Okay, so the debate has been raging for a while now over who is the best pickup artist out there.
Obviously, a lot of egos are involved in this assessment, and everyone has their own opinions about who the best really is. In fact, its so subjective that I don't really think there will ever be a clear and honest answer on the subject. Its like asking who the best warrior or soldier is in a war. But that doesn't stop some people from categorizing the guys in our little community as the best. So I've decided to rate the top PUAs operating out there.
Style is definitely, hands down, the best operating in the game today. This guy is probably the most evil, sneaky, manipulative bastard I have ever seen in operation. The thing is, this guy comes in totally under the radar, and that is why he is so dangerous. His subtlety is so amazing that before you know if, you are qualifying yourself to him and he has you right where he wants you. And the thing is, he does if with both girls and guys. No one is safe.
To give you an idea of how incredible Style is, he's invented most of the techniques a lot of the fop guys are using and teaching. He is practically Machiavellian in nature and is someone I both admire and fear. Add to this the fact that he's a rather average-looking guy, and you have the most powerful of the Jedi, bar none.
It was when I went to Croatia after Mystery's breakdown that I realized everything had changed. I was no longer in the game to meet women; I was in the game to lead men. Two of the Croatian pickup artists I was staying with had even shaved their head in emulation of pictures of me they had seen online.
Despite my aversion to being a guru, I had clearly become one. When I talked to a woman, the room went silent. The guys leaned in close to hear what I was saying, pulling out notebooks to write my words down and commit them to memory.
On returning home, I watched Ross Jeffries run a variation of my jealous girlfriend opener (about the woman who doesn't want her boyfriend to speak to his ex from college), followed by a false time constraint. Afterward, he even e-mailed and asked for a copy of my evolution phase-shift routine. He was modeling me. And he planned on sharing these techniques in his seminars.
Then Thundercat's PUA ranking came out, and I was number one. I could no longer claim to be a student. Neil Strauss was officially dead. In the eyes of these men, I was Style, the king of the unnaturals. All over the world people were using my jokes, my comebacks, my lines, my words to meet, kiss, and fuck girls.
In the old days, I was just Mystery's wing or Ross's disciple or Steve P.'s hypnotic subject. Now I had to prove myself every time I went out. Guys in the community would ask behind my back, "How is Style? Is he any good?" If I didn't walk up to a group of girls and make out with the hottest one within fifteen minutes, they'd think I was a fraud. Before I joined the community, I had been afraid of failing in front of women. Now I was afraid of failing in front of men.
And the pressure ran both ways: I also began to develop unreasonable expectations of myself. If I was at an Italian restaurant and there was an alluring woman five tables away, I felt like a failure if I didn't sarge her. If I
was walking to the dry cleaners and an aspiring actress-model-waitress passed by, I felt like a hypocrite if I didn't open her. And where simply talking to a stranger was enough to elate me in my AFC days, now I needed to have her in my bed within a week.
Though I knew my new mindset was seriously warped, I felt more ethical in many ways as a PUA than I had been as an AFC. Part of learning game was not just memorizing openers and phone game and rapport-building tactics, but learning how to be honest with a woman about what I expected from her and what she could expect from me. It was no longer necessary to deceive a woman by telling her I wanted a relationship when I just wanted to get laid; by pretending to be her friend when I only wanted to get in her pants; by letting her think we were in a monogamous relationship when I was seeing other women.
I had finally internalized the idea that women don't always want relationships. In fact, once unleashed, a woman's physical needs are often more ravenous than a man's. It's just that there are certain barriers and programming walls to be overcome in order for her to feel comfortable enough to surrender to them. I got good at the game because I understood that the goal of the PUA was simply not to trigger a woman's shutdown or flight responses.
[As I write this, I look up and, I swear to God, there is a girl on top of me. She has blonde hair and a sleeveless undershirt with a black bra underneath. She is smiling at me. I am inside her.
She is biting her lower lip as she rubs her clit against my pelvic bone. I can hear her gasping. She is supporting herself with one hand on my thigh and the other lightly resting on the top of the computer.
"You know it turns me on when you click the typewriter," she just said. "Can I put you in my mouth for a minute?"
So fuck the stereotypical image of the writer. This is the new one. I can get work done and play at the same time. It reminds me of sometlkhing Steve P. said, about always being in your own reality. Everyone is jus a guest in it. So if it's my work time, and you want to have sex with me, well,e welcome to my reality.
I think she's about to come. She is coming allksd;Good for her.]6
This portion of the text has not been edited in order to preserve its authenticity.
So every part of the pickup is designed simply to anticipate and disarm objections—at least, when we're talking about solid game as opposed to fool's mate.
The opener, for example, is casual. It is not perceived as a pickup attempt. You are just being a friendly stranger when you walk up and ask her and her friends, "My neighbor just bought two dogs, and she wants to name them after an eighties or nineties pop duo. Do you have any ideas?"
When you start talking to a group of people, their first concern is, "Are we going to be stuck with this guy all night? How do we get rid of him?"
So you give yourself a false time constraint. "I can only stay for a minute," you tell them as you join their group, "because I need to get back to my friends."
As you interact, you pay attention to the people who seem most likely to shut you out—the jealous men, the overprotective friends. You make them feel good about themselves as you challenge, tease, and neg the target. If she interrupts you, for example, say, "Wow. Is she always like that? How do you deal with her?" If she looks shocked, you reel her back in with a light compliment. This is what I call push-pull—keeping her guessing by pushing her away and then quickly pulling her in closer.
After they're finished giving opinions on names for the dogs (Milli and Vanilli, Hall and Oates, Dre and Snoop—I've heard them all), then you demonstrate value. You give the girls the best friends test or teach them something about their body language or analyze their handwriting. Then you pretend like you have to get back to your friends.
Now they don't want you to leave. You are in. You've shown them that you're the most interesting, fun person in the room. This is the hook point: You can now relax and enjoy their company. You can listen to them, find out about their lives, and make a real connection.
In a best-case scenario, you can take the group or your target on an instant date to another bar, club, cafe, or party. Now you're part of the group. You may relax, tease, enjoy, and bond with your target, who is becoming attracted to you after the negging and after leading her group. When it comes time to leave, tell the group you lost your friends and need a ride home. This will give the woman an opportunity to be alone with you without letting her friends know she plans to sleep with you. (If the logistics are too difficult, get her number and make a plan to hang out later in the week.)
When she pulls up to your house, invite her in to show her that thing you were talking about (a website, a song, a book, a movie clip, a shirt, a bowling ball, whatever). But first, give her another false time constraint: Tell her you have to get to sleep early because you have a lot of work tomorrow. Say, "You can only come in for fifteen minutes, and then I'm going to have to kick you out." By this point, you both may know you're going to have sex, but you still have to play solid game so she can tell herself later that it just happened.
Show her around the house. Get her a drink. Tell her you're dying to play her a really funny five-minute video clip. Unfortunately, the TV in your living room is broken, but there's one in your bedroom.
Of course, there are no chairs in your bedroom, only a bed. When she sits on the bed, position yourself as far away from her as possible. Allow her to feel comfortable, perhaps even confused that you're not hitting on her. If you touch her, pull back afterward. Continue using a combination of time constraints and push-pull to amp her attraction. Keep telling her she has to leave soon.
Then, at your leisure, tell her she smells nice. Sniff her slowly, from the bottom of her neck to just below her ear. This is when you use the evolution phase-shift routine: smell her, bite her arm, let her bite your neck, bite her neck, and then kiss. Unless she attacks you with lust, as you physically escalate continue talking to keep her mind occupied and pulling back just before she starts to get uncomfortable. You should always be the first one to object. This is called stealing her frame. The goal now is simply to arouse her without making her feel pressured, used, or uneasy.
You make out, you remove her shirt, she removes your shirt, you start to remove her bra. What's this? She's stopping you from going any further? The PUAs have a name for this—last minute resistance, or LMR. Back up one or two steps, then continue. Wash, rinse, repeat. It's not real. It's just ASD—anti-slut defense. She doesn't want you to think she's easy. So you cuddle, you talk. She asks dumb questions like how many siblings you have; you answer honestly and make her feel comfortable again. Then you start from the top: You make out, then remove her bra. She lets you this time. You suck her breasts. She arches her back. She is aroused now. She gets on top of you and starts grinding. You are hard. You are excited. You want her.
You lift her off and begin to unbutton her pants. She pulls your hand away. "You're right, this is so bad," you agree, breathing heavily into her ear.
We shouldn't be doing this."
You make out more. You reach for the pants again. Wash, rinse, repeat. But she still stops you. So you blow out the candles, turn on the light, turn off the music, and ruin the atmosphere. Then you grab your laptop computer and check your e-mail while she lies there confused. This is called a freeze-out. She was feeling good a moment ago, enjoying your attention, your touch, and the intimacy of the room; now you're taking it all away.
She rolls over and starts kissing your chest, trying to reel you back in. You put down your computer, turn off the light, and return her affection. You reach for her pants. She stops you. She says you just met. You tell her that you understand. You turn the light on again. She asks what you're doing. You tell her that when a woman says no, you respect that, but it just pushes a button in you that turns everything off. You are not upset. You tell her this in a matter-of-fact voice. She rolls on top of you and whines, playfully, "No."
She wants to have sex. All she wants to know is that you're going to call her afterward, so that she feels good about what she did—even if she doesn't actually want to see you again. You let her know that.
You tell her, "Take off your pants."
She does. You enjoy yourselves and give each other many orgasms over the course of the night, the morning, and perhaps even for years afterward.
One morning, she asks you how many women you've been with.
This is the only time you're allowed to lie.
As a community, we had reached a new height of arrogance.
"I'm starting to feel like I'm hunting rabbits with a howitzer," Mad-dash, a former student, told me.
He had just returned from pulling off one of the most unlikely sarges in community history. A Chicago office worker named Jackie Kim had accidentally forwarded her highly judgmental review of a date to her entire address book. It was just as shallow as the field reports of some PUAs.
"So where do I stand on ... the date," she wrote. "The car, the money, the job, the cute apartment, the boat—which by the way only seats six people, so I really don't consider that really amazing—his mannerism, and his great kiss will probably lock in another date. But I can tell you now, unless he cuts his hair and sends me gifts, it won't lead me to seek anything more than my first thirty-year-old friend."
The post became an Internet phenomenon, forwarded around the globe and chronicled in the Chicago Tribune. One person who received the e-mail was Maddash, who promptly sent her a sympathetic response. Jackie wrote him back, saying the e-mail made her day and she read it every time she received a hate letter. A few e-mails, an exchange of photos, and one date later, she was in Maddash's bed. It took no gifts, no boats, no haircut. Just pure seduction.
Maddash's success set off a rash of copycat sarges in the community. Suddenly, just going out to a bar and bringing a girl home seemed too ordinary and easy.
Vision called an escort and paid her $350 for an hour. His goal was to be so interesting and seductive that she would pay him to spend the next hour together. He managed to tease her out of eighty dollars at the rate of twenty dollars per hour. They continued to see each other afterward, free of charge.
Grimble seduced a nineteen-year-old girl who came to his door selling magazines. Despite the fact that he was wearing boxers and a dirty sweater, he fucked her within an hour. And he didn't even buy a magazine.
After hearing about Maddash, Vision, and Grimble's latest antics, any PUA who had been disillusioned with the community after Mystery's breakdown was soon back in the game full throttle. And the most full throttle of them all was Papa.
Papa's pledge to study for law school had lasted a month. Then he went on a road trip around the country, visiting all the PUAs he could. Every week he sent me his schedule: He was driving to Chicago on Wednesday to spend time with Orion and Maddash; then he was going to Michigan to meet Juggler; finally, he was spending the weekend in Toronto with Captain BL (a deaf PUA) and No. 9. The next week he was in Montreal hanging out with Cliff and David X. The week after, he was working his way down the California coast, from San Francisco to Los Angeles to San Diego. As for PUAs in other countries—London, Tokyo, Amsterdam—he was constantly talking to them on the phone or online.
After a while, I couldn't tell whether he was still learning game or just trying to build his social circle. I don't think he knew either. He was simply imitating what he'd seen me do: travel around the world, meet different PUAs, and become the best.
There was one fledgling PUA, in particular, whom Papa bonded with: a twenty-two-year-old Canadian who had discovered the pickup scene when his mother stumbled across a seduction website. He called himself Tyler Durden, after the seditious character in Fight Club. And like a virus or a demagogue (choose your simile), he would eventually change the course of the community and everyone in it.
He was a philosophy student at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario. Beyond that, not much else was known about him—or would ever be known about him. He claimed to have been one of the biggest drug dealers in Kingston. He claimed to come from a rich family. He claimed to have written rigorous philosophy papers for academic journals. He claimed to have been a bodybuilder. But no one really knew.
Tyler hit the seduction boards like a hurricane. Before anyone had even met him, one thing was clear: He was obsessed to a degree beyond what any of us had seen before. He read the posting archives—thousands of pages long—of every master PUA in the game. And he was whipping through the list of recommended books—from Introducing NLP to Mastering Your Hidden Self— at a furious rate. He was a knowledge junkie.
Within a couple of months, he had consumed nearly every piece of rel evant information on seduction and reinvented himself as a self-styled authority, delivering stream-of-consciousness essays and field reports full of impressive feats and braggadocio.
Like thumbtacks to a magnet, the seduction boys were up his ass. He was a manic new voice, an instant do-it-yourself guru. And, soon, he was Papa's trusted wing. He joined Papa on his journey to spend face time with every seducer with a silly nickname. And one of them, naturally, was me.
Tyler Durden e-mailed me constantly. He was a persistent little brat, as I suppose I had been. He seemed to pride himself on being a provocateur.
For years, nervous AFCs who were new to the community were told to take the newbie mission. It involved simply showering, putting on nice clothes, going to the nearest shopping center, and smiling and saying "hi" to every woman who passed by. Many AFCs found that this not only helped them overcome their shyness, but that some women actually stopped to talk.
Tyler Durden advocated a new mission. He called it Project Mayhem, in honor of Fight Club. And the directive was to run up to an attractive woman and—before even uttering a word—lightly body check her, whack her on the head with something soft, or physically accost her in some other playful manner.
On the seduction boards, the majority of people didn't think. They obeyed. I could have posted that snorting birth control pills helped my game, and they all would have been lining up outside Planned Parenthood. So after reading about Project Mayhem, hundreds of sargers around the world were suddenly knocking into women with grocery carts and smacking them with gym bags. It wasn't seduction, it was elementary-school recess.
And therein lay his appeal: Tyler Durden made seduction seem playful and subversive—unlike, say, Speed Seduction, which required homework, rote memorization, and even meditation exercises.
Yet, at the same time, there was something off about Tyler Durden. Vision had kicked him out of his house after finding him a snotty and ungrateful guest, constantly demanding to be shown new routines. And though Tyler's field reports were fun and compelling, every time he had the option of getting laid, he seemed to back down.
MSN GROUP: Mystery's Lounge SUBJECT: Field Report—Speed Closing AUTHOR Tyler Durden
Okay, this just happened not even fifteen minutes ago, and I can't tell anyone other than you guys about it.
I was pretty bored today, so I went to the Rideau Centre shopping mall in Ottawa, hoping to meet some new HBs to hang with tonight because my AFC friends were all with their girlfriends.
I cruised the mall, and I couldn't find any HB higher than a 7.5, so I was pretty pissed.
I was about to leave when I saw this new Booster Juice place with a cute little redhead working there—about a 7.5 like every other damned Rideau Centre chick.
I ordered a juice, and here's what happened:
TD: Which mango is better: mango hurricane or mango breeze?
HB: Mango hurricane.
TD: Awesome. I'll have the breeze.
HB: Ha ha, okay. Which booster do you want?
TD: What are boosters?
HB: Those things on the sign on the wall.
TD: Ooh, so I can get like vitamins and energy and shit in it. Awesome! I'll be like a new man after I drink this. This is the shit!
HB: Okay! (She high-fives me.) Wow! That was like the coolest thing that's happened to me all day.
TD: Pretty bored, huh?
HB: Yeah, it sucks here.
TD: Awesome! We're going to get married. Wow, you can really find love in the strangest of places, like right here at the Booster Juice. HB: Ha ha.
TD: Wait a sec. I know, close your eyes. HB: Why? TD: Just do it.
HB: Are you gonna steal my cash register or something? TD: No, nothing like that. I swear. Remember, I love you. HB: Okay, (closes eyes)
The counter was pretty wide. I leaned way over, so that I was Superman-style horizontal over the top, and kissed her.
As soon as I kissed her, she started screaming like fucking crazy.
HB: Aaaaaaaahhhh! Aaaaaaaahhhh!
All these people started looking over at me. She was freaking out, screaming her head off like a banshee, flailing her arms around and shit.
I was thinking, "Fuck, fuck, fuck. I knew this shit would backfire someday. Fuck. I should have waited for more lOls or something. Fuck I thought I had the lOls! I'm never doing this ever again!"
TD: Urn, I said I loved you first.
HB: Aaaaaaaahhhh! Aaaaaaaahhhh! TD: Urn, are you okay? HB: Aaaaaaaahhhh! TD: Uh-oh.
HB: Urn, okay. That will be five dollars and thirty-one cents. Aaaaaaaahhhh!
She was trying to regain her composure by talking, but she kept screaming intermittently.
TD: Please calm down.
TD: Please don't call the police on me.
HB: No, no. It's just for the computer. I ask everyone.
HB: Wow, that's an awesome name. TD: Urn, thanks. What's your name? HB: Lauren. TD: I like that.
HB: Oh my God, that was the most awesome thing that's ever happened to me in my entire life! TD: Cool!
HB: Oh my God, you rock. Oh my God, I love you! That was fucking awesome!
TD: Glad to be of service. I promise I'll come back. I'll make you close your eyes again. HB: Will you do more next time? [winks, implying sex, I suppose) TD: I won't let you down. You know I love you. HB: I'm looking forward to it.
TD: Wow, it looks so cool back there. Give me the backstage tour. HB: Okay, c'mon back.
I was thinking, "Holy shit, I can't believe this!" I felt inside my jacket pockets, and I still had these two LifeStyles Tuxedo Black condoms that Orion had given me last weekend, so I could go for it if I wanted to.
Then I totally chickened out. I was like, "I can't handle this shit! I met this girl not even two minutes ago!"
There were literally fifty people all staring at me, watching the chick open the door for me to come back there with her. They were all looking like, "What the fuck is going on?" And it was making me really uncomfortable. With hindsight now, I would have done it. But at the time, I was so taken by surprise. So I said:
TD: Urn, actually I'm in a major rush. HB: Will I see you again? TD: Well, I'm leaving town tomorrow. HB: Okay, what about after work?
TD: Urn, I have to go hang out with my friends. I'll come back tomorrow and we'll go out then. HB: Okay. Oh my God, that rocked! Wow!
Then I turned around and walked off.
No. 9, his roommate, called and told me Mystery had been released from the hospital and was staying with his family. He was expecting him back at the apartment the following week, when Tyler Durden would be driving in to take a one-on-one workshop. It was probably too soon to be teaching again, but Mystery needed to pay the rent—and Tyler was determined to meet him.
"I came out of this strange emotional journey with some incredible cognitive models," Mystery told me a few days later.
His voice was Anthony Robbins clear again, his mind lucid. Life appeared to matter once more. However, something seemed different. He was in manic mode—more so than ever—but it was a new type of manic mode. He hadn't exactly returned; he had transformed.
"I have my life goals set," he continued. "The motivational carrots are all dangling properly in front of me. This year, I will build the foundation to take down Copperfield. I've decided to beat him. I am a superstar. My brain pupated into a butterfly."
I asked him if he was on any medication. He said he wasn't.
"I've given it a great deal of thought," he went on. "I only get depressed when I isolate myself. Look at what got me there: the pair-bond break with Patricia, new hotties staling and blurring,7 no career momentum, and being alone in the apartment with no one to talk to. So we need to design a social environment with people to motivate me—something like Sweater's place in Australia. We can all motivate each other. While I was at the hospital, I took a lot of notes on this idea. I showed them to my psychiatrist. Even he was impressed. I'm calling it Project Hollywood."
That moment was the first time I heard the phrase Project Hollywood. I didn't think much about it at the time. I figured it would end up like Project Bliss: another stillborn scheme consigned to the trashcan of mental masturbation.
Staling and blurring occur when a woman stops returning phone calls. See glossary.
"I shine," he went on. "I see this now. I'm a superstar, just like I'm tall. I'm simply a superstar who's been holding himself back. And I'd like you to come be a star with me."
It was good to have Mystery back. Flawed though he was, he had a certain charm. Some would call it narcissism, and they wouldn't be wrong, but at least he saw greatness reflected not just in the mirror but also in the potential of those around him. That's what had made him such an influential teacher.
"Dude, I'm already a star, at least in the community," I told him. "While you were gone, I was voted number one pickup artist—above even you. It's insane. A guy from England I've never even met before called the other day and said he pretends to be me when he's fucking girls. It makes him feel more powerful. What do you think of that?"
It was getting harder to live up to my name. One of our former students, Supastar, a ruggedly handsome teacher from South Carolina, had recently posted, "When I die and go to pickup heaven, Style will be there waiting for me because he is a pickup god."
Mystery laughed when he heard it. "That's something you're going to have to come to grips with," he said. "You've created an alter ego that you
Mystery wanted to book me for three months straight. He planned to schedule workshops in London, Amsterdam, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Austin, Los Angeles, Boston, San Diego, and Rio.
But I couldn't commit to the time. I needed to resuscitate my career. There was something I used to do before I was a full-time pickup artist—or, as the kids now called me, an mPUA (master pickup artist). It was called writing. Somewhere, in another life, I used to wake up in the morning, sit at a desk before even eating or showering, and stew in my own filth as I sat typing on a computer and not getting laid.
Now that I was mastering this whole girl thing, I needed to put the other pieces of my life back in balance. All the sarging was starting to scramble my brain. I was becoming too dependent on female attention, allowing it to be my sole reason for leaving the house besides food. In the process of dehumanizing the opposite sex, I had also been dehumanizing myself.
So I told Mystery that I was going to cut back on the whole sarging thing. I was currently seeing eight girls in L.A. My dance card was full. There was Nadia and Maya and Mika and Hea and Carrie and Hillary and Susanna and Jill. They had needs, and there were no strings attached. They knew I was seeing other women. And they were probably seeing other guys. I didn't know, didn't care, and didn't ask. All that mattered was that when I called them, they came. And when they called me, I came. Everybody came.
What I didn't tell Mystery was that I didn't trust him anymore. I wasn't going to set aside time and buy plane tickets only to have him break down on me again. I wasn't a babysitter. Trust, I always told women, is something you must earn. And he would have to earn my trust again.
It didn't take Mystery long to find two willing and enthusiastic wings to replace me: Tyler Durden and Papa. I wasn't surprised. Since Mystery had gotten out of the hospital, the pair was constantly in Toronto, staying at his apartment and vacuuming every shred of pickup information from his brain.
Mystery would call every day to fill me in on their progress.
He'd say, "I've humbled Tyler Durden with my game. He was an asshole at first, but we've broken through that and he's allowed himself to be taken under my wing as a proper student."
He'd say, "I've finally figured out the formula for getting rapport with a woman. Are you ready?" Big pause. "Rapport equals trust plus comfort!"
He'd say, "When you meet Tyler Durden, don't expect to like him. Only expect to tolerate him. He makes rationalizations constantly."
"Then why do you hang out with him?"
"He'll call and say he's coming for the weekend, and I just let him. He's like a thorn in my side that gets me out of the house."
"So should I let him stay at my place when he comes to town with Papa?"
"He's part of the PUA family. Just think of him as the annoying cousin who farts a lot."
One week later, Papa and Tyler Durden were on my doorstep.
Papa actually looked somewhat cool. He wore a leather jacket, sunglasses pushed up on his forehead, and an expensive cotton dress shirt untucked over jeans. Behind him was the palest non-albino human being I had ever seen. A shock of orangey blond stuck straight up from his ovoid head like a toy troll. His head was cocked upward; his smile seemed like a plastic snap-on attachment, and his features were flattened as if pressed back by an invisible stocking. Though he claimed online to be an avid weight-lifter, his body and face were doughy. Technically, he was a small person. He just had a certain genetic softness.
This was Tyler Durden. He reminded me of Heat Miser from The Year Without A Santa Claus.
He nodded at me when he walked in. No word of greeting—and, a pet peeve, no eye contact. I don't trust people who don't look me in the eye when they meet me. But I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he was nervous about making a good first impression. In his writings, he constantly referenced my posts and techniques. He looked up to me. They all did. But most were humble about it. Tyler Durden reacted to being uncomfortable by acting aloof and arrogant. Fine. Bono from U2 does that too. That's their thing.
When we went out to dinner, Tyler opened up. In fact, he talked nonstop, without even pausing between sentences. It was difficult to get a word in edgewise. He liked to talk in circles around a point rather than getting di rectly to it. He was the victim of a disease called thinking too much. My head spun listening to him.
"I was busting on this girl Michelle," he was saying. "I was busting on her hard. Hard fucking busting, dude." And here he pulled his head back, pursed his mouth, raised his eyebrows, and started nodding. The gesture was meant to convey how hard the busting was, but it looked strange and artificial. "Then this dude comes up to her and is like, 'Michelle, you are so cute. You are the bomb.' And she looks at me and goes"—here he smirked and spoke in a whiny falsetto to imitate her—" 'I hate it when guys do that. Now I will never ever like him. I only want a guy who doesn't want me. I hate guys who want me. I hate it.'"
After an hour of blather, I started to understand Tyler Durden. Human interaction to him was a program. Behavior was determined by frames and congruence and state and validation and other big-chunk psychological principles. And he wanted to be the Wizard of Oz: the little guy behind the curtain, pulling the strings that made everyone around him think he was a big and powerful master of the realm.
Now here's the context: He grew up physically small and mentally slow for his age, he said. His father, a football coach, imposed high standards on him that he could never meet. This was all thet biographical detail I was able to gather. It felt like a lot of hard information coming from him. And I still didn't know if it was truthful.
Every time the waitress came to the table, Tyler Durden wanted me to demonstrate a routine on her.
"Do the jealous girlfriend opener," he'd say.
I thought about how Tyler Durden had constantly pestered Vision for routines and material. Now I understood why Vision had kicked him out of the house. He didn't seem to see the humanity in us. He didn't care about what we did for work; where we were from; or what our thoughts on culture, politics, and the world were.
There was a distinction he didn't seem to understand: We weren't just PUAs. We were people.
8 An acronym for interactive value demonstration. See glossary.
9 An acronym for eliciting values. See glossary.
After dinner, I had a special evening planned for Tyler Durden and Papa. Hillary, the blue-haired burlesque dancer I'd battled Heidi Fleiss and Andy Dick for, was performing at the Spider Club in Hollywood. So I called a few other women to join us there, including Laurie, the Irish girl who had inspired me to invent the evolution phase-shift routine. I figured Tyler would want to meet Grimble, so I invited him as well.
When we arrived, Laurie and her girlfriends were sitting at the bar. Nearly every male in the room was staring at them, trying to work up the courage to approach. I introduced them to Tyler. After saying hello, he proceeded to sit down and not speak another word. For ten minutes, he sat there in uncomfortable silence. It was the first time he had shut up all night.
When I introduced them to Papa, he immediately came to life. He took the sunglasses off his head and put them on Laurie—a move Mystery had taught him in Toronto when he asked how to keep the target from wandering off while being ignored. He then started running my value-demonstrating routine about C-shaped smiles versus U-shaped smiles.
I liked watching Papa's progress. Arbiters of cool like to say that some people have it and other people don't. And you can tell in an instant, just from looking at someone, whether they have it. I'd thought my whole life that it was something one was born with. However, the whole community was predicated on the idea that it was something people could learn. Though there was still something mechanical about Papa, he was starting to get it. He was like an it robot.
While Papa entertained the girls, Tyler Durden and I went to the other room to watch Hillary dance. She was in a birdcage, waving two massive feathered fans in front of her body. A glimpse of shoulder here. A glimpse of leg there. She had a spectacular body. Too bad I'd never sleep with her again.
"Why didn't you say anything to Laurie and her friends?" I asked Tyler.
"I didn't know what routines you had used on them," he replied. "I didn't want to repeat anything."
"Dude, don't you have a personality of your own that you can use?"
Hillary was wearing just feathered pasties and matching panties now. She had such soft skin. Her nose looked like a beak, though. The last time I saw her, she told me she'd had a herpes outbreak. I couldn't bring myself to have sex with her.
"Let's go somewhere else?" Tyler nudged me.
"Why? There are plenty of girls here."
She had done the right thing by telling me she had herpes. It's better than keeping it a secret and letting me catch it. I couldn't punish her for honesty. But now I was too paranoid to sleep with her.
"I want to see you work in a place where you don't know anyone," Tyler prodded.
She covered her body with a feather, reached under her legs, and threw her panties into the audience. A flying herpes rag. A hipster with mutton-chop sideburns caught it. He crumpled it in his fist and thrust it into the air excitedly. His little venereal prize.
A hand clapped my shoulder. It was Grimble, in his lucky pickup shirt.
"Nothing much. How do you feel about accompanying Tyler Durden here to the Saddle Ranch?"
"You're not coming?" Tyler Durden asked. "I really wanted to see your game."
"If you come, I'll do my Mystery-talking-about-how-much-he-misses-his-soul-mate-Style imitation for you. It's a real crowd pleaser."
Thanks but no thanks.
I walked to a booth and grabbed a seat opposite Hillary.
"Who are those losers you're with?" she asked.
"They're pickup artists."
"Could have fooled me."
"Well, they're young. And they're still learning. Give them time."
She pinched her left eyelash and slowly peeled it off. "Want to go to El Carmen?" she asked. Then her right eyelash.
If I went, I'd have to sleep with her. That was part of the contract. "No. I should really go home."
I wanted to get myself tested for everything. I was too neurotic to be so promiscuous.
Despite everything, I wanted to like Tyler Durden. Everyone else seemed to.
As he and Papa traveled the country winging workshops with Mystery, the reports of his skills were stellar. Perhaps he'd just been nervous around me. Or maybe he'd improved after being forced to perform for so many students, as I had. I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.
There were trends in the community. Ross Jeffries and Speed Seduction had ruled the seduction boards when I arrived over a year ago. Then Mystery Method took over, followed by David DeAngelo and cocky funny. Now, Tyler Durden and Papa were on the rise.
The funny thing was that although the methods kept changing, women weren't. The community was still so underground that few women, if any, knew what we were up to. These were trends that had nothing to do with females and everything to do with male ego.
And one of the biggest egos of them all, Ross Jeffries, was getting left behind. Though Speed Seduction still had a lot to offer, it seemed as archaic to the new generation of community members as buying a girl flowers and sharing a malt at the soda shop. And Ross wasn't happy about it. He wasn't happy about much. I found that out one night when I returned home to find the following message on my machine:
Hey Style, it's Ross. I'm in a cranky mood. It's ten after twelve. Normally when I'm in a cranky mood, I call people I don't like and chew them out. But I'm not going to do that. I'm just going to tellyou that it's uneven. It won't kill you to take me to more than one party, buddy, though I think you owe me a lot more than that.
If you don't come through, I won't get mad. I'll just cut you out of the Speed Seduction community and everything else. I really will. So think about how my work has changed your life, and think about what you ve given in return and what you've promised to give. It's just not fair. I'm hoping there's more to you than that. Ifit sounds like a challenge I'd issue to a girl, so be it.
I understood where Ross was coming from. I had been completely ignoring him since our last party together. He'd have to hypnotize the image of him sniffing Carmen Electra's butt out of my head if I was ever going to take him to a party again.
However, I called Ross a couple of nights later and invited him to dinner for old-time's sake. He wasn't as angry as I thought he'd be, chiefly because his mind was consumed by someone else: Tyler Durden.
"The guy gives me the willies," Ross said. "There's something creepy about his lack of ordinary human warmth. I wouldn't be surprised if sooner or later he breaks from Mystery and just teaches totally on his own. He's uncomfortable around people who are more powerful than him. Besides, he's already claiming to be better than Mystery."
Though I wrote the comment off as more of Ross's competitive paranoia, Tyler Durden soon proved him right.
And it was my fault, according to Mystery.
"The workshops aren't fun anymore," Mystery complained. He was calling from New Jersey, where he was rained in with Tyler Durden and Papa at the home of a PUA named Garvelous, who invented toys for a living. "They're just work. These things are only fun when you come with, because then we get to wing each other."
I was flattered, though workshops weren't supposed to be fun; as the name implied, they were work.
"Besides, my goals are changing," he continued. "It started with wanting attention. Now I think I'm looking for love. I want to be in a relationship where I can feel butterflies in my stomach. I want a woman I can respect for her art, like a singer or a super-hot stripper."
Mystery flew to England and Amsterdam with Tyler and Papa to teach another round of workshops. When he left with glowing reviews and numerous requests for an encore performance, Tyler Durden and Papa stayed behind to run a few workshops of their own to satisfy the demand. They were on break from college, and teaching men how to pick up women seemed a lot more appealing as an interim job than scooping ice cream or working at the local Baby Gap.
Mystery phoned as soon as he returned to Toronto. "My father has lung cancer, so he's on his way out," he said. "It's strange, but the first person I wanted to call was you."
"So how do you feel about it?"
"I'm not upset, but my mom was crying and it's the first time I've ever seen her cry. Dad always wanted whiskey poured on his grave, so my brother said, 'I just hope he doesn't mind me filtering it through my bladder first.'"
Mystery laughed. I tried to force a chuckle out for his sake. But it didn't come. The image wasn't funny to anyone who didn't hate the guy.
Meanwhile, Tyler Durden and Papa were running wild in Europe. At first, they pretty much taught Mystery's material. But that all changed one night in London, when they came into their own in the great outdoors of Leicester Square, ground zero for backpackers, clubbers, tourists, players, and drunks. It was here that AMOGing was born.
The AMOG is the alpha male of the group, a constant thorn in the side of sargers. There's nothing more humiliating than having a lumbering high school quarterback who reeks of alcohol pick you up from behind and make fun of your peacocking gear in front of the girls you're trying to game. It's a constant reminder that you are not one of the popular kids, that you're just a closet nerd faking it.
Tyler Durden may have been the biggest closet nerd of us all. But what he lacked in coolness and grace, he made up for in analysis. He was a social deconstructionist and behavioral micromanager. He could watch a human interaction and break it down to the physical, verbal, social, and psychological components that powered it. And AMOGing—or cutting a competitive male cockblock out of a set—appealed to his subversive side; stealing a woman from the jocks who used to pick on him in school was a taste far sweeter than simply seducing a woman sitting alone in a cafe.
So he watched the body language AMOGs used to lower his status in sets; he observed the eye contact they used to signify to girls that he was a creep; he analyzed the way they'd pat him on the back with so much force that he'd lose his balance. Soon he was spending more time in the field studying AMOGs than sarging women, until he slowly and painstakingly laid out a new social order—where, to paraphrase the musician Boyd Rice, the strong live off the weak and the clever live off the strong.
Now nothing could stop the PUAs. They could steal girls right out from under the disbelieving eyes of boyfriends the size of refrigerators. They were stepping into dangerous territory.
MSN GROUP Mystery's Lounge SUBJECT: AMOG Tactics AUTHOR: Tyler Durden
Here's some stuff I've been up to lately that is pretty funny.
I learned most of this from European naturals while trying to steal sets from them and prevent them from stealing sets from me. The guys here are not pushovers lib most guys in North America. Many have game. So I've been figuring out how to out-game them.
All of this has been field-tested probably hundreds of times.
AMOG Hey girls, what's up?
PUA Hey dude (put your hands in the air like you give up), I will pay you a hundred dollars right now to take these girls away from me.
(The girls will go, "No, no. We love you PUA." And they'll giggle and crawl on you, which is immediately deflating to the guy.)
AMOG (Shows signs that he wants to fight)
PUA Ha ha, dude. Are you like trying to pick a fight with me? Ha ha. Okay, okay. Hold up, hold up. Wait a sec. We'll do even better. First, we'll have an arm-wrestling competition. Then, we'll do one-armed push-ups. And last, pose-down!
(Then start flexing and go, "Ladies?" They'll start saying how you're so strong. The AMOG will look like a tool because you're making him seem like he's trying too hard to impress the girls with his physical superiority.)
AMOG Hey man, keep talking. Lets hear your pitch. Pick these girls up, man. You're doing awesome. PUA Hey, you know I've gotta try to impress you cool London guys (or rugby-shirt-wearing guys or shiny-shoes guys or whatever). You guys fucking rock.
(The point is to cut him down on whatever limited amount of knowledge you have of him, even if its not relevant. He'll feel uncomfortable and his body language will show it.)
AMOG: Is that design on your shirt a sphincter? Man, you're going to need somebody to protect you, mate. You're going to have all the guys into you.
PUA Dude, that's why I rolled up on you. I need you, man. Help me, please, man. I look at you, and I just know that you were born to protect my sphincter.
(Somebody actually said this to me. And, to be honest, it was a good diss. So when you have an AMOG who knows the game, you have to go further. Put him in the position of trying too hard to be your friend or joke about hiring him to do jobs that are beta to you. Say, "You're like a comedian, but you don't have to be funny for me to like you." Or, "Man, that's great. You should like design my website or something.")
AMOG: [Starts touching you to show dominance) PUA: Ha ha, dude. I'm not into guys, man. Dude, the gay club is over there. Hands off the merchandise, buddy.
(The girls laugh at him, then he starts qualifying himself to you that he's not gay.)
AMOG: (Gets in your face) PUA: (Silence)
(Don't respond. Just stand there quietly. If he keeps trying to out-alpha you and you don't answer, eventually he looks beta because he is trying too hard to get your attention. Another trick is to make lefs-get-out-of-here motions with your eyes to the girls—mimic what they do to each other when you're running a bad set—and they'll leave with you.)
Here are some other pointers.
If an AMOG is with the girls I'm sarging, the goal is to neutralize him. If he's just met the girls, the goal is to blow him out.
AMOGing works best with the right body language. When you say these lines, you want to have a big smile on your face. If you can, elbow him hard in the chest or slap him on the back hard enough to make him spit up his drink. All this has to be under the guise of being friendly. And then (and this happened to me) tell him, "Fair play, mate," and offer him your hand. When he reaches to shake your hand, pull away at the last minute. Tool him constantly.
Also, you can use an AMOG's work for yourself. He lines 'em up, you knock 'em down. This is something I do a lot. I let a guy pick a girl up and increase her buying temperature, then I go in and out-alpha him. I say he's creepy to the girls, and then remove them from him. The girls are already aroused, so they are still in state based on what the AMOG did. I can do this on maybe 90 percent of sets I approach where a natural AMOG is talking to a girl.
When the reviews of Tyler Durden and Papa's London workshops hit Cliff's List, Mystery was outraged. He wasn't upset about AMOGing. You had to give the pair credit for that. He was upset because Tyler Durden and Papa had set up their own website and rival company. Mystery had called his classroom seminars Social Dynamics. They called their in-field workshops Real Social Dynamics.
Papa was as robotic about setting up his seduction business as he had been about sarging. He copied Mystery's model to the letter. Mystery charged six hundred dollars. So did Tyler and Papa. Mystery scheduled his workshops for three nights. So did Tyler and Papa. Mystery started his lessons at 8:30 P.M. and ended them at 2:30 A.M. So did Tyler and Papa.
Though Tyler Durden and Papa said Mystery gave them permission to run their own workshops, Mystery claimed they used his client list and never asked him. When they exhausted that, they went around and spoke to the Speed Seduction lairs, drumming up business from Ross Jeffries's disciples. And when Ross began to smell a rat, they started their own lair in each region, beginning with P-L-A-Y (for Player's Los Angeles Yahoo group) in Southern California.
Where Mystery limited his workshops to six people, Papa and Tyler Durden packed in dozens. It was sarging anarchy, but they were rolling in money. At nearly every workshop, Papa handpicked a student—even if he happened to be a virgin—and made him a guest instructor at the next workshop. Soon, Papa had his own gang of wings—Jlaix, a San Francisco karaoke champ; Sickboy, a square-jawed New Yorker in the fashion industry; Dreamweaver, a University of California senior and former Mystery student; and even Extramask—that he was flying around to each workshop.
Despite all this, Mystery continued to let Tyler and Papa stay at his house and pick his brain whenever they were in Toronto. When I asked him why, he answered, "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer." With a wonderful cliche like that, I assumed he knew what he was doing.
In the meantime, after seeing Tyler and Papa's success, two things dawned on the rest of the community. The first was that anybody could run a workshop. It didn't take any special talent to point two girls out to a guy and say, "Go approach them." The second was that the demand for seduction schooling was elastic. Guys would throw any amount of money at the problem to solve it.
Mystery had made a crucial mistake: He didn't give his students nondisclosure agreements. And now the genie was out of the bottle. One by one, everyone woke up to the notion that all those hours they had spent studying and practicing seduction—more time than they spent with family, school, work, and real-life friends—had more applications than just keeping the prophylactic industry healthy. We were the creators and beneficiaries of a body of knowledge that was light years beyond the rest of the mating world. We had developed an entirely new paradigm of sexual relations—one that gave men the upper hand, or at least the illusion of having the upper hand. There was a market for this.
Orion, the spazz who had made the Magical Connections videos, started leading daytime workshops in shopping malls and on campuses.
Next, two PUAs named Harmless and Schematic began advertising their own workshops, which was a surprise to everyone considering that Schematic had only lost his virginity a month beforehand.
One of the Croatians I had met, Badboy, a charismatic PUA who limped and had only partial use of his left arm after getting hit by sniper fire during the war, started a company called Playboy Lifestyle. Students flew to visit him in Zagreb for training in how to become an alpha male. Exercises included punching Badboy in the stomach and yelling, "Fuck you, Badboy!" as loud as they could. The average monthly salary in Croatia was $400; his workshops cost $850 per student.
Wilder and Sensei, both Mystery Method graduates, led Pickup 101 workshops out of San Francisco. A mysterious website appeared offering a book called NegHits Explained. Vision quit his job to run one-on-one workshops. One of Sweater's employees put together a seduction website and line of products. Three college students in London—Angel, Ryobi, and Lockstock—started teaching workshops called Impact Interaction. And even Prizer, the border-crossing hooker-fucker, put out a rambling DVD course, Seduction Made Easy, that doubled as unintentional comedy.
Finally, Grimble and Twotimer jumped into the fray, each developing his own method of seduction and writing an e-book on it. Grimble made fifteen thousand dollars the week his was released; Twotimer took in six thousand.
The community was blossoming with enterprise.
I realized that it was time for me to move. This was getting too big. The lid was going to blow.
I'd been in the community for a year and a half since taking Mystery's first workshop. It was time to stake a claim on the seduction subculture before another writer beat me to it. It was time to reveal myself. It was time to remind myself that I wasn't just a PUA; I was a writer. I had a career. So I called an editor I knew at the Style section of the New York Times. It seemed like an appropriately named section to write for.
No one ever posted their real names online; we called each other by our nicknames. Even Ross Jeffries and David DeAngelo were pseudonyms. Our real-world jobs and identities were unimportant. Thus, everyone in the community knew me as Style. Few, if anyone, knew my real name or that I wrote for the Times.
It wasn't easy to get the story into the newspaper. It took two months of going back and forth with editors, writing draft after draft. They wanted more skepticism. They wanted proof of the powers of the various gurus. They wanted the inherent weirdness of the techniques to be acknowledged. They seemed to have trouble believing that these people—and this world— really existed.
The night before the story on my double life as a pickup artist was published, I slept fitfully. I had created this character Style; now, in two thousand words of newsprint, I was going to kill him. I was sure everyone in the community would be pissed off that there had been a traitor in their midst. I had nightmares of sargers gathering outside my house with torches to burn me alive.
But no amount of fretting and worrying could have prepared me for the response: There was none.
Sure, there was a little bit of bellyaching about the community being exposed and potentially ruined. A few people didn't like the tone of the story, and Mystery resented being called a pickup artist rather than a "Venusian artist," his latest neologism. But Style's credibility was safe: He had become so entrenched in the community that to the sargers of the world, he was a pickup artist first and a journalist second. Instead of being upset at Neil Strauss for infiltrating their community, they were proud of Style for getting an article in the New York Times.
I was flabbergasted. I hadn't killed Style at all. I'd only made him stronger. Sargers Googled my name and ordered my books on Amazon, writing long posts detailing my career. When I asked them to keep my real-world and my online identities separate—especially since I didn't want women I met looking up field reports I'd written about them—they actually agreed. I was still in charge.
Even more surprising, I didn't want to leave the subculture. I was a mentor now to these kids, and I had a role to fill. I had friendships to maintain. Though I'd more than attained my goal as a pickup artist, along the way I had accidentally found the sense of camaraderie and belonging that had eluded me my whole life. Like it or not, I was an integral part of the community now. The kids were right not to feel shocked or betrayed. I was one of them.
As for the women in my life, the article also had little effect. I'd already told them about the community and my involvement in it. And, in doing so, I'd discovered a curious phenomenon: If I told a woman that I was a pickup artist before sleeping with her, she'd still have sex with me, but she'd make me wait a week or two longer just to ensure that she was different from all the other girls. If I told a girl I was a pickup artist after sleeping with her, she was usually amused and intrigued by the whole idea, and convinced that I hadn't been running game on her. However, her tolerance for the community lasted only until we broke up or stopped seeing each other, at which point it was used against me. The problem with being a pickup artist is that there are concepts like sincerity, genuineness, trust, and connection that are important to women. And all the techniques that are so effective in beginning a relationship violate every principle necessary to maintaining one.
Shortly after the article came out, I received a phone call from Will Dana, the features editor at Rolling Stone.
"We're doing a cover story on Tom Cruise," he told me.
"Yeah. He wants you to do it."
"Would you mind specifying the pronoun? Who do you mean by be?"
"Tom Cruise asked for you specifically."
"Why? I've never interviewed an actor before."
"He read that article you wrote in the Times on the pickup guys. You can ask him about it when you see him. He's in Europe right now scouting for locations for the next Mission: Impossible. But he wants to go to wheelie school with you when he gets back."
"What's wheelie school?"
"It's where you learn to do motorcycle wheelies."
I neglected to tell Will that I'd never ridden a motorcycle in my life. However, it was high on the list of seduction-related skills I still wanted to learn—just above improv classes and below self-defense.
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