How Pickup Artists Work

Is pickup artistry worth it?

Do Mystery's goggles and "guyliner" really bring him sexual success?
Do Mystery's goggles and "guyliner" really bring him sexual success?
Ray Tamarra/Getty Images

J.T. Tran, who goes by the PUA handle Asian Playboy, is something of a specialist. He's spoken at Yale, Harvard, the University of Chicago and elsewhere about how Asian-American men can attract beautiful women -- particularly white women [source: O'Connor]. Beyond motivational speaking appearances, Asian Playboy also organizes seduction "boot camps" for men, delivering the nuts and bolts of pickup artistry in a weekend, in contrast to Neil Strauss' two-year PUA pilgrimage for "The Game." Learning from the master isn't cheap, though. Asian Playboy's tuition costs $1,450 [source: Yang].

Tran isn't the only self-proclaimed ladies' man cashing in on his skills. Master PUAs often host workshops and boot camps, in addition to motivational speaking at conferences and events; some also serve as private dating coaches. Certainly, the heart of the seduction community remains in online forums and members-only sites, but a cottage industry has also emerged for men who desire real-world, hands-on training in pickup artistry. For instance, Jeremy Bonney -- who goes by Soul -- rakes in $1,500 a head for his eight-hour seminars [source: Harrell]. The entrance fee to the Love Systems Superconference, which promises to trot out a laundry list of PUA masters for a two-day seduction extravaganza, runs $3,997 [source:].

For all of the time and money that some men invest into becoming a genuine PUA, is it worth it? Anecdotally, all the related handbooks, message boards and first-person accounts maintain that, yes, the system works. They started out as the average frustrated chump (AFC) and, like Strauss and Mystery, evolved into more confident, domineering Casanovas. Although no empirical studies can verify purported success rates, a recent academic survey indicates that some women are attracted to the PUAs' typically sexism-fueled pursuit. The communications researchers from the University of Kansas found that women who demonstrated sexist attitudes toward other women were more receptive to PUA-style aggressive pursuit [source: ScienceDaily].

Pop culture has also given PUAs a negative reputation. Reality shows and other publicity have emphasized the quirkier aspects of the seduction community -- loud wardrobes, nicknames and PUA lingo -- as well as its latent misogyny. Informing a woman that he's a PUA might earn a man instant rejection rather than an IOI, indication of interest. Opining about PUAs in the Washington Post in 2010, Ezra Klein also observed that online dating may have rendered pickup artistry obsolete [source: Klein]. Who needs to study up on how to walk up to women at a club when you can message one online? At the same time, Klein might not have realized that plenty of PUA message boards are buzzing with how to "sarge" in cyberspace. After all, the object of "The Game" is to never come down with a case of "oneitis"; the only way for Sisyphean PUAs to win is to keep on playing.

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