How Pickup Artists Work

A Pickup Artist Is Born: History of the Seduction Community

Strauss and "The Game" also introduced the world to Erik von Markovik, better known by his PUA alter ego Mystery. The Canadian magician-turned-pickup artist served as Strauss' primary guru, introducing him to the aforementioned seduction community. As Mystery's personal mythology goes, he spent seven years honing his flirting skills, slowly figuring out what worked and what didn't, whittling it down to a semi-science (and book) called the Mystery Method [source: Belknap]. Due to his prominent role in "The Game," along with a two-season PUA reality show on VH1, Mystery is one of pop culture's most famous members of the seduction community. But he wasn't the first man to make a name for himself by teaching men how to talk to women.

Former comedy writer Ross Jeffries is considered the godfather of the modern-day seduction community. Although Eric Weber's 1970 "How to Pick Up Girls!" is a seminal title in the PUA library, Jeffries planted the seeds for tactics like those featured in "The Game" with his 1988 guide to getting women. Jeffries' "How to Get the Women You Desire into Bed" centers on a concept called Speed Seduction, a type of verbal hypnotism that supposedly amplifies a man's attractiveness. Teaching techniques, such as mirroring a woman's breathing patterns, deepening the voice and employing a host of sample pickup lines, Jeffries essentially encourages men to exert confidence and keep on trucking if a woman rejects an offer.

In 1994, Lewis De Payne, a Ross Jeffries fan, started the online group, and the PUA community was born [source: Clift]. For the first time, men who had been reading and practicing pickup strategies could finally hop on Internet forums and message boards to learn from each other and share tips. Better yet , an online cloak of anonymity whereby men select screen names -- Mystery, Style, Juggler and so forth -- freed PUAs-in-training to share their fears, hits and misses regarding flirting with women. By the early 2000s, when Neil Strauss' editor caught wind of the phenomenon, the seduction community had spawned multiple blogs, Web sites and self-published e-books [source: Clift]. Offline, some groups of PUAs organized into local "lairs" or hangouts where they could talk "targets" and "field reports" in-person and chart out their next pickup ventures. Because when you're a PUA, practice makes perfect -- in theory.