This is a gonzo book review, defined as a description of a book that includes the reviewer’s own opinions, insights, prejudices, rants, raves, and other stuff that the reviewer feels like tossing in. Once again, I’m indebted to the inventor of the gonzo paradigm, the late Hunter S. Thompson.
The previous book I reviewed stands in hostile contrast to the subject of this post:
UNDATEABLE was a snarky list of 311 things that render a man repulsive to women. Since most men are guilty of at least one of these things, almost all men are therefore “undateable.” The authors, two beautiful, glamorous, rich and smug diva-style executives wouldn’t settle for any man who was not wealthy, handsome, romantic, stylish, polished, confident and respected as an ubermensch–in other words, an archetypical Alpha Male.
THE GAME: PENETRATING THE SECRET SOCIETY OF PICKUP ARTISTS by Neil Strauss is written for lesser men: the Beta, Gamma, Delta and even the lowly Epsilon men. These are the underdogs. They spent their adolescence cringing through high school hallways, shoulder-butted by jocks, snubbed by girls. They graduated to bars, only to be slam-dunked by cleavaged barflies. Seething with hang-dog horniness, they became desperate.
Enter the PUA (PickUp Artist) gurus. Spawned by the Internet, these entrepreneurs taught slack-jawed, mouth-breathing, scrawny, scraggly-haired, squeaky-voiced, pimply, balloon-bellied, wimpy and otherwise socially-challenged gents how to pick up busty, curvaceous, big-eyed, pouty-lipped centerfolds.
Author Strauss was one of these customers, schooled by an egocentric, six-foot-five pickup master code-named “Mystery.” Strauss went on to become a revered PUA guru himself, under the moniker “Style,” claiming that at one point he had simultaneously juggled ten MLTRs–Multiple Long Term Relationships (Terms from the book are in bold type.)
THE GAME is bound in soft black leather, like a Bible, since it purports to be The Bible of the Pickup Artist. Because it is a complex, 600-page tome, this entry will be only Part 1 of the review.
The book opens with the author (“Style”) trying to help his former pickup mentor “Mystery,” who has plunged into a shattering, suicidal depression.
Before revealing how mastering the pickup game leads to the downfall of both Mystery and–later–Style, the book delves into what, for most male readers, is the “meat” of the issue: HOW TO DO IT. The object is to turn AFCs (Average Frustrated Chumps) into skilled PUAs (PickUp Artists).
The toughest thing for most men in approaching beautiful women in bars, restaurants, malls, etc. is how to start and escalate a conversation. An elementary principle in the book is Get used to rejection. Pro salesfolk know that if they get a 10% success rate on their pitch, they’re doing well. Another principle: any approach is better than none. Some of The Game‘s PUA masters send their newbie students on “tune-up” missions: “put on nice clothes, go to a mall and say ‘hi’ to women.” One PUA instructor advises neophytes to overcome their fear by walking up to a girl and saying, “Hi. I’m Manny the Martian. What’s your favorite flavor of bowling ball?” At least, you’ll get her attention.
I’m reminded of what my late karate sensei, Bob Ozman (subject of a previous entry), used to say: “The best street fighters are those who ‘don’t give a shit.'” In other words, they don’t worry about getting their ass kicked. They just focus on their target and attack. The same principle (hopefully with less violence) applies to “sarging” (PUA slang for trying to pick up women. The term was coined by a PUA guru whose cat was named “Sarge”.).
“Anyone talking to a woman while simultaneously worrying about what she thinks of him is going to fail.” (Quotes from the book are in italics.)
Well, beautiful girls won’t kick your ass (unless they’re students of teachers like Sensei Ozman). But the ones who are gorgeous enough to be hit on all the time get bored with men going into slobber mode. And the meaner ones might make you feel knee high to a toadstool.
Never fear. Follow the techniques detailed in THE GAME. First, use patterns, not lines. Patterns require a woman to respond with more than a “yes,” “no” or a “Fucking get lost.”
Act like you want her perspective on something you’re seeking information about. “Hi. Let me get your opinion on something.”
“Would you date a guy who was still friends with his ex-girlfriend?”
“Do you think magic spells work?”
“I’ve been taking a course in handwriting analysis While we’re waiting for our food, do you mind if I practice on you?” (Use cold read techniques to amaze her with how “accurate” you are in describing her, based on “analyzing” her handwriting.)
Or use something alarming like “Oh my God, did you see those two girls fighting outside?” (No, she hasn’t seen them. She’ll want details, so have a good story ready.)
Once you have her attention, that’s when the real “artistry” begins. You learn how to Demonstrate Value, showing how you’re different from the last 20 guys who hit on her. You employ The Maury Povich Maneuver, the False Time Constraint, the IVD–Interactive Value Demonstration, The Yes-ladder, or The Evolution Phase-shift Routine. The book explains these and plenty more, as evidenced by a ten-page glossary.
You learn how to keep a woman interested through applying The Cat-string Theory. You ply her with “Chick Crack”: things like handwriting analysis and tarot cards. According to the author, women respond to “routines involving tests, psychological games, fortune telling, and cold readings like addicts respond to drugs.’”
Strauss points out that beautiful women are rarely found alone. Your target is almost always in the company of other people. If she’s with one other person, the duo is called a “two-set.” If she’s with two other people, the trio is a “three-set.” If she’s included in a four-some, it’s a “four-set,” etc.
A daunting challenge faces the PUA when the set includes an AMOG (Alpha Male Of the Group). The book teaches students how to pry targeted beauties loose from these square-jawed alpha men–and to do it without losing teeth. (Well, at least one of these fledgeling PUAs suffered the result of alpha rage, when the woman’s husband came along, tossed him on the floor and stomped his face, fracturing an eye socket.)
You learn the value of sarging with a pivot, a platonic female friend who validates you as not being a loner serial killer.
You learn peacocking: wearing cowboy hats, rings, necklaces, fake piercings, etc.–items to use in starting conversations. Here’s a description of Mystery’s peacocking: “…he wore 6-inch platform boots and a bright red tiger-striped cowboy hat…skintight black PVC pants, futuristic goggles, a plastic-spiked backpack, a mesh see-through shirt, black eyeliner, white eye shadow, and as many as seven watches on his wrists…Girls followed him for blocks. Some grabbed his ass; one older woman even bit his crotch.” (This was in Hollywood. Not in the real world.) Mystery says, “I’m dressed for the outrageous club girls, the hot slutty girls, the ones I never could get. They’re playing groupie, so I gotta play rock star.”
As you sarge a girl, you look for IOIs (Indications of Interest), such as her use of your name while talking to you. You know you’re succeeding when she gets “the doggy dinner bowl look.”
So, do the techniques work? (Even the best PUAs encounter the Shit Test: something you say that is a secret red flag in a woman’s mind and—presto—you’re as welcome as “dog shit on her Prada pump.”)
Author “Style” recounts his first, hesitant, use of Mystery’s teachings. He engages a pretty girl in a store. “Maybe you can help me settle a debate I’m having…” He proceeds with The Maury Povich Routine. He gets her phone number. Then he Googles her name and finds out she is Dalene Kurtis, Playboy Magazine’s Playmate of the Year! He freezes, too chicken to call her–kind of like winning the lottery but not cashing in the ticket.
So, what does the preceding have to do with my historical memoir, SKINFLICKS: The Inside Story of the X-Rated Video Industry? Well, without the patronage of AFCs (Average Frustrated Chumps), the porn industry wouldn’t survive. So, thank you, gentlemen.
My next entry about The Game will include Fleecing the Chumps; Sarging the Stars–Courtney Love, Heidi Fleiss, Paris Hilton and Britney Spears; The PUA’s Insidious Mode of Self-Destruction; and Attack of the Zombie PUAs.
David Jennings is the author of SKINFLICKS: The Inside Story of the X-Rated Video Industry, which chronicles his rise from filmmaker for a large Mafia-controlled porno company to “mini porn king” with his own Superior Video, Inc. This personal memoir also traces the flourishing of the home video trade from the late1970s to the end of the 20th Century.