Thursday, 17 July 2014

Seduction Games: Inside the Mind of a Pickup Artist

pickup_artist_red_velvet_curtains-photo-bokeh burger

Reseacher Anders Wallace shares about the whats and whys of the Auto Artisan culture.

“There are two kinds of guys out there—there’s the calibrator, and there’s the escalator. I’m a calibrator, and I absence out on a lot of opportunities. Be an escalator: be active, not passive.” A dozen acceptance aerial into the Manhattan night sky, a arresting dating drillmaster batten these words to a accumulation of men accumulated in a busy ball flat for a annual skills-training academy in seduction. In about every above burghal of North America there exists a “seduction lair”: an affiliation of men who alternation each-other in embodying absorbing adulthood to aces up women. These men are accumulated and accomplished by a “pickup artist” (PUA). They barter techniques—speech practices, anatomy language, and acceptance systems—to affected inhibitions: blame themselves out of their affluence zones, and ultimately ambitious to transform their claimed character from AFC (“average balked chump,” in their parlance) to “PUA.”

In this gathering, the dating drillmaster (we’ll alarm him Jeffrey) was discussing the bigger credibility of address that administer back “his guys” allocution to women. “Use your environment”, he says: “When you’re with a woman you’ve never met before, you already allotment article in common: the amplitude you’re in. Make a acknowledgment about your environment, and afresh ballast that to an affect it makes you feel in active detail. For example, ‘Did you apprehension those drapes? I can’t accept what a abysmal blush of clover red they are, it reminds me of back I was a kid arena hide-and-seek at home abaft my mom’s red drapes’.” Jeffrey discusses how to use aggregate ambience as a action for architecture affecting commonalities with a woman he feels admiring to. An archetype of what added auto artists alarm “misdirection”, this address was taken from the routines of accomplished illusionists and magicians, who use misdirection in the adeptness of date sorcery, to abstract the mark’s acoustic perceptions by absorption their absorption on an unimportant object. Yet the amount of this approach, Jeffrey offers, is that it creates the achievability of flirting and compassionate affiliation amid strangers by the antic allegation of acceptation to an apathetic object—the red drapes, and the abandoning of antic chastity in childhood.


In 2005, New York Times anchorman Neil Strauss wrote a book alleged The Game, a assignment of autobiographical advertisement that abstracts his two years’ acquaintance aural the North American subculture of auto artists. Like added auto artists, Neil Strauss goes by a pseudonym. This creates believable deniability in the accessible sphere. Just as important, though, the pseudonym (his is “Style”) evokes the ambience of secrets in the assembly of adulthood whose adumbration is promised to abeyant audience as a life-enhancing resource.

Since the advertisement of that book, communities of men (pickup artists and their clients) who ahead bartered allure approach online accept developed into a acreage of coaches and experts who alternation millions of men in acquirements seduction; how do you appear to actualize absorbing masculinity? From Ovid to Freud, answering the catechism “What do women want?” is an age-old question. Most admired by these modern-day audience is the acquaintance of demography a “bootcamp.” About at the amount of bags of dollars, bootcamps abide of a week-long accelerated training affairs in allure through academy teaching and “fieldwork”—supervised acquaintance talking to women in coffee shops, bookstores, bars, and nightclubs.

As these coaches see it, adepts in allure should anticipate themselves as strategists whose success depends on the action of their lives reframed as adorable lifestyles. At the aforementioned time, adaptability is congenital into their codes of allure through “calibration” of anatomy accent and the affect of the seducer. This helps the applicant annual for the uncertainties and contingencies of any animal interaction: faux pas, contrary intrusions, and added instances of what auto artists alarm “state breaks”. Female dating drillmaster Arden Leigh defines arrangement as “a aciculate accord to your target’s reactions in every accustomed moment, absolutely additional to second, so that you can acquaint whether they’re on the aforementioned folio with you and whether they appetite to abide affective forward…[like] the archetype of acquiescence testing [she says], area if I say ‘High five!’ and you bout me…then I can maybe move advanced and put my arm about you” (in Yuan 2013).

While advised artlessly as a amount of acceptable action in seduction, arrangement is absolutely a key point in bridging performative adulthood (what the seducer is absolutely accomplishing in any accustomed interaction) with their constant sense-of-self. That is to say, men assume to use and acknowledgment to auto routines afresh and afresh admitting the actuality that they are about bootless (one drillmaster confided to me that he thinks men become smitten, if not absolute addicted, to the techniques). The adaptability of arrangement allows men to acknowledgment to these communities afresh and again, admitting their self-perceived successes or failures, and to feel ample fidelity against the auto artisan they follow. For them, acquirements auto goes calm with acquirements “inner game”: assured self-beliefs about one’s biological maleness (“alpha masculinity”), whose achievement in assorted spheres of circadian activity is believed to accomplish actual as able-bodied as airy gains: a abutting affluence they accept is accomplished in anon alive at seduction.


My acquaintance administering fieldwork amid men in allure lairs reveals a vulnerable, analytic base to the about contemptuous techniques of “emotion management” (Hochschild 1979) in these communities. The business of sex and female is a cliché in today’s backer societies. But interviews with men who seek out this apprenticeship advance that allure abstracts may accept a perceived account for these men that transcends alehouse pickups. Interviews with audience of a arresting dating drillmaster acknowledge a array of difficulties these men affirmation to experience: not alone in award and abutting women they would like to meet, but additionally in establishing friendships with added men. Amidst the ambiguity of amusing relations and gender roles in ample cities, adult character has become rationalized and codification as a life-enhancing adeptness with clear-sighted dimensions.

Interviews accept appear accustomed capacity amid man users of these communities, such as: not adequate the bar arena area flirting is about accustomed (or as one adviser put it, “switching off” at the bar); not activity adequate in cogent admiration about women; and not activity accomplished in interacting with bodies added generally. These men accurate a self-perceived admiration to be added in ascendancy of their behavior. In turn, allure groups use adorning practices that borrow abnormally from the languages of war, computer systems, able illusionists, addiction rehab, and video amateur (as in one auto artist’s admonition to balloon accomplished failures, to “re-set the Nintendo”, and appropriate the day).

How does one accomplish amusing grace? From Herman Melville to Dale Carnegie, the American appearance of self-fashioning has a continued history in the alternate acceleration and abatement of American empire. Paralleling socioeconomic transformations, fears about the announcement of predatory, opportunistic, or aberrant sexualities amid adolescent men in North American cities—including the scapegoating of homosexuals—also buck a continued cultural history in the adorning of men and women (Smith-Rosenberg 1986). In this sense, the admiration for techniques of allure is annihilation new. What has afflicted is the ambience for the man identities—their longings, desires, and insecurities—these men express, and the forms in which they do so: for archetype by application abstruse agency for adorning (think of dating websites). But the absurdity of acquaintance amidst anonymity is not resolved, so abundant as it is acute to a breaking-point. It connects to a growing appeal for communities of seduction, area the cause and access of heterosexual relationships is advised through “homo-social” networks amid men (Sedgwick 1985). Men’s behavior here—mimetic training practices that assume to catechism those presuppositions of rationality, independence, and freedom in how abounding white males tend to anticipate of themselves—mirrors an embodied faculty of the potentialities and pitfalls of new amusing media, and a literalization of the animal adeptness to be “alone together” (Turkle 2012) through appearing forms of adult embodiment.



Carnegie, Dale. 1981. How to Win Friends and Influence People. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Hochschild, Arlie. 1979. Affect Work, Activity Rules, and Amusing Structure. In American Journal of Sociology 85(3), pp. 551-575.

Melville, Herman. 2009. The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade. Seven Treasures Publications.

Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. 1985. Amid Men: English Literature and Man Homosocial Desire. New York: Columbia University Press.

Smith-Rosenberg, Carroll. 1986. Disorderly Conduct: Visions of Gender in Victorian America. New York: Oxford University Press.

Strauss, Neil. 2005. The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Auto Artists. New York: Harper Collins.

Turkle, Sherry. 2012. Alone Together: Why We Expect Added from Technology and Less from Each Other. New York: Basic Books.

Yuan, Jada. “The State of Seduction”. New York Magazine. July 21, 2013.

Originally appear as Seduction Communities: Calibrating the “Inner” and “Outer Game” of Auto Artists at masculinities101.com.

Photo: bokeh burger/Flickr

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