I read your recent column on pick-up lines (8/10/07) with great interest. I, too, have stood in bars, trying to come up with something to say to a woman I found attractive, but the words just weren't there. And when I forced myself to walk up and talk to someone, it almost invariably went badly. So I finally gave up and quit going out. But I wonder if you're familiar with something called the seduction community. I discovered it on the Web, and it's this secret network of men who've pooled all their knowledge about how to pick up women and formalized it into a system that's supposedly foolproof. Are you familiar with them? Does it work?
Bar None: Yes, I'm familiar with the seduction community, having religiously read Neil Strauss' The Game. I say "religiously" because the book, as you may know, is designed to look like the Holy Bible, with faux-leather covers, gilt-edged pages and one of those red-tassel bookmarks. And the point, obviously, is that these guys have turned picking up women into a religion. Which is funny, because what they say they've done is turned it into a science - a social science, using empirical data to draw conclusions about what works and what doesn't. Of course, what they've really done is turned it into a sales pitch, complete with openers and closers and all the acronyms that fall between. To join the seduction community is to sign up for a Tony Robbins seminar in which the goal isn't fame and fortune but more notches in your belt.
Does it work? Strauss says it does. A rock journalist for The New York Times, he claims to have made it all the way through college without getting laid, a drought he attributes partly to the way he looked (short, balding, big nose) and partly to the way he acted (like a short, balding guy with a big nose). But the techniques he acquired during two years of participant-observer research seem to have turned his life around. He was soon able to talk any HB (hot babe) he wanted into bed using IOIs (indicators of interest), EPSs (evolution phase shifts) and something called cat-string theory. And one of the appeals of the seduction community is its complex set of rules and guidelines. It's like Dungeons and Dragons for horny guys. The rest of its appeal has to do with the fact that it's offering men the Holy Grail: how to take the luck out of getting lucky.
But do we really want to take the luck out of getting lucky? A lot of what Strauss talks about in The Game makes perfect sense to me. When you approach a woman, you should ideally have a smile on your face, show some confidence, be dressed okay, have a joke at the ready and pay close attention to everything she says and does. But a lot of the techniques - "negs," for example, where you lightly insult the woman to pique her interest in you - seem counterintuitive at best, counterproductive at worst. And it's all part of this vision of men as predators and women as prey. Strauss, whose ghost-writer résumé includes Mötley Crüe's The Dirt and Jenna Jameson's How to Make Love Like a Porn Star, may not have a problem with that.
Actually, he does. By the end of the book, he's abandoned the PUA (pick-up artist) scene and hooked up with a female guitarist from Courtney Love's Hole. And that will just have to do for a happy ending in the age of Paris Hilton sex videos. But here's hoping there's still a few women out there who don't necessarily want to make love like a porn star. Are you with me, guys? Guys?
For a copy of my new book How to Get STDs Like a Porn Star, write to: MR. RIGHT, ISTHMUS, 101 KING ST., MADISON, WI 53703. OR CALL 251-1206, EXT. 152. OR EMAIL MRRIGHT@ISTHMUS.COM.