sex stud, sure did not help. I think it's that last aspect that disturbs me the most.

That the book implies that men and women are really all that different. I mean I read The Selfish Gene which I think sadly is on Mystery's recommended reading list , and that is not the message I took away from that at all.

Sure some biological differences might mean we have different pros and cons in 'the game', but ultimately we all want the same thing: And that's why this book is sad on so many levels, it makes women out to be this exotic species to be studied from afar. It also makes it so that there are no cultural differences. Instead Strauss claims that since their strategies worked both all over LA and once in Bulgaria or was it Romania?

Oh, and it's not only the wanna be actresses women you meet in the night clubs in LA, actually one of the women in the Eastern European country they were in, she was a doctor of some sorts, and she liked them, so boom - it works on all smart women as well! I could go on and on, but I'd like to end this review by issuing a warning for all potential readers: Or possibly read The Art of Love , it seems like fun View all 24 comments.

This is a fascinating trip to vicarious realization of Eros' dreams of shy guys--e. Yet, a journey that--as one might suspect--comes to the author's recognition of the emptiness of sexual prolificity.

I concede this isn't one most of my friends will read. I'm a guy who fits every profile in Quiet: I would drift off to sleep nights, praying for a cure. In fact, up until I was maybe 17, it was dreadful: I would clam up even around girls who pursued me. Anyhow, Strauss, a reporter for Rolling Stone, decided he was tired of losing with the ladies so he signs up for some pickup artists' courses and infiltrates the pick-up society.

As it turns out, these guys are far from the bores I pictured when I heard "pickup artist. When I look back on those long ago days of a quarter century ago when I was single, I would have given anything to know the secrets of "Mystery" and his "Method. Apparently, this " negging " is a well-worn technique of initial primitive attraction, much more successful than not, if the man can maintain his confidence and her interest. Examples include: There it goes again!

What are you, like 4'9" without 'em? Well, not like cute-cute, more like puppy-cute " " I think I saw you here a few weeks ago. Were you wearing that same dress? It IS a nice dress. You really wrecked a moment! Your old boyfriends must have really hated that about you. It's all so demeaning to the female. Nonetheless, given my background, yes, it is true that I would find this all very fascinating, notwithstanding its lack of practical use to me now given my age and marital status.

Strauss becomes so proficient and successful that he became somewhat of a mythical figure in the pickup society. Given his appearance and comportment at the beginning--bald, a big honker, short--I seems quite astounding. Alas tho, in the end, he came to a few self-revelations: I was experiencing seducer's paradox: The better a seducer I became, the less I loved women. Success was no longer defined by getting laid or finding a girlfriend, but by how well I performed.

Sometimes it stops being casual. People develop a desire for something more. And when one person's expectations don't match the other person's, then whoever holds the highest expectations suffers. There is no such thing as cheap sex. It always comes with a price. Mar 11, Derek rated it really liked it. Impossible to put down. This is a fascinating tale of a guy with marginal skills with the ladies despite fame , who sets out on a life changing mission to master picking up women.

I dare you to try and not get hooked in the first few pages. The characters are philanderers, gigolos, wannabes, braggarts, and every dysfunctional category in between. Their quest is obvious, and thrust in your face; to hook up with as many beautiful women as possible. Strauss becomes prolific at the social marketing Impossible to put down. Strauss becomes prolific at the social marketing skill, and becomes addicted to his casanova killer abilities.

But as is so often the case, the higher levels of his skill seduction lessens the inner drive and excitement he feels towards his conquest. The chase becomes not only boring, but a bit frightening. Not a spoiler here, but the author reflects.

He ponders. He accidentally finds an inner moment observing from third person where his life has now taken him. He wonders if it is all he wants to become. He looks closer at his bizarre friends. All of them have major issues.

Is this what he really wants? Strauss has written several best sellers, as well as for Rolling Stone, and literally has no competition when it comes to spinning tales of this type. For this genre, I recommend picking up the best three.

The Mystery Method: His encyclopedia-like book reads like a PHD college course on seduction. It is the template for what Strauss uses in the Game.

It lays out the techniques, terminology, and methodology for anyone to learn. This is a devious sexual persuasion guide for hooking up, written by a psych doc who cruised the nightclubs with great success for a decade. It also contains an asset protection guide to set up pre-marriage to shield you from divorce.

Get these three, and get ready to laugh and learn. Really interesting books. Aug 22, Jim Reaugh rated it did not like it Shelves: I think The Game straddles the line between comedy and tragedy. If, as I truly would like to believe, Strauss is joking, then the book is a comic masterpiece. If the book is an attempt at non-fiction, then the number of devotees is nothing short of tragic. Some of the recommended pick-up techniques are sinister. One involves discreetly undermining a woman's self-esteem by paying her a backhanded compliment in the hope that she will hang around to seek your approval!!??

Honestly, sinister I think The Game straddles the line between comedy and tragedy. Honestly, sinister soon gives way to pathetic in this book. The Game is really a book about the fragility of male ego and how it seeks refuge from the complexity of human relations in a puerile cult of sexual conquest. I find it remarkable how Strauss races up the ranks of the pick-up fraternity even before he has procured so much as a snog from a lady. So bereft of charisma are most of the people who haunt the lothario chatrooms that anyone with a modicum of self-awareness and humour can take command.

It soon becomes clear that the approval PUA's get from other men is more intoxicating than the pleasure they get from sex. Mar 22, Marrick rated it liked it. I learned that I am what, in pick up artist "PUA" parlance, is called a "natural. So I didn't pick this book up for its instructional content. Rather, I was intrigued into reading this book by curiosity. I wanted to see how my life experience stacked up with my preconceived notion of a true PUA. I envisioned a PUA as being a highly confident, suave, cool operator that women swoon over without being able to control themselves.

I learned that my concept of I learned that I am what, in pick up artist "PUA" parlance, is called a "natural. I learned that my concept of what the PUA is, prior to reading this book, was wrong. In fact, PUAs are very insecure, needy, but intelligent people that have figured out how to give off the illusion of being confident and interesting, to trick or some may say "persuade" women into casual, short-term and primarily physical relationships. Yet, they long for the long-term relationships, built on emotional connections, that us "naturals" seek and often maintain, but have mistakenly chosen what they perceive to be the best path to get there- i.

I'll cease any further substantive review because I don't want to spoil the book for anyone interested in picking it up pun intended. But I will add two more comments: First, viewed in a general sense, the concepts discussed in this book within the context of meeting and successfully "closing" women, can be applied to all other aspects of life.

I plan to incorporate them into my practice and use some of them to "pick up" new clients and negotiate and close business deals. Many of the concepts in Strauss' book were restatements of concepts I found in marketing and persuasive psychology books I've read. Second, the writing is good and it flows well despite Strauss' style of doing the little things that writing instructors and agents caution against- for instance, his frequent use of descriptors that end in "ingly," and switching tenses too often in the same chapter.

Some writers can pull this off and still give you a good read. Strauss is one of those writers. It's a page turner. Mar 27, Polly Trout rated it liked it. There are some very valid reasons to skim through this controversial, pornographic, poorly written, and often obnoxious anthropological tour of the "seduction community," a network of men who use social psychology and hypnosis to pick up women. First, women should know that this exists and defend themselves accordingly -- if you don't want to wade through a whole book on the subject, here's a synopsis: It's fascinating and queasy at the same time.

The seco There are some very valid reasons to skim through this controversial, pornographic, poorly written, and often obnoxious anthropological tour of the "seduction community," a network of men who use social psychology and hypnosis to pick up women.

The second reason is that although this book got slammed by feminists, Strauss is actually a whole lot smarter and more thoughtful than he first appears on the surface. The book is a pseudo-memoir in the gonzo journalism style, mixing participant observation with tall tales about life in the meat market.

Strauss is not a missionary for the movement, but instead charts his own relationship with the seduction community from skepticism to enthusiasm to ambivalence to rejection. I don't know how anyone could miss this, since the opening chapter is about a famous pickup artist's psychotic break and existential despair, and the book continuously circles around the underlying anxiety and loneliness that drives the pickup mentality.

Compared to "Fear and Loathing," which does hilariously glorify drugs, sex, and mayhem, Strauss's gonzo style is more critical and distanced. Here is how he ends the book: Being together has required a lot more time and work than learning to pick up women ever did, but it has brought me far greater satisfaction and joy. Perhaps that's because it is not a game. Sometimes it takes some baby steps to break out of a disabling mental box, and Strauss charts how sex can sometimes function as a psychic icebreaker to get somebody who is stuck moving forward towards real life.

The sex drive is powerful enough to motivate someone who has dug themselves into a deep and alienating silo to climb out of it, and that motivation, under the right circumstances, can help break them out of dysfunctional patterns that are not working. For example, my favorite part of the book comes early on: Strauss has just signed up for a "workshop" with a pickup artist, who is bringing him and some other shy and geeky guys to night clubs and teaching them how to pick up women.

Another guy in the same workshop is 26 and never even kissed a girl before. He is so shy that he cannot use a urinal, because peeing in front of other guys terrifies him. A few weeks later, he excitedly shares, "I can pee beside people now! It's all about confidence. So the stuff I learned in the workshop isn't just for chicks after all Just because you've always done something a certain way doesn't mean you are eternally doomed to repeat it, people can change and grow and learn.

The self is flexible. Social skills, like any skills, can be learned, studied, and honed.

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It's better to take a risk and throw yourself out there than to waste your life accruing bitter regrets. The only way to learn new skills is to be willing to experiment and fail and sometimes look foolish, but if you stick with it and pay attention and get good advice and mentoring, you will get better at it eventually and be glad that you had the patience and balls to move out of your crippling little box.

Our society is filled with women and men who are lonely and bored and stuck and who want desperately to connect and live and have fun but don't know how to get there.

The sad thing about the book is that it documents the tragic lack of vision in people who settle for the shallow, canned interactions of casual sex rather than taking a real risk with full, authentic relationships. Oct 14, Giselle rated it did not like it Shelves: Read this almost ten years ago and was appalled that there is a community of PUAs Pick-Up-Artists that go around doing all of this just to get laid.

So I read the book so I can be aware of these sleaze bags and their methods. They actually think Read this almost ten years ago and was appalled that there is a community of PUAs Pick-Up-Artists that go around doing all of this just to get laid.

Such utter BS! This is why men dehumanize women. Use women as objects, make them their property. Add another notch to their belt and brag to their buddies about how many women they have bedded. A whole community of disgusting advice like this exists. Wish more women read this disgusting book so they can be more aware of what type of predator these men can be. Oct 30, Jenny rated it really liked it Recommended to Jenny by: Pete's book club.

Oh wow, hard to say if I'm horrified or fascinated or what. I guess some of both. Good thing I'm reading this for book club cuz I can't wait to discuss.

I can't believe this is for real. And then what I'm wondering is, what are girls supposed to do? Just sit there and look pretty? But here's some quotes I liked: And by waiting, they miss out. Usually, what you wish for doesn't fall in your lap; it falls somewhere nearby, and you Oh wow, hard to say if I'm horrified or fascinated or what. Usually, what you wish for doesn't fall in your lap; it falls somewhere nearby, and you have to recognize it, stand up, and put in the time and work it takes to get it.

This isn't because the universe is cruel. It's because the universe is smart. It has its own cat-string theory and knows we don't appreciate things that fall into our laps. But love isn't like that. It's a free-flowing energy that comes and goes when it pleases. Sometimes it stays for life; other times it stays for a second, a day, a month, or a year. So don't fear love when it comes simply because it makes you vulnerable. But don't be surprised when it leaves, either.

Just be glad you had the opportunity to experience it. Everything you do counts and brings you closer to your goal. The right lifestyle is something that is worn, not discussed. Nov 08, Elyse Walters rated it it was amazing. One of the best things about looking through the 'Giveaways' on Goodreads is discovering new books coming out soon by authors you have read. It was a gift Funny gift, I know But I enjoyed it more than I thought I enjoyed it t One of the best things about looking through the 'Giveaways' on Goodreads is discovering new books coming out soon by authors you have read.

I enjoyed it tons and tons more than I thought! Strauss was very frank about his 'logical' methods: The best part of the book all kidding aside --was the science behind behind the techniques, and his personal 'real' life stories. The book felt truthful - scary to a face this truth at times , It was nice to discover I didn't think Neil Stauss was a asshole.

I saw his heart! Most, the book was very entertaining! View all 3 comments. Nov 06, La-Lionne rated it did not like it. I don't get this book. It's pathetic, the book, the men in it and their cult.

What a bunch of losers. It's mind boggling that this book was once on NYT best sellers list. I heard it being mentioned on Invasion of Privacy podcast and taught that it will be an interesting read. I was expecting to be thrown in into a secret society of men who decided to share their secrets on picking up women. What I got was a pile of bullshit on a pile of crap on a pile of whatthegoddamnfuck.

I refuse to beli I don't get this book. I refuse to believe that events in the book really happend in real life. Author is either full of it or world is over populated with women with tons of daddy issues, who would cut off their right tit for a side glance from a low life idiot.

Their tactics and pick up lines were beyond stupid. The secret to picking up a woman - never show her you are interested right away, start with an insult first, about her character, the way she looks.

You should ignore a woman at first, talk to her friend in stead. If she does comment on something you said, smirk and say that it's cute the way her nose wiggles when she laughs, get her friends to notice too and get them laughing too. Then show her a magic trick.

I don't know who to be mad at, these men in the book, or women who fell for this idiocity. If a dude would say something like that to me, I would give him such a nasty stare down that his skin would start itching. I'm not exaggerating, that's the big secret.

Fake piercings are a must. Make shit up about your life, never show your true self. The self proclaimed love gurus talk a big game, but when you read further, you learn that they are nothing more than dudes who's mommies didn't hugged them enough. In one chapter you read about a guy sleeping with tons of women, in the next, that he's living with his parents and his grown ass sibling who's married and living at home too. He talks about mind blowing threesomes and I wonder how he managed to sneak women in without his parents raising an eyebrow.

What do women think, when a guy tells a fancy ass story of how big of a big shot he is, then brings you to his parents home to have sex. Women in the book don't question that, they seem to fall head over heels for this nonsence. And they are talking about seducing a women of a high caliber. That is why I don't believe the events in the book.

What smart, well educated, self confidant woman would fall for it? Because that is their priority target. According to these men, every one of them, because their lousy pick up lines are rock solid.

And it's not just women in US who fall for this crap, the dudes are known worldwide, they travel from country to country picking up the best of the best of them. Then there is the bullshit bit about the author climbing the latter of the pick up chain.

He hasn't even got the chance to sniff a boob, yet his new buddies are in awe of his talents. I'm sure author wouldn't mind me calling him pathetic too, because his inner monologues hints towards him realizing how full of crap his new friends are. Then yet again, after DNFing this jewl, I read about the author and see a picture of him keeping the same makeover that the losers suggested. And then, what do you know, a picture with his wife, that could be his daughter, who is a model, not well know, but still, has the title.

According to the author, this journey was suppose to be an educational. What did he learn? Nothing, if the info about him is anything to go by.

I just couldn't take it anymore of the nonsense. So those are the secrets to picking up women? Are you fucking kidding me? Losers like these existed since the beging of time. It's not a secret. Why was this book a bestseller? I'll never understand. View 2 comments. Mar 05, Heather rated it did not like it Shelves: I don't usually say I've read a book when I haven't finished it. But I simply can't read the second half of this book without losing little parts of my soul on every page, and I damn well want recognition for those parts of my soul I have already lost.

So here I am, reviewing a book I haven't really read. Let's start with something important - Neil Strauss is a very talented writer, His style is not only engaging but often even literary, and I didn't just enjoy turning pages quickly but was quite I don't usually say I've read a book when I haven't finished it.

Let's start with something important - Neil Strauss is a very talented writer, His style is not only engaging but often even literary, and I didn't just enjoy turning pages quickly but was quite comfortable in the warm bath of his prose.

So full points for style no pun intended. It's the content that stinks. The kind that is scared of women - and we all know fear breeds contempt, misunderstanding, and misrepresentation. He admits his nerdery freely, but what he seems to have missed in the detail of this horrifically graphic, autobiographical book of sexual exploration and psychological navel gazing, is that pick-up does not transform him. While he is swept up in a world that gives him magical powers to overcome his own shortcomings again, no pun intended , he doesn't understand that the essential problem in his sex life is that he doesn't see it as social life - in other words, he still sees women as objects, not people.

Style still doesn't understand women because he has failed to identify with them. If this is a book about freeing your sexuality, it is also a book about stifling your humanity. It is about using your words to manipulate, and using sex to dominate. Without throwing a single punch, it is fundamentally violent. It claims to be about demystifying women, but really it is about stripping them of all reality and moulding them into what some men would rather they were - mindless, obedient pliable, and constantly, overtly sexual.

There may have been some kind of redemption later in the book, but I could not wait around for it - too much had already been said. Too many stereotypes had been promoted and too many coded ways of undermining women had been let loose into the slimy gutters and the minds of readers. I couldn't handle this book. It made me nauseous. Mr Strauss, please use your powers of writing for good next time.

People are likely to have strong feelings about this book, from disgust to bemusement to desperate interest on the part of the AFCs "Average Frustrated Chumps" that Strauss talks so much about, after confessing to being one.

However, it should be understood that this particular book is a memoir and an expose by a Rolling Stone journalist, not an actual pickup guide. While Strauss talks a lot about the "seduction techniques" he and his fellow PUAs Pick-Up Artists developed, this isn't a self- People are likely to have strong feelings about this book, from disgust to bemusement to desperate interest on the part of the AFCs "Average Frustrated Chumps" that Strauss talks so much about, after confessing to being one.

While Strauss talks a lot about the "seduction techniques" he and his fellow PUAs Pick-Up Artists developed, this isn't a self-help guide for teaching them. If that is what you're looking for, Strauss still runs a company call "Stylelife Academy" which sells workshops and DVDs and coaching, etc.

I listened to this book narrated by the author himself because of course I have heard of these "Pickup Artists" and while I have no interest in playing "the Game" or becoming the sort of person they describe, it's an interesting, fascinating, somewhat pathetic subculture, but it's also instructive.

For example, feminists tend to react most strongly to PUAs and their philosophy, which tends to treat women as puzzles you have to unlock. Get the right combination of words and gestures and you score the poontang. It's obviously dehumanizing in its implications, and Strauss keeps going back and forth, admitting on the one hand that PUA lifestyle is dehumanizing and tends to lead to misogyny, but on the other hand, defending the poor involuntary celibates who are just looking for love and can't figure out why what they are doing isn't working.

The more interesting thing and possibly infuriating, fascinating, or disturbing, depending on your POV is that it's evident that these routines work. It's not mind control or a secret passcode that will get women to have sex with you, but Strauss and his PUAs really have figured out a series of approaches that can be executed in an almost algorithmic fashion, and which elicit desired responses i.

The key to it is that they are playing a numbers game, which means getting over the natural aversion most people have to making countless approaches and being rebuffed the vast majority of times, and perhaps more importantly, they are looking for certain types of women and certain types of relationships. After spending a couple of years in this lifestyle, Strauss becomes weary of it because he and his posse are living like unwashed bachelors in a Hollywood mansion, with hot and cold running women, internecine catfights male and female over everything from relationships to money to household chores, and in the meantime, while PUAs do get laid a lot, very few of them wind up in fulfilling long-term relationships.

Their original objective getting a woman to bestow interest and affection and sex has become an end in itself, and as Strauss describes it, the very process becomes addictive. That said, listen to how he describes these techniques, and you can see that while most women will say "Oh, that would never work on me," in fact it does. I think what a lot of PUAs miss is that perfecting calculated psychological manipulation as an art and a science isn't gender specific - you could easily develop similar techniques to work on men, or for application outside the domain of romance.

Mystery who teaches the Mystery Method looks like this: PUAs call this "Peacocking. Keep in mind that these guys, in the book, are mostly operating in Hollywood. You can do this in LA or Vegas or NYC - I suspect they wouldn't advise you to "peacock" in quite the same way if you are trying some Game at your church social in Boise. Mystery, it turns out, is a mess, and that's true of pretty much all the PUAs.

None of them start out as "alpha males," which is why they do so much posturing to convince everyone they are one. Most of them are really sad, damaged little boys. This shows itself over and over again as no matter how much Mystery and Strauss score, inside they are still the same old insecure, needy guys seeking female approval that they always were. Strauss's account of life in the PUA community makes it easy to see how they'd attract a certain sort of person, and yet it doesn't seem to lead anywhere but emptiness.

But there is more to them than desperate guys trying to get laid. Strauss manages to use his "Game" even on celebrities. In the presence of Tom Cruise, he sees a true alpha male; Cruise may be a Scientologist wacko, but he's also a genuinely charismatic and forceful personality. An hour passed. He began to fidget.

Two hours passed. His brow furrowed; his face clouded. Three hours passed. The tears started. Four hours passed. He bolted out of his chair and ran out of the waiting room and through the front door of the building. He walked briskly, like a man who knew where he was going, although Project Hollywood was three miles away. I chased him across the street and caught up to him outside a mini-mall. I took his arm and turned him around, baby talking him back into the waiting room. Five minutes.

Ten minutes. Twenty minutes. He was up and out again. I ran after him. Two social workers stood uselessly in the lobby. He wasn't there. I looked 6 left. I ran north to Fountain Avenue, spotted him around the corner, and dragged him back again. When we arrived, the social workers led him down a long, dark hallway and into a claustrophobic cubicle with a sheet-vinyl floor. The therapist sat behind a desk, running a finger through a black tangle in her hair.

She was a slim Asian woman in her late twenties, with high cheekbones, dark red lipstick, and a pinstriped pantsuit. Mystery slumped in a chair across from her. The case was probably already closed for her. She looked at him with feigned sympathy as he continued. To her, he was just one of a dozen nutjobs she saw a day. All she needed to figure out was whether he required medication or institutionalization. As Mystery reached for the package, he looked up and met her eyes for the first time.

He froze and stared at her silently. She was surprisingly cute for a clinic like this. A flicker of animation flashed across Mystery's face, then died.

He stared glumly at the floor as he spoke. Every rule. Every step. Every word. I just can't Another place, another time, and I would have made you mine. How could she? But this sobbing giant with the crumpled tissue in his hands was the greatest pickup artist in the world.

That was not a matter of opinion, but fact. I'd met scores of the self- 7 proclaimed best in the previous two years, and Mystery could out-game them all. It was his hobby, his passion, his calling. There was only one person alive who could possibly compete with him. And that man was sitting in front of her also. From a formless lump of nerd, Mystery had molded me into a superstar. Together, we had ruled the world of seduction.

We had pulled off spectacular pickups before the disbelieving eyes of our students and disciples in Los Angeles, New York, Montreal, London, Melbourne, Belgrade, Odessa, and beyond. And now we were in a madhouse. My nose is too large for my face and, while not hooked, has a bump in the ridge. Though I am not bald, to say that my hair is thinning would be an understatement. There are just wispy Rogaineenhanced growths covering the top of my head like tumbleweeds.

In my opinion, my eyes are small and beady, though they do have a lively glimmer, which is doomed to remain my secret because no one can see it behind my glasses. I have indentations on either side of my forehead, which I like and believe add character to my face, though I've never actually been complimented on them. I am shorter than I'd like to be and so skinny that I look malnourished to most people, no matter how much I eat.

When I look down at my pale, slouched body, I wonder why any woman would want to sleep next to it, let alone embrace it. So, for me, meeting girls takes work. I'm not the kind of guy women giggle over at a bar or want to take home when they're feeling drunk and crazy. I can't offer them a piece of my fame and bragging rights like a rock star or cocaine and a mansion like so many other men in Los Angeles.

All I have is my mind, and nobody can see that. You may notice that I haven't mentioned my personality. This is because my personality has completely changed. Or, to put it more accurately, I completely changed my personality. I invented Style, my alter ego. And in the course of two years, Style became more popular than I ever was— especially with women. It was never my intention to change my personality or walk through the world under an assumed identity.

In fact, I was happy with myself and my life. That is, until an innocent phone call it always starts with an innocent phone call led me on a journey into one of the oddest and most exciting underground communities that, in more than a dozen years of journalism, I have ever come across. The call was from Jeremie Ruby-Strauss no relation , a book editor who had stumbled across a document on the Internet called 9 the lay guide, short for The How-to-Lay-Girls Guide. Compressed into sizzling pages, he said, was the collected wisdom of dozens of pickup artists who have been exchanging their knowledge in newsgroups for nearly a decade, secretly working to turn the art of seduction into an exact science.

The information needed to be rewritten and organized into a coherent how-to book, and he thought I was the man to do it. I wasn't so sure. I want to write literature, not give advice to horny adolescents. But, of course, I told him it wouldn't hurt to take a look at it. The moment I started reading, my life changed. More than any other book or document—be it the Bible, Crime and Punishment, or The Joy of Cooking—the lay guide opened my eyes. And not necessarily because of the information in it, but because of the path it sent me hurtling down.

When I look back on my teenage years, I have one major regret, and it has nothing to do with not studying hard enough, not being nice to my mother, or crashing my father's car into a public bus. It is simply that I didn't fool around with enough girls.

I am a deep man—I reread James Joyce's Ulysses every three years for fun. I consider myself reasonably intuitive. I am at the core a good person, and I try to avoid hurting others. But I can't seem to evolve to the next state of being because I spend far too much time thinking about women. And I know I'm not alone.

When I first met Hugh Hefner, he was seventy-three. He had slept with over a thousand of the most beautiful women in the world, by his own account, but all he wanted to talk about were his three girlfriends—Mandy, Brandy, and Sandy. And how, thanks to Viagra, he could keep them all satisfied though his money probably satisfied them enough.

If he ever wanted to sleep with somebody else, he said, the rule was that they'd all do it together. So what I gathered from the conversation was that here was a guy who's had all the sex he wanted his whole life and, at seventy-three, he's still chasing tail. When does it stop? If Hugh Hefner isn't over it yet, when am I going to be? If the lay guide had never crossed my path, I, like most men, would never have evolved in my thinking about the opposite sex.

In fact, I probably started off worse than most men. In my preteen years, there were no games of doctor, no girls who charged a dollar to look up their skirts, no tickling classmates in places I wasn't supposed to touch.

I spent most of teenage life grounded, so when my sole adolescent sexual opportunity arose—a drunken freshman girl called and offered me a blow job—I was forced to decline, or else suffer my mother's wrath.

In college I began to find myself: But I never became comfortable around women: They intimidated me. In four years of college, I did not sleep with a single woman on campus.

After school I took a job at the New York Times as a cultural reporter, where I began to build confidence in myself and my opinions. Eventually, I gained access to a privileged world where no rules applied: I went on the road with Marilyn Manson and Motley Crue to write books with them.

In all that time, with all those backstage passes, I didn't get so much as a single kiss from anyone except Tommy Lee. After that, I pretty much gave up hope. Some guys had it; other guys didn't. I clearly didn't. The problem wasn't that I'd never been laid. It was that the few times I did get lucky, I'd turn a one-night stand into a two-year stand because I didn't know when it was going to happen again. The layguide had an acronym for people like me: AFC—average frustrated chump.

I was an AFC. Not like Dustin. I met Dustin the year I graduated from college. He was friends with a classmate of mine named Marko, a faux-aristocratic Serbian who had been my companion in girllessness since nursery school, thanks largely to his head, which was shaped like a watermelon.

Dustin wasn't any taller, richer, more famous, or better looking than either of us. But he did possess one quality we didn't: He attracted women.

When Marko first introduced me to him, I was unimpressed. He was short and swarthy with long curly brown hair and a cheesy button-down gigolo shirt with too many buttons undone. That night, we went to a Chicago club called Drink. As we checked our coats, Dustin asked, "Do you know if there are any dark corners in here? I raised my eyebrows skeptically. Minutes after entering the bar, however, he made eye contact with a shy-looking girl who was talking with a friend.

Without a word, Dustin walked away. The girl followed him—straight to a dark corner. When they finished kissing and groping, they parted wordlessly, without an obligatory exchange of phone numbers or even a sheepish see-you-later. Dustin repeated this seemingly miraculous feat four times that night.

A new world opened up before my eyes. I grilled him for hours, trying to determine what sort of magical powers he possessed. Dustin was what they call a natural.

He had lost his virginity 11 at age eleven, when the fifteen-year-old daughter of a neighbor used him as a sexual experiment, and he had been fucking nonstop since. When a sultry brown-haired, doe-eyed girl walked by, he turned to me and said, " She's just your type. I was afraid he'd try to make me talk to her, which he soon did. When she walked past again, he asked her, "Do you know Neil? I stammered out a few words, until Dustin took over and rescued me. We met her and her boyfriend at a bar afterward.

They had just moved in together. Her boyfriend was taking their dog for a walk. After a few drinks, he took the dog home, leaving the girl, Paula, with us. Dustin suggested going back to my place to cook a late-night snack, so we walked to my tiny East Village apartment and, instead, collapsed on the bed, with Dustin on one side of Paula and me on the other. When Dustin started kissing her left cheek, he signaled me to do the same on her right cheek.

Then, in synchronicity, we moved down her body to her neck and her breasts. Though I was surprised by Paula's quiet compliance, for Dustin this seemed to be business as usual.

He turned to me and asked if I had a condom. I found one for him. He pulled off her pants and moved into her while I continued lapping uselessly at her right breast. That was Dustin's gift, his power: Afterward, Paula called me constantly. She wanted to talk about the experience all the time, to rationalize it, because she couldn't believe what she had done.

That's how it always worked with Dustin: He got the girl; I got the guilt. I chalked this up to a simple difference of personality. Dustin had a natural charm and animal instinct that I just didn't. Or at least that's what I thought, until I read the layguide and explored the newsgroups and websites it recommended. What I discovered was an entire community filled with Dustins—men who claimed to have found the combination to unlock a woman's heart and legs—along with thousands of others like myself, trying to learn their secrets.

The difference was that these men had broken down their methods to a specific set of rules that anybody could apply. And each self-proclaimed pickup artist had his own set of rules. Put them on South Beach in Miami and any number of better-looking, musclebound bullies will be kicking sand in their pale, emaciated faces.

But put them in a Starbucks or Whiskey Bar, and they'll be taking turns making out with that bully's girlfriend as soon as his back is turned. Once I discovered their world, the first thing that changed was my vocabulary. Then my daily rituals changed as I became addicted to the online locker room these pickup artists had created. Whenever I returned home from meeting or going out with a woman, I sat down at my computer and posted my questions of the night on the newsgroups.

The answers, in order: Soon I realized this was not just an Internet phenomenon but a way of life. There were cults of wanna-be seductionists in dozens of cities—from Los Angeles to London to Zagreb to Bombay—who met weekly in what they called lairs to discuss tactics and strategies before going out en masse to meet women.

It wasn't too late to be Dustin, to become what every woman wants—not what she says she wants, but what she really wants, deep inside, beyond her social programming, where her fantasies and daydreams lie.

But I couldn't do it on my own. Talking to guys online was not going to be enough to change a lifetime of failure. I had to meet the faces behind the screen names, watch them in the field, find out who they were and what made them tick. I made it my mission—my full-time job and obsession—to hunt down the greatest pickup artists in the world and beg for shelter under their wings.

And so began the strangest two years of my life. A glossary has been provided on page with detailed explanations of these and other terms used by the seduction community. It was not the proudest moment of my life. But I had dedicated the last four days to getting ready for it anywaybuying two hundred dollars worth of clothing at Fred Segal, spending an afternoon shopping for the perfect cologne, and dropping seventy-five bucks on a Hollywood haircut.

I wanted to look my best; this would be my first time hanging out with a real pickup artist. His name, or at least the name he used online, was Mystery.

He was the most worshipped pickup artist in the community, a powerhouse who spit out long, detailed posts that read like algorithms of how to manipulate social situations to meet and attract women. His nights out seducing models and strippers in his hometown of Toronto were chronicled in intimate detail online, the writing filled with jargon of his own invention: For four years, he had been offering free advice in seduction newsgroups.

Then, in October, he decided to put a price on himself and posted the fob lowing: Mystery is now producing Basic Training workshops in several cities around the world, due to numerous requests. This includes club entry, limo for four evenings sweet huh? By the end of Basic Training, you will have approached close to fifty women. It is no easy feat to sign up for a workshop dedicated to picking up women.

To do so is to acknowledge defeat, inferiority, and inadequacy. It is 16 to finally admit to yourself that after all these years of being sexually active or at least sexually cognizant , you have not grown up and figured it out.

Those who ask for help are often those who have failed to do something for themselves. So if drug addicts go to rehab and the violent go to anger management class, then social retards go to pickup school.

Clicking send on my e-mail to Mystery was one of the hardest things I'd ever done. If anyone—friends, family, colleagues, and especially my lone ex-girlfriend in Los Angeles—found out I was paying for live in-field lessons on picking up women, the mockery and recrimination would be instant and merciless.

So I kept my intentions secret, dodging social plans by telling people that I was going to be showing an old friend around town all weekend. I would have to keep these two worlds separate. In my e-mail to Mystery, I didn't tell him my last name or my occupation. If pressed, I planned to just say I was a writer and leave it at that. I wanted to move through this subculture anonymously, without either an advantage or extra pressure because of my credentials.

However, I still had my own conscience to deal with. This was, far and away, the most pathetic thing I'd ever done in my life. And unfortunately— as opposed to, say, masturbating in the shower—it wasn't something I could do alone.

Mystery and the other students would be there to bear witness to my shame, my secret, my inadequacy.

The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists

A man has two primary drives in early adulthood: Half of life then was out of order. To go before them was to stand up as a man and admit that I was only half a man.

A week after sending the e-mail, I walked into the lobby of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. I wore a blue wool sweater that was so soft and thin it looked like cotton, black pants with laces running up the sides, and shoes that gave me a couple extra inches in height. My pockets bulged with the supplies Mystery had instructed every student to bring: I spotted Mystery instantly.

He was seated regally in a Victorian armchair, with a smug, I-just-bench-pressed-the-world smile on his face. He wore a casual, loose-fitting blue-black suit; a small, pointed labret piercing wagged from his chin; and his nails were painted jet black. He wasn't necessarily attractive, but he was charismatic—tall and thin, with long chestnut hair, high cheekbones, and a bloodless pallor.

He looked like a computer geek who'd been bitten by a vampire and was midway through his transformation. Next to him was a shorter, intense-looking character who introduced himself as Mystery's wing, Sin. He wore a form-fitting black crew neck shirt, and his hair was pitch black and gelled straight back.

He had the complexion, however, of a man whose natural hair color is red. I was the first student to arrive. They were already assessing me, trying to figure out if I was in possession of a thing called game. Sin ranked in the sixties, Mystery in the hundreds. I looked at them in wonder: These were the pickup artists whose exploits I'd been following so avidly online for months.

They were another class of being: They had the magic pill, the solution to the inertia and frustration that has plagued the 18 great literary protagonists I'd related to all my life—be it Leopold Bloom, Alex Portaoy, or Piglet from Winnie the Pooh. As we waited for the other students, Mystery threw a manila envelope full of photographs in my lap. In the folder was a spectacular array of beautiful women: Penthouse Pet of the Year; a snapshot of a tan, curvy stripper in a negligee who Mystery said was his girlfriend, Patricia; and a photo of a brunette with large silicone breasts, which were being suckled by Mystery in the middle of a nightclub.

These were his credentials. You must not do what everyone else does. I wanted to make sure every word etched itself on my cerebral cortex. I was attending a significant event; the only other credible pickup artist teaching courses was Ross Jeffries, who had basically founded the community in the late s. But today marked the first time seduction students would be removed from the safe environs of the seminar room and let loose in clubs to be critiqued as they ran game on unsuspecting women.

A second student arrived, introducing himself as Extramask. He was a tall, gangly, impish twenty-six-year-old with a bowl cut, overly baggy clothing, and a handsomely chiseled face. With the right haircut and outfit, he would easily have been a good-looking guy. When Sin asked him what his count was, Extramask scratched his head uncomfortably. I grew up pretty sheltered. My parents were really strict Catholics, so I always had a lot of guilt about girls.

But I've had three girlfriends. There was Mitzelle, who broke up with him after seven days. There was Claire, who told him after two days that she'd made a mistake when she agreed to go out with him. I remember her walking over to my house the next afternoon with her friend. I saw her across the street, and I was excited to see her.

When I got closer, she yelled, 'I'm dumping you. Extramask shook his head sadly. It was hard to tell whether he was consciously being funny or not. The next arrival was a tanned, balding man in his forties who'd flown in from Australia just to attend the workshop. He had a ten-thousand-dollar Rolex, a charming accent, and one of the ugliest sweaters I'd ever seen—a thick cable-knit monstrosity with multi-colored zigzags that looked like the aftermath of a finger-painting mishap.

He reeked of money and confidence. Yet the moment he opened his mouth to give Sin his score five , he betrayed himself. His voice trembled; he couldn't look anyone in the eye; and there was something pathetic and childlike about him. His appearance, like his sweater, was just an accident that spoke nothing of his nature. He was new to the community and reluctant to share even his first name, so Mystery christened him Sweater. The three of us were the only students in the workshop.

He leaned in close, so the other guests in the hotel couldn't hear. Think of tonight as a video game. It is not real. Every time you do an approach, you are playing this game. The thought of trying to start a conversation with a woman I didn't know petrified me, especially with these guys watching and judging me.

Bungee jumping and parachuting were a Cakewalk compared to this. You will feel shy sometimes, and self-conscious, and you must deal with it like you deal with a pebble in your shoe. It's uncomfortable, but you ignore it. It's not part of the equation. So get ready to fail. He spoke in a loud, clear voice—modeled, he said, on the motivational speaker Anthony Robbins.

Everything about him seemed to be a conscious, rehearsed invention. Since the age of eleven, when he beat the secret to a card trick out of a classmate, Mystery's goal in life was to become a celebrity magician, like David Copperfield.

He spent years studying and practicing, and managed to parlay his talents into birthday parties, corporate gigs, and even a couple of talk shows. In the process, however, his social life suffered. At the age of twenty-one, when he was still a virgin, he decided to do something about it. He wasn't aware of the online community or any other pickup artists, so he was forced to work alone, relying on the one skill he did know: It took him dozens of trips to the city before he even worked up the guts to talk to a stranger.

From there, he tolerated failure, rejection, and embarrassment day and night until, piece by piece, he put together the puzzle that is social dynamics and discovered what he believed to be the patterns underlying all male-female relationships.

Believe it or not, the game is linear. A lot of people don't know that. That is not the perfect seduction.

Women of beauty are rarely found alone. If the target is attractive and used to men fawning all over her, the pickup artist must intrigue her by pretending to be unaffected by her charm.

This is accomplished through the use of what he called a neg. Neither compliment nor insult, a neg is something in between—an accidental insult or backhanded compliment.

The purpose of a neg is to lower 21 a woman's self esteem while actively displaying a lack of interest in her—by telling her she has lipstick on her teeth, for example, or offering her a piece of gum after she speaks. I only alienate the girls I want to fuck," Mystery lectured, eyes blazing with the conviction of his aphorisms.

Tonight is the night of experiments. First, I am going to prove myself. You are going to watch me and then we are going to push you to try a few sets.

Tomorrow, if you do what I say, you will be able to make out with a girl within fifteen minutes. What else? We were also clueless. As soon as you walk in a club, the game is on. And by smiling, you look like you're together, you're fun, and you're somebody.

It's called the Mystery Method because I'm Mystery and it's my method. So what I'm going to ask is that you indulge in some of my suggestions and try new things over the next four days. You are going to see a difference. No one bothered to tell Mystery that those were actually six characteristics.

As Mystery dissected the alpha male further, I realized something: The reason I was here—the reason Sweater and Extramask were also here—was that our parents and our friends had failed us. They had never given us the 22 tools we needed to become fully effective social beings. Now, decades later, it was time to acquire them. Mystery went around the table and looked at each of us. Sweater pulled a piece of neatly folded notebook paper out of his pocket. She needs to be smart enough to hold up her end of any conversation and have enough style and beauty to turn heads when she walks into a room.

People think if they look generic, then they can seduce a wide array of women. Not true. You have to specialize.

If you look average, you're going to get average girls. Your khaki pants are for the office. They're not for clubs. And your sweater—burn it. You need to be bigger than life. I'm talking over the top. If you want to get the 10s, you need to learn peacock theory. Peacock theory is the idea that in order to attract the most desirable female of the species, it's necessary to stand out in a flashy and colorful way. For humans, he told us, the equivalent of the fanned peacock tail is a shiny shirt, a garish hat, and jewelry that lights up in the dark—basically, everything I'd dismissed my whole life as cheesy.

When it came time for my personal critique, Mystery had a laundry list of fixes: I wrote down every word of advice. This was a guy who thought about seduction nonstop, like a mad scientist working on a formula to turn peanuts into gasoline. The archive of his Internet messages was 3, posts long—more than 2, pages—all dedicated to cracking the code that is woman. An opener is a prepared script used to start a conversation with a group of strangers; it's the first thing anyone who wants to meet women must be armed with.

The point of Mystery Method, he explained, is to come in under the radar. Don't approach a woman with a sexual come-on. Learn about her first and let her earn the right to be hit on. We piled into the limo and drove to the Standard Lounge, a velvet-ropeguarded hotel hotspot. It was here that Mystery shattered my model of reality.

Limits I had once imposed on human interaction were extended far beyond what I ever thought possible. The man was a machine. The Standard was dead when we walked in. We were too early. There were just two groups of people in the room: I was ready to leave. But then I saw Mystery approach the people in the corner. They were sitting on opposite couches across a glass table. The men were on one side. Across from him were two women, a brunette and a bleached blonde who looked like she'd stepped out of the pages of Maxim.

Her cut-off white T-shirt was suspended so high into the air by fake breasts that the bottom of it just hovered, flapping in the air above a belly tightened by fastidious exercise. This woman was Baio's date. She was also, I gathered, Mystery's target. His intentions were clear because he wasn't talking to her. Instead, he had his back turned to her and was showing something to Scott Baio and his friend, a well-dressed, well-tanned thirty-something who looked as if he smelled strongly of aftershave.

I moved in closer. He placed it carefully on the table. He waited fifteen seconds, then waved his hands again, and slowly the watch sputtered back to life—along with Baio's heart. Mystery's audience of four burst into applause. Mystery brushed her off with a neg. The more Mystery performed for the guys, the more the blonde clamored for attention. And every time, he pushed her away and continued talking with his two new friends. He held his arms out. She placed her hands in his, and he began giving her a psychic reading.

He was employing a technique I'd heard about called cold reading: In the field, all knowledge—however esoteric—is power. With each accurate sentence Mystery spoke, the blonde's jaw dropped further open, until she started asking him about his job and his psychic abilities.

Every response Mystery gave was intended to accentuate his youth and enthusiasm for the good life Baio said he had outgrown. That's perfect.

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Mystery called me over and whispered in my ear. He wanted me to talk to Baio and his friend, to keep them occupied while he hit on the girl. This was my first experience as a wing—a term Mystery had taken from Top Gun, along with words like target and obstacle. I struggled to make small talk with them. But Baio, looking nervously at Mystery and his date, cut me off. Outside, he pulled a cocktail napkin from his jacket pocket. It contained her phone number. Everything I've learned I used tonight.

It's all led up to this moment. And it worked.

Stealing a girl right from under a celebrity's nosehas-been or not—was a feat even Dustin couldn't have accomplished. Mystery was the real deal. As we took the limo to the Key Club, Mystery told us the first command- 26 ment of pickup: A man has three seconds after spotting a woman to speak to her, he said.

If he takes any longer, then not only is the girl likely to think he's a creep who's been staring at her for too long, but he will start overthinking the approach, get nervous, and probably blow it.

The moment we walked into the Key Club, Mystery put the threesecond rule into action. Striding up to a group of women, he held out his hands and asked, "What's your first impression of these? Not the big hands, the black nails. A group of women walked by and I tried to say something. But the word "hi" just barely squeaked out of my throat, not even loud enough for them to hear.

As they continued past, I followed and grabbed one of the girls on the shoulder from behind. She turned around, startled, and gave me the withering whata-creep look that was the whole reason I was too scared to talk to women in the first place.

Always come in from the front, but at a slight angle so it's not too direct and confrontational. You should speak to her over your shoulder, so it looks like you might walk away at any minute. It's kind of like that. I decided that approaching her would be an easy way to redeem myself I circled around until I was in the ten o'clock position in front of her and walked in, imagining myself approaching a horse I didn't want to frighten. She was talking to me. It was working.

It was pretty brutal. He was just standing there laughing as the police came and arrested the girls. We started talking about the club and the band playing there. She was very friendly and actually seemed grateful for the conversation.

I had no idea that approaching a woman could be this easy. Sin sidled up to me and whispered in my ear, "Go kino.

Sin reached behind me, picked up my arm, and placed it on her shoulder. I felt the heat of her body and was reminded of how much I love human contact. Pets like to be petted. It isn't sexual when a dog or a cat begs for physical affection. People are the same way: We need touch. But we're so sexually screwed up and obsessed that we get nervous and uncomfortable whenever another person touches us.

And, unfortunately, I am no exception. As I spoke to her, my hand felt wrong on her shoulder. It was just resting there like some disembodied limb, and I imagined her wondering what exactly it was doing there and how she could gracefully extricate herself from under it.

So I did her the favor of removing it myself "Isolate her," Sin said. I suggested sitting down, and we walked to a bench. Sin followed and sat behind us. As I'd been taught, I asked her to tell me the qualities she finds attractive in guys. She said humor and ass. Fortunately, I have one of those qualities. Suddenly, I felt Sin's breath on my ear.

I smelled her hair, although I wasn't exactly sure what the point was. I figured Sin wanted me to neg her. So I said, "It smells like smoke. I guess I wasn't supposed to neg. She seemed offended.

So, to recover, I took another whiff " But underneath that, there's a very intoxicating smell. Fortunately, Mystery soon arrived. They had no problem whispering in students' ears while they were talking to women, dropping pickup terminology in front of strangers, and even interrupting a student during a set and explaining, in front of his group, what he was doing wrong.

They were so confident and their talk was so full of incomprehensible jargon that the women rarely even raised an eyebrow, let alone suspected they were being used to train wanna-be ladies' men.

I bid my new friend good-bye as Sin had taught me, pointing to my 28 cheek and saying, "Kiss good-bye. I felt very alpha. On the way out, as I stopped to use the bathroom, I found Extramask standing there, twirling an unwashed lock of hair in his fingers. When there's another guy standing there, I can't fucking pee. Even if I'm peeing already and a guy walks up, I stop. And then I just stand there all nervous and shit. We stood there for around two minutes, recognizing each other's pee-shyness, until I zipped up and went to another bathroom.

Compared to Extramask, I was going to be an easy student. As I left the bathroom, he was still standing there. And what you do is, you phase-shift.

Imagine a giant gear thudding down in your head, and then go for it. Start hitting on her. Tell her you just noticed she has beautiful skin, and start massaging her shoulders. An IOI is an indicator of interest.

If she asks you what your name is, that's an IOI. If she asks you if you're single, that's an IOI. If you take her hands and squeeze them, and she squeezes back, that's an IOI.

I don't even think about it. It's like a computer program. If she says, 'Maybe,' or hesitates, then you say, 'Let's find out,' and kiss her. And if she says, 'No,' you say, 'I didn't say you could. It just looked like you had something on your mind. Every contingency is planned for. It's foolproof.

That is the Mystery kiss-close. No one had ever told me how to kiss a girl before. It was just one of those things men were supposed to know on their own, like shaving and car repair. Sitting in the limo with a notebook on my lap, listening to Mystery talk, I asked myself why I was really there. Taking a course in picking up women wasn't the kind of thing normal people did. Even more disturbing, I wondered why it was so important to me, why I'd become so quickly obsessed with the online community and its leading pseudonyms.

Every time I walked down the street or into a bar, I saw my own failure staring me back in the face with red lipstick and black mascara. The combination of desire and paralysis was deadly. After the workshop that night, I opened my file cabinet and dug through my papers. There was something I wanted to find, something I hadn't looked at in years.

After a half hour, I found it: It was the only poem I've ever attempted in my life. It was written in eleventh grade, and I never showed it to anyone. However, it was the answer to my question. A scoreless night fosters hostility. A scoreless weekend breeds animosity. Through red eyes all the world is seen, Angry at friends and family for no Reason that they can perceive. Only you know why you are so mad. There is the 'justfriends' one who you've Known for so long, who respects you So much that you can't do what you want.

And she no longer bothers to put on her False personality and flirt because she thinks You like her for who she is when what you Liked about her was her flirtatiousness. There is the coy one who smiles And looks like she wants to meet you, But you can't work up the nerve to talk.

So instead she will become one of your nighttime Fantasies, where you could have but didn't. Your hand will be substituted for hers. When you neglect work and meaningful activities, When you neglect the ones who really love you, For a shot at a target that you rarely hit. Does everyone get lucky with women but you, Or do females just not want it as bad as you do?

In the decade since I'd written that poem, nothing had changed. I still couldn't write poetry. And, more important, I still felt the same way. Perhaps signing up for Mystery's workshop had been an intelligent decision. After all, I was doing something proactive about my lameness.

Even the wise man dwells in the fool's paradise. On the last night of the workshop, Mystery and Sin took us to a bar called the Saddle Ranch, a country-themed meat market on the Sunset Strip. I'd been there before—not to pick up women, but to ride the mechanical bull. One of my goals in Los Angeles was to master the machine at its fastest setting.

But not today. After three consecutive nights of going out until 2: Within minutes, however, our tireless professor of pickup was at the bar, making out with a loud, tipsy girl who kept trying to steal his scarf. Watching Mystery work, I noticed that he used the exact same openers, routines, and lines—and got a phone number or a tonguedown nearly every time, even if the woman was with a boyfriend. I'd never seen anything like it. Sometimes a woman he was talking to was even moved to tears.

As I walked toward the mechanical bull ring, feeling foolish in a red cowboy hat Mystery had insisted I wear, I saw a girl with long black hair, a formfitting sweater, and tan legs sticking out of a ruffled skirt.

She was talking animatedly to two guys, bouncing around them like a cartoon character. One second. Two seconds. I stuttered for a moment. I knew the next line—Mystery had been pushing it on me all weekend—but I'd been dreading using it. I guess peacocking did work. Every ounce of fear evaporated with her acceptance. The secret to meeting women, I realized, is simply knowing what to say, and when and how to say it. I took that as an IOI. I showed Elonova an ESP trick Mystery had taught me earlier that ever ning, in which I guessed a number she was thinking between one and ten hint: The guys, in the presence of my superior game, wandered off.

When the bar closed, Elonova and I moved outside. They were fucking up my game—that is, if I could figure out a way to tell Elonova I was straight. Hopefully, she'd figured it out on her own by now. I remembered Sin telling me to kino, so I put my arm around her. This time, however, she backed away. That was definitely not an IOI. As I took a step toward her to try again, one of the guys she'd been with in the bar arrived.

She flirted with him as I stood there stupidly. When she turned back to me a few minutes later, I told her we should hang out sometime. She agreed, and we exchanged numbers. Mystery, Sin, and the boys were all in the limo, watching the whole exchange go down. I climbed inside, thinking I was hot shit for numberclosing in front of them all. But Mystery wasn't impressed. You let her play with you. Have you ever seen a cat play with a string? Well, when the string is dangling above its head, just out of reach, the cat goes crazy trying to get it.But I couldn't bring myself to call.

Oh wow, hard to say if I'm horrified or fascinated or what. Not just the members of the so-called "seduction community" hold this opinion — having written for people like the members of the band Motley Crue or shock-rock wannabe Marilyn Manson, and rubbing elbows with editors at Rolling Stone and the New York Times elevates your status. And that man was sitting in front of her also. If they took that effort and put it toward something constructive, who knows what they could accomplish.

In another scene, a teacher was trying to pick up a girl by performing some magic tricks and her boyfriend threatened him with a gun after he asked about seeing her again. Convey personality to the entire group.

ANTONIETTA from Kentucky
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