I clicked off the cell phone. "Style talks really fast," I said to my housemate's cat, who understands these things and was my longstanding partner in crime when it came to getting girls to the house. (The offer of, "Want to come back to my place and watch the cat do back flips?" hardly ever failed.)
That was my first impression of Style's real life persona. Two weeks later I sat in a restaurant in San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf waiting for Style to arrive, mentally tallying a list of crazy things that could be wrong with him. I ignored the waiter who was trying to upgrade my beer and made a prayer to myself. "Please, goddess of seduction and patron saint of pickup artists and guys trying to get nookie everywhere, please do not let Style be weird."
Talking too fast is usually a sign of a deep lack of confidence. People who feel that others aren't interested in what they think talk fast for fear of losing the attention of their audience. Others are so in love with perfection that they have a difficult time editing it all down and continuously speed up in hopes of getting it all in. Such people usually become writers. That was it: weirdo or writer. I hoped it was the latter. I needed a friend and equal in this world of seduction, not another student.
I'd first heard of Style on the Internet. We had come to admire each other's postings on a website dedicated to the art of seduction. He wrote with grace and eloquence. He seemed to be a positive guy who was focused on sharing. What he saw in my posts I can only guess.
Style entered the room with a galloping lope. Were those platform shoes he was wearing? He made easy eye contact, beamed with a beautiful smile, and was a touch nervous in just the right amount to make him endearing—an effect I'm sure was deliberate. With his relatively short stature, baby-like shaved head, and soft-spoken voice, no one would ever suspect him of being a pickup artist. I perked up. This guy could be good.
I liked Style right away. He was obviously very practiced at making people like him. He made me feel important. He had a way of summing up many of my more clunkily expressed ideas into simple, beautiful statements—all the while attributing the eloquence back to me. He was the perfect accomplice for an up-and-coming guru.
And yet I wasn't sure what his weakness was. We all do that as we get to know someone. Like a tabloid editor, we search for both greatness and weakness, jotting notes in our heads for future exploitation. We are never comfortable with those who have no visible flaw. Style's softness was not real weakness. My only guess as to Style's flaw was a pride in his ability to get others to open up and reveal themselves. Pretty lame as far as a weakness goes but that was all I had to go on.
He was a cool guy. But he had a lack of confidence that made no sense, as if he felt there was something missing about himself—a piece that would make him complete. I was pretty sure he was searching for it outside when he would eventually find it inside.
After lunch, we did exactly what all hot pickup artists on the make do in San Francisco. We went to the Museum of Modern Art.
We walked downstairs and spread out—commandoes of seduction. I turned a corner in the dimly lit new media section and noticed a cute twenty-year-old. She was small. I love petite women. There is something about their inherent weakness that turns me on. I joined her at a video projection on the floor. The scene looped every minute or so—white petals falling delicately off seasoned branches.
Height can be intimidating. I am the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz—tall and thin with bits of prickly straw sticking out of my sleeves. I sat down on the bench there. She relaxed. Our eyes touched—hers almond green, mine bloodshot from jet lag. The best seductions happen when the woman seduces you. You have to lead to be a good seducer but you also have to follow. In that moment I realized I wanted her to take me by the hand to her secret camp in the woods. I wanted her to show me her goofy magic trick. I wanted her to read me the naughty poems she writes on coffee shop napkins.
CLICKITY CLOMP, CLICKITY CLOMP, CLICKITY CLOMP.
Style and his shoes were moving along the backside of the divider that bisected the long room. I didn't want him to join us. It is not that I didn't appreciate Style. He had me at a humble, "Greetings, I am the one called Style." It was just that the vibe between her and me and the never-ending white petals was so ... mesmerizing. And also because I am a wolf and this little doe separated from her herd was mine. If Style shows up, I might have to bite his face.
The first thing you say to a woman matters very little. Some guys tell me they can't think of anything or they need a really good line. I tell them they are thinking too much. You are not that important. I am not that important. We have never thought a thought so great that it needs to be wrapped with so much care. Give up your need for perfection. As far as opening lines go, a grunt or a fart is sufficient.
That is one of my usual openers. Just something you hear every day from the grocery store clerk. Ninety-five percent respond with a one-word, noncommittal answer: "fine" or "okay." Three percent respond with enthusiasm: "great" or "super." Those are the ones you learn to stay away from—they're nuts. And two percent respond with an honest, "Terrible. My husband just left me for his yoga teacher's receptionist. How fucking Zen." Those are the ones you love.
She tells me she is "fine." Her voice is rough for such a small package. She must have been up late screaming at the Courtney Love concert. I am not really into the loud rock scene. I like elevator music. But I forgive her. I don't screen women. That would only limit my adventures. I only screen on how well I get treated.
I look at her expectedly. She takes the hint. "How are you?" she asks.
I'm always an 8, sometimes an 8.5.
There are two paths to move a conversation. You can either ask questions:
"Where are you from?"; "How many ways can you curl your tongue?"; "Do you believe in reincarnation?"
Or you can make statements: "I live in Ann Arbor, Michigan—home to hundreds and hundreds of ice cream shops"; "I had a girlfriend who could curl her tongue into a poodle"; "My housemate's cat is the reincarnation of Richard Nixon."
I spent my early twenties trying to get to know girls by asking tons of questions—open-ended questions, smart questions, strange questions, the most heartfelt questions wrapped in beautiful boxes. I thought they would appreciate my interest. All I got was name, rank, serial number, and sometimes the finger. Interrogation is not seduction. Seduction is the art of setting the stage for two people to choose to reveal themselves to each other.
Talking in statement form is the way old friends speak to each other. Statements are the mode of the intimate, the confident, and the giving. They invite others to share and make perfect metaphysical sense. Trust me on that— you do not have to spend nights lying in the grass, staring up into our spread-eagled Milky Way galaxy figuring it all out. I have done it for you.
"This video makes me feel peaceful," I said. "Like raking leaves into a big pile and falling into them. But if they had some actual leaves here that we could play in—now that would be art."
She smiled. "I got thrown in the leaves a lot by my older brothers when I was growing up."
I chuckled. The thought of this tiny girl being tossed gleefully into a huge pile of leaves was funny.
'You know," I said, "I have a friend who swears he can figure out a person's personality based on the age and sex of their siblings."
"Like having older brothers makes me butch?" She adjusted her Harley-Davidson belt buckle. "That is so much bullshit."
You can't lead without being able to follow. "Crazy bullshit," I agreed.
"The guy is completely wigged out. Of course, he did read me exactly."
"Yeah, he knew I had one older sister. Just like that."
"How did he know?"
"He said I was needy."
'Yes, of course. All my girlfriends have to write me love notes and give me backrubs. I'm high maintenance."
She laughed musically. It was like the soundtrack to falling leaves.
CLICKITY CLOMP, CLICKITY CLOMP, CLICKITY CLOMP.
Focus is passe. In the modern world we want to feel everything all the time. There is no point in just taking a walk in the park when we can also listen to headphones, munch on a hot dog, crank up our vibrating soles to the maximum, and check out the passing carnival of humanity. Our choices shout the creed of a new world order: stimulation! Thought and creativity have become subservient to the singular goal of saturating our senses. But Im old school. If you are not prepared to focus on me when you are with me— conversation, touch, our momentary entwining of souls—then get out of my face and go back to your 500 channels of surround-sound life.
"Look, I can't talk to you anymore."
"I am enjoying this but you either have to commit to talking with me or go look at art. And, besides, with you standing there Im going to get a crick in my neck."
She smiled and joined me on the bench. Ah.
CLICKITY CLOMP, CLICKITY CLOMP, CLICKITY CLOMP.
Her tiny hand felt calloused. Her nails were trimmed short. They were the hands of a worker bee. I needed to investigate fully. I pulled her closer. She came willingly.
CLICKITY CLOMP, CLICKITY CLOMP, CLICKITY CLOMP CLOMP CLOMP.
Style entered the scene. His perfume wisped and his Italian fabric rustled. Did he flourish? It felt like he flourished. What was wrong with him? Couldn't he see I was enjoying an intimate moment with this girl? Was he so focused on some sort of entertainment phase of seduction that he couldn't see we were beyond that? My moment with this girl evaporated. A growl built deep in my chest.
"Does anyone truly know anyone?" Style retorted.
He made me laugh. Damn him to hell—in that moment I hated Style for his mischievous timing but loved him for his way with words. I decided not to bite his face—this day.
I could tell Style was eager to demonstrate himself in action. I introduced the two of them. Then something freaky happened. Style's eyes rolled back in his head, and he became someone else. My best guess as to whom he was channeling was Harry Houdini—a fast-talking Harry Houdini. He performed tricks. He had her punch him in the stomach. He mentioned sleeping on a bed of nails. She was enjoying herself. Her phone number appeared out of thin air. That was good enough for Harry. We left her where I found her.
There is pride involved in being a pickup artist. It is a challenge. I have performer friends who can explode on stage (ike samurai and kill five hundred people, but they are afraid to approach a girl in a bar. I don't blame them. Most audiences are horny to be fucked. They want it hard and deep. But the girl sitting on the barstool is more difficult. She is scarier. She is the five hundred pound gorilla in a little black dress. And she can bust you up, if you let her. But she is also horny to be fucked. We are all horny to be fucked.
San Francisco was my first group workshop. I had booked six guys. We met up with them at a restaurant near Union Street. Style helped me quickly check their credentials. They were six members in good standing of the community.
We spent dinner making up conversation starters, such as the pretend-someone-is-a-movie-star opener. On the way back from the restroom, I approached a good-looking middle-aged couple at a nearby table.
"I hope I am not interrupting," I said to the woman, "but I just had to tell you that I loved you in that one with the boy and the lighthouse. It made me cry for three days. I stayed up late watching if with my housemate's cat. He used to be the president."
They nodded and smiled amicably "You . . . thank . . . very much," the woman responded in broken English. "It is great."
"Where are you from?" I asked.
I gave her a hug and shook the man's hand. "Welcome to America."
Pickup artists are the only real diplomats left in the world.
I didn't start out as a pickup artist. I began as a small boy obsessed with taking things apart. I carried a screwdriver everywhere. I had a burning desire to know firsthand how things worked. Toys, bicycles, coffee makers— everything comes apart if you know where the screws are. My dad would go to cut the grass, but the lawnmower would be in pieces. My sister would switch on the television . . . and nothing. All the vacuum tubes were under my bed. I was much better at taking things apart than putting them back together. My family was reduced to living in the Stone Age.
Later my research shifted toward understanding people and myself. I became a variety act—juggler, street performer, comedian. It's the backwater of entertainment, but a great place to learn about human interaction. As a side effect, I became good with women. By my twenty-third birthday, I had slept with only one woman. By my twenty-eighth, I could sleep with as many as I wanted. My approach became subtle and efficient, my game graceful and compact.
Then I found the community. Although my interest was much broader than just seduction, their dedication to understanding human interaction was like coming home.
Then I met Style and felt a kinship on an entirely new level. Style listened. Most people don't listen because they are afraid of what they might hear. Style had no preconceived notions. He was cool with however anyone wanted to be. He didn't find bitchy girls who had to be broken. He found feisty girls who were fun to play with. He didn't see a path of random obstacles. He saw an opportunity to explore new territory. Together we were the Lewis and Clark of seduction.
When the workshop ended at 3:00 A.M., Style and I decided to share a hotel room with some of his family who were in town. We talked in hushed voices so as not to wake them. I teased Style's fashion sense. He made fun of my midwestern sensibilities. We shared stories from our experiences with the community and counted up the loot—a couple of kisses for Style, a couple of telephone numbers for me.
The mood was giddy. We felt on the edge of something.
"It's really amazing, man," Style said. "I can't wait to see where all this leads."
He was so full of wide-eyed optimism in the power of pickup, in the benefits of self-improvement, in the belief that we—the community—had the answer to the problems that had plagued him his whole life. I wanted to tell him that the answer he was seeking lay elsewhere. But I never got around to it. We were having too much fun.
When I returned home from San Francisco, where the only person I spent the night with was Juggler, I received a phone call from Ross Jeffries.
"I'm having a workshop this weekend," he said. "If you want, you can come sit in for free. It's at the Marina Beach Marriott hotel on Saturday and Sunday."
"Sure," I told him. "I'd love to go."
"There's just one thing: You owe me parties. Good Hollywood parties with hot chicks. You promised me."
"And, before we hang up, you can wish me a happy birthday."
"It's your birthday?"
"Yes, your guru of gash is forty-four. And my youngest this year was twenty-one."
I had no idea he was inviting me to his seminar not as a student, but as a conquest.
I arrived on Saturday afternoon to find a standard hotel conference room, the kind that's so brightly lit and mustard yellow it seems designed as a habitat more for salamanders than for human beings. Rows of men sat behind white rectangular tables, facing the front of the room. Some were greasy-haired students, others were greasy-haired adults, and a few were greasy-haired dignitaries—top-ranking officials at Fortune 500 companies and even the Justice Department. In the front was our porous, bony guru of gash, talking into a headset.
He was telling the students about the hypnotic technique of using quotes in a conversation. An idea is more palatable, he explained as he paced the room, if it comes from someone else. "The unconscious thinks in terms of content and structure. If you introduce a pattern with the words, 'My friend was telling me,' the critical part of her mind shuts off. Do you follow me?"
He looked around the room for a response. And that was when he noticed me, sitting in the back row between Grimble and Twotimer. He stopped speaking. I felt the heat of his glare on me. "Brothers, this is Style."
I smiled wanly. "He has seen what Mystery has to offer and decided to become my disciple. Isn't that right, Style?"
Every greasy head in the room turned to look at me. The reviews of Mystery's Belgrade workshop had hit the Internet, and my skills in the field had been soundly praised. People were curious to meet Mystery's new wing—or, in Ross's case, to own him.
I stared at the thin black headset coiling around his face like a spider. "Something like that," I said.
That was not enough for him. "Who is your guru?" he asked.
It was his room. But it was my mind. I didn't know what to say. Since the best way to deflect pressure is with humor, I tried to think of a joke response. I couldn't come up with one.
"I'll get back to you on that," I answered.
I could see that he wasn't happy with my response. After all, this wasn't just a seminar he was running. It was a cult.
When the meeting broke for lunch, Ross pulled me aside. "Why don't you join me for some Italian?" he asked, twirling his ring, a replica of the one worn by the superhero Green Lantern.
"I wasn't aware that you were still a big supporter of Mystery," he said over lunch. "I thought you had come over to the good side of the force."
"I don't think your two methods have to be mutually exclusive. I told Mystery what you did with the waitress at California Pizza Kitchen, and he flipped out. I think for the first time, he saw how Speed Seduction could really be effective."
Ross's face turned purple. "Stop!" he said. It was a hypnosis word, a pattern interrupt. "Do not share anything with him. I don't want that guy taking my best work, stealing it, and making money off it. This is disturbing." He stabbed a fork into his chicken. "I knew something was wrong. If you're going to be this deeply involved with Mystery, then I'm going to have a problem. If you're going to learn privately with me, I forbid you from telling him the details."
"Listen," I tried to appease the angry guru. "I haven't told him anything in detail. I just let him know that you were the real deal."
"Fine, then. Just tell him you saw me get a chick hot as hell and wetting her panties just by asking a couple of questions and making some gestures. Let the arrogant fuck figure it out for himself!"
I watched his nostrils flare and the veins in his forehead bulge as he spoke. He was clearly a guy who'd been beaten down early in life. Not by the brutality of his father like Mystery; Ross's parents were a smart, good-humored Jewish couple. I knew because they'd arrived at the seminar a few minutes after me and instantly started teasing him. Rather, Ross had been beaten down socially, which probably took a great toll on his psyche when combined with the constant teasing and high expectations of his parents. His siblings must have been overwhelmed as well. His two brothers had turned to God and became Jews for Jesus. As for Ross, he had turned to to a religion of his own making.
"You are being led into the inner sanctum of power, my young apprentice," he warned, wiping the gray stubble on his chin with the back of his hand, "and the price for betrayal is dark beyond measure of your mortal mind. Keep quiet and keep your promises, and I will keep opening the door."
Ross's severity and anger, though unconscionable, were understandable. The fact was that Ross had built the seduction community almost single-handedly. Sure, there'd always been a stable of men giving pickup advice, like Eric Weber, whose book How to Pick Up Girls helped start the trend that culminated in the movie The Pick-Up Artist with Molly Ringwald and Robert Downey Jr. But there had never been a community of guys before Ross. The reason was fortuitous timing. As Speed Seduction was developing, so was the Internet.
In his twenties, by all accounts, Jeffries was an angry man. His ambition was stand-up comedy and screenwriting. One of his scripts, They Still Call Me Bruce, was even produced, but it flopped. So Jeffries drifted between paralegal jobs, lonely and girlfriendless. That all changed when he was in the self-help section of a bookstore and his hand, he claims, involuntarily reached out and grabbed a book. That tome was Frogs Into Princes, the classic book on NLP by John Grinder and Richard Bandler. Ross went on to devour every book on the subject he could find.
One of his heroes had always been the Green Lantern, who was endowed with a magic ring able to bring the desires of his will and imagination to life. After using NLP to end a long streak of involuntary chastity by seducing a woman who'd applied for a job in the law office where he worked, Ross Jeffries believed he had found that ring. The power and control that had eluded him his whole life was finally his.
His professional pickup career began with a seventy-page self-
published book. The title pretty much summed up where he was coming from emotionally at the time—How to Get the Women You Desire Into Bed: A Down and Dirty Guide to Dating and Seduction for the Man Who's Fed Up With Being Mr. Nice Guy. He sold the book through small classified ads in the back of Playboy and Gallery. When he added seminars to his repertoire, he began marketing on the Internet as well. One of his students, a legendary computer hacker named Louis DePayne, soon created the newsgroup alt.seduc-tion.fast. Out of that forum, an international cabal of PUAs gradually came into being.
"When I first came out with this stuff, I was savagely ridiculed," Ross said. "I was called every name in the book and accused of the worst things. I was really angry for a while. Very pissed off. But gradually the argument went from 'Is this real?' to 'Should they be doing it?'"
And that is why every guru owes at least a pledge of allegiance to Ross Jeffries. He laid the groundwork. It's also why every time new teachers pop up, Ross tries to shoot them down; in a few cases, he has even threatened to reveal a young competitor's online seduction activities to his parents or school administration.
Worse than Mystery, in his mind, was a former Speed Seduction student named David DeAngelo. Originally, DeAngelo called himself Sisonpyh—hypnosis spelled backward—and worked his way into the Speed Seduction hierarchy. But the two of them had a falling out when Ross supposedly hypnotized a girlfriend of DeAngelo's into fooling around with him.
According to Ross, DeAngelo had brought the girl to him to seduce. It wasn't uncommon, he said, for students to bring him women as a sacrifice of sorts. According to DeAngelo, Ross was in no way given permission to touch the girl. Whatever the case, the result was that the two stopped speaking and DeAngelo set up a rival business called Double Your Dating. It was based not on NLP or any other form of hypnosis, but rather on evolutionary psychology and DeAngelo's principle of cocky funny.
"You know, my cheapjack imitator David DeAnushole is having his first seminar in L.A.," Ross said. "The guy is so fucking good-looking and well-connected in the nightclub scene it just astounds me that people think he could ever understand their situation and the difficulties they encounter in dealing with women."
I made a mental note to sign up for the seminar.
"There's a certain view of women that David DeAnushole, Gun Bitch, and Misery have," Ross continued, working himself into a rage. "These guys are focusing on the worst tendencies of some of the worst women out there and spreading it like a cloud of fertilizer on all women."
Ross reminded me of an old rhythm-and-blues artist who has been ripped off so much that he trusts no one. But at least there are publishing companies and copyrights in place to protect songwriters. There is no way to copyright a woman's arousal, to declare certain authorship over her choice of a partner. His paranoia, sadly, made sense—especially when it came to Mystery, the only seducer with the ideas and skills to supplant him.
The waiter cleared our pasta. "I am so passionate about this because I care about these kids," Ross was saying. "I think that 20 percent of my students have been abused. They have been severely impacted. Not just with women but with all people, male and female. And a lot of problems in society come from the fact that we all have such strong drives, but live in a culture that discourages us from exploring them freely."
He turned around and noticed three businesswomen eating dessert a few tables away. He was about to freely explore his sex drive.
"How's that berry cobbler?" Ross yelled at them.
"Oh, it's good," one of the woman replied.
"You know," Ross said to them, "people have signal systems for dessert." He was off and running. "The signals say: This is sugar-free; this melts in my mouth. And the signal system fires up your body's responsiveness to get ready for what comes next. It's tracing an energy flow through your body."
He had the women's attention now. "Really?" they asked.
"I teach courses in energy flow," Ross told them. The women ooohed in unision. The word energy is the equivalent of the smell of chocolate to most women in Southern California. "We were just talking about whether men really understand women. And we think we've figured it out."
In a flash, he was at their table. As he spoke, the women forgot completely about their dessert and stared at him rapt. I couldn't tell sometimes if his patterns really worked on the sophisticated subconscious level he claimed, or if most conversations were so boring that simply saying something different and intriguing was enough to trigger attraction.
"Oh my God," one of the women said when he finished running a pat tern about the qualities women look for in a man. "I've never heard it said like that before. Where do you teach? I'd love to know more."
Ross collected her phone number and returned to the table. He turned to me, smiled, and said, "Now do you see who's teaching the true way?" Then he rubbed his thumb on his chin.
"Ross is a seductionist and a plotter," he said when I called him in Montgomery, Alabama, where he'd been stationed. He was living with a girl he'd met who liked being taken out on the end of a leash and collar. Unfortunately, the military frowned on such perversions, so Sin had to drive all the way to Atlanta to walk her on the downlow.
"You have a special place in Ross's plans," he warned. "You are the marketing tool he's using to attack Mystery. You are Mystery's first and best student, the only guy who's sarging regularly with him. So every time Ross asks you a question like, 'Are you lying to your guru?,' and you answer, the presupposition that he's your guru is affirmed. Every little thing he does is to prove you are a convert and you've disavowed your old religion to embrace the true one that actually works. That is his message. So be careful."
There was a catch to learning NLP, manipulation, and self-improvement. No action—whether yours or another's—was devoid of intent. Every word had a hidden meaning, and every hidden meaning had weight, and every weight had its own special place on the scale of self-interest. However, as much as Ross may have been nurturing a friendship with me in order to crush Mystery, he also had a reputation for befriending younger students just so they'd take him to parties.
I invited Ross to his first event the following week. Monica, a struggling but well-connected actress I'd sarged, had invited me to her birthday party at Belly, a tapas bar on Santa Monica Boulevard. I thought it would be a good scene full of beautiful people for Ross to dazzle with his skills. I was wrong.
I met Ross at his parents' place, a middle-class red brick house on the west side of L.A. His father, a retired chiropractor, school principal, and self-published novelist, sat on a couch near his mother, who clearly wore the pants in the family. On the wall were a purple heart and a bronze star that Ross's father had won during World War II in Europe.
"Style's very successful," Ross told them. "He gets a lot of chicks using my material." Even pickup artists in their forties still seek the approval of their parents.
I talked to his mother for a while about her son's line of work. "Some people think if he talks about sex and women, it's terrible," his mom said. "But he's not crude and vulgar. He's a very bright boy." She stood up and ambled to a wall of shelving. "I have a book of poetry he wrote when he was nine years old. Do you want to read some of it? One of them says he's a king and he's on a throne."
"No, you don't want to read that," Ross interrupted. "Jesus Christ, this was a mistake. Let's get going."
The party was a disaster. Ross couldn't handle himself around classy people. He spent most of the night thinking he was flirting by acting as if he were my gay lover and crawling on all fours behind Carmen Electra, pretending to be a dog sniffing her ass. When I was talking to another girl, he interrupted to brag about a pickup he had just done. At 10:00 P.M., he said he was tired and demanded that I drive him home.
"Next time, we should stay later," I said.
"No, next time we have to arrive at the right time," he scolded me. "I can stay out late, provided I get about twelve hours notice so I can take it easy and nap in the afternoon."
"You're not that old."
I made a mental note never again to take Ross anywhere cool. It was an embarrassment. Since I'd started spending so much time with PUAs, I'd lowered my standards for people I hung out with. All my old friends had fallen by the wayside. Now my social life was monopolized by a caliber of nerd I'd never associated with before. I was in the game to have more women in my life, not men. And though the community was all about women, it was also completely devoid of them. Hopefully, this was just part of the process, the way cleaning a house often makes it messier first.
For the rest of the drive back to his apartment in Marina del Rey, Ross harangued me about his rivals. Of course, Ross's detractors weren't any kinder to him. They had recently nicknamed him Mine '99, claiming that whenever Ross took someone else's tactic and made it his own, he liked to insist it was something he had developed at his 1999 Los Angeles seminar.
"That traitorous creep David DeAnushole," Ross seethed as I dropped him off. "His seminar is tomorrow, and I just found out some of my students are scheduled to speak. They didn't even have the courtesy to let me know."
I didn't have the heart to tell Ross that I'd be going also.
Attraction is not a choice.
Those were the words David DeAngelo had projected on the wall. The seminar was packed. There were more than a hundred and fifty people in the room. Many of them I recognized from other seminars, including Extramask.
It was getting to be an all-too-familiar sight: a person onstage with a headset instructing a group of needy men on how to save themselves from nightly onanism. But there was a difference. DeAngelo was a good-looking guy, like Ross Jeffries had said. He reminded me of Robert DeNiro, if DeNiro had been a mama's boy who'd never been in a fight in his life.
DeAngelo stood out from the other gurus precisely because he didn't stand out. He wasn't charismatic or interesting. He didn't have the crazy gleam of a wanna-be cult leader or some gaping hole in his soul that he was trying to fill with women. He didn't even claim to be good at the game. He was very ordinary. But he was dangerous because he was organized.
He had clearly spent months working on his seminar. It was not only entirely scripted but cleaned up for mass consumption. It was a school of pickup instruction that could be presented to the mainstream without shocking anyone with its crudeness, its attitude toward women, or the devi-ousness of its techniques—except, that is, for his recommendation of reading the book Dog Training by Lew Burke for tips on handling girls.
DeAngelo was a bright guy—and a threat to Ross. Many of the speakers at his seminar were, like himself, Ross's former students: among them Rick H., Vision, and Orion, an uber-nerd who was famous as the first PUA to sell videotapes of himself approaching girls on the street. This video series, Magical Connections, was considered hard evidence that nerds with hypnosis skills could get laid.
"Seduction," DeAngelo read from his notes, "is defined in the dictionary as an 'enticement to wrongdoing, specifically the offense of inducing a woman to consent to unlawful sexual intercourse by enticements which overcome her scruples.'"
"In other words," he continued, "seduction implies tricking, being dis honest, and hiding your motives. That is not what I am teaching. I'm teaching something called attraction. Attraction is working on yourself and improving yourself to the point where women are magnetically attracted to you and want to be around you."
Not once did DeAngelo mention the names of his competitors and rivals. He was too smart for that. He was going to try to take this whole underground world up for air, and he was going to do it by not acknowledging the underground world at all. He had stopped posting online and, instead, let his employees stick up for him when he was flamed. He wasn't a genius or an innovator like Mystery and Ross. But he was a great marketer.
"How do you make someone want something?" he asked, after making his students practice giving each other James Dean underlooks. "You give it value. You show that others like it. You make it scarce. And you make them work for it. I want you to think about other ways during lunch."
I joined DeAngelo and some of his other students for a burger and found out a little more about him. A struggling real estate agent from Eugene, Oregon, he moved to San Diego for a fresh start. Lonely, he yearned to cross that invisible barrier separating two strangers at a club. So he began searching the Web for tips and cultivating friends who were good with women. One of those friends was Riker, a Ross Jeffries protege who turned him onto using America Online to meet women. Sending instant messages was a way for DeAngelo to practice flirting the way his new player friends did, but without risking public embarrassment.
"That was the chi" he said as students milled about awkwardly, trying to overhear. "I was learning new ideas, implementing them, and then noticing how women responded on AOL. That's when I learned that busting women's balls and really slamming them immediately didn't have the effect that the intuitive mind would guess it would. So I became cocky and funny. I stole their lines, teased them, accused them of hitting on me, and never gave them a break."
Flushed with his new findings, DeAngelo delivered a fifteen-page screed to Cliff's List, one of the most established online seduction newsletters. The then-nascent seduction community ate it up: A new guru had arrived. Cliff, the middle-aged Canadian businessman who ran the list by day and hunted for new master PUAs to bring into the community by night, helped convince DeAngelo to spend three weeks turning his manifesto into an e-book, Double Your Dating.
While we were talking, Rick H. joined us. He was one of the friends DeAngelo had cultivated and was now his roommate in the Hollywood Hills. I'd heard a lot about Rick H. He was supposed to be the best, a master PUA who specialized in bisexual women. His garish style of dress, like that of a Vegas lounge lizard, was one of the inspirations for Mystery's peacock theory.
Rick H. was short, slightly stocky, and dressed in a large-collared shirt and a red blazer. Trailing behind him were six attraction adepts eager to soak up his wisdom. I recognized two of them: Extramask, whose eyes were swollen nearly shut, and Grimble, who was beginning to have doubts about his application of Speed Seduction. Hypnotizing women into being groped in clubs wasn't getting him any girlfriends. So after spending time with Rick H., Grimble had turned cocky funny. His new approach was to stick his elbow out whenever a woman walked past, bump her, and then yell "owwww" loudly, as if she'd hurt him. When she stopped, he'd accuse her of grabbing his ass. It was much more rewarding, he realized, to be funny in a bar than creepy.
Rick took a seat at the table and spread himself out comfortably. While students crammed around him, he began holding court.
He had two rules for women, he said.
The first: No good deed goes unpunished. (A phrase, ironically, that was coined by a woman, Clare Boothe Luce.)
The second: Always have a better answer.
One of the corollaries of Rick's second rule was to never give a woman a straight answer to a question. So if a woman asks what you do for a living, keep her guessing: Tell her you're a cigarette lighter repairman or a white slave trader or a professional hopscotch player. The first time I tried this, it didn't go so well. In a five-set in a hotel lobby one night, a woman asked what my job was. I told her the response I had written on my cheat sheet for the night: white slave trader. As soon as the words left my mouth, I realized I probably wasn't going to get a number-close. Everyone in the set was African-American.
One thing I noticed as Rick talked was that people who liked the sound of their own voice tended to do better with women—except for soft-spoken
Dustin. Cliff, of Cliffs List, called it big mouth theory.
"Why is this shit so fun to talk about?" Rick H. asked DeAngelo.
"Because we're guys," DeAngelo said, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.
"Oh, yeah," Rick said. "That's what we do."
When the gurus left, I sat with Extramask. He was sipping apple juice from a small can. He had a barbell-shaped piercing in the back of his neck now and if it weren't for his swollen eyes, he would have been the coolest looking guy at the seminar.
"What happened to you?" I asked.
"I went out with that moon-faced girl and got my second lay ever," he said. "But even though we fucked three times, I didn't blow my load again. Either condoms fucking suck or I have mental anxiety and need to calm down—or Mystery's right and I'm a homo."
"But what does that have to do with your eyes? Did she punch you?"
"No, she had a feather pillow or some shit, and I got an eye infection because of my allergies."
He said he met her for coffee. They sat together and he ran the ESP test, a psychological game called the cube, and other demonstrations of value. When she started laughing at all his jokes—even the ones that weren't funny—he knew she liked him. They rented the movie Insomnia, went back to her house, and cuddled together on the couch.
"I had a pretty legit boner going on," he said, matter-of-factly. "You know, that kind of rock-hardness where you get the pre-cum dabbing your Underoos."
"And it was cool because one of her legs was pressed up against my juicy, rock-hard cock. She definitely felt the hardness. I took off my shirt, and she started kissing me and feeling my chest. It was cool." He paused and took a sip of apple juice through a narrow straw. "Then I took her shirt off, so she was wearing just a bra. I felt her boobies. But when we went to the bedroom, I had a problem."
"An erection problem?"
"No. She still had her bra on."
"So what's the problem? Just take it off."
"I have no clue how to take off bras. So I just left it on."
"I guess unhooking a bra is something you learn from experience."
"I have a plan, though. Want to hear it?"
"What I'm going to do is take one of my mom's bras and tie it around a pole or something. Then I'm gonna walk toward the pole blindfolded like in pin the tail on the donkey, reach the bra, and try to undo it."
I gave him a funny look. I couldn't tell if he was joking or not.
"I'm dead serious," he said. "It's a legit way to learn, and you know it'll work too."
"How was the sex this time?"
"It was like last time. I fucked her beyond belief, for probably a half hour straight. I was very hard and luscious. But I couldn't spunk a load. I hate this shit. Seriously, I really want to blow it during sex."
"You're probably thinking about it too much. Or maybe you're just not into the girls, emotionally."
"Or maybe I just adore the tight grip I use for masturbating," he said, rubbing his eyes. "I think I got my first blow job, too. Like, I saw her head near my penis, and I couldn't tell whether she was sucking or not. But it was cool when my balls were licked."
Grimble walked by and clapped a hand on my shoulder. "The seminar's starting again," he told me. "Steve P. and Rasputin are speaking, and you definitely don't want to miss them."
I stood up and left Extramask at the table, alone with his apple juice.
"You know what else I did?" he yelled after me as I left. "I fingered her!"
I turned back to look at him. He made me laugh. He pretended to be so confused and helpless, but maybe he was smarter than all of us.
"The inside of a vagina isn't at all what I thought it would feel like," he shouted excitedly. "It feels very organized."
Though David DeAngelo taught the seminars on cocky funny, the undisputed heavyweight of the genre was a forty-year-old Canadian writer known as Zan. Where PUAs like Mystery advocated going under the radar, Zan flaunted the fact that he was a ladies' man. He considered himself a seducer in the tradition of Casanova and Zorro, and enjoyed dressing up as them for costume parties. In four years on the seduction boards, he never once asked for advice; he only gave it.
MSN GROUP: Mystery's Lounge
SUBJECT: Zan's Cocky Funny Waitress Technique
One thing I have going for me is that I am fearless around women. My method is very simple. Every single thing a girl says or does to me is an IOI. Period. She wants me. It doesn't matter who she is. And when you believe that, they start to believe it too.
I am a slave to my love of women. They can sense it. The weakness of women is language and words. Fortunately, that is one of my strong points. If they try to repel my advances, I act like they are from Mars and what they are saying doesn't make any sense.
I never try to defend myself or apologize for being a womanizer. Why? Because a reputation is attractive to women. It's true. I am the other man who guys worry about when they marry a girl.
So with that in mind, I'd like to share with you today my patented cocky funny waitress technique:
Usually when a group of guys is confronted with a new and devastatingly pretty waitress, they stare at her ass when she walks by, then talk about her behind her back. But when she comes to their table, they become downright courteous and nice and act like they are not interested in her.
Instead, I go cocky funny immediately. I am going to be very detailed in my description of what I do because I think some guys don't really understand cocky funny role-playing.
When I see her conning toward us, I immediately engage a buddy across the table in seemingly deep conversation. I make sure to face my body away from her.
When she comes up and asks us what we would like to drink, I ignore her for a few seconds or so. Then I glance in her direction and pretend I am just now seeing her for the very first time. Immediately, I show great interest in her—as if she were a new discovery. I glance quickly at her body, just long enough for her to notice, then turn myself fully around to face her. A big smile and a wink, and the game begins.
HER: What can I get for you?
ZAN: [Ignoring the question] Hello, I haven't seen you around before. What's your name?
HER: My name is Stephanie. What's yours?
ZAN: I'm Zan. And I will have a gin and tonic. (Big smile)
So far I've broken the ice a bit and, by exchanging names, she has given me the implicit right to be more familiar with her. So the next time she comes around, I smile and wink again.
ZAN: You again? Wow, you sure like to hang around us, don't you?
ZAN: (Some other stuff)
HER: (Some other stuff)
ZAN: (As she is leaving) I bet you'll come back again real soon. I can see it in your eyes.
Now I have established a cocky funny theme—her wanting to hang around us and that is why she keeps coming back to our table. Of course, she has to come back to our table: She's the waitress. And when she does, I smile at her and give the other guys a knowing look in front of her as if to say, "See, I was right." All along, I strive to make the interaction come off like I have known her for a long time. This establishes a level of familiarity that usually takes several meetings to build.
So now, after a while, I will say something like:
HER: Can I get you another drink?
ZAN: (Smile, wink) You know what? You're kinda cute. I think I'm going to call you.
HER: You think so, huh? You don't have my number.
ZAN: Why, you're right! Okay, tell me and I will write it down.
HER: [Smiling) Not a good idea. I have a boyfriend.
ZAN: (Pretending to write) Whoa, slow down. I didn't quite catch your number there. You better repeat it for me. Lets see . . . 555 . . . HER: (Laughs and rolls her eyes)
The absurdity of this exchange is that there is no way she is going to give me her phone number in front of a bunch of my friends. No girl would. But her digits are not the goal just yet.
Now she and I have a rapport, in a manner of speaking. And IVe made myself memorable enough that the next night we go there, she'll recognize me. This way, I can walk up, put my arm around her, and continue with my usual 'You would make a good girlfriend for me" talk. And since everything is said in a half-joking manner, she doesn't know if I'm really hitting on her or if I'm just fooling around. So when I return:
HER: (Laughing) Oh no! Not you again!
ZAN: Stephanie, my sweet! Hey, listen, sorry I didn't return your call last night. You know how it is. I'm just a busy guy. HER: (Playing along) Yeah, I'm really mad about that.
This gets the whole table laughing, including her. And its back on again for the evening. Later
ZAN: You know what, Stephanie. You're a terrible girlfriend. In fact, I can't even remember the last time we had sex. That's it. We're through. ZAN: (Pointing to another waitress) She's going to be my new girlfriend.
ZAN: [Playing with my phone] You are now downgraded from Booty Call
#1 to Booty Call # 10. HER: (Laughing) No, please, I'll do anything to make it up to you.
And later still:
ZAN: [Motioning for her to come over and pointing at my knee] Stephanie, come and sit down. I'll tell you a bedtime story. [Smile, wink]
I have used that last line for years. It is gold.
Some of you guys are probably thinking, "Okay, now what? How do you transition from funny ball-busting to more serious, romantic, sexual talk?"
It's simple, actually. At some point, I just talk to her quietly alone. Remember to turn on the bedroom eyes.
ZAN: [No longer cocky funny] Stephanie, do you want me to call you?
HER: You know I have a boyfriend.
ZAN: That's not what I asked. Do you want me to call you?
HER: Tempting, but I can't.
ZAN: Sneak away with me, girl. I'll take you higher up the slopes of Parnassus than you have ever been. Etc.
Everything you just read actually happened last Thursday and Friday evening with me and a waitress named Stephanie. She was easily the hottest thing around in a long time. The jury is still out on this one, but she has no illusions about my intentions. My friends she views as nice guys, but not me. She knows that any interaction with me is going to be passionate from the start. And now she can choose to accept it or reject it.
The truth is, she may very well reject my overtures. But it doesn't matter. She won't soon forget me. And you can bet that the other waitresses know all about the things I said to her. And that is very good, especially since I have said almost the exact same things in the exact same way to all the other waitresses there. And I will continue to do so—right in front of Stephanie.
The net effect is social proof. When you go in, you own the place. You wave the waitresses over, point to your cheek, and say, "Hey, girl, where's my sugar?" No one is intimidated because you treat them all the same way. In this particular restaurant, there are four waitresses who have come home with me, three less attractive waitresses who want to come home with me, and several more who are works-in-progress (including Stephanie). And you can bet they all know about each other. But, again, that is very good.
The highlight of the seminar was an appearance by two people who would give me my much-coveted inner game and more: Steve P. and Rasputin. These were guys I'd heard whispered about in the seduction community since I'd joined—the true masters; leaders of women, not men.
The first thing they did when they walked onstage was hypnotize everybody in the room. They both talked at the same time, telling different stories—one to occupy the conscious mind and the other to penetrate to the subconscious. When they woke us up, we had no idea what they had installed in our heads. All we knew was that these were two of the most confident speakers we'd ever seen. Every ounce of fire and charisma that DeAngelo lacked, they possessed in bulk.
Wearing a leather vest and an Indiana Jones hat, Steve P. was equal parts Hell's Angel and Native American shaman. Rasputin was a strip club bouncer with mutton-chop sideburns who looked like a steroid-jacked Wolverine. The two had met in a bookstore while both reaching for the same NLP book. Now they worked as a team and were among the most powerful hypnotists in the world. Their advice on seducing women was simply: "Become an expert in how to feel good."
Toward that end, Steve P. had figured out a way to get women to pay to have sex with him. For anywhere from several hundred to a thousand dollars, he trained women to have orgasms from a single vocal command; he taught them five different stages of deep throat he had devised; and, most fantastically, he claimed to give hypnotic breast enlargements, which he said could make a woman jump as much as two cup sizes.
Rasputin's forte was what he called hypnotic sexual engineering. Sex, he explained, must be viewed as a privilege for the woman, not a favor to you. "If a woman wants to give me a blow job," he elaborated, "I tell her, 'You only get three sucks. And you may only go down as far as you receive pleasure.'" His chest stuck out like the top of a Volkswagen. "Afterward, I tell her, 'Didn't that feel nice? Next time, you get five sucks.'"
"What if you're scared of getting caught trying to manipulate her?"
asked a businessman in the front row who looked like a miniature Clark Kent.
"There is no such thing as fear," Rasputin replied. "Emotions are just energy and motion that you trap inside your body because of a thought."
Mini-Clark Kent stared at him stupidly.
"Do you know how you get over it?" Rasputin looked at his interlocutor like a wrestler about to break a folding chair in half. "You don't shower or shave for a month, until you smell like a sewer. Then you walk around for two weeks wearing a dress and a goalie mask with a dildo strapped to the front. That's what I did. And I will never be afraid of public humiliation again."
"You have to live in your own reality," Steve cut in. "I had a girl once tell me I was kind of pudgy. I said, 'Well, if that's what you think, you don't get to pat the Buddha belly or ride the jade stalk.'"
He paused, then added as an afterthought, "But I said it in a gentle fucking way, on the spiritual fucking path."
Afterward, DeAngelo introduced me to the pair. The top of my head came up to Rasputin's Volkswagen.
"I'd love to learn more about what you do," I said.
"You're nervous," Rasputin said.
"Well, you two are a little intimidating."
"Let me get rid of that anxiety," Steve offered. "Tell me your phone number backward."
I started saying, "Five ... four ... nine ... six." As I did, Steve snapped his fingers.
"Okay, take a deep breath and now blow out hard," he commanded.
As I did, Steve traced his fingers up from my navel and made a whooshing sound. "Be gone!" he commanded. "Now watch that feeling just blow away like a smoke ring on a windy day. Notice how it's gone; it's no more. Take a tour of your body and try and find where it was. Notice how there's a different vibration there. Okay. Open your eyes. Try really hard to bring any piece of it back. See? You can't."
I couldn't tell whether it had worked or not, but I was reeling. He'd definitely taken my mind and body on some kind of one-minute trip.
He took a step back and scanned my face, as if reading a diary. "A guy named Phoenix offered to pay me two thousand dollars to follow me around for three days," Steve P. said. "And I told him no, because he wants to make women his slaves. You seem like you may care about women: You don't just want to stuff your meat bat in some hole. You're willing to explore shit."
Suddenly, we heard a commotion behind us. Two sisters and their mother had made the mistake of walking down a hotel hallway full of pickup artists, and the vultures were descending on the carrion. Orion the uber-nerd was reading one of the girls' palms; Rick H. was telling the mother that he was Orion's manager; Grimble was moving in on the remaining girl; and a crowd of wanna-be PUAs had gathered around, trying to see the masters at work.
"Listen," Steve P. said, in a rush. "Here's my card. Call me if you ever want to learn some inner-circle shit."
"But this is classified," he warned. "If we let you in, you cannot share these techniques with anybody. They're very powerful, and in the wrong hands they could really screw a girl up."
He twisted a piece of white paper into the shape of a rose, then bounded off in the direction of the carrion. He approached the girl Grimble was sarging, told her to smell the flower, and within thirty seconds she was passed out in Steve's arms. This was inner-circle shit. And I was about to learn it.
And so began the weirdest phase of my education.
Every weekend, I'd drive two hours south to San Diego and stay at Steve P.'s small, squalid apartment, where he raised two sons the same way he talked to his students—with compassionate obscenity. His thirteen-year-old was already a better hypnotist than I would ever be.
In the afternoons, Steve and I drove to see Rasputin. They'd sit me in a chair and ask what I wanted to learn. I had a list: to believe that I was attractive to women; to live in my own reality; to stop worrying about what other people thought of me; to move and speak with an air of strength, confidence, mystery, and depth; to get over my fear of sexual rejection; and, of course, to attain a sense of worthiness, which Rasputin defined as the belief that one deserves the best the world has to offer.
It was easy to memorize routines, but mastering inner game after a lifetime of bad habits and thought patterns was not easy. These guys, however, had the tools to fix me in time for Mystery's next workshop in Miami.
"We're going to reframe you to where you're not glad to have some boopsy sucking your dick," Steve explained. "It will be a privilege for her to get to drink from the nectar of the master."
At each session, they'd put me under, and Rasputin would tell complex metaphorical stories into one of my ears as Steve P. issued commands to my subconscious in the other ear. They'd leave open loops (or unfinished metaphors and stories) in my mind that they'd close a week later. They'd play music designed to elicit specific psychological reactions. They'd put me into trances so deep that hours went by in the blink of an eye.
Afterward, I'd go back to Steve's house and read his NLP books while he screamed lovingly at his kids.
I have a theory that most naturals, like Dustin, lose their virginity at a young age and consequently never feel a sense of urgency, curiosity, and intimidation around women during their critical pubescent years. Those who must learn to meet women methodically, on the other hand—like myself and most students in the community—generally suffer through high school without girlfriends or even dates. Thus, we're forced to spend years feeling intimidated by and alienated from women, who hold in their sole possession the key to releasing us from the stigma blighting our young adult lives: our virginity.
Steve fit in with my theory on naturals. He was initiated into sex when he was in first grade. An older girl wanted to give him a blow job; he responded by trying to hit her with a rock. But she eventually convinced him, and the experience set off a lifelong obsession with oral sex. When he was seventeen, he said, a cousin hired him to work in the kitchen of a Catholic girls' school. After he gave oral sex to one of the girls, word spread and he soon became the sexual go-to guy on campus. In addition to giving the girls pleasure, however, he also gave them guilt. And after a few too many confessions that involved the boy in the kitchen, Steve was fired.
He ran with a bike gang for a while but left soon after accidentally shooting a guy in the nuts. He now devoted his life to a self-styled mix of sexuality and spirituality. And for all his crude talk, he was at heart a good person. Unlike many of the other gurus I'd met, I trusted him.
After Steve's kids went to sleep each night, he taught me inner-circle magic he'd learned from shamans whose names he'd sworn never to pronounce. The first weekend I stayed over, he gave me a lesson in soul-gazing, which is when you look deep into a woman's right eye with your own right eye as you breathe together.
"Once you do this with her, she's going to bond real strong with you," he warned. His cautionary speeches were often longer than the actual teaching process. "When you do this, you become anamchara, which in Gaelic means friend of the soul. A soul friend."
The following weekend I learned about ménage-a-trois management, and how to train a woman to eat another woman's pussy by having her put a dried nectarine in her mouth and chew erotically on it during sex. The next weekend he showed me how to throw chi through my hands into a woman's abdomen. And the next weekend he taught me to contain and cycle orgasmic energy, so that a woman can stack one withheld orgasm on top of another—until, as Steve P. put it, she's "shaking like a dog shitting peach seeds." Finally, he shared what he considered to be his greatest skill: guiding any woman, through words and touch, to a powerful orgasm that " gushes like Niagara Falls."
This was a whole new level of game. He was giving me super powers.
I was in a whirlwind of learning. I didn't call my friends. I barely talked to my family. I turned down every writing assignment that came my way. I was living in an alternate reality.
"I told Rasputin," Steve said one night, "that more than all the other seduction boys out there, I'd like you to become one of our trainers."
It was an offer I'd have to turn down. The seduction world was a palace of open doors. Walking through one, no matter how tempting the treasures inside, would mean having to shut the rest.
I returned home one Sunday night from San Diego to find a message on my machine from Cliff, of Cliffs List. He was in town, and he wanted to take me to meet his latest PUA discovery—a biker turned construction worker who called himself David X.
Cliff had been in the community since its inception. He was in his forties and was as nice as he was uptight. Though he was conventionally hand some, he was also the living embodiment of the word square. He looked like he'd stepped out of a 1950s family sitcom. He had a closet in his home, he claimed, with more than a thousand pickup books. There were issues of the Pick-Up Times, a short-lived magazine from the seventies; an o
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