April 19, 2019

Yesterday in Styles: Would the Pickup Artist Stand a Chance in the #MeToo Era?

Yesterday in Styles” is a regular column that looks back at Styles stories that got people talking. This is one of them.

Original Headline: “He Aims! He Shoots! Yes!” from January 2004

From Chump to Champ: “When I look down at my pale, skinny body, I wonder why any woman would want to sleep next to it, let alone embrace it,” wrote Neil Strauss, a former New York Times music writer, in the opening of this 2004 feature. Despite what he believed to be his shortcomings, Mr. Strauss went on to chronicle his transformation from sexless nobody to singles-scene Adonis. How? Using techniques he learned in the shadowy online “seduction community” of the 2000s. Basically it was a secret society of would-be pickup artists, all hoping to tap the alpha male within.

Rules of the Game: In the early aughts — those bro-centric days of Maxim magazine and TV’s “The Man Show” — a legion of straight men who lacked the confidence to approach women gravitated to the online forums of self-styled pickup superstars who employed stage names like Mystery (pictured above and famous for his fur top hat and eyeliner) and Juggler. They preached a quasi-psychological juju that would, in theory, transform any ordinary dude from A.F.C. (Average Frustrated Chump) to P.U.A. (Pickup Artist). The tricks eventually became wearily familiar to many women on the singles circuit: “peacocking” (wearing crazy clothing, like a red cowboy hat — yes, truly — to stand out), “group theory” (charming the desired woman’s friends before making a move on her) and the “neg” (a subtle dig disguised as a compliment — “I love your eyelashes, are they real?” — to disarm women they believed had grown immune to flattery).

From “Neg” to “Pos”: These moves worked, apparently — at least for the guys who peddled them. Mystery had his own short-lived VH1 reality show, “The Pickup Artist.” Mr. Strauss rebranded himself as a Corvette-driving sex machine called Style and published “The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists,” which sold millions of copies. Forget a lonely life scribbling magazine profiles of Courtney Love. Now he was dating Courtney Love’s guitarist.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/13/style/the-game-pickup-artists-post-metoo.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

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