*And other lessons, ethical and otherwise, of 'The Game'*

Wednesday, October 5, 2005 Posted: 1427 GMT (2227 HKT)

【NEW YORK (AP) -- If you want to meet Neil Strauss, you have go to a bar.

You just have to. That's his territory.】

Strauss, you see, has spent the past two years turning himself into one of

the best pickup artists in the world. He's gotten so good that he even

teaches others.

"I can get any guy to go up to the most unapproachable, stunning girl and

make her interested, make her laugh and make her love him," he says.

Make no mistake: Strauss, a Rolling Stone writer who has ghost written books

by Motley Crue and porn star Jenna Jameson, is not particularly gorgeous.

With his shaved head, goatee and slender frame, he resembles an emaciated

Howie Mandel. But the dude's got game -- a series of techniques he has

adapted from a secretive community of seduction artists that can beguile

and hook the hottest of women better than if he looked like Brad Pitt.

"I'm messing up the genetic code," he says with a laugh.

He says this from a banquette at K Lounge, a sultry watering hole over an

Indian restaurant that has Near Eastern furnishings and statuettes

depicting positions from the Kama Sutra. House music plays and the cocktails

have names like Aphrodisiac.

*** A perfect pickup place.***

But alas, we can't see Strauss in action. He's semiretired from babe

wrangling for one very good reason: She's sitting beside him -- his

stunning blond girlfriend who towers several inches above him.

See? This stuff seems to really work.

Strauss has put what he's learned into a book, "The Game: Penetrating

the Secret Society of Pickup Artists," that arrived in bookstores a few

weeks ago bound tongue-in-cheek like a Bible, complete with fake leather

cover and bookmark. It lays out the art and science of seduction, the

often bitter feuds among different schools of thought and the startling

news that successful mackin' can be learned.

"Guys who are not naturally successful with women ... weren't genetically

born to fail. They just had bad habits," he says, "like I did."

"Women have Cosmopolitan to show them 30 ways to drive a man crazy and they

have 'Sex and the City' to learn how to deal with men. ... Guys have these

dumb buddy movies that are made to titillate them but show them nothing

about how women really work."

*** 'Negs' and 'targets' ***

What works on women, apparently, is a carefully scripted series of moves

and dialogue to convey absolutely no interest at all. "The great lie of

modern dating," Strauss writes, "is that in order to sleep with a woman,

a man must pretend initially as if he doesn't want to."

Forget about your stereotype pickup artist -- that 1970s lizard with shirt

cracked to his navel and sledgehammer style. "The modern player is totally

under the radar," Strauss says.

Though each school of seduction differs, various techniques -- learned

online or during seminars -- can be mixed and matched. Many of the

estimated 1 million members rely on jargon -- these are guys, after all.

There's the "neg," a casual insult that conveys lack of interest

("Those are nice nails; are they real?"), the "false time constraint,"

lying that you have to leave soon to lessen anxiety, and looking for IOIs,

or "indicators of interest" such as the hottie leaning in close.

This is a community where the woman you want to meet is the "target,"

where anyone she's with is an "obstacle" and where men learn magic and

ESP tricks to show value and avoid LMR ("last minute resistance").

All this can take you from an AFC (average frustrated chump) to MPUA

(master pickup artist). It worked for Strauss, who bedded dozens under

the nom-de-guerre Style and became a guru in his own right.

"All this stuff is backward engineered from what works. Nobody sat at a

computer and invented these techniques. They watched guys who are

successful and broke it down to what works," Strauss says.

What also works is "peacocking," wearing loud flashy outfits to get women's

attention (Strauss shows up for his interview wearing a pair of gold boots),

and psychological weapons like "push-pull," showing no interest at first,

followed by intense attention. A few keys rules are constant: Never stoop

to buy your target a drink -- let her buy you one. Always make yourself the

center of attention. And always get her phone number.

*** Souls at stake? ***

Some 100,000 copies of "The Game" have been ordered by publisher ReganBooks,

and the book hit No. 10 on The New York Times hardcover nonfiction list in

its debut week.

Reviews have been somewhat mixed. Publishers Weekly called it "often

tedious but hilarious." The Times said it was "far more frightening than


A London Times writer observed that Strauss is brutally honest about the

value of "sarging": "There are, as Strauss is keen to stress in his book,

two sides to all of this. On the one hand, a guy -- any guy -- really

can learn to pick up women, and can do so far more effectively than the

'naturals' of whom they may have grown up in awe. On the other, they risk

losing their soul."

"Strange as it seems, it's one of the more universal books I've ever

worked on," says ReganBooks editor Cal Morgan. "What it amounts to is a

book about how difficult it is for men and women to talk to each other."

With all this attention, is Strauss concerned that his book might disarm

future pickup artists by revealing their techniques? After all, won't

women now be able to recognize the game?

"I'm not worried about it because guys will always need to find a way to

meet women," Strauss says. "Attraction is always the same. You can't help

it. You can't disarm that."

Strauss' book comes at a time when there seems to be a spike in interest

from Hollywood in pickup routines. Witness the films "Hitch," "Wedding

Crashers" and "The 40-Year-Old Virgin."

One thing Strauss stresses is that the techniques he's describing can only

get the conversation started. After about 15 minutes, a pickup artist's real

personality will begin shining through the cracks.

"On the surface it might sound like a horrible thing -- men learning

tricks to manipulate women. But any guy who doesn't have anything inside

-- like confidence and self-awareness, some sort of spirituality or goodness,

being in touch with their emotions -- is not going to do well anyway."

Strauss, who's in his 30s, has veered away from the pickup community since

meeting his girlfriend, Lisa Leveridge, a guitarist for Courtney Love. Even

so, he still conducts seminars and workshops at bars.

"You feel for that really good-looking 25-year-old guy who's got no

self-esteem and probably only gone out on maybe two dates before in his

life," he says. "You want to help him. You want to say, 'You are a cool,

good-looking guy. Here's what you do to get your confidence going.' "

Often he will teach novices with Lisa by his side. She acts as "pivot" --

providing proof of his good social skills, creating jealousy in the

target or helping show he's not threatening.

Is she worried that Strauss has become a one-man seduction machine?

"Oh please," says Leveridge. "I've got more skills than him. And anyway,

why would I date somebody I didn't trust? My boyfriend's got some skills

and I'm not worried about it."

Strauss met Leveridge toward the end of his two-year odyssey, and she was

powerfully immune to his tricks. He eventually stole her heart by being

himself. Yet she endorses her boyfriend's mission: "Women want to meet men.

We're glad these guys are getting the skills so that they'll actually be

able to approach us and not gross us out."

As for Strauss, he's not concerned that the techniques he writes about will

put new powerful pickup skills into the hands of unscrupulous men. Women

will be fine, he insists.

"Women are born with a thing called intuition and it's their best defense

against these guys," he says.

(Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material

may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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