Review of THE GAME, Part 2: The Pickup Artist Dynamic–Lies, Lucre and Loose Zombies

The young woman made a horrible mistake: (Quotes from THE GAME are in italics.): “A Chicago office worker, Jackie Kim had accidentally forwarded her highly judgmental review of a date to her entire address book… ‘So where do I stand on…the date,’ she wrote.  ‘The car, the money, the job, the cute apartment, the boat—which by the way only seats six people, so I really don’t consider that really amazing—his mannerisms, and his great kiss will probably lock in another date.  But I can tell you now, unless he cuts his hair and sends me gifts, it won’t lead me to seek anything more than my thirty-year-old friend.’

The post became an Internet phenomenon, forwarded around the globe and chronicled in the Chicago Tribune.”  

A subsequent flood of angry e-mails poured into Kim’s inbox, chastising her for being so…yuppie.  In contrast to the invective, however, came a sympathetic missive from a man, ostensibly defending her. Touched by his apparent compassion, Kim replied to his e-mail. They dated. And had sex.  Unbeknownst to Kim, the man was a web-posting PUA (PickUp Artist) code-named “Maddash”. He gloated in a post to his admirers that he had bedded her without the benefit of a boat, haircut or gifts. Maddash hadn’t been looking for a relationship; his whole purpose had been to use his skills to “sarge (pickup and seduce)” Kim, so that he could boast to his fellow PUAs about his conquest.  

Maddash was so pleased with his fine-honed PUA skills that he proclaimed, “I’m starting to feel like I’m hunting rabbits with a howitzer.”

Other sexually-frustrated men wanted their own “howitzers”—and were willing to pay big bucks to get them.  A host of PUA gurus—spawned by the Internet—opened workshops. Author Strauss provides amusing descriptions of these guys: Ross Jeffries, inventor of Speed Seduction, is described as “our porous, bony guru of gash.”  David X is “ immense, balding, and toadlike, with warts covering his face and a voice of a hundred thousand cigarette packs.” (David X’s specialty: “Harem Management.”) David DeAngelo tells his students to get tips on handling women from a book called DOG TRAINING.  Steve P. claims to “’throw chi [a Chinese word for “energy force”] through my hands into a woman’s abdomen’” causing her to “’stack one orgasm on top of another’” until—as Steve P. puts it–“‘she’s shaking like a dog shitting peach seeds.’”

Fledgling PUAs glommed on to these “experts’” advice. One guru posts a recommendation to “’lightly body check her, whack her on the head with something soft, or physically accost her in some other playful manner.’”  And, writes Strauss, “…hundreds of sargers around the world were suddenly knocking into women with grocery carts and smacking them with gym bags. It wasn’t seduction, it was elementary-school recess.”

After successfully developing his own PUA skills, Strauss (AKA “Style”) and his business partner/mentor, “Mystery,” start their own workshops in a West Hollywood mansion. They begin by charging students $600 per course. Then, deluged with customers, they raise the tuition to $1500. “…we had pimply teenagers, bespectacled businessmen, tubby students, lonely millionaires, struggling actors, frustrated cab drivers, and computer programmers—lots of computer programmers. They walked in AFCs [“Average Frustrated Chumps”]; they came out players…We were breeding an army…No woman was safe. Workshops of fifteen people wandered the street like gangs.”  Like hungry Hollywood zombies, a horny horde of these newbie PUAs descend upon a group of casually-dressed female tourists—who turn out to be nuns.

The West Hollywood partners become too successful. Women in surrounding bars begin hearing the same lines again and again, and they’re puzzled. “’Let me guess. You have a friend whose girlfriend is jealous because he still talks to his ex-girlfriend from college. Like every guy keeps asking us that. What’s the deal here?’”

When Strauss tries The Best Friends Test, he receives a weary, “We heard that one already.”  He concludes that “the Sunset Strip was sarged out.”

But there are deeper problems with playing “The Game” than familiarity breeding women’s contempt.

The pickup game is infused with a sad irony: A compatible guy and girl might never meet unless his PUA training gives him the courage to approach her in the first place.  But his prepared shtick, engineered for deceiving a woman into thinking she is making a genuine emotional connection, prevents the guy from doing just that.  Like an actor, he’s too busy following his script for any real communication.

Author Strauss recognizes the dichotomy. “I was beginning to see women solely as measuring instruments to give me feedback on how I was progressing as a pickup artist…Even as I was having a deep conversation, learning about a woman’s dreams and point of view, in my mind I was just ticking off a box in my routine marked rapport.”

The phoniness eventually catches up with him and other PUAs.


Next: Review of THE GAME, Part 3: The “Eves” of Destruction. Topics in this concluding post will include Sarging the Stars–Courtney Love, Heidi Fleiss, Paris Hilton and Britney Spears and The PUA’s Insidious Mode of Self-Destruction.


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.