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September 06, 2005

Speed Seduction?

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Being published on Sept. 6th is a book that should get some attention: Neil Strauss' "The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists." Who even knew there was such a secret society?

Haven't looked at it myself, but how can such a book not stir controversy? Strauss is a well-known former rock critic. He became a staffer at the New York Times while still in his early 20s, then segue'd into collaborating on books with flashy celebs; he co-wrote Jenna Jameson's bestseller, for instance. In interviews about his new book, Strauss says that he was a mousy, timid, frustrated guy before he studied with the master pickup artists. Now he claims to be an unstoppable pickup machine.

Here's a Maclean's interview with Strauss. Here's a blog that seems to belong to one of the Strauss' masters. Here's an article about the "speed-seduction scene." This how-to-be-an-alpha-male site looks like it was put together by the character Tom Cruise played in "Magnolia."

It occurs to me that this could all be a monumental put-on. On the other hand, maybe there really are tried-and-tested ways that enable you to have your way with the women of your dreams. At the age of 12, anyway, many boys like to think so.

Being happily partnered-up with a far better woman than I deserve, I think I'll sit back and watch this particular controversy take its own shape ...



posted by Michael at September 6, 2005


Pick-up artists (or "players") really do exist. Some men have an almost superhuman knack for getting the best women, and what's strange is they're not always the sort of men who seem particularly studly.

Posted by: Peter on September 6, 2005 9:35 PM

Women love meritless arrogance more than any other quality. If you want women to love you, do the following:

1) Lose your job, but act rich. (Deficit spending, leeching off of parents/girlfriends, welfare, robbery are all bonuses.)
2) Cower at the approach of authority, or money, or pain, but act like a superhero.
3) Wear your pants around your knees, but swagger like goddamn John Travolta in his prime.
4) Say nothing important, but say it LOUD!

Follow those steps, and I don't care if you look like a sewer explosion, women will die for you.

Posted by: onetwothree on September 6, 2005 10:49 PM



I'm sorry to betray my gender, but I have to agree with the gist of what you said. I, myself, have fallen for such goons. Thankfully, I didn't marry one.

Meritless arrogance totally seems to be the name of the game, at least when it comes to the more inexperienced and/or immature specimens of femininity.

Posted by: Peggy Nature on September 7, 2005 8:02 AM

I can't help mourning the loss of a truly engaging rock critic. I also can't help wondering if his newfound success-in-the-sack doesn't now disqualify him from that calling. Could he even write a review now? Or has he lost his "ear"? And does he even care?

Posted by: Whisky Prajer on September 7, 2005 8:10 AM

Yes, it's very easy to pick up women.

The question is: why would you want to spend your life doing this?

Unfortunately, the truth is that, like most men, most women are no damned good. The purported pleasures of sleeping with thousands of them... the truth is it ain't that great.

Endless chasing after women is about as aesthetically pleasing as perpetual drunkenness. Rotgut whiskey is plentiful and you can drink it by the gallon.

The pleasures of the flesh are best consumed in moderation.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on September 7, 2005 8:28 AM

Interesting stuff. The women I've discussed this stuff with have decided that to a man looking only to seduce (SPEED seduce!), "the best women" means young, 18 to 26ish, thin, firm, with no highly visible diseases, psychoses, etc. Because women with more age and experience pretty much see right through these techniques, they just play along with it anyway, for the fun of it.

It's always seemed to me that men kind of have two basic sets of standards for women -- those for seducing and those for marrying, or long-term relationships. The seducing standards as listed above, and for marrying, the appearance factor is relaxed a little to allow for compatibility, character, accomplishment, etc.

Men seem very concerned about what other men think. Women think about what other women think, too, but if a woman really wants to "date" a man, that decision will override the fact that her girlfriends think he's a nightmarish, cretinous slug. I wonder if maybe 80% of a man's decision to pick a certain female to seduce isn't about precisely that -- how she'll look to his friends. Maybe even MORE important than what HE thinks about her? Just wondering. I guess nothing is really new here.

Posted by: Beverly on September 7, 2005 8:39 AM

Although this book sounds quite interesting, may I suggest another author that changed my life. I used to be a skinny little twerp. Whenever I would go to the beach, some muscular ruffian would always kick sand in my face. And you know what -- he always got the girl! It was then that I decided to learn the secret of success from Mr. Charles Atlas. Soon, my muscles were bulging and I knocked Mister Big Shot right on his ass. Believe me, those bikini babes were in my arms in no time.

Posted by: Neil on September 7, 2005 9:04 AM

The pickup artist exists. My best buddy in high school was one (and still is from what I can gather). All of the rest of us guys were continually stunned at his prowess. He'd bedded, by objective count, at least 100 women by the time he was a Jr. in college. And this was while he was at an engineering college (mostly men) in a town with a huge military base.

(For those of you who are interested, here's one of his tips that he gave me a long time ago that I discovered is very true (but only after we went to separate colleges and I was no longer competition): When you go into a place where the women are, pay attention to the ones who appear interested in YOU. Don't pick the ones you find attractive, because it's much harder to persuade someone who may not find you interesting. If you pick from the ones who are already interested, it's much much easier. And you're bound to find someone in that group that you find attractive. What I find interesting is my grandmother gave me that same advice but in different terms. She said it's the woman who picks her mate, not the other way around, so the game is to be chosen.)

Regarding what becomes of the pickup artist, the comment that asked "The question is: why would you want to spend your life doing this?" hits the nail on the head. My pickup artist buddy can't stop doing it. He's now divorced. Seems once you get the taste for that particular Kool-Aid, it's hard to put it down. He still drags all these strangers home, but as time goes by, you can tell it's eating him alive.

The pickup artist exists, but it appears to be a living hell.

Posted by: Yahmdallah on September 7, 2005 9:52 AM

The only guy I've ever known who was a true pickup artist struck me as a funny case. He's very bright and entertaining. But he's also very uncouth -- sweaty, overweight, pushy, obviously untrustworthy. And his come-on is generally laughable.

You'd think he'd have a hard time winning women over. But I watched him in action a few times and I think I figured it out. He's persistent, he's unembarrassed, and he's basically sweet and eager. If I tried his approach, I'd get shot down instantly, and put in my place within milliseconds. But with him ... They let him get away with stuff that they'd never let most men get away with.

There's a typical sequence in how they react. First, they watch him in amazement. Maybe they try to shut him down in the usual way. But he persists. And, however uncouth he is, he's also funny, and he genuinely seems to like them.

There comes a moment when they seem to register that Oh, we're not playing the usual game here. Everything shifts into a slightly different dimension. And then, surprisingly often, they let themselves be swept along. They see through him, they know everything there is to be known about him right away, they know he's full of it. But he gets to them anyway. And, surprisingly often, he walks away with a phone number and a date. Classy, smart women, too -- you'd never think he'd do as well as he does. Awe-inspiringly unashamed in his approach. I was with him once at a theater, on the main floor, when he made eye contact with a woman two balconies up, and then met her in the lobby at intermission and got her phone #.

Not that his actual scoring percentages are great. But as he said to me once, "Look, even if your batting average is just one in twenty, if you come on to twenty new women every day, that means you'll be scoring with a fresh woman every 24 hours."

He's very devoted to the chase. And in his case it seems to make him happy. He's 60 or so now, and is one of the jolliest people I've ever known. But maybe he's an exception.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on September 7, 2005 11:07 AM

Pick-up artists may be an amusing subset of the human species, but they also make life miserable for most single men by creating a form of _de facto_ polygamy. The old line that 20% of the men get 80% of the women may be an exaggeration, but it has a *large* grain of truth. If, for example, you've got a pick-up artist who's dating three women simultaneously, with none of the women aware of the others' existence and all three of them considering themselves taken, two "excess" women are off the market and unavailable to less-studly single men. If we didn't have pick-up artists, and each man limited himself to one woman, I doubt we'd see singles bars resorting to "ladies drink free" promotions in usually futile attempts to get enough women, the memberships of and wouldn't be 90+ percent male, and there wouldn't be a thriving mail-order bride industry catering to (and frequently ripping off) unlucky men.

Posted by: Peter on September 7, 2005 12:23 PM

I think women like adventurousness and lack of inhibition. For quite natural reasons -- like most human beings, women are kind of bored a lot of the time and want to be entertained. They want someone who can bring them where the action is. Being a crazy-ass arrogant liar and poseur, if you pull it off with some style and grace, demonstrates a fun adventurous quality in a certain sense. It demonstrates energy and engagement. Women respond to that, and I don't blame them.

Neil Strauss is partially responsible for perhaps the best book ever written about rock and roll, Motley Crue's "The Dirt". Just a great, classic book. For that reason alone he deserves to get laid a lot.

Posted by: MQ on September 7, 2005 12:56 PM

Strikes me that the whole thing's a nightmare, no matter how "successful" the pickup artist may be, in that no ones being himself, herself, theirself.
How much less insane existence is without putting on an act, putting up a front -- albeit lonely (which, by the way, is inescapable -- even by pickup artists).

Posted by: ricpic on September 7, 2005 8:22 PM

I dunno, isn't this basically the "be an asshole and you'll get laid" bit? Tell me something I don't know.

Ditto what someone said above, these guys take a lot of deluded women off the market who think they're in a "relationship".

Posted by: Brian on September 8, 2005 11:15 AM

I love Neil Strauss--at least I loved The Dirt and How to Make Love. (I did not love the rather solipsistic and pointless Dave Navarro Coffee/Cracktable book. But whatevs.)

What I find interesting in these comments, and in the idea of the pick-up artist in general, is the underlying assumption that women don't want to be seduced.

Women do. I do. Why is it necessarily a bad thing that we get seduced by men who are committed to seduction?

We womenfolk are not always looking for a longterm mate. Sometimes we just want some good old-fashioned zipperless shagging.

We're supposed to expect the "good guys" to give us that ambient free-form fornication? Or is it that we are not supposed to want it at all?

Or is it merely that we are supposed to feel badly about wanting it?

I think it's the desire that causes the conundrum, really.

Posted by: chelsea girl on September 8, 2005 11:32 AM

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